Day ONE : Round ONE

A busy opening day as the MARIGOLD Singapore Squash Open got under way at last – it was ‘ready to go’ before the Pandemic struck and has been on hold until now.

There were sixteen Round One matches, eight at the Kallang Squash Centre and eight on the Glass Court at the OBCB Arena, where all future matches will be held. Today’s matches saw the 9/16 and non-seeded players battle it out for places in Round Two against the top eight seeds.

You can Watch Live on SquashTV, check the results on Live Scoring and our Draws page, follow updates on our Social Media, and we’ll have photos going into the gallery all day with match reports and quotes here and a roundup at the end of the day.

MARIGOLD Sigapore Squash Open 2022 : Day ONE

Reports and Reaction

Kandra ends home hopes

Germany’s Raphael Kandra ended day one with a win over the only remaining Singaporean left in the tournament, Samuel Kang. Kandra was in complete control in the first two games and adapted to the glass court conditions the better of the two players.

The German N#1 continued his positive momentum in the third game and looked well on his way to booking his place in the last 16. But a spirited comeback from the Singaporean worried the German as Kang started to fire off some exquisite winners and find some form in the match. A tough rally at 10-9 to Kandra cemented Kang’s fate however as the wildcard fell in 31 minutes.

“First of all, I’m really pleased to be here, we had a wonderful day yesterday with the function and boat cruise showing us around, it’s our first time playing squash in Singapore. Second of all, the crowd is amazing, of course, I was playing the wildcard so you guys were cheering for him.” said Kandra.

“Samuel was playing really good squash and well deserving of the wildcard spot.

As you said he Mohamed ElShorbagy is on a winning streak but I’ll be looking to break that. I think it was a good match today to get used to the court and it got me moving and rolling to get me ready for tomorrow.”

In the other men’s match, World No.8 Fares Dessouky was unfortunately forced to withdraw before his match with Qatar’s Abdulla Al Tamimi due to injury.

Al Tamimi therefore received a bye and goes straight through to the last 16 where he will set up a surely entertaining clash with Egypt’s Mazen Hesham.

Solid wins for Naughton and Hany

Canada’s Hollie Naughton produced a professional performance in her opening match to beat local player Au Yeong Wai Yhann in straight games and move into round two.

The Commonwealth Games Silver Medalist got off to a shaky start, trailing 5-0 but quickly found her form and became more comfortable on the all-glass court at the OCBC Arena. Naughton stated to find the back of the court and only dropped one more point on her way to securing the first game 11-6.

The end came quickly for Wai Yhann, as she struggled to match Naughton in all areas of the court. The Canadian was too accurate at the back of the court, which opened up lots of space in the front corners that the Singaporean couldn’t cover. After closing the match out in 21 minutes, Naughton’s round two opponent will be recent New Zealand Open Champion Joelle King.

“I came into this not knowing what to expect, I haven’t seen much of her [Au Yeong Wai Yhann] at all, she certainly took me by surprise in the first half of game one. It’s great to be here in Singapore to see what the squash is like, she’s a very talented player so I’m sure we’ll see more of her.

After so many years on tour and going to the same places it’s always exciting to go somewhere new, and to show people around the world how good squash is. So I’m really excited to be here and explore this beautiful country.

I try to think one match at a time, so my focus was just on getting through this one. I have a rest day now to get a game plan together, I’ve played Joelle [King] a few times recently so I know what to expect so I’ll just prepare the best that I can.”

Over at the Kallang SG Squash Centre, Egypt’s Salma Hany faced a tricky match against South Africa’s Alexandra Fuller for a place in the last 16.

Although Hany won in straight games, it was far from straight forward. Hany hung on well in all three game and had to maintain her concentration at crucial times to pay the big points well, which she did to great effect. Hany won 11-9, 12-10, 11-9 in just over half an hour to reach RD2, where her opponent will be No.8 seed Tinne Gilis from Belgium.

“Im very happy with the win today,” said Hany.

“Alex is a very tricky opponent and I’m very happy I could put on a good performance and close it out in three. She had the lead in all three games but i’m happy I could keep my focus and stick to my game plan.

I’m very excited to be here in Singapore, it’s a new tournament and i’m looking forward to the next round against Tinne, we’ve never played on tour before so it should be exciting.”

