Top seed ElShorbagy off to winning start
Egypt’s World No.1 Mohamed ElShorbagy got his tournament off to a winning start on the second day of action at the CIB Black Ball Squash Open PSA Platinum tournament in Cairo, Egypt.
2018 Hong Kong Open winner ElShorbagy had to be at his best to conquer a resilient Max Lee of Hong Kong, who pushed the Egyptian all the way in an entertaining four-game battle inside the Black Ball Sporting Club.
However, it was the number one seed – who received a bye into the second round – who prevailed in front of his home crowd by an 11-7, 13-11, 2-11, 12-10 scoreline to book his place in the last 16.
“I had to be sharp and any loose shots I played today he took full advantage of and he showed what a great player he is,” said reigning World Champion ElShorbagy afterwards. “He is such a great talent and it was never easy from the first point. I’m just glad I pulled through in the end because that fourth game could have slipped away.
“I’ve had a good start to the season, maybe I’ve had a few dips at a couple of tournaments, but Hong Kong got me back on track again. I’m coming here, and I want to try and play my best squash.”
ElShorbagy will now face Malaysia’s 20-year-old Eain Yow Ng in the third round after he secured another big win when he defeated New Zealand’s Campbell Grayson in straight-games.
“Every game I was leading, and Campbell kept coming back really strongly,” said Malaysian Ng following his second round win. “I had to stay focused and I feel like I did that well today. I’m happy to go through in three and hopefully be fresh for the next round.”
Elsewhere at the Black Ball Sporting Club, Peru’s World No.11 Diego Elias claimed a 3-1 win over Switzerland’s World No.20 Nicolas Mueller to set up a rematch with Egypt’s Karim Abdel Gawad.
Gawad – who defeated Hong Kong’s Tsz Fung Yip in straight-games in round two – defeated Elias in the final of the Pakistan Open PSA Bronze tournament over the weekend to lift his 19th PSA title.
“I’m looking forward to playing Gawad on Thursday, so I can get my revenge,” said the Peruvian after his confident win. “He played really well on Sunday, I think he played so well that I didn’t know what to do but I know what to expect now and I’m prepared for that.”
There was also joy for England’s George Parker who continued his strong start to the season by reaching the last 16 in Cairo, courtesy of a 3-1 win over Egypt’s Karim El Hammamy – who had caused an upset in the previous round by knocking out compatriot Mazen Hesham.
“All credit to Karim – he’s such a good counter player and makes you hit a lot of balls to the front,” said the 22-year-old Englishman. “Sometimes you see your margin go down and you start to hit tins and lose your head but luckily I managed to hit a lot more winners than tins today and I just dug in.”
Parker will now face Egypt’s World No.10 Mohamed Abouelghar for a place in the quarter-finals at the PSA Platinum tournament after the Egyptian defeated wildcard Shehab Essam by an 11-3, 11-8, 11-7 margin.
“I just made sure I played simple squash and nothing too fancy and I’m happy with the way I played,” said Abouelghar following his victory.
“I don’t have a good history in Egypt. I’m coming into this tournament confident and I’m playing well. I worked on a lot of things over the summer and I’m glad to see that they are paying off and I hope I can break the losing streak here.”
Germany’s Raphael Kandra also marched through to the third round, beating England’s former World No.12 Tom Richards by a 9-11, 11-8, 11-8, 11-4 scoreline in 44 minutes to set up a last 16 tie with World No.4 Tarek Momen, after he prevailed in a four-game encounter with Australia’s Ryan Cuskelly.
The second round continues on Wednesday December 5 when World No.2 Ali Farag begins his tournament.