Curtis Malik (right) celebrates his win over Mohamed Abouelghar.
Curtis Malik (right) celebrates his win over Mohamed Abouelghar.

Day Two Afternoon : Malik takes out Abouelghar for first worlds win

The opening round of the 2023-24 CIB PSA World Championships continued today at the Palm Hills Club as England’s Curtis Malik overcame former World No.7 Mohamed Abouelghar to claim his first win at the sport’s biggest tournament.

Like on day one, 28 matches took place across the ‘traditional’ plaster courts, with four more matches to come on the glass court later tonight. Malik ensured that he would join younger sister Torrie in the second round of squash’s pinnacle event after he battled to a dramatic 11-5, 5-11, 11-3, 3-11, 12-10 win over Abouelghar.

It was a tight affair, with Abouelghar twice fighting back from a game down, but a nail-biting tie-break went the way of Malik in the fifth as the World No.38 held his nerve to reach the last 32 for the first time.

“I’m in a bit of disbelief,” Malik said afterwards.

“To beat someone of Mohamed Abouelghar’s calibre is pretty unreal. I went into the match knowing that I could do well as I’ve had a good couple of weeks in the last few tournaments and I feel like I’m playing good squash. I was really pleased to get over the line in the fifth.

“That was one of the most mentally tough games I’ve played as one minute I’m playing the squash of my life, the next game I was playing the worst squash and he was playing really well, then it happened again. Once the fifth game came I was hoping I’d play like I did in the first and third games, and luckily I did but we both started to play well at the same time. I was so glad to have held onto the fifth game.

“It gives me a lot of confidence [beating someone of Abouelghar’s calibre]. I’ve had a lot of close ones and I’ve lost 3-2. To get over the line in the fifth gives me plenty of confidence for the rest of the tournament and going forwards.”

Malik will take on Welsh No.10 seed Joel Makin in the next round after Makin defeated Germany’s Raphael Kandra in straight games, while 2017 World Champion Mohamed ElShorbagy overcame Czech Republic’s Martin Svec by the same scoreline.

Malaysia’s Eain Yow Ng was also in action as he got the better of French No.13 seed Baptiste Masotti to set up a second round encounter with Ryunosuke Tsukue of Japan.

“I thought I played well, I kept the length good and stuck to my game,” Eain Yow said afterwards.

“It’s hard to get the ball deep to the back of the court, so that was my main focus, I was trying to keep Baptiste away from the middle. We’ve seen him hit so many winners over the years, he’s had so many shots of the month, so I had to keep him in the back. I hung strong when I needed to in the big points, I was 2-0 up against him in El Gouna and I lost in five, so I didn’t want that to repeat itself.

“I was a bit more positive today and I believed in what I can do at the front of the court. When I had a chance I took it in and made my opponent run around me rather than being too passive.

“I’ve been playing well, I won a $50K in Hamburg and that was a good event for me overall. I know what I’m good at and I know what my strengths are. I’m in a good place coming into this one, so let’s see how it goes, I’m feeling positive.”

In the women’s event USA’s Caroline Fouts achieved her first win at the PSA World Championships after she got the better of Canada’s Nicole Bunyan by an 11-9, 11-3, 6-11, 11-4 scoreline.

The 18-year-old will take on Malaysia’s Sivasangari Subramaniam for a place in the last 16 after Sivasangari dispatched Latvia’s Ineta Hopton.

“I’m so excited to be here, this is a great experience for me and it’s my first time in Egypt,” said Fouts.

“This atmosphere is great, there’s so much spirit and the crowd is so passionate, it made me play my best squash today. I’m so happy that I could be coached by Rod [Martin] today, I had so much support at home and here. It’s really overwhelming and I’m excited to get through.

“The approach to the game is a lot more fast-paced and aggressive. He [Martin] is working and talking with my coach at home, Luke Butterworth, and they’re taking my game to the next level with a faster, more physical style. I think it’s really shown in my match with Nicole today.

“It [Egypt] is so much fun and it’s so different from back home in the US. There is so much passion behind squash and everyone knows squash, whereas at home it’s a bit smaller. I love being here and I’m learning a lot from everybody and watching the top players is a great experience.”

Also through to the next round is No.9 seed Rowan Elaraby after she beat Hong Kong’s Tsz-Wing Tong in comfortable style. Her next round opponent will be Malak Khafagy, who earned her first World Championships win with victory over England’s Grace Gear.

“Today’s match was really important to me,” Elaraby said.

