‘I feel honoured to share a court with guys like James’
By SEAN REUTHE in New York
World No.2 Ali Farag got the better of former World No.1 James Willstrop in the standout match of day three of the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions – the PSA Platinum event currently taking place inside New York’s Grand Central Terminal.
Farag can overtake current World No.1 Mohamed ElShorbagy at the summit of the World Rankings if he wins the tournament and ElShorbagy exits the event at the semi-final stage or sooner.
And the Harvard graduate Farag kicked off his title challenge in New York after coming through a thrilling 51-minute battle with England’s Willstrop. The pair played out a series of entertaining rallies under the chandeliers of Grand Central’s Vanderbilt Hall and received a standing ovation as they departed the court.
“I grew up watching James, he is one of the players I look up to and it is never easy to share a court with him,” said Farag, who will play Willstrop’s compatriot Daryl Selby in the next round.
“He has better ball control, he is smarter than me. I just try to play as fast as possible. Thankfully, I was able to win and I am very happy to do so.
“I consider it a privilege every time I get on the court with him. I feel very honoured to be sharing a court with the likes of James and Nick [Matthew] and Greg [Gaultier].”
The day’s biggest upset of the day saw World No.17 Omar Mosaad send World No.6 Miguel Rodriguez to an early exit to follow up his win at the Black Ball Open last month.
Colombia’s Rodriguez started well in New York to go a game ahead, however a crucial second game went the way of Mosaad on the tie-break, and the Egyptian played some scintillating squash in the third and fourth games to consign Rodriguez to an early exit.
“I am really happy because I did a good job today, I think, and Miguel [did so] as well,” said Mosaad.
“It is not easy to play Miguel. Especially because we have had a couple of matches that were very tough. I needed to be strong mentally today, I pushed 100 per cent today and I want to thank my coaches and my wife, who is supporting me today.”
New Zealand’s World No.7 Paul Coll escaped with a 3-1 victory over men’s United States No.1 Todd Harrity after he almost let a two-game lead slip.
Coll was in control as he dropped just six points over the course of the opening two games, but Harrity, backed on by his home crowd, battled his way back into the match as he unsettled the Kiwi and hit a number of winners at the front of the court.
Harrity’s resurgence continued into the fourth as he built up a 7-0 lead, but Coll was able to arrest his drop off in intensity and fought back to close out the win in four games. The 26-year-old will line up against India’s Saurav Ghosal for a place in the last eight.
“I became a bit too passive,” Coll said. “Obviously I was concerned [after going 7-0 down in the fourth] and I tried to get myself back into it. I just had my coach’s voice in my head going nuts at me.”
There was also a victory for World No.4 Tarek Momen, who claimed a hard-fought 3-2 triumph against World No.10 Mohamed Abouelghar, winning a phenomenal battle 10-12, 11-4, 4-11, 11-7, 11-6 in 68 minutes.
Momen will play France’s Gregoire Marche in round three after his win over compatriot Lucas Serme, while Greg Lobban also advanced into the last 16 by beating England’s Chris Simpson Lobban now meets Mosaad..
The women’s tournament got under way with United States duo Haley Mendez and Marina Stefanoni seeing their hopes come to an end at the hands of Dutch player Milou van der Heijden and Egypt’s Zeina Mickawy, respectively.
Meanwhile, former World No.5 Low Wee Wern capped her first appearance at the tournament since 2016 with a 3-1 victory over Mayar Hany of Egypt at the Harvard Club of New York.
“I’m a bit nervous, I’ve played it before but I didn’t appreciate it when I was in the top 10, I just took it for granted and it was just another match for me,” said Low, who will now take on No.6 seed Nouran Gohar in the next round.
“After being out for 21 months, I really missed it and this time around I think I will appreciate it a bit more.”
The men’s third round will begin today (Saturday, January 19t), while the women’s event reaches the second round stage, meaning the top eight seeds – including defending champion Nour El Sherbini, World No.1 Raneem El Welily and United States No.1 Amanda Sobhy – will all get their tournaments under way.
Sobhy meets Danielle Letourneau, who hit back to beat fellow Canadian Samantha Cornett after losing the first game 11-0.
All of the action from Grand Central Terminal will be shown live on SQUASHTV (rest of world) and Eurosport Player (Europe only) from 12:00 (GMT-5).
