Thursday, April 18, 2024

London Squash Classic: Declan James proves a home hit

English wildcard Declan James is through to the quarter-final of the GillenMarkets London Classic after coming from behind to defeat French No.6 seed Baptiste Masotti in a thriller at the Alexandra Palace.

James, who is playing his first PSA World Tour event since 2022 after suffering a ruptured achilles tendon, went a game down to Masotti but launched a spectacular fightback, taking the second game 11-7 and dominating the third in an 11-5 win to the delight of the home crowd.

The 2022 Commonwealth Games doubles gold medallist will take on former World No.1 and tournament No.3 seed Karim Abdel Gawad in the last eight after the Egyptian beat Eain Yow Ng 2-0.

“What a venue, what a crowd! These are the moments that you train for. I was so grateful to get through the first round and have an opportunity to play here. The intensity against these top 20 guys is a pressure cooker,” James said afterwards.

Also through today are Egyptian duo Mostafa Asal and Aly Abou Eleinen, after Asal beat England’s Nick Wall 11-6, 11-9 and Eleinen beat England’s Nathan Lake 11-6, 11-5.

In the women’s event, No.6 seed Sarah-Jane Perry overcame England compatriot Alicia Mead to set up a quarter-final with former World No.1 and No.3 seed Nouran Gohar, with Gohar getting the better of Canada’s Hollie Naughton 2-0.

Perry impressed as she grew into the match, finding her targets well to record an 11-9, 11-5 win in just 17 minutes.

After her match, Perry said: “I play my best when I’m enjoying it and playing free squash.

“My team all say ‘best of three, that’s great for you!’ and I actually need to remember that and play [attacking shots] instead of being passive. That’s why I don’t mind a couple of errors; I want to be that aggressive, attacking player. We’re not here to play for two hours, we’re here to get a win.”

Joining Perry and Gohar in the quarters tomorrow will be 18-year-old Egyptian Fayrouz Aboelkheir, who beat Wales’ Emily Whitlock 15-13, 11-9, and World No.2 Hania El Hammamy, who put in a perfect performance to dismantle Optasia champion Satomi Watanabe 11-5, 11-3.

Results – Women’s Second Round (bottom half): GillenMarkets London Squash Classic 

[3] Nouran Gohar (EGY) bt Hollie Naughton (CAN) 2-0: 11-4, 11-8 (22m)

[6] Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) bt Alicia Mead (ENG) 2-0: 11-9, 11-5 (17m)

[8] Fayrouz Aboelkheir (EGY) bt Emily Whitlock (WAL) 2-0: 15-13, 12-10 (30m)

[2] Hania El Hammamy (EGY) bt Satomi Watanabe (JPN) 2-0: 11-5, 11-3 (24m)

Results – Men’s Second Round (bottom half): GillenMarkets London Squash Classic 

[3] Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) bt Eain Yow Ng (MAS) 2-0: 15-13, 11-9 (33m)

[WC] Declan James (ENG) bt [6] Baptiste Masotti (FRA) 2-1: 9-11, 11-7, 11-5 (37m)

[7] Aly Abou Eleinen (EGY) bt Nathan Lake (ENG) 2-0: 11-6, 11-5 (26m)

[2] Mostafa Asal (EGY) bt Nick Wall (ENG) 2-0: 11-6, 11-9 (28m)

Draw – Women’s Quarter-Final: To be played 30 March

[1] Nour ElSherbini (EGY) v [7] Sivasangari Subramaniam (MAS)
[5] Georgina Kennedy (ENG) v [4] Nele Gilis (BEL)

[3] Nouran Gohar (EGY) v [6] Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG)

[8] Fayrouz Aboelkheir (EGY) v [2] Hania El Hammamy (EGY)

Draw – Men’s Quarter-Final: To be played 30 March

[1] Paul Coll (NZL) v George Parker (ENG)

[5] Marwan ElShorbagy (ENG) v [4] Joel Makin (WAL)

[3] Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) v [WC] Declan James (ENG)

[7] Aly Abou Eleinen (EGY) v [2] Mostafa Asal (EGY)

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