“Playing the first round in such a big event is nerve-racking. After Gouna, I took a few days off with my friends, I was doing nothing, just hanging out, relaxing and remembering I had another life. That helped me for my preparation for this tournament.

“I trained really hard in the past 10 days and that gave me a lot of confidence in my game. I made sure I put the work in, showed up every day and gave it 100 per cent, even when I was tired.”

World No.5 Nour El Tayeb will join Elaraby in the last 32 after a dominant win over Hong Kong’s Tomato Ho and she will play Mariam Metwally next.

Action from the glass court at the Palm Hills Club begins at 19:30 (GMT+3) and all of the action will be live on SQUASHTV.

For more information on the PSA World Championships, visit the offical tournament website or follow the PSA on XFacebookInstagramTikTokYouTube and WhatsApp.

Results – Men’s First Round (Bottom Half): 2023-24 CIB PSA World Championships

Nicolas Mueller (SUI) bt Hamza Khan (PAK) 3-1: 11-9, 11-6, 5-11, 11-6 (39m)

Curtis Malik (ENG) bt Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY) 3-2: 11-5, 5-11, 11-3, 3-11, 12-10 (50m)

[10] Joel Makin (WAL) bt Raphael Kandra (GER) 3-0: 11-4, 11-7, 11-6 (41m)

[12] Youssef Soliman (EGY) bt Omar Mosaad (EGY) 3-0: 11-7, 11-8, 11-7 (54m)

Yahya Elnawasany (EGY) bt Joseph White (AUS) 3-1: 14-16, 11-5, 11-6, 11-6 (50m)

Lucas Serme (FRA) bt Gregoire Marche (FRA) 3-0: 11-7, 12-10, 13-11 (57m)

[6] Mazen Hesham (EGY) bt Farkas Balazs (HUN) 3-0: 14-12, 11-5, 11-2 (31m)

[7] Mohamed Elshorbagy (ENG) bt Martin Svec (CZE) 3-0: 11-4, 11-4, 12-10 (28m)

Ramit Tandon (IND) bt Faraz Khan (USA) 3-0: 11-1, 11-3, 11-3 (13m)

Fares Dessouky (EGY) bt David Baillargeon (CAN) 3-0: 11-8, 11-7, 11-7 (34m)

[9] Marwan Elshorbagy (ENG) bt Auguste Dussourd (FRA) 3-0: 11-2, 11-8, 11-9 (43m)

Eain Yow Ng (MAS) bt [13] Baptiste Masotti (FRA)11-9, 11-8, 11-5 (40m)

Ryunosuke Tsukue (JPN) bt Spencer Lovejoy (USA) 3-0: 11-5, 11-4, 11-7 (34m)

Leonel Cardenas (MEX) bt Cesar Salazar (MEX) 3-0: 18-16, 11-9, 11-3 (52m)

Results – Women’s First Round (Bottom Half): 2023-24 CIB PSA World Championships

Hana Moataz (EGY) bt Nadine Shahin (EGY) 3-1: 11-4, 11-9, 10-12, 11-9 (36m)

Kenzy Ayman (EGY) bt Salma Eltayeb (EGY) 3-2: 12-10, 6-11, 11-8, 2-11, 11-8 (42m)

[12] Sabrina Sobhy (USA) bt Alicia Mead (ENG) 3-0: 11-7, 11-4, 11-6 (27m)

[13] Satomi Watanabe (JPN) bt Emily Whitlock (WAL) 3-0: 14-12, 13-11, 11-8 (49m)

Marie Stephan (FRA) bt Ainaa Amani (MAS) 3-1: 10-12, 11-7, 12-10, 11-7 (42m)

Mariam Metwally (EGY) bt Zeina Mickawy (EGY) 3-1: 11-5, 5-11, 11-8, 11-7 (45m)

[5] Nour El Tayeb (EGY) bt Tomato Ho (HKG) 3-0: 11-3, 11-4, 11-2 (21m)

[6] Georgina Kennedy (ENG) bt Rachel Arnold (MAS) 3-1: 11-3, 11-5, 10-12, 11-5 (33m)

Aira Azman (MAS) bt Lowri Roberts (WAL) 3-1: 11-8, 11-8, 10-12, 14-12 (35m)

Malak Khafagy (EGY) bt Grace Gear (ENG) 3-0: 11-6, 11-4, 11-5 (22m)

[9] Rowan Elaraby (EGY) bt Tsz-Wing Tong (HKG) 3-0: 11-9, 11-5, 11-7 (26m)

