Adrian Waller downs Diego Elias in Chicago first round shock
By SEAN REUTHE and ALAN THATCHER
An astonishing comeback from 2-0 down saw Egypt’s World No.33 Youssef Soliman send 2016 World Champion Karim Abdel Gawad to a shock first round defeat as squash’s first $1 million tournament – the PSA World Championships presented by the Walter Family – got under way in Chicago.
Gawad, the World No.5, was one of the frontrunners for the men’s trophy, but his exit leaves the draw wide open after a magnificent fightback from Soliman at MetroSquash saw him record a 9-11, 6-11, 11-8, 11-8, 11-9 victory to claim the biggest win of his career.
“To come back against Karim is really tough because you always fear that he will be the one to come back when you play him,” said Soliman.
“To be the one that was 2-0 down and to come back, I had to push really hard and it was an unbelievable match for me. I worked him really well in the first game, but he obviously won that one and then the second. If I played fast and hit the ball hard, he was so good at taking the pace off the ball and making me run around.
“This is definitely the biggest win of my career, I just beat the No.5 in the world. I won’t think about it because sometimes when you have a huge win, it takes it out of you a lot. I won’t enjoy it that much, I will just focus on my next round.”
Soliman will play Welshman Joel Makin in round two, while MetroSquash also played host to another big upset as England’s Adrian Waller, the World No.42, defeated World No.10 Diego Elias by a 3-1 scoreline.
Waller lost the opening game but fought back to take control of the match to win 5-11, 11-9, 11-9, 12-10 in 53 minutes for one of the best results of his career. He now meets the mercurial Mazen Hesham of Egypt.
Meanwhile, reigning men’s champion Mohamed ElShorbagy began his title defence at Chicago’s Union Station, where an all-glass court – featuring an interactive front wall – has been erected in Union Station’s picturesque Grand Hall.
The World No.1 overcame training partner and former Bristol room-mate Joshua Masters 11-7, 8-11, 11-8, 11-5 to set up a round two clash with Mexico’s Cesar Salazar.
“We aren’t just training partners, we actually lived together for three years as well, so he knows me very well,” ElShorbagy said.
“Every day you learn something new, and even with my experience on tour now, being a defending World Champion is not something that I have experienced before. It’s probably the only thing I have never faced before in my career and it’s going to be a new experience for me. But I like challenges, it’s what brings the best out in any athlete and I hope I can be at my best form this week.”
ElShorbagy is joined in the second round by World No.1-in-waiting Ali Farag, who beat England’s Daryl Selby, while World No.3 Tarek Momen defeated men’s United States No.1 Todd Harrity.
Germany’s Simon Rösner also won as he beat 2015 runner-up Omar Mosaad. New Zealand’s Paul Coll, Colombia’s Miguel Rodriguez and the younger ElShorbagy brother, Marwan, all earned their places in the last 32.
The longest match of the day lasted 91 minutes as England’s Ben Coleman beat Hong Kong’s world No.14 Max Lee 11-9 in the fifth game of a match that featured three tiebreaks. Coleman will nw be looking to repeat that performance when he meets Spain’s No.1 Borja Golan in the second round.
Compatriot Richie Fallows was on and off court much quicker as he beat India’s Vikram Malhotra in straight games to book a place on the glass court against No.3 seed Rösner.
The women’s event will have an all-US fixture in store for fans at Union Station as the country’s top two players – Boston-based Amanda Sobhy and Port Chester’s Olivia Blatchford Clyne – both claimed wins on day one.
Blatchford Clyne got the better of Canada’s Hollie Naughton in five games at the University Club of Chicago.
“I saw the draw and I was like ‘ok, I have one of the tougher first rounds’, but I’m kind of happy because it just rips the band aid off and you can get straight into it,” said Sobhy, 25.
“She ran me around, but I enjoyed playing on the court and it’s a fantastic audience. It’s amazing to be playing in front of a home crowd and I love it. The bigger and rowdier the crowd, the better.”
Defending women’s champion Raneem El Welily also won on the opening day as she dispatched South Africa’s Alexandra Fuller 3-0 and she will take on 17-year-old compatriot Hania El Hammamy next.
“I think this might be the first time that I have seen her play and actually played her,” said El Welily, who won the Windy City Open in Chicago three years in succession between 2015-2017.
