Salma Eltayeb (EGY) 2-1 Kenzy Ayman (EGY) 8-11, 11-9, 21-19 (52m)
Auguste Dussourd (FRA) 2-0 Rory Stewart (SCO) 13-11, 11-5 (36m)
Just have a look at the stats (PSA) and remember that those two just played in July in their last World Juniors in the semis when Kenzy was top seed, losing 3/1 to Salma against all odds. So, 3 victories on PSA for Kenzy, 1 in Juniors for Salma.
Kenzy had so much to prove today on the glass. And I felt the difference in the first game was that Kenzy wanted to win, but Salma didn’t want to lose. Quite close in the first game, up to 7/7, both girls hitting extremely hard, but 6 unforced errors for Salma, only 3 for Kenzy and it’s 11/8 for the higher seed, 11/8 Ayman.
The second is closer, at 9/9, it’s anybody’s game, but this time, Kenzy tins the last two points, and it’s 11/9 for Salma, 12m game. We are then 1/1.
The last game is 24m long, with a first part dominated by Salma, 10/5, match ball, with Kenzy dishearted. Out of the blue, Kenzy finds her best squash, her passion and roaring energy will make her save 9 match balls, while she’ll set up 4 on her own. But eventually, toss of a coin and it’s 21/19 for Salma, making 5 errors in that last game, while Kenzy made – wait for it – one.
“Kenzy is a very good player. I said this at the World Junior Championships. We just played two weeks ago and Kenzy has always been beating me in Egypt this season, but here and at the World Champs, I have beaten her! It is never an easy game with her!
“She’s been really good and strong this season, so I’m very happy to win of course. But on PSA, you are brining your game to try and beat top 30, top 20 players. And so that’s what we were both trying to do today. And today was not a final or a semi final: it was round one, and we HAD to win.
“At the start I was really stressed, my attacking shots were in the tin or just too high. And she was just beating me.
“I was in the lead in the third game 10-5 and then she came back to be up in the tie-break – I seem to get stressed when I get into the lead – That proves how good she is and I am so happy I got the win. We are both good players, so it is always 50/50, and the best player on that day took it.
“It is so different playing here, because you are with so many good players, so you want to perform to be at their level. That is what I am aiming for, that is my mission as I finish my junior career, to be there, or to compete against the top players on the PSA World Tour.”
What a waste.
That Rory bloke, what a pleasure to see him him apologising 8 times in 15 points in the first game. He made me think of James Willstrop: same height/built, I guess he got the same kind of upbringing as well, like good education and well behaving on court matters more than just wining without honour.
And his game was so good as well, he made the rallies long, frustrating his opponent, and taking a comfy lead, 6/2. But a good run of points from the French, 8/6. Rory levelled, 8/8, 9/9. Game ball for the Scot, 10-9, but experience and street wise works for Auguste and it’s 4 points in a row for the French, 13/11 in 21m.
Rory stayed point for point in the second, up to 5/5. There a rally where Rory ends on the floor as Auguste foot gets in his way accidentally. Some words are said – I believe Rory said it to himself, but Auguste didn’t and thought he was being insulting, complained to the ref, giving a literal translation – bit flowery it was, bless him.
Anyway, all that got Rory completely out of the match, and it was quickly 11/5 (13m), with the Scot making 4 errors in 6 points.
Hi, I’m Rory! You never saw me before because I’m not good enough on tour, that’s the honest truth of it. I don’t seem to be able to find any consistency on tour, and I can’t seem to get myself on bigger events. After COVID, I am giving it a big push, but matches like that… I have played maybe 20 matches like that this season. And that’s why I am in the ranking I am.
There is a way I try and behave myself on court, a way to play squash. And I know there are ways around it but….
“He is a really tricky player. You never know what to expect from him. He has so many shots, he changes the pace all the time and it is really difficult to play against him, even more so in the best-of-three.
“I saw earlier that so many matches were so close. I knew I had to take the first game, even on a tie-break and I knew it would be hard. When you are 1-0 down and you have to win two games, it is so hard, so I am happy to come through this match!
“I had the chance to play here once, in the theatre in Nantes. I lost 3-0 to Gregoire [Marche], the same player I will face tomorrow! It is always amazing to play in France, and in such an amazing venue like this!”