[14] Sivasangari Subramaniam (MAS) bt Ineta Hopton (LAT) 3-0: 11-6, 11-8, 11-8 (19m)

Caroline Fouts (USA) bt Nicole Bunyan (CAN) 3-1: 11-9, 11-3, 6-11, 11-4 (46m)

Melissa Alves (FRA) bt Nour Aboulmakarim (EGY) 3-1: 11-5, 9-11, 11-2, 11-9 (40m)


More Player Reaction…

Sabrina Sobhy

Beat: Alicia Mead 3-0: 11-7, 11-4, 11-6 (27m)

Next Opponent: Kenzy Ayman

“It’s the first round of the World Champs and I haven’t played a proper PSA event in a while, so I was a little bit nervous.

“I’ve never played Alicia either, so anyone that I’m not too familiar with always adds an element of the unknown. That can bet a little bit tense, but getting off in three against anybody these days gives you confidence and it always saves the body a bit because most players are pretty beat up physically and mentally at this point in the season.

“I try to put the focus on my game because personally when I watch players on SQUASHTV it adds some more stress. You can get tips from other players, but I keep focused on my game and try and stay tidy and accurate in that scenario.

“I’m not too sure [where her game is at]. On my good days I can play top-level squash, on my bad days I can struggle to win games, so it fluctuates. I’m going to try and not be too hard on myself regardless of what happens out there and I’ll try and enjoy it. It’s just another squash tournament in the end.”


Kenzy Ayman

Beat: Salma Eltayeb 3-2: 12-10, 6-11, 11-8, 2-11, 11-8 (42m)

Next Opponent: Sabrina Sobhy

“I’m really happy to win today.

“Salma is a really tough opponent, we played a lot at the juniors and we have a lot of history together. She knows me and I know her. It was really hard and tough, I won 3-2 and it was a close match. I’m really happy with my performance and I’m really excited to play the second round at the World Championships.

“I just focused point by point and didn’t focus on it being a big tournament. I relaxed because if I thought about winning I would get confused and lose every point easy.”


Mariam Metwally

Beat: Zeina Mickawy 3-1: 11-5, 5-11, 11-8, 11-7 (45m)

Next Opponent: Nour El Tayeb or Tomato Ho

“Zeina [Mickawy] is a good friend of mine, so it’s always tough to play a good friend on court.

“We played at ToC and it was 3-0 and I guess the pressure was more on me. I just want to do the best I can in the Worlds because in the last two I lost in the first round and today I really wanted to change that. In the first game I played really well but in the second I felt a bit relaxed, so in the third I came back on court and started to stick to my game plan as much as I could and it worked well.

“Today I was trying to stay mentally tough and I’m glad it worked.

“There’s a lot of respect between us on and off court. It was very close today and everyone wants to win when they’re on court and today we were both good on court.

“When it was match ball she started to play drop shots from everywhere and I felt she had no pressure, so she started to play everywhere. I felt the pressure but I tried to keep pushing and I’m glad I did that.”


Marie Stephan

Beat: Ainaa Amani 3-1: 10-12, 11-7, 12-10, 11-7 (42m)

Next Opponent: Satomi Watanabe or Emily Whitlock

“It’s a bit complicated at the moment, we had the European Team Championships last week, and I thought I had recovered well.

“I played five matches in four days as the No.1 because Melissa [Alves] was injured and couldn’t play. It was emotionally intense and complicated, with many ups and downs, because team competitions are always more emotionally charged than individual ones. So, I arrived here a bit mentally tired, but physically I thought I was fine.

“But this morning, I woke up with my back completely blocked. Fortunately, we have Florent, the physiotherapist for the French team, with us. He worked on me a bit, got me back on my feet, and gave me some warming balm and scotch tape. With the adrenaline, it eased off a bit, but I think I’ll be in pain tonight.

“Yann [Menegaux] told me to put the pain aside and focus only on the game and today I went for the match with the desire and determination to win. The content wasn’t great, but it did the job. Logically, it will be Satomi in the next round, she has had very good results recently, she won a Bronze, so I am the underdog with no pressure. I played her in 2015 in Penang at a 5K event and I lost 3-2.

“She is a very good player, technically, physically and mentally, and she is very strong too, I think they call her the Samurai. She is very nice, a friend off the court. It will be a good match if I play her, there is no pressure, I’m happy to be in the second round already and we’ll see what happens next.”


Fares Dessouky

Beat: David Baillargeon 3-0: 11-8, 11-7, 11-7 (34m)

Next Opponent: Marwan ElShorbagy or Auguste Dussourd

“This is the first match of the tournament.

