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Ramy Ashour’s great escape as Ali Farag foils Nick Matthew

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Ali Farag battles past Nick Matthew
Ali Farag battles past Nick Matthew

I want to keep going until I win it says Farag
By NATHAN CLARKE in Hull

 

On a day full of drama in the second round of the Allam British Open, Ramy Ashour escaped from the jaws of defeat in a 106-minute marathon against Ryan Cuskelly, and Ali Farag claimed another huge result for Egypt by downing three-time champion Nick Matthew.

In another massive match lasting 95 minutes, Germany’s Simon Rosner outlasted Chris Simpson in five brutal games, and No.2 seed Gregory Gaultier powered past Stephen Coppinger of South Africa in the quickest men’s match on the schedule, winning in straight games in 44 minutes.

The four women’s matches were markedly shorter, with Amanda Sobhy taking just 28 minutes to remove Alison Waters with a comfortabke scoreline that read 11-8, 11-3, 11-2. Omneya Abdel Kawy, Nour El Sherbini and Nicol David also completed victory in well under half an hour to help the organisers balance the schedule.

Ramy Ashour dives against Ryan Cuskelly
Ramy Ashour dives against Ryan Cuskelly

Egyptian World No.14 Ali Farag stunned the crowd at the 2016 Allam British Open in Hull as he knocked out three-time champion and World No.3 Nick Matthew in the second round of the prestigious PSA World Series tournament to inflict the home-favourite’s worst British Open result since 2002.

Matthew was 2-1 up in an engaging, tightly-contested affair before his movement slowed considerably towards the end of the fourth after sustaining an ankle injury. Farag moved on to level things up and, despite battling bravely, a clearly struggling Matthew was unable to match him in the final game as Farag wrapped up a 4-11, 13-11, 10-12, 11-7, 11-4 victory to set up a quarter-final meeting with compatriot Ramy Ashour.

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Picture Galleries by PATRICK LAUSON (www.patricklausonphotography.com)

“I knew he wasn’t at his best towards the end of the fourth but I am glad it didn’t get into my head and I was able to carry on playing my game,” said Farag.

“I can’t put it into words how good it feels to get through to the quarter-final. I don’t want to be satisfied yet, I want to keep progressing until the following round until I win it. It might not happen this year but maybe the year after and I will definitely come every year and do my best to win it.

“There isn’t a game plan against the likes of Ramy, Nick or Greg [Gaultier], you just need to keep it towards the back as much as possible then when you have any opportunities you have to take them. Hopefully that will work.”

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Picture Galleries by PATRICK LAUSON (www.patricklausonphotography.com)

Ashour, who won this event back in 2013, came back from the brink of elimination after saving a match ball against Australian No.2 and sparring partner Ryan Cuskelly in a dramatic 106-minute encounter which was the second longest match of the Egyptian maverick’s career.

‘The Artist’ had gone two games up only to see his lead shattered by a resurgent Cuskelly, who refocused after an injury forced him off court for a short period during the third, before going 9-3 up in the deciding fifth game.

In a remarkable display of tenacity and skill, Ashour battled back and overturned a match ball for Cuskelly at 11-10 to bring an end to a thrilling encounter by an 11-5, 11-9, 6-11, 9-11, 13-11 scoreline.

“Every match I am just pushing myself,” said Ashour. “Today I was a bit hesitant so in the next match I will be all the way in. The match was scary in patches but it was definitely better than last time [against Cesar Salazar in round one]. I felt a lot freer on court and I didn’t think about my body as much.

“He played amazingly so all credit to him. If it wasn’t for my comeback at the end he could have got it. I’m trying to keep things as simple as I can, I’m not trying to think too much.”

Elsewhere in the Men’s draw, World Champion Gregory Gaultier and Germany’s Simon Rösner have also advanced after respective victories against Stephen Coppinger and Chris Simpson. Gaultier and Rösner will now go head-to-head in the next round for a place in the last four.

The Women’s event saw five-time winner Nicol David cement her place in the quarter-final thanks to a routine win over Australia’s Donna Urquhart.

Nicol David winds up her swing against Donna Urquhart
Nicol David winds up her swing against Donna Urquhart

Malaysian icon David was on the front foot from the off and exhibited some majestic shots throughout an 11-4, 11-7, 11-6 win to move progress to the next round after just 27 minutes on court.

“All the girls are stepping up their games in each round which is exciting for the tour at the moment as we are all pushing each other but I’m really pleased with how I played today,” said David.

“I felt like I was feeling the court better and I know I always have to play good squash on the day, and I’m happy to win 3-0 and have this amount of recovery. I came into this tournament as number two seed and the underdog so I will give it my all and see where it takes me.”

Egyptian duo Nour El Sherbini and Omneya Abdel Kawy also won against Hong Kong pair Liu Tsz-Ling and Joey Chan, respectively, while United States No.1 Amanda Sobhy took out England’s Alison Waters in an impressive three-game salvo.

2016 Men’s Allam British Open, Hull, England.

Men’s Second Round (Bottom Half):
Ali Farag (EGY) bt [3] Nick Matthew (ENG) 3-2: 4-11, 13-11, 10-12, 11-7, 11-4 (68m)
[5] Ramy Ashour (EGY) bt Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) 3-2: 11-5, 11-9, 6-11, 9-11, 13-11 (106m)
[7] Simon Rösner (GER) bt Chris Simpson (ENG) 3-2: 11-8, 10-12, 10-12, 11-7, 11-4 (95m)
[2] Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt Stephen Coppinger (RSA) 3-0: 11-5, 11-1, 11-9 (44m)

Draw – Second Round (Top Half) (March 24):
[1] Mohamed Elshorbagy (EGY) v James Willstrop (ENG)
[Q] Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY) v [6] Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL)
Saurav Ghosal (IND) v Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY)
Fares Dessouki (EGY) v Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY)

Women’s Second Round (Bottom Half):
[4] Nour El Sherbini (EGY) bt [Q] Liu Tsz-Ling (HKG) 3-1: 11-3, 11-7, 6-11, 11-1 (27m)
[7] Amanda Sobhy (USA) bt [11] Alison Waters (ENG) 3-0: 11-8, 11-2, 11-3 (28m)
[6] Omneya Abdel Kawy (EGY) bt Joey Chan (HKG) 3-0: 11-5, 11-5, 11-9 (22m)
[2] Nicol David (MAS) bt Donna Urquhart (AUS) 3-0: 11-4, 11-7, 11-6 (27m)

Second Round (Top Half) (March 24):
[1] Laura Massaro (ENG) v Line Hansen (DEN)
Victoria Lust (ENG) v [5] Camille Serme (FRA)
[8] Nouran Gohar (EGY) v [9] Annie Au (HKG)
[10] Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) v [3] Raneem El Welily (EGY)

 

Pictures by PATRICK LAUSON and STEVE LINE (www.squashpics.com) 

 

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