12:13 am
14 Jun 2024

Marche Makes Maiden El Gouna Quarter-Final

24 May 2021

Frenchman Gregoire Marche overcame Germany's Raphael Kandra in the third round of the El Gouna International Open at the El Gouna Conference & Culture Center to reach the quarter-finals of the PSA World Tour Platinum event for the first time.

"I haven't played a quarter for a long time, so I was a bit tense," said the 31-year-old world No.15.

"I really wanted to win that match, so from the second onwards, I found a find a way to relax and settle down and found my length. I knew that Rafi was coming back playing at a very high level, one doesn't beat Lucas Serme 3/0 [in the previous round] by playing poor squash. I think it was a very mental match and that's where I've really improved."

No.2 seeds Nouran Gohar and Tarek Momen both recorded straight games victories on day four of the championship as they appeared on the glass court for the first time.

Gohar reached the final of the 2019 edition of this tournament and took a step closer to this year's title decider with an 11-9, 12-10, 11-7 victory over Malaysia's Sivasangari Subramaniam.

The match was a competitive affair in which Subramaniam could perhaps count herself unfortunate not to take a game, but it will be Gohar who lines up in the quarter-finals where she will take on fellow Egyptian Rowan Elaraby, who outplayed world No.8 Joelle King over at the El Gouna Squash Complex.

"Siva is not an up-and-coming player, she is already there, she is one to watch," said Gohar.

"We haven't played since the World Juniors which was four or five years ago, and I feel really old now. We have evolved and it was completely different to the last time we played. I am just glad that I managed to grab the last few points in each game to win in three.

"Physically, it was hard. The court is really bouncy, and it is hard to kill the ball, so there are a lot of court sprints to do. I just tried to stay tough even though I was not playing the best squash, I was just trying to dig in and to win."

Elaraby had won her only previous meeting with King on the PSA Tour - a 3/2 victory at the 2019 US Open - but made short work of her opponent this time around as she powered to an 11-6, 12-10, 11-8 win in just 28 minutes.

US No.1 Amanda Sobhy will also line up in the last eight after she beat England's Lucy Turmel 11-6, 11-7, 11-7 - and will play Egypt's Salma Hany in the quarter-finals in a rematch of their semi-final clash at the CIB Black Ball Open in March.

"She [Turmel] is a feisty up-and-coming player, so she is young and hungry, and it shows with the win she had previously," said Sobhy.

"I wanted to just find my game, I wasn't happy with my performance on the first day and I wanted to get settled on to the glass court, so it is good to get a match that tests you and she did that. I'm really pleased to just win in three and not let her get any momentum."

Men's World Champion Momen made his first glass court appearance of the tournament as he overcame the tricky Mazen Hesham in straight games.

Momen twice squandered heavy leads in the first and second games as Hesham came back to challenge, but the world No.3 had enough in his locker to see the wins over the line, before dominating the third to close out the victory.

"Mazen is a very tough player, he is very dangerous, he is extremely skilful, and I knew from the beginning that my plan had to be to elongate the rallies," said Momen, who will now play Marche.

"I wanted to make it physical so I could have the edge. I have some shots of my own, but I still wanted to make things conservative and not give him openings to throw in those crazy nicks. Still, he managed to throw in some crazy shots in the crucial moments, it is very difficult to make those decisions and it worked for him, but I was glad to close both games out."

Third seed Paul Coll was the other victor on the glass as the New Zealander put in an immaculate display to defeat Marche's compatriot Victor Crouin. Coll will clash with two-time runner-up Karim Abdel Gawad in the next round, with Gawad requiring 70 minutes to see off Karim El Hammamy in straight games.