R1: Dimitri 3/1, Youssef Ibrahim 3-0

Dimitri Steinmann (SUI) 3-1 Mohamed ElSherbini (EGY) 11-4, 11-5, 6-11, 11-3 (40m)
[16] Youssef Ibrahim (EGY) 3-0 Shahjahan Khan (USA)  11-2, 11-9, 14-12 (38m)


Youssef 3-0 ShahJahan

A bit of a weird math that one. Youssef, being a splendid version of himself in the first game, didn’t leave any chance for the American to breathe all throughout the opener. But from the second game on, Shah, very unhappy with the ref decisions, including a ball he saw not up on game ball in the second, found some superb movement to contain the Prince Charming, and forced a few errors out of him.

The third is like the second, neck to neck the whole time, and from 8/10 match ball for Youssef, we saw some lovely shots from the American, saving 3 match balls and setting two game balls. But Youssef manages to clinch the last 15m game, 14/12. Shahjahan was not a happy bunny with the ref at the end…

Youssef : In the first game, I was playing really well, my basic game was solid at the back, and when I had the opportunity I took it while keeping the pressure at the back.

I lost a bit of focus in the middle of the second, 4/1, made a couple of silly errors, very cheap and the momentum shifted a little bit. I got a little bit tense with my game, starting to overthink when I had the shots. I play way too often to the front, and I started to be a little edgy.

To win that second was really important.

In the third, I was playing ok, and he stepped up, he was playing really well, and I had to dig really deep to win the crucial points, because I could feel he was coming back strong. I had to keep strong mentally, I wish I could have kept the focus I had in the first game but I couldn’t.

I have been working hard on that mental side of my game for a long time. Since I came back from injury, I can now focus on the game and not the injury as I was doing before. Since I am moving well, I have now to focus on the small details and that’s what made me lose a lot of close matches with the top guys.

This season I was close so many times, but if you give those top guys an inch. As I said, I have been working really hard on that aspect of my game, I’m definitely much better than I was last season and a couple years ago. With the experience, I hope I can get more confident, and deal better and better with those situations.

Dimitri : “Niki just told me they were the best first two games he’s ever seen me play, and I think it was because I was so relaxed.

“I love the environment here, it’s a great club and facility. I’m enjoying my squash and I’m happy to get the win.

“Sherbini is a really good player and I gave him a little bit too much space to hit the ball, and as soon as he’s settled he’s really gifted with his racket work. He put me under pressure and played a lot of winners. After losing the third I knew I had to get him moving again, and that’s what I did at the beginning of the fourth especially, and that’s what got me over the line.

“I’ve been trying to be more relaxed in my entire life situation and I think that’s helped a lot. I’ve started working with a mental coach, Fabian Westermann, he’s been an absolute game changer for me, and I’m pleased to be more relaxed.”