Winning start for defending champions
By NATHAN CLARKE
Defending Delaware Investments U.S. Open champions Laura Massaro and Gregory Gaultier got their 2016 tournament campaigns off to winning starts courtesy of dominant victories over Kanzy Emad El Defrawy and Daryl Selby during the second day of first round action at Philadelphia’s Drexel University.
The duo both tasted success during last week’s NetSuite Open and carried their form into the second PSA World Series tournament of the season, commanding the court to breeze into the second round.
“I played well last week in San Francisco and I got some good training in before coming here for this event,” said Massaro after her straight-games win over Egyptian qualifier El Defrawy.
“I’m feeling good and I’m happy to get off to a winning start. Kanzy is great fun to watch but horrible to play – the ball always comes back and that can make you edgy, so I’m happy with how I came through.”
Massaro cut a polished figure as she outclassed El Defrawy in all areas of the court to extend her current winning streak to nine consecutive matches and set up a second round encounter with India’s Joshna Chinappa, who beat Egypt’s Heba El Torky in five games, while Indian number two Dipika Palikal Karthik lost out to home favourite Amanda Sobhy in a topsy-turvy encounter.
Pallikal Karthik stormed into a one game lead, out gunning and out muscling the traditionally relentless attacker that is World No.6 Sobhy, but the match was flipped upside down after that as the Hong Kong Open runner-up from Boston moved through the gears to put the Indian to the sword in a ruthless display of attacking intent.
“Dipika came out firing – she’s a strong attacking player and I was scrambling and defending the whole time in that first game,” said Sobhy.
“I knew at some point she’d start making mistakes so I just relaxed and found my shots and was happy to come out with a 3-1 win.
“There’s definitely a bit of pressure on me coming here having reached the final in Hong Kong, but this is like a home tournament for me. It’s the US Open, its one of the best tournaments in the world and it’s exciting to play in front of a home crowd, so hopefully I can do well here this week.”
Gaultier, meanwhile, was equally as ruthless and impressive as both Massaro and Sobhy as he dismissed seasoned English campaigner Selby in straight games in the men’s draw, remaining calm during a lengthy injury-enforced break in the first game to assert himself on proceedings and get his defence off to the perfect start.
“Daryl is one of the toughest first round matches you can get but sometimes a tough first round match is good because it can activate you and get you in a good dynamic from the start,” said Gaultier.
“The interruption at the start with the injury break made it a little more difficult because it can mess with the rhythm but thankfully we were able to play the match and I’m pleased to get off to a winning start.”
The Frenchman will now face qualifier Paul Coll in the second round after the World No.34 from New Zealand upset Australia’s World No.15 Ryan Cuskelly in their first round encounter.
Putting aside the historic rivalry between the two nations (and Coll enjoys a particularly solid record against Australian opponents) this was a hugely important victory.
The New Zealander is clearly setting his sights on getting up there alongside players like Cuskelly in the world rankings and this type of performance, in a World Series tournament, proves that he is preparing well and heading in the right direction. Gaultier knows he will be in for a tough time to win every point against one of the fittest players on the Tour.
Gaultier’s compatriot Mathieu Castagnet was the only seed to fail to make it into the second round in the bottom half of the draw after he lost out 3-0 to an in-form Ali Farag – the Al Ahram Open runner-up – who produced a masterclass performance to reach the second round of the US Open for the first time in his career.
Last time the pair met came during the Windy City Open in March and it was Castagnet who triumphed on that occasion, coming from 2-0 down to save match ball and come through a five game thriller, but with that result fresh in his mind, and with Castagnet struggling with an adductor injury, the Egyptian put the pressure on from the start to secure an impressive win.
“Mathieu is such a warrior and we all know it but he’s been struggling of late so I’m lucky to get the win in straight games,” said Farag.
“Last time we played at Windy City I was 2-0 up and he came back and won so I was wary of that today and he didn’t make it easy at all even until the end.
“I had match ball last time as well and I didn’t want that to happen again so I was focused throughout and I’m very happy to be through.”
