Laura Massaro to renew rivalry with Nicol David
By NATHAN CLARKE in San Francisco
The 2017 Oracle NetSuite Open champions Sarah-Jane Perry and Mohamed ElShorbagy began the defences of their respective titles with victories over Egyptian Salma Hany and Frenchman Gregoire Marche on a busy second day of action at the PSA World Tour event taking place in San Francisco.
Victory here 12 months ago set the foundations for ElShorbagy to dominate during the 2017/18 season, with the Egyptian going on to claim the World Championship crown and regain the World No.1 ranking, and his bid to begin the 2018-19 campaign in a similar vein began in style with a comfortable 3-1 defeat of the dangerous.
After the pair traded the opening two games, ElShorbagy injected his ferocious trademark pace and power into the play to send Marche into all four corners of the court and make each and every rally difficult for the Frenchman. While Marche gamely stuck with him, ElShorbagy ultimately had to much quality at the critical moments and prevailed 11-3, 10-12, 11-3, 13-11 after just over an hour of play.
“I knew the danger of playing against him in first game of season, I had to be sharp and I had to play well to beat him today,” said ElShorbagy, who will now face Colombian Miguel Angel Rodriguez in the last eight.
“I started well here last year and proved a lot of things to myself during the season. But I have more to prove and I want to get better every day. I know what it feels to lose the number one spot and I want to make sure that I only lose it again when someone raises the bar over me, not because of me losing hunger or motivation like before.”
Rodriguez secured his place to face ElShorbagy with a 3-1 win over the maverick Mazen Hesham, while World No.4 Tarek Momen prevailed in the match of the day, coming through a thrilling 71-minute clash, full of outlandish winners, pulsating rallies and unbelievable court coverage, against Indian Saurav Ghosal by a narrow 9-11, 11-6, 2-11, 11-5, 11-7 margin.
“We play a very similar game,” said Momen. “He’s a very tough opponent so I’m just very pleased to get through today
“It was my first match of the season and it’s sometimes hard to get into the zone so I’m really happy that I was able to regroup mentally at the end.
“Last year was the best season I’ve had on Tour. A couple of wins at the beginning gave me some confidence and I was consistent throughout. I’m hoping to build on that momentum this season and hopefully go further and win some titles.”
Momen will face 2016 World Champion Karim Abdel Gawad in the quarter-finals, which will also see Simon Rösner of Germany and French former World No.1 Gregory Gaultier face-off, with Peru’s Diego Elias taking on World No.2 Ali Farag. Farag swept past Commonwealth Games champion James Willstrop in just 25 minutes, the shortest men’s match in the round. The longest match saw Elias fight back from 2-1 down to beat Mathieu Castagnet in 87 minutes.
In the women’s draw, 28-year-old Perry, who claimed the biggest title-win of her career here last year, began her title-defence with a comprehensive straight-games win over Egyptian Salma Hany to set up a last-eight clash with second seed Joelle King of New Zealand.
World Champion Raneem El Welily will face Alison Waters of England after both secured comfortable wins while one of the longest running rivalries on the women’s tour will be reignited when eight-time World Champion Nicol David and 2013 World Champion Laura Massaro of England go head-to-head.
The pair met at the China Open earlier this month, when David secured a 3-0 win, and Massaro will be hoping to gain revenge for that after overcoming an early one-game deficit against Australian Donna Lobban to book her last eight berth.
“Donna is a very dangerous player who mixes it up a lot so you have to be focused against her,” said Massaro.
“I found my range better the more the match went on. She played well in the first game and I had to adjust and mix things up tactically and it paid off in the end.
“I’m just pleased to have come through and get the win and be into the next round.”
Speaking after her victory over Fiona Moverley, David said: “I was very pleased with how I played today and the performance I put in.
“I took some time off at the end of last season and really felt that hunger come back. I’ve had a good few months so far with the Asian Games and other events so I’m excited to keep building on that through this week and the season.”
Hong Kong’s Annie Au will go up against Camille Serme of France in the last quarter-final. Serme ended home interest in the draw as she overpowered America’s Amanda Sobhy 3-1, clinching a close fourth game 11-9.
Results – 2018 Oracle NetSuite Open, San Francisco, USA.
Women’s Second Round:
 Raneem El Welily (EGY) bt Hollie Naughton (CAN) 3-0: 11-6, 11-4, 11-3 (21m)
 Alison Waters (ENG) bt Coline Aumard (FRA) 3-0: 11-7, 13-11, 11-6 (33m)
 Nicol David (MAS) bt Fiona Moverley (ENG) 3-0: 11-8, 11-5, 11-4 (26m)
 Laura Massaro (ENG) bt Donna Lobban (AUS) 3-1: 6-11, 11-9, 11-8, 11-4 (35m)
 Camille Serme (FRA) bt Amanda Sobhy (USA) 3-1: 11-6, 4-11, 11-6, 11-9 (41m)
 Annie Au (HKG) bt Milou van der Heijden (NED) 3-0: 11-9, 11-6, 11-4 (28m)
 Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) bt Salma Hany (EGY) 3-0: 11-8, 11-5, 11-7 (28m)
 Joelle King (NZL) bt Nadine Shahin (EGY) 3-0: 11-4, 11-5, 12-10 (28m)
Draw – Women’s Quarter-finals:
 Raneem El Welily (EGY) v  Alison Waters (ENG)
 Nicol David (MAS) v  Laura Massaro (ENG)
 Camille Serme (FRA) v  Annie Au (HKG)
 Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) v  Joelle King (NZL)
Men’s Second Round:
 Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) bt Gregoire Marche (FRA) 3-1: 11-3, 10-12, 11-3, 13-11 (61m)
 Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL) bt Mazen Hesham (EGY) 3-1: 11-7, 11-4, 9-11, 11-2 (50m)
 Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) bt Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi (QAT) 3-1: 11-7, 6-11, 11-5, 11-4 (47m)
 Tarek Momen (EGY) bt Saurav Ghosal (IND) 3-2: 9-11, 11-6, 2-11, 11-5, 11-7 (71m)
 Simon Rösner (GER) bt Karim Ali Fathi (EGY) 3-0: 11-5, 11-5, 11-3 (26m)
 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) 3-0: 11-5, 11-9, 11-3 (39m)
 Diego Elias (PER) bt Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) 3-2: 11-7, 10-12, 8-11, 11-7, 11-7 (86m)
 Ali Farag (EGY) bt James Willstrop (ENG) 3-0: 11-6, 11-5, 11-5 (25m)
Draw – Men’s Quarter-finals:
 Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) v  Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL)
 Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) v  Tarek Momen (EGY)
 Simon Rösner (GER) v  Gregory Gaultier (FRA)
 Diego Elias (PER) v  Ali Farag (EGY)
Pictures courtesy of PSA