Day Three : Round Two Concludes

Sixteen seeds through to Quarters as English quartet advance

Action continued on Glass Court at The Wimbledon Club today, with eight more second round matches to finalise the quarter-final lineups.

As yesterday, it was the seeded players who dominated proceedings, with English quartet Mohamed and Marwan ElShorbagy, SJ Perry and Jasmine Hutton joined by the likes of former and defending champions Ali Farag and Karim Abdel Gawad.

read on for match reports and reaction ...

Optasia Championship 2024 : 14-Mar, Day THREE, Round TWO part two

Reports & Reaction

Quick win for Melissa

[7] Melissa Alves (Fra) 3-0 Akanksha Salunkhe (Ind) 11-3, 11-5, 11-2 (19m)

The opening match of the day witnesses a quickfire win for France’s Melissa Alves, the 30-year-old seventh seed having too many weapons for India’s Akanksha Salunkhe, making her first appearance in the last sixteen of a PSA Bronze event.

Dominant in the opening game, Alves found a few tins in the open stages of the second to give Salunkhe some hope, but quickly regained her form to quickly close out the second and third games for an 11-3, 11-5, 11-2 win in just 19 minutes.

“When you get a 3-0 in the first round, that’s what you hope for at the start of the tournament. Make sure you get on and get out quickly so you can rest for the next match.

“When you play an opponent you’ve never played before it can be tricky. I was a bit nervous if I’m honest so I’m happy with the win.”

Gawad taken almost to the limit by Malik

[5] Karim Abdel Gawad (Egy) 3-1 [9/16] Curtis Malik (Eng) 11-9, 10-12, 11-8, 11-1 (47m)

Defending Champion Karim Abdel Gawad opened up his defence with a hard fought win over England’s Malik, the 9/16 seed putting the world #5 through his paces for three games before succumbing in the fourth.

There were few significant rallies in the 9-minute opening game, but Malik was holding his own to 6-all then recovering from 6-9 to level before the final two points went to Gawad for the lead.

The pace and intensity rose in the second but Gawad wasn’t able to shake off his opponent and this time it was Malik who earned a game ball at 10-9, levelling the match at the second opportunity 12-10.

Still Gawad couldn’t break free, but managed to eke out an 8-6 lead then extending to 10-8 and retaking the lead on a no let that left Malik shaking his head in disbelief.

The fourth is a game Curtis will want to forget – Gawad was in full flow now, working the rallies as he does, racing to an 8-0 lead. Malik broke his duck with a service return winner, but Gawad responded with one of his own for 9-1. Malik then found himself at the front of the court with Gawad relaxing on the back wall, but somehow managed to find the tin before Gawad finished off the game and match with an exquisite short crosscourt drop.

Relief for the two-time champion, and you suspect he’ll be sharper for it from now on.

“It was our first time to play together in the PSA so it was hard for me to read him in the beginning.

“He moves very well on court. It took me some time to start reading him in the front corners and be more patient in the back corners with my basic game, attacking at the right time.

“I was playing too much in the front corners and he was reading it very well. I just wanted to play a proper, professional game.

“Last year it was very special for me. I just came back from injury, it was very emotional. This time’s different. I’ve been playing on Tour for the last year and I’ve been more consistent. I’m back to the top five in the rankings. I’m hoping for more and I have more goals to achieve.”

Close but no cookie for Torrie

[4] Satomi Watanabe (Jpn) 3-0 Torrie Malik (Eng) 11-7, 11-8, 11-7 (27m)

Fourth seed Satomi Watanabe booked her place in the quarter-finals with victory in three close games against England’s Torrie Malik.

The first two games were well contested with never more than a couple of points between them, but it was the England-based Japanese world #24 who always seemed to have the edge, Malik hampered in her attempt to close by untimely errors.

After Watanabe took the opening games 11-7, 11-8 she looked to be running away with things as she opened up a quick lead in the third, but although Malik levelled at 5-all she couldn’t press on as the fourth seed pulled clear again to set up a match against Melissa Alves tomorrow.

“I’ve played her twice in the PSA Tour. It was always a tough one mentally and also physically because she’s so tall and I have to go around her.

“I’m really pleased that I got through today in three. To play against Torrie, she has a really good weapon with her kills anywhere on the court.

“I was trying to be aware of it, but she got more than a couple of points with that.

“Every time playing a young up-and-coming player is a really nervous match so I focused on whatever I had to do on court and it worked well today.”

Quarters at the double for Mo

[4] Mohamed Elshorbagy (Eng) 3-0 [9/16] Rory Stewart (Sco) 11-6, 11-4, 11-8 (24m)

2017 Champion Mohamed ElShorbagy wasted no time in reaching the quarters as he got the better of a quick-fire exchange with Scotland’s Rory Stewart.

Stewart competed well in spells, but ElShorbagy was in determined mood and responded with aggressive winners whenever the Scot threatened to get close on the scoreboard, no more so than in the third when a promising run of points by Stewart was cut short as the World #7 closed out the match in 24 minutes.

ElShorbagy now faces Karim Abdel Gawad in a repeat of their epic 2019 final, looking for a second crown while Gawad has his eyes on a third – one not to be missed.

“It’s the first time we’ve played. I took that match very seriously because I know how he can play. I’ve seen him play in the Commonwealths. He did a very good job against Patrick [Rooney], and he almost took James [Willstrop] out as well so I saw the quality he can play with.

