Qatar Classic 2021. Youssef Soliman advances to Round-3

Round-2 match recap from Squash Emcee Andy Taylor, Voice of the Qatar Classic.

Since 2017, Andy Taylor has been the voice of the Qatar Classic Squash Championship. With his individual style and delivery, Andy writes and narrates each player’s introduction; highlighting career accomplishments, providing context for fans before each match. As tournament emcee, Andy also interviews the winners and hosts the trophy ceremony at the conclusion of the championship.

In addition to his role with the Qatar Squash Federation, Taylor also hosts Doha’s professional tennis events, the Qatar ExxonMobil Open and Qatar Total Open.

A voice acting veteran, Andy is best known as the Voice of the US Open in New York. There, he has spent the last 20-years shaping the sound of the tennis season’s final Grand Slam; enhancing the fan experience. Informing. Entertaining. Celebrating sport and its colorful cast of characters.

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Second meeting. Soliman comes back. Defeats Hammer of Thor in five games

Surprisingly, this was the first PSA World Tour meeting between these two top Egyptian talents. They clashed once before, in the opening round of the 2016 Egyptian National Championship in Cairo. Omar Mossad emerged the victor in four games, then won two more matches to earn his second Egyptian National Championship triumph.

Youssef Soliman -19- (EGY) | Round-2 Emcee Introduction

From Cairo, this 24-year-old owns 8 PSA Challenger Tour titles and returns to Doha with a career-high ranking of World #19. Before the global pandemic abruptly ended the 2019-20 season, he made his PSA Platinum Round of 16 debut at the Tournament of Champions. Then, at the Windy City Open – he earned two tremendous triumphs over Mostafa Asal, then Marwan Elshorbagy, to reach the Final-16 in Chicago. But his biggest breakthrough came just 2-months-ago at the British Open – where he became a Platinum Quarterfinalist for first time, cracking the PSA’s top-20. Competing in his 3rd Qatar Q-Terminals Classic – in pursuit of his first Round of 16 Platinum run here in Doha; from Egypt – please welcome Youssef Soliman.

  • R2 — W — Omar Mossad -20- (EGY) | Score: 11-2, 6-11, 10-12, 11-3, 11-8 (66m)
  • R1 — BYE
  • Like Mosaad, Soliman has performed well at other events here in Qatar
  • In 2015, at just 18-years-old and ranked outside the top-150, Youssef made a Quarterfinal run at the Qatar Circuit No.2 Challenger
  • Two years later, ranked Wolrd #56, he reached the Semifinals of the Qatar Circuit No.4 Challenger, where he fell to local hero Abdulla Al Tamimi
  • Last year, he won his first Platinum-level match in Doha over Mazen Gamal, then fell to World Champ Tarek Momen in the 2nd-Round
  • Now, with a ranking inside the top-20, Soliman finds himself adjusting to life as a top talent. This week in Qatar, for the first time, he launched a Platinum campaign in the 2nd-Round, instead of the 1st-Round, (Round-1 Bye)
Omar Mosaad -20- (EGY) | Round-2 Emcee Introduction

Back in Doha, competing in his 12th Qatar Q-Terminals Classic – this 33-year-old, 2-time Egyptian National Champion is in determined pursuit of his first victory of the new 2021-22 season. He’s a World Championship Finalist, a US Open Finalist, and has been ranked as high as World #3. Known as the Hammer of Thor, he’s defeated many of the games greatest legends on the sport’s biggest stages. At the 2015 US Open, he upset Nick Matthew to reach the Final; and a month later, triumped over Ramy Ashour en route to the title match of the PSA World Championship. In 2012, he defeated Karim Darwish to become Egyptian National Champion for the first time. In all, he owns 10 career titles, and is a 32-time Finalist on Tour. From Cairo – please welcome The Hammer of Thor, Omar Mossad.

  • R2 — L — Youssef Soliman -19- (EGY) | Score: 2-11, 11-6, 12-10, 3-11, 8-11 (66m)
  • R1 — BYE
  • 3-years-ago on this court, Omar Mosaad reached the championship match of the PSA Bronze QSF No.1 (fell to Daryl Selby)
  • At the Qatar Classic, in 11 previous appearances, he has never reached the Round of 16
  • The Hammer of Thor’s run during the 2015-16 season remains his crowning achievement in squash. That Summer, he lost both his sister and mother in a tragic car accident, but channeled the loss and heartbreak into his craft
  • In October, he defeated World #2 Nick Matthew in the Semifinals of the US Open, reaching the championship match of a Major for the first time
  • A month later, following a Round-2 exit in Doha, he defeated World #4 Ramy Ashour en-route to the championship match of the PSA World Championship; after which he cracked the top-5
  • During the rest of the season, he made two more Semifinal Platinum runs, won the Egyptian National Championship, and reach two additional top-tier PSA Finals. He climbed to a career-high ranking of World #3 and qualified for the PSA World Tour Finals for the first time
  • Unfortunately, the Hammer of Thor has struggled to rediscover the magic of that defining season
  • By October of 2017, he dropped outside the top-30 – but made a run to the US Open Semifinal, which boosted his ranking back into the top-20
  • Ever since, he’s maintained top-20 status. He’ll need to win a couple of matches this week in Doha to keep it that way

