‘I want to improve and explore different parts of my game’ says top seed ElShorbagy
By ELLIE MAWSON – Squash Mad Correspondent
Egypt’s World No.19 Mazen Hesham upset the seedings on day two of the Channel VAS Championships at St. George’s Hill after he took out Peru’s World No.7 Diego Elias to reach the quarter finals of this PSA World Tour Gold event.
The 25-year-old had not secured a win over a player ranked inside the top ten since 2015, but Hesham proved he was getting back to his best form as he produced a formidable performance against an out-of-sorts Elias at the tournament in Weybridge, England.
Hesham displayed his natural flair with the racket to take an entertaining first game, before Elias battled back to level the scores in the second. It was the Egyptian who kicked on another gear though as he took full advantage of a fatigued Elias by varying his shots and setting a fast pace to unsettle the Peruvian player and claim an 11-6, 5-11, 11-8, 11-6 win.
“I feel great, I don’t want to jinx it, but I am injury free, and very happy on court,” said Hesham afterwards. Because I play more and more matches, I am able to control my emotions better and when I’m about to close a match.
“I used to play so many errors because I was getting so excited, but now I’m able to control and finish my matches, playing the important points better.”
Hesham will face compatriot and World No.8 Mohamed Abouelghar in the next round after the Egyptian swept aside England’s World No.22 Declan James in straight games.
The last time the two players met, James recorded a surprise victory against the Egyptian at the DPD Open in Eindhoven earlier this year. However, he came up against a much more consistent Abouelghar who was in strong form to power past the tall Englishman.
Abouelghar only recently made his return to the tour following a shoulder injury but has endured a disjointed run of form. However, the 26-year-old ensured he was back to his best as he produced a consistent display to take an 11-7, 11-6, 11-9 victory.
“I’ve always had tough matches against Dec, he’s such a great player,” said the Egyptian afterwards. “I knew how crucial the third game was and I’m very happy to close this one out.”
Egypt’s World No.2 Mohamed ElShorbagy ensured his campaign got up and running with a win after he defeated compatriot Youssef Soliman in four games.
ElShorbagy, who got his hands on the title back in 2017, was comfortable on the St. George’s Hill Lawn Tennis Club court, which he practices on regularly, as he stepped up and constantly kept Soliman pinned behind him to take a 2-0 lead.
Soliman had been struggling with a shin problem throughout the week and it looked to have caught up with him once again as he took a short injury break after the second. Following that the 22-year-old seemed to enjoy a resurgence to catch ElShorbagy off guard with the elder Egyptian producing uncharacteristic errors to aid Soliman in taking the third game.
The 28-year-old came back strongly in the fourth, however, as he managed to get back to the game plan that was serving him well in the first two games to close out a hard fought 11-7, 11-8, 10-12, 11-7 win.
“I’m the kind of person who wants to improve and always likes to explore different areas of my game and see different thoughts of the game,” said ElShorbagy afterwards. “I think everyone brings something different to the game and I have only one career, so I want to learn as much as I can.
“Sometimes things can work, sometimes they can’t and sometimes it’s quickly or it takes a bit longer but at the end of the day I have to keep a positive mindset.”
ElShorbagy will face India’s World No.11 Saurav Ghosal in the quarter finals tomorrow (Friday November 22) after he produced an immaculate performance to down local favourite Tom Richards.
Ghosal delivered a masterclass in speed and accuracy as he moved around the court freely to punish any loose shots from the racket of Richards and take an 11-3, 11-5, 11-5 victory in 37 minutes.
“He can fire shots from anywhere in the court, he’s got a good racket on him, so I was trying to keep it away from the middle and use the four corners, as deep as I could,” said Ghosal.
“I think I did pretty well with my game plan, but against a player like him playing in his adopted club, you have got to be wary about him going to come out and play out of his skin, so I tried to stay as focused as I could. But I’m happy with a good length and depth, and happy to take it 3-0.”
The second round of the Channel VAS Championships continues today (Thursday November 21) at 17:30 local time (GMT) when the bottom half of the draw – including former World No.1 Karim Abdel Gawad and PSA World Championship runner-up Paul Coll – start their tournaments. Coll meets Daryl Selby while Gawad tackles George Parker.
2019 Channel VAS Championships at St George’s Hill.
Second Round (top half):
 Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) bt Youssef Soliman (EGY) 3-1: 11-7, 11-8, 10-12, 11-7 (54m)
 Saurav Ghosal (IND) bt Tom Richards (ENG) 3-0: 11-3, 11-5, 11-5 (37m)
 Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY) bt Declan James (ENG) 3-0: 11-7, 11-6, 11-9 (44m)
Mazen Hesham (EGY) bt  Diego Elias (PER) 3-1: 11-6, 5-11, 11-8, 11-6 (52m)
Second Round (bottom half) today:
 Paul Coll (NZL) v Daryl Selby (ENG)
Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) v  Joel Makin (WAL)
 Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) v Eain Yow Ng (MAS)
George Parker (ENG) v  Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY)
Quarter Finals (top half) tomorrow:
 Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) v  Saurav Ghosal (IND)
 Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY) v Mazen Hesham (EGY)
Report by ELLIE MAWSON (PSA). Edited by ALAN THATCHER.
Pictures courtesy of PATRICK LAUSON (www.patricklausonphotography.co.uk)