Thursday, December 7, 2023

Charlie Lee challenges Mohamed ElShorbagy as top seeds enter the fray in New Zealand Open

By DAVE WORSLEY (Squash Mad Correspondent)

The big guns are ready to join the fray for the second round of the New Zealand Open with home fans ready to get behind top seeds Paul Coll and Joelle King in Tauranga.

World No.2 Coll faces American Timothy Brownell (59 in the rankings) at 6.45pm tomorrow after Brownell overcame fellow American Chris Gordon earlier today.

World No.5 King follows Coll on to the glass court inside the Trustpower Arena against Australian Jessica Turnbull (ranked 70) at 7.45pm.

England’s Mohamed ElShorbagy, who won the 2017 World Championship representing Egypt, is on court earlier in the day against his former St. George’s Hill PSL team-mate Charlie Lee, who beat Malaysia’s Addeen Idrakie in the first round.

Tournament third seed and world No.10 Victor Crouin of France makes his first appearance against Hong Kong’s Henry Leung, who overcame Spencer Lovejoy (USA) in the first round.

Women’s second seed Sarah-Jane Perry (England) plays Tomato Ho (Hong Kong) and third seed Salma Hamy faces Japan’s Satomi Watanabe, while Nele Gilis from Belgium, the fourth seed, opens proceedings at 1pm against Hong Kong’s Tsz-Wing Tong.

Lwamba Chileshe stretches for the ball against Canada’s David Baillargeon

Canada’s David Baillargeon ended the hopes of wild card Lwamba Chileshe as the men’s event, sponsored by Robertson Lodges, and the women’s draw, backed by Barfoot & Thompson, got under way.

Men’s World No.97 Chileshe was the only Kiwi in action today as his compatriot Kaitlyn Watts received a walkover due to an injury to Scotland’s Lisa Aitken.

Aitken had spent time training at the Devoy Club in the Bay of Plenty in the past, but a foot injury put paid to her making an appearance at her old club.

Edinburgh-based Watts, 21  a wildcard from Palmerston North, now plays Welsh sixth seed Tesni Evans (ranked 14 in the world) while Watts is 88. They play at 2.45pm at the Devoy Club.

Chileshe fell victim to a clinical performance from World No.69 Baillargeon, who completed an 11-7, 11-4, 8-11, 11-1 victory to reach the second round of a PSA World Tour Silver event for the first time.

“I took my foot off the pedal in the third,” said Baillargeon, who will take on No.4 seed Miguel Rodriguez in the next round.

“I was up 4-1 or 4-2 and then I relaxed and he got the lead and kept it until the end. You can’t do that at this level, I’ve got to learn from that.

“I’m looking forward to playing Miguel. I’ll do a cool down and stretch tonight, then I’ll be back at it tomorrow. It will be the first time I’ve played him and it should be a good battle.

“It’s going to be my sixth match in seven days on this court. I like it, sometimes it goes my way, sometimes it doesn’t, so hopefully it will go my way tomorrow.”

Greg Lobban on the ball against Rex Hedrick

Scotland’s Greg Lobban has also booked his spot in the last 16 courtesy of an 11-6, 11-7, 11-6 victory over World No.81 Rex Hedrick, who was playing his first PSA event outside of his native Australia since September 2019.

Lobban will now face World No.31 Adrian Waller, just two weeks after beating the Englishman in the semi-finals of the City Tattersalls Club Australian Open.

“Rex is a great player,” said Lobban. “He’s a former top 50 and you know you have to beat Rex, he is never going to beat himself. You know what standard he is going to bring, and I needed to make sure I was up for that match because I know he has been getting into the habit of winning these Challenger 5s and 10s in Australia and New Zealand. He is a hard man to beat and I am glad to get through today.”

Malak Khafagy celebrates her win over Jasmine Hutton

In the women’s event, 18-year-old Egyptian Malak Khafagy scored the biggest upset of the day as she conjured up a surprise victory over England’s World No.26 Jasmine Hutton over at the Devoy Squash & Fitness Centre, which is hosting some of the matches across the first two days of the event.

At 70 minutes, the match was the longest tie of day one and went deep into a fifth-game tie-break. Both women saved multiple match balls, and it was world No.93 Khafagy who held her nerve to claim the biggest win of her career.

“I was so nervous, I didn’t imagine I could win but I am so happy to get the win,” Khafagy said.

“I have had a tough time with tiebreaks and being 10-8 up, it is my fear. I am so glad I won the last game. She is so good… I am so over the moon right now. I don’t know what to say, I was shaking after the match, I am so happy.”