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Squash Emcee Andy Taylor. Qatar Classic 2020. Champions in Doha 1992 to Today

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For nearly three decades, the Qatar Squash Federation has hosted the sport’s elite at the Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex. Originally coined the Qatar International, Pakistan’s Jansher Khan captured the first five Doha titles from 1992 to 1996. Canada’s Jonathan Power then won back-to-back Doha titles over Scotland’s Peter Nichol; earning triumphs at the 1997 Qatar International and the 1998 World Championship.

Enter the Qatar Classic Squash Championship

After a two year absence, professional squash returned to Doha in 2001. Rebranded the Qatar Classic, Peter Nichol – now representing England – again reached back-to-back Doha Finals. This time, he captured the first two Qatar Classic titles over Australia’s David Palmer. England’s Lee Beachill and James Willstrop won the next two Qatar Classic titles, before Egypt began its outright Doha dominance.

In fact, since Ramy Ashour became the first Egyptian Doha champion at the 2006 Qatar Classic; the Arab nation has won 13 of the last 15 Doha titles, including three World Championships. Alexandria’s Mohamed Elshorbagy – the only 3-time Qatar Classic Champion – reached a record six consecutive finals on this court between 2012 and 2017. Most recently, Ali Farag won back-to-back Qatar Classic titles in 2018 and 2020. Unfortunately, the World #1 won’t be back in Doha this year to defend the title.

Professional Squash and COVID-19

Like every international sport, the recent global pandemic has created tremendous challenges for squash events worldwide. Due to COVID’s insidious spread, the 2019-20 season ended abruptly in March; immediately following Mohamed Elshorbagy’s victory at the 2020 Canary Wharf Classic.

Without fans, the sport launched its return six months later in Manchester – another Elshorbagy triumph. However, with global cases hitting a second surge, all events in the United Kingdom, United States and Asia were shuttered. The 2020-2021 season was in peril. At the time, as a U.S. resident, Andy Taylor made the difficult decision to suspend all international travel. Reluctantly, he stepped away from his role as emcee at the 2020 Qatar Classic.

Saviors. The Qatar Squash Federation and CIB’s CEO Hussein Abaza of Egypt

Over the next 10-months, Qatar and Egypt were the only two nations to host PSA Platinum events. Without the U.S. Open. Hong Kong Open. New York’s Tournament of Champions. The Windy City Open. And British Open — The sport needed bold and determined intervention.

Cautiously, the QSF moved forward with the Qatar Classic, providing a COVID safe bubble for players and crew. Meanwhile, Egypt’s Hussein Abaza went above and beyond. Remarkably, CIB’s CEO spearheaded two PSA World Tour Finals, the Egyptian Open, two Black Ball Opens and El Gouna International. From September to June, he funded six expensive, top-tier PSA events for both the men’s and women’s tours. Egypt became the hub of the sport – a safe place to compete while vaccinations took hold; while the world recovered.

Thankfully, since July, much of the globe has slowly opened back up. Chicago hosted the World Championships. Hull welcomed the sport’s elite for the British Open. Last month, it was only fitting that the 2021-22 season began in front of the pyramids at Giza. True to form, Egyptian rivals Ali Farag and Mohamed Elshorbagy headlined the event; delivering an exceptional 5-game Final, where Farag lifted his 9th Platinum trophy.

A Sport Back on Track, thanks to human compassion and ingenuity

After September’s Egyptian Open, the U.S. swing was also a tremendous success. From San Francisco to the US Open’s immaculate new Arlen Specter US Squash Center in Philadelphia; fans responsibly returned, recently tested or fully vaccinated. All starved to once again see the best in the world compete inside the glass.

Now, squash returns to the Arab Gulf for the 17th Qatar Classic Squash Championship.

Thankfully, as global vaccinations continue their ascent, the new squash season is beginning to follow a familiar path. While the past 19-months have been dark, spotlighting the reality of human fragility; it has also been an epoch defined by compassion, resilience and hope. Squash, as a sport and lifestyle, embodies these traits.

When we choose to quiet the noise, steel our determination, and commit to selflessly work together toward collective good; ultimately toward survival — the darkness is no match for our blinding ingenuity.

No, the fight isn’t over. But we’ve hit some astonishing nicks, and continue to edge closer toward “match ball.”