Contrasting wins for Rooney and Marche

Rooney and Tandon had only met once previously on the PSA World Tour, with Rooney coming through in a five game thriller in Qatar, and thats exactly what happened again in their next meeting.

Rooney dominated the opening exchanges and kept in front of Tandon for the majority of the first two games, not getting involved in the front court exchanges too much, given the skill level of the Indian. The England No.2 earned himself a well deserved 2-0 lead and looked confident leaving the court.

Tandon responded however and kept his attacking style of play going despite the 2-0 deficit. The Indian then capitalised on a dip in concentration from Rooney to take game three and breathe more life in the contest. The game three win seemed to give a heap of confidence to the Indian for game four as his attacks couldn’t seem to miss. He levelled the match, taking the fourth game 11-8 to set up a fifth and final game.

Tandon started the better of the two but it wasn’t too long before Rooney was back in front of the Indian. The Englishman used his superior reach to keep Tandon behind him and managed to stay solid in the final stages of the game and eventually forced an error at 10-9 to take the match, much to the Englishman’s relief.

“I didn’t have a game plan, I just came out to play a game of squash and be relaxed and solid and hoped I’d get through it. But in the third game, the disruptions go the otter of me and I lost my head a bit and the fifth it was a bit of a shoot-out. I just had to be a bit lucky.

I’m struggling with the heat. I’m used to cold, rainy, grey weather in England. I’m enjoying Singapore, even though it’s humid, the court conditions are good so I have nothing to complain about.

I thought I was going to be out so I’m still processing the win today. I’m looking forward to playing Asal, it’s always good to play top players and learn from them so looking forward to that.”

In the other men’s match happening at the same time, France’s Gregoire Marche needed just three games to defeat Malaysia’s Ivan Yuen and move into the last 16.

The Frenchman showed his class in the opening two games to win both 11-5 and look sure to book his place in the next round. Despite a better performance from Yuen in the third game, the Malaysian couldn’t stop the momentum of Marche who won the game 11-8 to win in just 35 minutes.

Whitlock and Sobhy through in contrasting three

Wales’ Emily Whitlock was in fine form in the opening match of the evening session at the OCBC Arena as she comfortably defeated local player Leia Lee Zi Fang in three games to progress to round two.

Lee is just 16 years old and was competing in her very first PSA Tour match having entered the draw only yesterday, and was under the cosh from the get-go. Whitlock’s accuracy and pace was proving to be too much for the young Singaporean as she struggled to make any headway in the match.

Whitlock cruised to a 2-0 lead in no time at all, winning both opening games 11-1 and looked to be trying to get as much feel for the glass court as possible. The Welshwoman closed out the final game 11-2 to set up a last 16 encounter with fellow British player and No.4 seed Sarah-Jane Perry on Thursday.

“I got here a few days early. You need to get used to the heat, I’m as pale as they come. I got a few days of good hits and it was an honour to share the court with Leia today. I’m sure there will be another rising star soon, it was a really good match.

It’s going to be tough, once again [speaking about her last 16 match with Sarah-Jane Perry]. Either she wipes me off the court completely or it manages to be close. So far I’ve never got the win but this country has been good to me so far and I like it a lot so hopefully, this is the one.”

At the Kallang SG Squash Centre USA’s Sabrina Sobhy came produced a great performance to overcome France’s Melissa Alves in three close games and move into the second round.

Sobhy closed out two very tight opening games both 12-10 to set up a crucial 2-0 advantage before securing the third game in more comfortable fashion 11-7 to set up a last 16 encounter with England’s Georgina Kennedy.

El Sirty and Rodriguez complete afternoon session

Egypt’s Moustafa El Sirty and Colombian Miguel Rodriguez were the last two to win in the afternoon session on day one in Singapore.

El Sirty took on Frenchman Baptiste Masotti, and it was a tight encounter between the pair. Both played some outstanding squash in the opening exchanges, with nothing to separate the pair. However, at the end of the first, El Sirty was able to pull out a lead, and although the Frenchman saved a game ball, the Egyptian won it 11-9.

The exact same happened in the second game, with El Sirty going 10-8 before Masotti saved a game ball. Once again, though, the Egyptian claimed it 11-9, this time to double his advantage. From there, he was in complete control, dropping just four points in the third to book his spot in the last 16.