2019 J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions, Grand Central Terminal, New York, USA.
Men’s Second Round (Bottom Half):
 Tarek Momen (EGY) bt Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY) 3-2: 10-12, 11-4, 4-11, 11-7, 11-6 (68m)
Gregoire Marche (FRA) bt Lucas Serme (FRA) 3-0: 11-7, 11-7, 11-4 (51m)
Greg Lobban (SCO) bt Chris Simpson (ENG) 3-0: 11-9, 11-4, 11-6 (49m)
Omar Mosaad (EGY) bt  Miguel Rodriguez (COL) 3-1: 7-11, 17-15, 11-6, 11-9 (81m)
 Paul Coll (NZL) bt Todd Harrity (USA) 3-1: 11-3, 11-3, 9-11, 11-8 (55m)
Saurav Ghosal (IND) bt Campbell Grayson (NZL) 3-0: 11-7, 11-5, 11-8 (48m)
Daryl Selby (ENG) bt Youssef Soliman (EGY) 3-0: 11-9, 11-7, 11-6 (50m)
 Ali Farag (EGY) bt James Willstrop (ENG) 3-1: 11-4, 11-9, 8-11, 11-4 (51m)
Men’s Third Round (Top Half) To Be Played Saturday January 19:
 Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) v Zahed Salem (EGY)
Cameron Pilley (AUS) v Diego Elias (PER)
Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) v Fares Dessouky (EGY)
Max Lee (HKG) v  Simon Rösner (GER)
Men’s Third Round (Bottom Half) To Be Played Sunday January 20:
 Tarek Momen (EGY) v Gregoire Marche (FRA)
Greg Lobban (SCO) v Omar Mosaad (EGY)
 Paul Coll (NZL) v Saura Ghosal (IND)
Daryl Selby (ENG) v  Ali Faraf (EGY)
Women’s First Round:
Mariam Metwally (EGY) bt Ho Tze-Lok (HKG) 3-0: 11-5, 11-9, 11-3 (26m)
Tinne Gilis (BEL) bt Coline Aumard (FRA) 3-0: 11-7, 11-9, 11-5 (27m)
Joey Chan (HKG) bt Satomi Watanabe (JPN) 3-0: 11-6, 11-8, 11-6 (23m)
Low Wee Wern (MAS) bt Mayar Hany (EGY) 3-1: 12-10, 11-3, 6-11, 11-6 (42m)
Milou van der Heijden (NED) bt Haley Mendez (USA) 3-1: 11-9, 15-13, 6-11, 11-9 (47m)
Liu Tsz-Ling (HKG) bt Rachael Grinham (AUS) 3-1: 8-11, 11-5, 11-3, 11-1 (29m)
Rowan Elaraby (EGY) bt Alexandra Fuller (RSA) 3-1: 3-11, 11-9, 11-7, 11-7 (35m)
Zeina Mickawy (EGY) bt [WC] Marina Stefanoni (USA) 3-1: 12-10, 3-11, 11-6, 14-12 (49m)
Lisa Aitken (SCO) bt Nada Abbas (EGY) 3-2: 13-11, 5-11, 4-11, 15-13, 11-5 (64m)
Danielle Letourneau (CAN) bt Samantha Cornett (CAN) 3-1: 0-11, 11-7, 12-10, 13-11 (40m)
Emily Whitlock (ENG) bt Hollie Naughton (CAN) 3-1: 8-11, 11-6, 11-8, 11-8 (47m)
Millie Tomlinson (ENG) bt Amanda Landers-Murphy (NZL) 3-0: 11-7, 11-7, 11-3 (33m)
[17/32] Yathreb Adel (EGY) bt Julianne Courtice (ENG) 3-0: 11-8, 12-10, 11-5 (25m)
Sivasangari Subramaniam (MAS) bt Fiona Moverley (ENG) 3-0: 11-2, 11-7, 11-8 (23m)
Nele Gilis (BEL) bt Tsz-Wing Tong (HKG) 3-0: 12-10, 11-7, 11-6 (42m)
Hania El Hammamy (EGY) bt [WC] Emilia Soini (FIN) 3-0: 11-4, 11-2, 11-3 (19m)
Women’s Second Round (Top Half): To Be Played Saturday January 19:
 Raneem El Welily (EGY) v Mariam Metwally (EGY)
Tinne Gilis (BEL) v  Joshna Chinappa (IND)
 Annie Au (HKG) v Joey Chan (HKG)
Low Wee Wern (MAS) v  Nouran Gohar (EGY)
 Camille Serme (FRA) v Milou van der Heijden (NED)
Liu Tsz-Ling (HKG) v  Victoria Lust (ENG)
 Nicol David (MAS) v Rowan Elaraby (ENG)
Zeina Mickawy (EGY) v  Joelle King (NZL)
Women’s Second Round (Bottom Half) To Be Played Sunday January 20:
 Nour El Tayeb (EGY) v Lisa Aitken (SCO)
Danielle Letourneau (CAN) v  Amanda Sobhy (USA)
 Alison Waters (ENG) v Emily Whitlock (ENG)
Millie Tomlinson (ENG) v  Tesni Evans (WAL)
 Laura Massaro (ENG) v Yathreb Adel (EGY)
Sivasangari Subramaniam (MAS) v  Salma Hany (EGY)
 Olivia Blatchford Clyne (USA) v Nele Gilis (BEL)
Hania El Hammamy (EGY) v  Nour El Sherbini (EGY)
Report by SEAN REUTHE (PSA PR and Media Manager). Edited by ALAN THATCHER.
Pictures courtesy of PSA