The 18th edition of the Canary Wharf Classic continued this evening with four best-of-three Quarter-Finals featuring the top eight seeds.
 Tarek Momen (Egy) 2-0  Mostafa Asal (Egy) 11-8, 11-3 (27m)
 Ali Farag (Egy) 2-0  Miguel Rodriguez (Col) 11-8, 11-3 (22m)
 Paul Coll (Nzl) 3-0  Joel Makin (Wal) 11-5, 11-6 (44m)
 Diego Elias (Per) 2-0  Gregoire Marche (Fra) 11-7, 11-7 (38m)
Elias makes if four for the top seeds
In the last quarter-final Diego Elias beat Gregoire Marche in two games to ensure the semi-finals will be contested by the top four seeds.
“I’m not used to best of three,” said Elias afterwards. “I’ve done well this week, it’s a different warm up, different mentality and in Qatar I was 2-0 down against Greg so I knew I had to be at my best from the first point, so I’m happy I did that and against Paul it’s like the final again in Qatar.
“I think in the head-to-head its 2-2 so it’s always tough, but you never know, tomorrow’s another match and I just need to prepare well and be ready.
“It’s always long with Paul, I have to go on court with that mentality to be there for a long time and I think I’ll be alright.
“Greg is like all the French payers , at the start it’s so fast and they get everything back. I had to stay patient and clam and the ball deep to create opportunities.”
Coll through in two
It took 44 minutes, but second seed Paul Coll reached the semi-finals with a tough straight games win over British Champion Joel Makin.
“I’m feeling really good and I’m super happy with that performance,” said Coll. “Joel’s a really solid player that matches my physicality so it came down to me trying to play a really good squash match and just super happy with that performance.
“He’s very strong across the middle as soon as I left the ball short I was in a lot of trouble and he can pick up a lot of balls. It was a challenge for my squash and my patience and mentality and playing the right shot at the right time so just really happy to win that 2-0 and get through to the semis super fresh.
“I’m in a new stage of my career that I’m working through mentally, this is a big tournament for me, a big match for me. I’m expected to win all these matches now, I try to leave all that stuff off court because its stuff you can’t control so very happy sight, the performance, a lot on the line for me so just really happy.”
Top seed Farag dominates Rodriguez
Ali Farag underlined his credentials as he eased past a typically active Miguel Rodriguez in two games.
“Miguel is such an entertainer, what I admire so much is he can do it whilst playing serious squash as well and winning the British Open and achieved so much whilst playing such entertaining squash. I don’t know how he does it. I leave the show for him and I play my own squash but it’s always exciting and entertaining and fair to play against Miguel, I really enjoyed the match today.
“I’ve been playing well so far, I can’t complain. Both matches were totally different conditions, we had a flyer of a ball yesterday and today it was a bit slower and was difficult to get the ball to the back corners. It took a while to get used to it but I’m very happy with the way I dealt with it and I’m very happy to get through to the next round.
“I was warming up so couldn’t watch everything of the match before but watched bits of it. Both are brilliant players, they’re evenly matched every time they pay, this time Tarek came out on top so I’m going to have a tough match tomorrow but one which I will really enjoy.
“I was just talking to Mike Way and he was asking about Nour, I’m so inspired by her. I’m rediscovering her all the time, as a mum and how giving she is and having time to train and it’s not easy I tell you that, she does all the work, I sleep in a different room, but she’s training consistently, she’s very determined. Maybe black ball might be a little too soon but that’s the goal and we’ll see how it goes.
“We have so many great squash facilities at home. Wadi Degla has seven branches across Egypt, each equipped with 10 squash courts. Brilliant to see more clubs opening up in different governments as well which is really important to grow our sport.”
Momen accelerates past Asal
Tarek Momen claimed the first semi-final spot as he beat Mostafa Asal in two games. Asal led most of the first, but Momen finished the game strongly before dominating the second, shrugging off an injury timeout when he had a problem with his racket hand..
“I think my hand hit my knee cap as I was hitting my shot and it sort of paralysed half of my hand,” said Momen in his post-match interview.
“I’m glad I could finally take advantage of the three-minute injury break, it always gets used against me so finally I can make some good use of it myself.
“I had my mobility back but still had tingling in my hand and was a bit worried that if he can get a few quick points the momentum could shift because I had a good first game. I was trailing all the way through and managed to overturn the score and win it so I started well I the second. I really needed that momentum to keep going and thankfully I had a few shots in at the very early stage of the game with a few lucky bounces. There are some days that it works your way, he’s had some days against me where it has worked his way so today was my turn.
“I’m just happy with the way I played today given all the history it’s tough to get your head in the game and I managed to do that well today and stay calm. I always like to enter every match just thinking about the game plan, cancel out everything that’s happened before, only focus on my game and I’m very happy I could do that today.
“Both [Ali Farag and Miguel Rodriguez] are really good friends, I’m sure the match will be entertaining, I definitely hope they can play for over an hour, I hope it’s a great match and I hope tomorrow I can pay a really good match with whoever wins it.”
PREVIEW BY ALAN THATCHER
We’re halfway through the tournament and all of the top eight seeds have safely navigated their way into the quarter-finals.
The match-up that everyone has been talking about, the clash between Egyptian rivals Tarek Momen and Mostafa Asal, launches this evening’s East Wintergarden schedule.
Asal looked ruthless as he swept past Adrian Waller on Monday, but Momen dropped a game to a fired-up Baptiste Masotti before racing to an 11-1 blitz when he returned to court for the third game.
The inevitable tension between Momen and Asal is sure to lead to some dramatic moments on court this evening, but we can expect a calmer approach to the second match between top seed Ali Farag and Miguel Rodriguez.
After a long break following the U.S. Open, Farag worked his way into some kind of rhythm in his opening game against Iker Pajares on Monday before stepping up the pace to win the second 11-2.
After his battling win over Declan James in the second round, Rodriguez told the crowd he had enjoyed playing in a recent exhibition match in New York with Farag and revealed: “I wish I could play like he does.”
No.5 seed Joel Makin was fully extended by Saurav Ghosal last night but after an edgy start the Welshman stepped up the pace to win six points in a row with some punishing, precision lengths.
He will need to maintain that level tonight if he is to trouble No.2 seed Paul Coll, who comfortably nullified the threat of Egypt’s Youssef Soliman last night.
Fresh from his triumph in Qatar, and with Jonathon Power in support, Diego Elias faces Gregoire Marche in the final match this evening.
Elias looked very relaxed during his win over George Parker last night, messing around a few times to entertain the crowd after a couple of mis-hits, and it’s wonderful to see someone enjoying their job so much.
Marche was also full of smiles after nullifying the threat of James Willstrop last night and he will need all of his speed and mobility around the court to dent Elias’ aura of confidence.
During a late-night debrief in a burger bar in the Jubilee Mall food hall, Willstrop (between mouthfuls of the vegan option) admitted: “That shows you how cruel this game can be. I thought I was playing well against Mohamed Abouelghar on Sunday but it all fell apart this evening.”
The packed crowd would have loved Willstrop to have gone through, but Makin is the sole British player left in the draw and is sure to have some solid support from the crowd tonight.
My advice to everyone this evening is to be in your seats on time, whether at the venue or in front of a screen, because the fireworks are sure to begin in the very first rally. You won’t want to miss a moment.