“Baptiste is such a good player and he shows a lot of quality every time we play. Last time we played was eight months ago and he won 2-0, it was close. I am really glad to come through in three, and I am really looking forward to the next match.

“Singapore is such a chilled country. I was talking to Mazen [Hesham] this morning, and it is such a good country, everyone is really nice here. I am really liking it here and hopefully it goes well in the next round.

“Diego is a top five player, and the last time I played him, it didn’t go well. Hopefully this time it goes better and I will be prepared for it.”

At the Kallang SG Squash Centre Colombia’s Miguel Rodriguez put his New Zealand Open disappointment behind him to dispatch Frenchman Sebastien Bonmalais in straight games.

The Colombian lost out to Canada’s David Baillargeon in the early stages in Tauranga, but showed why he has been as high as World No.4 with this performance. He defeated Bonmalais 11-8, 11-4, 11-6 to move through to the second round, where he will take on 2019 World Champion Tarek Momen.

Aifa and Rachel through for Malaysia

The Malaysian duo of Aifa Azman and Rachel Arnold are into the second round after battling through against higher-ranked opposition.

Azman, currently sitting at World No.24, took on the USA’s Olivia Clyne, who sits four places above her in the World Rankings, in one of the closest match-ups of the opening day’s action.

After a quick start from the young Malaysian, the first game was tight, with Clyne fighting back. However, Azman won the last three points to secure an 11-8 win, and to move into the lead in the contest. The second game followed a similar pattern, but this time, it was Clyne who snuck through, winning it 11-9 to level the contest.

The Malaysian came out fighting again in the third, and she then went match ball up in the fourth game as well. The American saved three match balls, and also spurned a couple of game balls herself, before taking a tie-break win 15-13. However, Azman played some incredible stuff in the last game, winning the first ten point to almost guarantee the win. Clyne saved two more match balls, but the World No.24 won it 11-2 to set up a clash with World No.6 Nour El Tayeb.

“I am very excited to win this match! I didn’t do well in the U.S. Open. I am very happy to win against Olivia, it’s always a tough match!” Azman said.

“I am very happy to have come back in the fifth 11-2. I think my tactic are getting much better! This is amazing, I have never been to Singapore before, only transited in the airport. I am very happy to play here!

“I played her [Nour El Tayeb] in the World Championships, and she is a top player. I am looking forward to play against her, but this time with a better gameplan so I can give more of a fight against her than I did last time!”

Compatriot Rachel Arnold also took a surprise win, as she got the better of Welshwoman Tesni Evans in four games to move through to the second round.

Evans, who reached the final of the Barfoot & Thompson New Zealand Open just two days ago, took the first game of their contest 11-9, but the effects of the travel and short turnaround started to show.

Arnold came through to win the second game 11-3, before crucially clinching the third on a tie-break 13-11. She carried that momentum into the fourth game, and secured the win, making her way into the last 16, where she will now face Egypt’s Rowan Elaraby.

“I thought I played really well today, I tried to stay composed throughout the whole match. I thought she would be a bit tired from New Zealand, so I tried to extend the rallies a bit more.

“It was still a close match. This is our third time playing in a few months this year, it’s more than enough! Pretty happy with the win today!”

Ng and Mueller through in five

Malaysia’s Eain Yow Ng and Swiss No.1 Nicolas Mueller were the first two men to advance to the second round in Singapore, with both players going the distance in their opening day contest.

The Malaysian took on former World No.10 Saurav Ghosal in the first round, and it was an incredible match, lasting an hour and a half. Both men saved game balls in the opening game, but it was eventually the Indian No.1 that took it 14-12 to hold the advantage.

The second was much more straightforward for Ng, as he won six straight points at the back end of it to level the match. However, Ghosal fought back once more, and took the lead in the match again thanks to some great attacking squash into the front of the court in the third.

The Malaysian requested a new ball for the start of the fourth game, and it eventually paid off, but he had to save two match balls. He was 10-8 down, but fought back to come through and take the fourth 14-12, before then dropping just a single point in the fifth and final game. Ng will now take on World No.2 Paul Coll on Wednesday.

“I was a little bit disappointed with myself in the first game, I was in a position to win it. We played a couple of weeks ago at the Asian Team Championships, and something similar happened in the first game,” the Malaysian explained.

