Cairo crowd in raptures
By SEAN REUTHE in Cairo
Day four of the 2016 Wadi Degla PSA Men’s World Championship saw a trio of Egyptians send the home crowd into raptures as World No.1 Mohamed ElShorbagy, World No.4 Karim Abdel Gawad and World No.6 Ali Farag all rose to third round wins in Cairo.
ElShorbagy crashed out at the third round stage of last year’s tournament after a shock defeat to former World No.1 James Willstrop, but there was no danger of history repeating itself as the Bristol-based 25-year-old romped to a straight games win over compatriot Karim Ali Fathi.
“I’ve watched Karim all my life, he’s in my brother’s age group and I’ve always admired his fighting spirit on court,” said ElShorbagy.
“I felt like I am much more experienced on this stage than him and I used that to my advantage, especially on the first two games. It’s a huge stage to play in the World Championship third round and I’m a lot more used to it than he is.
“I’m feeling good, I’m feeling happy and I’m just enjoying my squash. I had some tough times at the beginning of the season, but I’m back to where I was again on court.”
ElShorbagy will take on Farag for a place in the semi-final after the Harvard graduate dispatched Colombia’s Miguel Angel Rodriguez by a 3-1 margin.
Farag started superbly and dropped just four points in an opening game blitz before being pegged back by Rodriguez, a former World No.4, in the second.
But he recovered in the third and fourth games to seal an 11-4, 6-11, 11-9, 11-7 win, setting up a repeat of his Al Ahram Open semi-final clash with ElShorbagy from last month, in which Farag triumphed.
“In the first game I think I started very well, I listened to what [four-time World Champion Amr] Shabana had to say, he said to keep it as tight as possible because when you give him any angles he is so good,” said Farag.
“But at the same time, I couldn’t play in a specific rhythm because he is so good when he gets in a rhythm. I tried to mix it up, hold a bit, then play fast and lift it up a bit. Then, in the second, it surprised me because he did that better than I did. He mixed up the pace quite well, it took me by surprise, and he won the second game so all credit to him.
“It’s quite exciting, I love playing with Mohamed because every time we have played so far it’s been a tough battle and he always gives it 100 per cent. I’m going to give it 100 per cent as well and hopefully we’ll give a good one to the crowd.”
Gawad was the other Egyptian victor on the fourth day of action after he dispatched Hong Kong’s Max Lee in a 7-11, 11-3, 11-6, 11-6 victory.
The 25-year-old from Alexandria fought through two successive five-game battles to reach round three and he recovered from a slow start to take the match in four.
“It’s very hard to play with Max Lee when he controls the middle. He’s very, very tough to beat, so the main tactic for today was trying to control the middle as much as I could and try to make him run a little bit more,” Gawad explained.
“This is my first quarter-final [in a World Championship]. Even in the juniors, my best result was the round of 16. It’s nice to be in the quarters and play in front of your home audience. It’s a great thing and I just hope to keep this up, win the next round and the semi-final.”
Three-time winner Nick Matthew was the only non-Egyptian winner on the opening day of the third round and he defeated German No.1 Simon Rösner to reach the quarter-finals of the sport’s premier tournament for a tenth successive time.
Rösner went a game to the good after a superb start, but Matthew battled back and, despite initially letting a 7-1 lead slip in the second, he held out to draw level and then took the next two games, ensuring he will go head-to-head with Gawad – the man he beat in the U.S. Open to reach the final there.
“I was gearing up for a worst cast scenario and going 2-0 down, but I still believe I could have done it if I was 2-0 down,” said Matthew.
“I get the feeling that our match at the U.S. Open was maybe better quality squash all round, but at the World Championships you have to dig those results out and I think I will benefit a lot from this match tonight in terms of getting me back match-fit for the next round.”
2016 PSA Men’s World Squash Championship, Day 4.
Results – Third Round (Top Half):
 Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) bt Karim Ali Fathi (EGY) 3-0: 11-3, 11-6, 11-9 (36m)
 Ali Farag (EGY) bt  Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL) 3-1: 11-4, 6-11, 11-9, 11-7 (56m)
 Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) bt  Max Lee (HKG) 3-1: 7-11, 11-3, 11-6, 11-6 (49m)
 Nick Matthew (ENG) bt  Simon Rösner (GER) 3-1: 6-11, 11-9, 11-7, 12-10 (65m)
Nafiizwan Adnan (MAS) v  Fares Dessouky (EGY)
Daryl Selby (ENG) v  Ramy Ashour (EGY)
 Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) v  Tarek Momen (EGY)
Tsz Fung Yip (HKG) v  Gregory Gaultier (FRA)
Pictures by STEVE LINE (www.squashpics.com) courtesy of PSA