Jessica Turnbull beats Egypt’s Salma Eltayeb

Khafagy will go up against No.7 seed Hollie Naughton for a place in the quarter-finals. Back at the Trustpower Arena, Australia’s Jessica Turnbull earned a second round berth after coming back from a game down to beat 9/16 seed Salma Eltayeb.

Turnbull’s reward is a match against top seed and World No.5 Joelle King. The pair met in the Nations Cup last week, and Turnbull is looking forward to testing herself against the crowd favourite once again.

“Playing Joelle last week was a great experience, she’s a world-class player and I love the way she plays,” Turnbull said.

“She’s another tall girl, so it’s lovely to see and learn from someone like her. Unfortunately, I didn’t pick up too much that would help me beat her, but I’m so excited to get on court with her again and to make the second round of my first ever Silver event.”

The New Zealand Open continues tomorrow (November 9) as the second round begins. Action from the glass court at the Trustpower Arena will be shown live on SQUASHTV.


2022 Robertson Lodges Men’s New Zealand Open

First Round:
Timothy Brownell (USA) bt Christopher Gordon (USA) 3-1: 11-6, 8-11, 11-3, 11-3 (41m)
Greg Lobban (SCO) bt Rex Hedrick (AUS) 3-0: 11-6, 11-7, 11-6 (45m)
Balazs Farkas (HUN) bt Syed Azlan Amjad (QAT) 3-0: 13-11, 11-8, 11-7 (37m)
David Baillargeon (CAN) bt [WC] Lwamba Chileshe (NZL) 3-1: 11-7, 11-4, 8-11, 11-1 (52m)
Henry Leung (HKG) bt Spencer Lovejoy (USA) 3-1: 5-11, 11-5, 11-7, 11-6 (43m)
Andrew Douglas (USA) bt Tsz Kwan Lau (HKG) 3-0: 11-4, 12-10, 11-8 (33m)
Leandro Romiglio (ARG) bt Martin Svec (CZE) 3-0: 11-7, 14-12, 11-6 (35m)
Charlie Lee (ENG) bt. Addeen Idrakie (MAS) 3-0: 11-3, 11-3, 11-3 (28m)

Second Round (November 9):
[1] Paul Coll (NZL) bt Timothy Brownell (USA)
Greg Lobban (SCO) v [6] Adrian Waller (ENG)
[7] Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi (QAT) v Balazs Farkas (HUN)
David Baillargeon (CAN) v [4] Miguel Rodriguez (COL)
[3] Victor Crouin (FRA) v Henry Leung (HKG)
Andrew Douglas (FRA) v [8] Sebastien Bonmalais (FRA)
[5] Saurav Ghosal (IND) v Leandro Romiglio (ARG)
Charlie Lee (ENG) v [2] Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY)

2022 Barfoot & Thompson Women’s New Zealand Open

First Round: 
Jessica Turnbull (AUS) bt Salma Eltayeb (EGY) 3-1: 2-11, 11-9, 11-7, 11-8 (33m)
Ka Yi Lee (HKG) bt Rana Ismail (EGY) 3-1: 11-4, 11-7, 10-12, 11-9 (33m)
Olivia Clyne (USA) bt Sarah Cardwell (AUS) 3-0: 11-9, 11-6, 11-5 (24m)
Satomi Watanabe (JPN) bt Nadia Pfister (SUI) 3-0: 11-4, 11-6, 11-8 (23m)
Tsz-Wing Tong (HKG) bt Alicia Mead (ENG) 3-0: 11-7, 11-4, 11-8 (29m)
Malak Khafagy (EGY) bt Jasmine Hutton (ENG) 3-2: 9-11, 11-3, 10-12, 14-12, 16-14 (70m)
[WC] Kaitlyn Watts (NZL) bt [9/16] Lisa Aitken (SCO) w/o
[9/16] Tomato Ho (HKG) bt Saskia Beinhard (GER) 3-0: 11-6, 11-4, 11-4 (25m)

Second Round (November 9):
[1] Joelle King (NZL) bt Jessica Turnbull (EGY)
Ka Yi Lee (HKG) v [8] Sabrina Sobhy (USA)
[5] Tinne Gilis (BEL) v Olivia Clyne (USA)
Satomi Watanabe (JPN) v [3] Salma Hany (EGY)
[4] Nele Gilis (BEL) v Tsz-Wing Tong (HKG)
Malak Khafagy (EGY) v [7] Hollie Naughton (CAN)
[6] Tesni Evans (WAL) v [WC] Kaitlyn Watts (NZL)
Tomato Ho (HKG) v [2] Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG)

Pictures courtesy of PSA World Tour and Squash NZ


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