“In the third and fourth games, I lost a little bit of focus, and at match ball down, I knew I had to keep fighting, I had nothing to lose and to be honest, I am not really sure what happened at the end of the fourth. I just kept fighting and just kept running. I was really edgy when he hit a high volley drop and I just tinned it. Luckily, I was slightly stronger physically in the fifth game.

“Especially when I was hitting the ball a little bit harder, I thought I was in more control than him but when the ball started to die down, Saurav is so good with his hands, definitely one of the best players, if not the best and most elegant player ever. At the start, it was quite tough, but it worked out, asking for the new ball.

“I just want to say that playing in Singapore is like playing back home. It has been a lot time since I have played back home. The Singaporean crowd has been great, and my parents are here as well, which is also great! My dad always watches every match overseas so it’s amazing to have him here. The crowd has been great, that definitely helped today! I am looking forward to putting on a good show against Paul [Coll] tomorrow!”

At the side courts, Swiss No.1 Nicolas Mueller had to fight from behind twice to overcome the challenge of US No.1 Shahjahan Khan, eventually winning after 64 minutes.

Khan won both the first and third games, but Mueller, who reached a career-high of World No.14 this week, showed his fighting qualities. The Swiss No.1 won the second and fourth games to send the match into a decider, one he took 11-4 to claim the victory.

“It was a tough match, 2-1 down. I had to dig deep to come back and win the match in five,” Mueller admitted.

“Obviously, the conditions. It’s pretty warm, a bit too warm for the Swiss! It was just a grind in the end. I wasn’t hitting my targets well, Shahjahan was playing really well and in the end, I just had to grind it out. I am happy that I got through this one!”

Shahin and Gilis first through

Egypt’s Nadine Shahin and Belgium’s Nele Gilis were the first two players to take victories at the MARIGOLD Singapore Squash Open, moving through to the second round.

Shahin took on the returning Low Wee Wern on the glass court at the OCBC Arena. The Malaysian was featuring for the first time on Tour since July 2021, and on her return from an ACL injury, she claimed the first game 12-10.

She continued that form by winning the first four points of the second, but the Egyptian fought back. A superb forehand kill gave her the game on her first game ball, to level the match. The third was also tight and it went to a tie-break, with both players having two game balls. Shahin was the one to clinch it 13-11, to take a 2-1 advantage.

The former World No.5, who now sits outside the world’s top 400, fought back again, though, and led 6-2 in the third. However, the Egyptian did not panic, and some ferocious hitting saw her take the victory, dropping just one more point in an 11-7 scoreline in the fourth. She will now take on World No.4 Amanda Sobhy, the tournament’s top seed, on Wednesday afternoon.

“Nobody with this talent, or squash skills can ever… No matter how many years or injuries, you cannot take away that talent,” Shahin said.

“She has always had it; she has always had those skills. She also showed great athleticism today, so you wouldn’t know that she was injured. I am just glad to have her back. It was one of the toughest matches ever, especially to be played here, in the morning to me! I am glad she is back on Tour, and hopefully she is going to continue. I am so happy with this match, I will take it as a good win for me, obviously!

“It is my first time here, and everything is so perfect, so well organised. I am glad the Asian tour is back, you know. Since COVID we haven’t really had it! I am staying for three weeks and going to Malaysia and Hong Kong after this, so I am really glad to have this event for the first time, for me.

“Obviously, Amanda [Sobhy] is top four in the world. hopefully, I can scare her off, play a great match. If I can keep continuing this focus, and this hard work, I think I can do some good damage, and hopefully, that will be good tomorrow!”

At the Kallang SG Squash Centre, Belgium’s Nele Gilis came from a game down to defeat Egyptian Mariam Metwally in the opening round.

The Belgian, who claimed the Australian Open crown a couple of weeks ago, found herself behind after losing the opening game 11-9. She then battled back to win the second game 11-8, before then just dropping five more points across the next two games, to win in four and to set up a clash with World No.11 Olivia Fiechter in the second round.

“It was a bit of a quick turnaround after landing from New Zealand last night, and then being on the next day at 12,” the Belgian said.

“It was a bit of a slow start, but I am happy with the way I turned it around. I managed to win the last three games. I am excited to play on the glass court tomorrow!”