“When you prepare well and do 100 per cent, sometimes the start of the event is a bit dodgy, I’m thinking too much probably.

“Every match I’m testing myself and checking what I’m able to do. It’s not a bad start, but finishing in three wasn’t easy at all. It was a good test and a good start to the tournament. Sometimes when you are nervous at the start of the tournament, it relaxes you and you play better in the next round.”


Malak Khafagy

Beat: Grace Gear 3-0: 11-6, 11-4, 11-5 (22m)

Next Opponent: Rowan Elaraby or Tsz-Wing Tong

“I injured myself a week ago, so I didn’t even know if I would be able to play this match or not.

“I spent the last week recovering and in rehab trying to fix my adductor and my hamstring because I strained them both. I was so relaxed today because I had nothing to lose. It’s my second Worlds and I wanted to get my first win here, but I had no stress.

“I played good squash with good quality. I hit my targets very well and didn’t have to keep running and moving to have less pressure on my leg. I’m very happy and grateful to get the win in three.

“It’s very special [to get her first World Championships win]. This is my first season actually on tour, I just started playing Platinums in January and I’m very proud of the way I’m training and changing mentally. I think it’s showing at this tournament, it feels so good.”


Youssef Soliman

Beat: Omar Mosaad 3-0: 11-7, 11-8, 11-7 (54m)

Next Opponent: Yahya Elnawasany

“I’ve got stitches again.

“I got stiches last year in Pittsburgh and I’ve had to have them again. I think Omar [Mosaad] played really well, he’s very solid and his length hitting is amazing and he got into it. I was under pressure and I tried do different things to get around him, I was trying to contain him as much as I could and I think I did this very well.

“I tripped over him and then I caught my racket [speaking about his injury in the first game]. It’s tough and it’s what happened, I got stitches, but I have an off day tomorrow.

“It’s the World Champs so the first match is a bit nervy and you try to do well as best as you can. You try to peak during the World Champs as much as you can, I’m glad to be through and looking forward to the next one.”


Yahya Elnawasany

Beat: Joseph White 3-1: 14-16, 11-5, 11-6, 11-6 (50m)

Next Opponent: Youssef Soliman

“I had never played Jo before, but I saw him play a couple of matches in the Hyder Trophy last week and also in the Canadian Open.

“I knew that he was fast and enjoyed lengthy rallies, so I tried to go a lot to the front. But in the first game, I hit so many tins, maybe eight or nine, I was too excited. I settled down in the second, and played percentage squash.

“I was fast today on the court and volleyed a lot but I was maybe not as accurate as I can be. It’s the first match of the tournament, it’s the Worlds and there is a lot of pressure, but I feel that my speed made the difference on court today. I think he got tired from the pace I was imposing on him and that made my life much easier from that point on.

“Youssef Soliman and I, we share the same coach. I’m training with Karim Fathy but also with Hesham El Attar, and that’s the coach we have in common. Youssef is also a very good friend of mine, a sparring partner, so it’s going to be a fun match.”


Sivasangari Subramaniam

Beat: Ineta Hopton 3-0: 11-6, 11-8, 11-8 (19m)

Next Opponent: Nicole Bunyan or Caroline Fouts

“I expected a better performance, yes it was 3-0, but there is always some expectation.

“Today I was not finding my game. Ineta is a very talented with very good racket skills, it’s tough to get the rhythm going with her. I don’t think I found my corners as well as I would have liked, and I wasn’t moving as well as I wanted. I also had a fear of slipping because I did when I trained on the court the other day. Now the court is much better, but I was still cautious.

“I’m glad to make it through the first round, it’s always tough and it was a good warm up, I’m really happy to get through. I’m taking one match at a time. It’s the World Champs, everybody is very good. I won the first match, now I’m going to focus on the second round match and will try to play better than today, focusing more on my game than on my opponent.”


Marwan ElShorbagy

Beat: Auguste Dussourd 3-0: 11-2, 11-8, 11-9 (40m)

Next Opponent: Fares Dessouky

“Believe it or not, these are the kind of matches people love watching.

“It’s all about hugging each other now, giving each other kisses on court, and I guess this is why squash at the top is so boring at the moment. There was absolutely nothing wrong on court today, we didn’t block, it was absolutely fine, just a bit of arguing. Sometimes you’ve got to show a bit of character, there was maybe one block from Auguste here and there but that’s all.

“I enjoyed the match and I enjoy those battles. The aggression has always been a part of my game, and I don’t see anything wrong with that. I show it, some top players know how to keep it inside, but I don’t.

