Giant-killers to clash in Qatar
By NATHAN CLARKE in Doha
Peru’s Diego Elias continued his fine start to the 2017/18 PSA World Tour season with an against-the-seedings first round victory over former World No.1 James Willstrop at the 2017 Qatar Classic – producing a highly impressive and dominant performance to win in straight-games at the PSA World Series tournament taking place in Doha.
The 20-year-old, who began his season with victory over three-time World Champion Nick Matthew at the NetSuite Open in September, showed impressive maturity and composure as he came from behind in the opening game to counter Willstrop’s trademark accuracy and set up the foundations for the 3-0 win that cements his graduation from prodigal talent to genuine top calibre contender on the PSA World Tour.
“Last time we played it was about a year ago and he played so well that day that I couldn’t do anything,” said Elias.
“It’s always hard to play against a player like him so today I just tried to apply as much pressure as I could throughout the match and keep my concentration levels high.
“The first game was crucial. I think I was down 8-3 and I just tried to change things up and move him around the court. I feel confident on court and feel like my game is coming together well so I hope this can be a good tournament for me.”
Elias will now go up against Saurav Ghosal for a place in the quarter-finals after the Indian number one secured his own upset against England’s number three Daryl Selby.
Ghosal, who fell as low as No.30 on the rankings earlier this year following a poor run of form, oozed confidence as he dominated on court against Selby from the outset.
The 31-year-old used his pace and movement to expose Selby and looked like a player renewed as he saw out the match 3-0 to record his first ever win over the World No.15 and also secure his berth in the second round of the event for the first time in his career.
“I had a good week last week in St George’s (PSA M100 event) and had a decent start to the season in Macau too, so I’m just trying to enjoy my squash as much as I possibly can,” said Ghosal.
“I’m enjoying playing and feeling privileged to be competing at great events such as this in Qatar. I’m trying to do the things I know I’m capable of – things which in the past I haven’t executed as well as I should have.
“If I can enjoy it for the most part then I feel I can give a good account of myself.”
Hong Kong’s Leo Au was another surprise winner on the opening day of action as he recorded a 3-1 win over Australia”s Ryan Cuskelly while World No.1 Gregory Gaultier marked his return from injury with a comfortable 3-0 win over Mexico’s Cesar Salazar.
“It’s been tough recently with the ankle injury so I came here just happy to be back on court,” said Gaultier.
“Cesar has been playing well and had some good wins recently so I’m just pleased to come through.”
Two-time tournament winner Mohamed ElShorbagy was among the other winners on the day alongside compatriots Fares Dessouky, Zahed Mohamed and Ali Farag. ElShorbagy weathered a determined attempt by Chris Simpson, who is back in action after a prolonged absence from the game following an operation.
Dessouki ended the hopes of local wild card Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi, Zahed took out Gregoire Marche in a five-game battle, and Farag eased past qualifier Karim Ali Fathi in just 26 minutes, winning the third game 11-1.
PSA M165 Men’s Qatar Classic 2017, Khalifa International Tennis & Squash Complex, Doha, Qatar.
First Round (Top Half):
 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt Cesar Salazar (MEX) 3-0: 11-6, 11-2, 11-9 (37m)
Zahed Mohamed (EGY) bt Gregoire Marche (FRA) 3-2: 11-6, 5-11, 11-6, 8-11, 11-2 (59m)
[Q] Saurav Ghosal (IND) bt Daryl Selby (ENG) 3-0: 11-4, 11-8, 11-2 (40m)
Diego Elias (PER) bt  James Willstrop (ENG) 3-0: 12-10, 11-5, 11-8 (46m)
 Ali Farag (EGY) bt [Q] Karim Ali Fathi (EGY) 3-0: 11-7, 11-5, 11-1 (26m)
[Q] Leo Au (HKG) bt Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) 3-1: 7-11, 11-7, 11-8, 11-4 (63m)
Fares Dessouky (EGY) bt [WC] Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi (QAT) 3-0: 11-6, 11-8, 11-5
 Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) bt [Q] Chris Simpson (ENG) 3-0: 11-7, 11-9, 11-5 (36m)
Draw – First Round (Bottom Half):
 Nick Matthew (ENG) v [Q] Raphael Kandra (GER)
Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) v [Q] Alan Clyne (SCO)
Cameron Pilley (AUS) v [Q] Adrian Waller (ENG)
Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY) v  Tarek Momen (EGY)
 Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) v Paul Coll (NZL)
Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL) v Omar Mosaad (EGY)
Simon Rösner (GER) v [Q] Tsz Fung Yip (HKG)
Borja Golan (ESP) v  Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY)
Pictures courtesy of PSA