“I had to ask around, I asked Curtis [Malik], my England teammate, about what he does and doesn’t do. It doesn’t matter how good you are, you can lose any day if you don’t give respect to your opponent no matter what their ranking is.

“I prepared well, and I’m glad to win in three.”

“It’s a very different time in my career right now. I’m not a dominant World No.1 so it’s about trying to work out the mental side of going from the best player in the world to one of the best players in the world. It’s a very different mentality that you have to understand and I had to understand how to cope with it.

“Karim’s beaten me the last three times. I think that’s the first time he’s done that to me. Every time it was such a tough, high-quality match. We always match up well. I hope I can win tomorrow, let’s see.”

A little tester for SJ

[2] Sarah-Jane Perry (Eng) 3-1 [9/16] Cindy Merlo (Sui) 11-5, 10-12, 11-8, 11-5 (32m)

The evening session started with an entertaining four-game victory for home favourite Sarah-Jane Perry in her first-ever meeting with Switzerland’s Cindy Merlo, who came through a tough all-European Round One match with Saskia Beinhard to reach this stage.

Second seed Perry was catching her opponent out with boasts and deceptions from the start, and looked in command as she took the opening game 11-5. She appeared to be in command in the next game too, but the Swiss found deceptive winners of her own to claw back 2-5 and 5-8 down to level the match 12-10.

Perry soon settled into the third though, and at 5-1 looked once more like running away with it. It wasn’t quite that straightforward, as Merlo closed the gap, but couldn’t quite get back on terms.

Back in the lead, Perry continued to look the stronger as she closed out the fourth in 32 minutes to end a match that was thoroughly enjoyed by players and crowd alike.

“I think I started well and found my areas in the first game and then whoever you playing are going to try and do something different in the second game. I think the ball died off a bit, Cindy hit some absolute peaches and then got a bit of confidence herself and cutting my balls off that were a bit shorter.

“It was a really enjoyable game to play. Cindy and I haven’t actually played before, but it was really enjoyable and she’s an absolutely quality ball striker.”

Ali and Dimi serve up a cracker

[1] Ali Farag (Egy) 3-0 [9/16] Dimitri Steinmann (Sui) 16-14, 11-8, 13-11 (59m)

Top seed and 2022 champion Ali Farag moved through to the quarter-finals with a straight-game win over Switzerland’s Dimitri Steinmann that was anything but straightforward, with everyone at The Wimbledon Club wondering how on earth Dimi didn’t take a game – he certainly deserved one, at least.

The first was a fast-paced high-quality affair with neither player able to break free. Steinmann was the first to reach game ball, urging the crowd on, but Farag drew level, bringing about a tie-break in which both had game ball chances before Farag finally took the lead 16-14 after 24 minutes – longer than two of today’s matches!

There was no let up in intensity in the second as Steinmann continued to hunt down Farag’s shots, but the world #1 found enough to stay ahead and double his advantage 11-8.

That was far from the end of it though, as Steinmann continued to put in the work and with the crowd egging him on opened up an 7-0 lead. Farag started to work his way back in to the game, working Steinmann to all corners and reduced the deficit to 8-9.

The final few points were dramatic with Steinmann taking to the air on several occasions, once clattering himself painfully against the sidewall, but eventually all to no avail as Farag finished the match 11-8 in 59 minutes.

“It was enjoyable. It was my first hit on the court so it was really tough to get the hang of it. The ball actually dies quite a bit in the back corners. I came here to watch how the court plays and I felt like it was a lot more lively than it was today. That court my offguard a little bit.

“There wasn’t much in it. Thankfully I was able to sneak the first few otherwise I would’ve been in a bit of trouble.

“Just very pleased. The Wimbledon crowd is amazing. We don’t often go to tournaments where it’s a full house from the very first day so thank you.”

Never easy, but Jazz not to be denied

[6] Jasmine Hutton (Eng) 3-0 [9/16] Emilia Soini (Fin) 11-9, 11-6, 11-7 (29m)

British National Champion Jasmine Hutton delivered a third English winner of the day as she outpaced Finland’s Emilia Soini in three well contested games.

The sixth seed made full use of her holds and powerful drives, and although the Finn was able to stay in touch with some delicate winners of her own, there was no stopping a determined Hutton who – despite appearing to be marginally hampered with some strapping on her right ankle – closed out the match in just under half an hour.

“I’m feeling really grateful to be at a tournament. Two weeks ago I ruptured one of the ligaments in my ankle at the Windy City Open so I’m really glad to be here.

“Emilia’s a really good player. She’s so attacking and she’s got such a good game for a glass court so I knew it was going to be really challenging today mentally as well as physically. I’m not the happiest with my movement right now, but I know it’s going to get better every day, so yeah I’m pretty happy with today.”

Marwan makes it a clean sweep for the seeds

[7] Marwan Elshorbagy (Eng) 3-0 [9/16] Karim El Hammamy (Egy) 11-5, 11-7, 11-8 (49m)

The final match of the day was, as many of today’s matches, a case of close but not quite for the lower seeded player.

Seventh seed Marwan ElShorbagy joined his brother Mohamed in the quarters with a straight games win over Karim El Hammamy – Marwan’s successor as World Junior Champion.

ElShorbagy looked comfortable in the opening game, but El Hammamy was on level terms in the later stages of the second and third games, only for ElShorbagy to pull out the final few points needed on both occasions.

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