“I gave it everything today. I love Auguste, he is a tough opponent to play because he knows how to win. Those players who know how to win are always harder to play.

“As a player, I have a lot of respect for him and I’m looking forward to playing him again.

In the next round I have Dessouky, who is another player that I respect and love watching because he is aggressive. Everyone will be here, watching our match. We are going to go hard at each other, and that’s what we want.

“It will be war on court and peace outside. No one crosses the limits with aggression and people love that.”


Satomi Watanabe

Beat: Emily Whitlock 3-0: 14-12, 13-11, 11-8 (49m)

Next Opponent: Marie Stephan

“I’m so relieved, it’s the World Champs and playing Emily Whitlock in the first round isn’t easy and she’s a former top 15 player.

“I think her highest ranking is 12, so she definitely has the experience and the skills. I struggled with her lobs and drops. I thought I was well prepared and I watched her game, but she definitely makes it very difficult for me. I’m pleased with my performance today.

“It doesn’t feel like I won in three. The first game was crucial as I was 10-7 down and I came back after that. No one likes to lose, but I think today was me being a little bit more patient in the end.”


Lucas Serme

Beat: Gregoire Marche 3-0: 11-7, 12-10, 13-11 (57m)

Next Opponent: Mazen Hesham

“I’m over the moon.

“It’s been a hard season for me and I just got in the draw. When it closed I was the last entry. I felt like I didn’t have a place here and I haven’t won too many matches recently, so to win that one and show that I’m still in the mix and I can play at that level is huge for me.

“It’s not the first time I’ve beaten him [Gregoire Marche] – I’ve beaten him at Nationals which is a big deal for me, but it’s not quite the same as a PSA match. To finally get one on the head-to-head record is really great for me.

“He was coming back and I was 10-7 up and I won that one in the tiebreak, then it was reversed in the third. It could have gone either way but I’m really happy and it shows that I can still be resilient and I can still make those rallies long and tough and win them.”


Hana Moataz

Beat: Nadine Shahin 3-1: 11-4, 11-9, 10-12, 11-9 (36m)

Next Opponent: Nouran Gohar or Emilia Soini

“Last year I had a pretty tough draw in the first round against [Nour] El Sherbini, so I was out pretty quickly.

“I’m really proud to get my first win. I’m really excited for round two. Today wasn’t really my best, I’ve been playing pretty well but I was a bit on and off. Hopefully I’ll be much better in the next round.

“She’s a very tricky player [Nadine Shahin] to play against, she runs around a lot and puts in some really good shots and she has really good hands. It can be hard to get the ball into the corners against her. But I’m glad I was able to win today.”


Nicolas Mueller

Beat: Hamza Khan 3-1: 11-9, 11-6, 5-11, 11-6 (39m)

Next Opponent: Mostafa Asal or Bernat Jaume

“He [Hamza Khan] is one of the most talented players, he shoots from every position and he’s going for shots that I haven’t seen for a long time.

“He’s fearless and I had to be on my toes. I managed to contain him in games one, two and four, but when I lost my length in the middle he punished me severely. I’m very happy to win that match.

“I think it helps [the experience]. I’ve been playing on the tour for the last 15 years and I needed to push myself because I was down in the third and I needed to close the gap and show some dominance, which I managed to do. I haven’t been this nervous for a match for a long time.

“I’m looking forward to playing on the outdoor glass court. It’s going to be either Mostafa Asal or Bernat Jaume so it’s going to be a tough one either way.”

Leonel Cardenas

Beat: Cesar Salazar 3-0: 18-16, 11-9, 11-3 (52m)

Next Opponent: Paul Coll or Tsz Kwan Lau

“It was an unbelievable match I think.

“We are the top players of our country and he is one of the best in Latin America… I’ve been playing well this season, I had some good results but this match was on a completely different level for me because I was playing someone of my own country and it felt completely different from any other match. He played 100 per cent, I played 100 per cent, but we were never aggressive or tense on court.

“I’m glad I’m strong now on court, I feel great, I kept fighting and I feel my fitness got me through today. I knew I was a good player, but I used to struggle a lot with my fitness, I realised that something had to be done. I did put a lot of work in on that. Things are feeling great and the fact I am training in Mexico is a great factor as well. With the altitude, I don’t get as tired as I was before.

“I worked on my game plan as well, and I’m very happy with the result against such an unbelievable player who is at the top of my country. I’m really happy with the way I controlled myself and my emotions today.”