“I’ve seen her results though, so I know how dangerous she can be and I was definitely trying out some new things today. It’s a new court and atmosphere, [it’s a] great venue and I’m so happy to be back here in Chicago.”
World No.2 Nour El Sherbini, a two-time World Champion, moved past England’s Lily Taylor by a 3-0 margin, with compatriots Nour El Tayeb and Nouran Gohar also claiming wins.
Malaysia’s eight-time World Champion Nicol David kicked off her last ever World Championships with a comfortable win over Egypt’s Manna Nasser and her reward is a matchup with England’s Millie Tomlinson at Union Station.
England No.1 Sarah-Jane Perry marked her return from a four-month spell on the sidelines with a comfortable 3-0 triumph against Hong Kong’s Vanessa Chu.
The World No.6 was forced to withdraw from last month’s J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions due to an elbow injury, but she showed signs of nearing full fitness after a dominant 11-7, 11-3, 11-6 victory against Chu.
Perry will line up against Egypt’s Yathreb Adel for a place in the third round as both players vie for a coveted spot on the glass court at Union Station.
She said: “I was really happy to get through the match, my elbow felt good and that was the main thing. It was a solid start, I haven’t played a match on tour for a few months, so I’ve got to be pleased with a 3-0 win.
“I’m not putting any pressure on myself with results or anything, I need to keep improving, and I feel I’m getting stronger every day. I’ll see if I can play a bit better in the next round and I’ll see what level I can get out. I’m very competitive, so I do want to win, but ultimately it’s more about trying to play as well as I can and keep improving.”
Second round action begins on Sunday February 24 at 12 noon (GMT-5). Fixtures from Union Station will be shown live on SQUASHTV (Rest of World), Eurosport Player (Europe only) and the official Facebook page of the PSA World Tour (Excluding Europe and Japan).
2018-2019 PSA World Championships presented by the Walter Family, Chicago, USA.
Men’s First Round:
 Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) bt Joshua Masters (ENG) 3-1: 11-7, 8-11, 11-8, 11-5 (45m)
Cesar Salazar (MEX) bt Arturo Salazar (MEX) 3-1: 11-9, 11-7, 5-11, 11-9 (41m)
Campbell Grayson (NZL) bt Nathan Lake (ENG) 3-1: 8-11, 11-6, 11-5, 11-4 (49m)
Leo Au (HKG) bt  Raphael Kandra (GER) 3-1: 11-9, 11-9, 9-11, 11-3 (55m)
 James Willstrop (ENG) bt Ivan Yuen (MAS) 3-0: 11-4, 11-4, 11-6 (37m)
[L] Victor Crouin (FRA) bt Tayyab Aslam (PAK) 3-1: 9-11, 11-2, 11-5, 11-6 (41m)
Alan Clyne (SCO) bt [L] Daniel Mekbib (CZE) 3-1: 11-9, 11-4, 8-11, 11-2 (52m)
 Miguel Rodriguez (COL) bt [L] Ramit Tandon (IND) 3-0: 11-3, 11-6, 11-8 (34m)
 Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) bt Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) 3-0: 11-9, 15-13, 11-3 (44m)
Gregoire Marche (FRA) bt Greg Lobban (SCO) 3-1: 19-17, 8-11, 11-4, 11-7 (84m)