Farag will face compatriot Fares Dessouky for a place in the quarter-finals on Tuesday while second round action from the top half of the draw gets underway from 12 noon local time at Drexel University’s Daskalakis Athletic Centre on Monday October 10, with tickets for the PSA World Series tournament available to purchase by visiting www.usopensquash.com
Delaware Investments US Open 2016, Drexel University, Philadelphia, USA
PSA M150 Men’s 2016 Delaware Investments U.S. Open: Bottom Half
 Nick Matthew (ENG) bt [WC] Christopher Gordon (USA) 3-0: 11-4, 11-7, 11-6 (39m)
Simon Rösner (GER) bt [Q] Abdulla Al Tamimi (QAT) 3-1: 11-8, 7-11, 11-5, 11-5 (51m)
Fares Dessouky (EGY) bt Leo Au (HKG) 3-2: 11-5, 11-7, 8-11, 5-11, 12-10 (71m)
Ali Farag (EGY) bt  Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) 3-0: 11-8, 11-6, 11-7 (40m)
 Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) bt Tom Richards (ENG) 3-0: 11-8, 11-9, 11-7 (36m)
Max Lee (HKG) bt [Q] Henrik Mustonen (FIN) 3-0: 11-4, 11-5, 11-1 (20m)
[Q] Paul Coll (NZL) bt Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) 3-1: 9-11, 11-7, 11-6, 11-4 (69m)
 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt Daryl Selby (ENG) 3-0: 11-8, 11-6, 11-3 (61m)
Draw – Men’s 2016 Delaware Investments U.S. Open: Second Round
 Mohamed Elshorbagy (EGY) v Chris Simpson (ENG)
[Q] Diego Elias (PER) v  Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY)
[Q] Nafiizwan Adnan (MAS) v Stephen Coppinger (RSA)
Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY) v James Willstrop (ENG)
 Nick Matthew (ENG) v Simon Rösner (GER)
Fares Dessouky (EGY) v Ali Farag (EGY)
 Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) v Max Lee (HKG)
[Q] Paul Coll (NZL) v  Gregory Gaultier (FRA)
PSA W150 Women’s 2016 Delaware Investments U.S. Open: Bottom Half
 Nouran Gohar (EGY) bt [Q] Coline Aumard (FRA) 3-0: 11-6, 11-5, 11-5 (37m)
 Emily Whitlock (ENG) bt [Q] Tesni Evans (WAL) 3-2: 11-13, 6-11, 12-10, 11-8, 11-7 (85m)
Donna Urquhart (AUS) bt  Victoria Lust (ENG) 3-2: 11-9, 7-11, 11-5, 6-11, 11-6 (56m)
 Amanda Sobhy (USA) bt Dipika Pallikal Karthik (IND) 3-1: 7-11, 11-3, 11-1, 11-4 (30m)
 Camille Serme (FRA) bt Delia Arnold (MAS) 3-0: 11-4, 11-6, 11-3 (25m)
 Annie Au (HKG) bt Joey Chan (HKG) 3-0: 11-6, 11-4, 11-6 (29m)
 Joshna Chinappa (IND) bt Heba El Torky (EGY) 3-2: 7-11, 4-11, 11-7, 12-10, 11-7 (55m)
 Laura Massaro (ENG) bt [Q] Kanzy Emad El Defrawy (EGY) 3-0: 11-6, 11-9, 11-7 (35m)
Draw – Women’s 2016 Delaware Investments U.S. Open: Second Round
 Nour El Sherbini (EGY) v  Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG)
[Q] Salma Hany Ibrahim (EGY) v  Alison Waters (ENG)
 Raneem El Welily (EGY) v  Joelle King (NZL)
 Nour El Tayeb (EGY) v  Nicol David (MAS)
 Nouran Gohar (EGY) v  Emily Whitlock (ENG)
Donna Urquhart (AUS) v  Amanda Sobhy (USA)
 Camille Serme (FRA) v  Annie Au (HKG)
 Joshna Chinappa (IND) v  Laura Massaro (ENG)
Pictures by STEVE LINE (www.squashpics.com)