Nick Matthew makes a stand for host nation in Manchester
By SEAN REUTHE and ALAN THATCHER
There will be no English representatives in the quarter-finals of the Women’s AJ Bell PSA World Championships for the first time ever in the history of the 38-year-old tournament after World No.7 Sarah-Jane Perry and World No.16 Victoria Lust fell to New Zealand’s Joelle King and Egypt’s Raneem El Welily, respectively, as second round action came to an end at the 2017 edition.
Yesterday saw England No.1 Laura Massaro and England No.3 Alison Waters exit the tournament on the opening day of second round women’s matches and Perry joined them in elimination after going down in four games to World No.9 King inside Manchester’s National Squash Centre.
A slow start from Birmingham-born Perry saw the 2017 British Open runner-up go a game down and, despite battling back to take the second, she was powerless to stop an in-form King from moving into the last eight for the first time since the 2013 instalment, courtesy of an 11-1, 6-11, 14-12, 11-6 victory.
“I think we’re the two tallest female players on the Tour, so it’s always tough trying to get the ball past each other,” said King.
“We’re also good friends off court, so it’s always nice just to come and play some good squash, where whoever plays the best squash on the day wins.
“I normally play quite a high-intensity style of play and I think you could see today that I was quite tense in my movement. One of the things that [Coach] Hadrian [Stiff] has been working on a lot is to make me more relaxed but still stay aggressive.”
French World No.3 Camille Serme will stand between King and a maiden World Championship semi-final appearance after she eased past United States No.1 Olivia Blatchford, winning 11-4, 11-3, 11-6 in 26 minutes.
Meanwhile, El Welily’s 3-1 win over Lust – which leaves men’s World No.6 Nick Matthew as the only English player left standing in the tournament – means that she will take on Malaysia’s eight-time winner Nicol David in the quarter-finals in what will be a repeat of the 2014 World Championship final, where David recovered from four championship balls down to win.
“I don’t think Nicol and I have played each other in a while,” said El Welily. “Nicol is a legend of squash and it will be an exciting match. It’s never going to be easy but I hope it’s a match people will enjoy.”
The men’s tournament saw round three draw to a close as defending champion Karim Abdel Gawad kept his title defence on course, with the Egyptian World No.4 recovering from a game down to defeat Indian No.1 Saurav Ghosal 12-14, 11-5, 11-6, 11-7.
Gawad will take on World No.5 Marwan ElShorbagy in the next round, with ElShorbagy defeating Frenchman Lucas Serme – the younger brother of Camille – to reach a maiden World Championship quarter-final.
“Today was a tough day and I had to fight until the end,” said Gawad, who beat compatriot Ramy Ashour in last year’s final.
“Even when I was 10-6 up in the fourth, I knew he could come back easily with his awesome winners, so I knew I had to push until the end.
“Last year I had no pressure and I played my best squash for the whole month and I won it last year. This year, I came here with a little bit of pressure as I’m defending the title but I just try to play like it is the first match of the tournament.”
Colombia’s former World No.4 Miguel Angel Rodriguez became the first South American to reach the quarter-finals at this tournament two years ago and he matched that finish after a surprise five-game victory over World No.7 Tarek Momen.
“It’s been a tough season, probably the worst in my career, but this is definitely my best tournament of the year,” Rodriguez said.
“Two years ago I had my best season, so I’m trying just to enjoy my game as I’ve achieved a lot of dreams already and I’m happy to represent my country and represent South America.”
He will face World No.3 Ali Farag, who made it a four-strong Egyptian contingent in the men’s quarter-final – matching the women’s event – after the U.S. Open champion defeated Australia’s Cameron Pilley with a devastating display to take it in three.
Quarter-final action begins tomorrow as play moves over to the all-glass showcourt at Manchester Central Convention Complex and all of the action will be shown live on SQUASHTV (Rest of World) and Eurosport Player (Europe only) from 14:30 local time (GMT).
2017 AJ Bell PSA World Championships, Manchester, England.
Men’s Third Round (Bottom Half):
 Ali Farag (EGY) bt Cameron Pilley (AUS) 3-0: 11-4, 11-4, 11-4 (32m)
Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL) v  Tarek Momen (EGY) 3-2: 11-5, 8-11, 9-11, 11-4, 11-1 (69m)
 Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) bt Lucas Serme (FRA) 3-0: 12-10, 11-5, 11-8 (46m)
 Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) bt Saurav Ghosal (IND) 3-1: 12-14, 11-5, 11-6, 11-7 (59m)
Men’s Quarter-Finals (Top Half) To Be Played December 14:
 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) v  Paul Coll (NZL)
 Nick Matthew (ENG) v  Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY)
Men’s Quarter-Finals (Bottom Half) To Be Played December 15:
 Ali Farag (EGY) v Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL)
 Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) v  Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY)
2017 Women’s AJ Bell PSA World Championships. Second Round (Bottom Half):
 Camille Serme (FRA) bt  Olivia Blatchford (USA) 3-0: 11-4, 11-3, 11-6 (26m)
 Joelle King (NZL) bt  Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) 3-1: 11-1, 6-11, 14-12, 11-6 (54m)
 Nicol David (MAS) bt  Annie Au (HKG) 3-1: 11-7, 11-3, 10-12, 11-6 (33m)
 Raneem El Welily (EGY) bt  Victoria Lust (ENG) 3-1: 11-5, 15-13, 11-13, 11-5 (42m)
Women’s Quarter-Finals (Top Half) To Be Played December 14:
 Nour El Sherbini (EGY) v  Nouran Gohar (EGY)
 Nour El Tayeb (EGY) v  Tesni Evans (WAL)
Women’s Quarter-Finals (Bottom Half) To Be Played December 15:
 Camille Serme (FRA) v  Joelle King (NZL)
 Nicol David (MAS) v  Raneem El Welily (EGY)
Pictures courtesy of PSA