[L] Youssef Ibrahim (EGY) bt Nicolas Mueller (SUI) 3-1: 12-14, 12-10, 12-10, 11-5 (48m)
 Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) bt Olli Tuominen (FIN) 3-0: 11-8, 11-6, 11-7 (40m)
 Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY) bt Declan James (ENG) 3-2: 7-11, 12-10, 3-11, 11-7, 11-5 (58m)
Chris Simpson (ENG) beat Shahjahah Khan (PAK) 12-10, 11-7, 13-11 (56m)
Tom Richards (ENG) bt Edmon Lopez (ESP) 3-0: 11-7, 11-0, 11-6 (30m)
 Tarek Momen (EGY) bt Todd Harrity (USA) 3-1: 11-5, 9-11, 11-4, 11-6 (34m)
 Simon Rösner (GER) bt Omar Mosaad (EGY) 3-0: 11-8, 11-2, 11-7 (41m)
Richie Fallows (ENG) bt Vikram Malhotra (IND) 3-0: 11-9, 11-8, 11-4 (28m)
Borja Golan (ESP) bt Rex Hedrick (AUS) 3-2: 9-11, 11-13, 11-4, 12-10, 11-3 (87m)
Ben Coleman (ENG) bt Max Lee (HKG) 3-2: 12-10, 6-11, 14-12, 11-13, 11-9 (91m)
 Saurav Ghosal (IND) bt Dimitri Steinmann (SUI) 3-0: 11-3, 11-5, 11-3 (33m)
Lucas Serme (FRA) bt Karim El Hammamy (EGY) 3-0: 11-8, 11-1, 11-5 (41m)
Joel Makin (WAL) bt Tsz Fung Yip (HKG) 3-2: 11-6, 9-11, 4-11, 11-8, 11-9 (78m)
Youssef Soliman (EGY) bt  Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) 3-2: 9-11, 6-11, 11-8, 11-8, 11-9 (87m)
 Paul Coll (NZL) bt Karim Ali Fathi (EGY) 3-1: 11-6, 9-11, 11-3, 11-3 (44m)
Cameron Pilley (AUS) bt [L] Christopher Binnie (JAM) 3-0: 11-5, 11-5, 11-3 (32m)
Mohamed Reda (EGY) bt Nafiizwan Adnan (MAS) 3-1: 9-11, 11-4, 13-11, 11-6 (66m)
 Fares Dessouky (EGY) bt Eain Yow Ng (MAS) 3-0: 11-5, 11-5, 12-10 (38m)
Adrian Waller (ENG) bt  Diego Elias (PER) 3-1: 5-11, 11-9, 11-9, 12-10 (53m)
Mazen Hesham (EGY) bt Zahed Salem (EGY) 3-2: 11-8, 7-11, 9-11, 11-9, 11-6 (78m)
Mostafa Asal (EGY) bt Peter Creed (WAL) 3-2: 11-6, 7-11, 11-6, 9-11, 11-7 (80m)
 Ali Farag (EGY) bt Daryl Selby (ENG) 3-0: 11-2, 11-5, 11-4 (30m)
Women’s First Round:
 Raneem El Welily (EGY) bt Alexandra Fuller (RSA) 3-0: 11-6, 11-7, 11-3 (23m)
 Hania El Hammamy (EGY) bt Lee Ka Yi (HKG) 3-0: 11-4, 11-5, 11-4 (20m)
 Nadine Shahin (EGY) bt Low Wee Wern (MAS) 3-0: 11-7, 11-4, 11-8 (25m)
 Alison Waters (ENG) bt Tinne Gilis (BEL) 3-0: 11-5, 11-7, 11-4 (22m)
 Victoria Lust (ENG) bt Danielle Letourneau (CAN) 3-2: 8-11, 10-12, 11-6, 11-9, 11-7 (53m)
 Emily Whitlock (ENG) bt [L] Anna Serme (CZE) 3-0: 11-6, 11-3, 11-7 (29m)
 Fiona Moverley (ENG) bt Lucy Turmel (ENG) 3-1: 11-8, 6-11, 11-5, 11-5 (37m)
 Nouran Gohar (EGY) bt Menna Hamed (EGY) 3-0: 11-6, 11-4, 11-1 (20m)
 Laura Massaro (ENG) bt Amanda Landers-Murphy (NZL) 3-0: 11-4, 11-3, 11-8 (21m)
Coline Aumard (FRA) bt  Nele Gilis (BEL) 3-2: 13-11, 4-11, 11-7, 9-11, 11-7 (58m)
 Rowan Elaraby (EGY) bt Nicole Bunyan (CAN) 3-0: 11-2, 11-3, 11-4 (19m)
 Annie Au (HKG) bt Nikki Todd (CAN) 3-0: 11-6, 11-3, 11-4 (18m)
 Salma Hany (EGY) bt Tsz-Wing Tong (HKG) 3-0: 12-10, 11-9, 11-6 (29m)
[L] Melissa Alves (FRA) bt  Samantha Cornett (CAN) 3-1: 11-8, 12-10, 10-12, 13-11 (42m)
 Zeina Mickawy (EGY) bt Haley Mendez (USA) 3-1: 11-6, 9-11, 11-6, 11-9 (40m)
 Nour El Tayeb (EGY) bt Rachel Arnold (MAS) 3-0: 11-2, 11-6, 11-6 (21m)
 Joelle King (NZL) bt Heba El Torky (EGY) 3-0: 11-6, 11-9, 11-6 (24m)
 Mayar Hany (EGY) bt Ho Tze-Lok (HKG) 3-1: 11-6, 12-14, 11-7, 11-7 (38m)
 Joey Chan (HKG) bt Sarah Cardwell (AUS) 3-0: 11-6, 11-6, 11-6 (24m)
 Joshna Chinappa (IND) bt Ineta Mackevica (LAT) 3-0: 11-5, 11-3, 11-7 (24m)
 Nicol David (MAS) v [L] Menna Nasser (EGY) 3-0: 11-3, 11-6, 11-3 (21m)
 Millie Tomlinson (ENG) bt Olivia Fiechter (USA) 3-1: 22-24, 11-5, 12-10, 11-8 (55m)
Lisa Aitken (SCO) bt  Rachael Grinham (AUS) 3-0: 12-10, 11-7, 11-4 (29m)
 Camille Serme (FRA) bt Jenny Duncalf (ENG) 3-0: 11-2, 11-4, 11-2 (18m)
 Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) v Vanessa Chu (HKG)11-7, 11-3, 11-6 (20m)
 Yathreb Adel (EGY) bt Enora Villard (FRA) 3-0: 11-6, 11-8, 11-5 (22m)
Liu Tsz-Ling (HKG) bt  Nada Abbas (EGY) 3-1: 11-3, 7-11, 12-10, 11-8 (43m)
 Tesni Evans (WAL) bt Milou van der Heijden (NED) 3-0: 13-11, 11-4, 11-9 (37m)
 Amanda Sobhy (USA) bt Julianne Courtice (ENG) 3-0: 11-4, 11-6, 11-7 (29m)
 Olivia Blatchford Clyne (USA) bt Hollie Naughton (CAN) 3-2: 7-11, 11-4, 12-10, 9-11, 11-6 (55m)
Christine Nunn (AUS) bt  Mariam Metwally (EGY) 3-0: 11-9, 11-8, 13-11 (37m)
 Nour El Sherbini (EGY) bt [L] Lily Taylor (ENG) 3-0: 11-8, 11-5, 11-9 (24m)
Men’s Second Round (To Be Played February 24):
 Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) v Cesar Salazar (MEX)
Campbell Grayson (NZL) v Leo Au (HKG)
 James Willstrop (ENG) v Victor Crouin (FRA)
Alan Clyne (SCO) v  Miguel Rodriguez (COL)
 Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) v Gregoire Marche (FRA)
[L] Youssef Ibrahim (EGY) v  Ryan Cuskelly (AUS)
 Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY) v Chris Simpson (ENG)
Tom Richards (ENG) v  Tarek Momen (EGY)
 Simon Rösner (GER) v Richie Fallows (ENG)
Borja Golan (ESP) v Ben Coleman (ENG)
 Saurav Ghosal (IND) v Lucas Serme (FRA)
Joel Makin (WAL) v Youssef Soliman (EGY)
 Paul Coll (NZL) v Cameron Pilley (AUS)
Mohamed Reda (EGY) v  Fares Dessouky (EGY)
Adrian Waller (ENG) v Mazen Hesham (EGY)
Mostafa Asal (EGY) v  Ali Farag (EGY)
Women’s Second Round (To Be Played February 24):
 Raneem El Welily (EGY) v  Hania El Hammamy (EGY)
 Nadine Shahin (EGY) v [9 Alison Waters (ENG)
 Victoria Lust (ENG) v  Emily Whitlock (ENG)
 Fiona Moverley (ENG) v  Nouran Gohar (EGY)
 Laura Massaro (ENG) v Coline Aumard (FRA)
 Rowan Elaraby (EGY) v  Annie Au (HKG)
 Salma Hany (EGY) v [L] Melissa Alves (FRA)
 Zeina Mickawy (EGY) v  Nour El Tayeb (EGY)
 Joelle King (NZL) v  Mayar Hany (EGY)
 Joey Chan (HKG) v  Joshna Chinappa (IND)
 Nicol David (MAS) v  Millie Tomlinson (ENG)
Lisa Aitken (SCO) v  Camille Serme (FRA)
 Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) v  Yathreb Adel (EGY)
Liu Tsz-Ling (HKG) v  Tesni Evans (WAL)
 Amanda Sobhy (USA) v  Olivia Blatchford Clyne (USA)
Christine Nunn (AUS) v  Nour El Sherbini (EGY)
Pictures courtesy of PSA