Nick Matthew masters LJ Anjema but James Willstrop bows out in first round to top seed Mohamed Elshorbagy
By NATHAN CLARKE in Hull
England’s top squash stars suffered a day of mixed fortunes during the opening round of the 2015 Allam British Open, PSA World Series event, with three-time World Champion Nick Matthew the only representative to progress on day one of action at Hull’s Airco Arena.
Dubbed the ‘Wimbledon of squash’, the British Open is the most prestigious tournament to take place in the United Kingdom but it was a disappointing day for home talent, with Peter Barker, the World No.6, James Willstrop, the World No.15 and World No.77 Ben Coleman all suffering first round defeats.
Former World No.1 Willstrop lost out in a gigantic opener against current World No.1 Mohamed Elshorbagy, the Bristol-based Egyptian, with Coleman falling to German Simon Rösner and injury ending Barker’s hopes of progress, but there was joy for Matthew as he saw off Dutchman Laurens Jan Anjema 3-1 to continue his recovery from a recent ankle-injury.
“I’m delighted to get off the court in one piece today and it feels like I’ve just won a tournament at the minute because you can take being healthy for granted at times,” said the 34-year-old from Sheffield three-time British Open winner.
“A lot of work has gone in with my physio and the team behind the scenes to get me here to the start line. I’ve got 48 hours rest and recovery now and the amount of improvement my ankle has been making every day this week is great so hopefully we can keep that moving on now over the next 48 hours.”
Matthew came into the tournament with question marks over his fitness after limping off court during April’s El Gouna International but the tenacious Yorkshireman utilised his wealth of experience to move into the second round where he will face Frenchman Gregoire Marche.
World No.1 Mohamed Elshorbagy kept alive his hopes of winning the prestigious Allam British Open for the first time in his career following an impressive 3-1 win over former World No.1 James Willstrop in a blockbuster encounter on day one of action at Hull’s Airco Arena.
In one of the toughest first round encounters imaginable on the PSA World Tour, it was the 24-year-old Egyptian who began stronger, coming out of the blocks powerfully to take the opening game and establish an early advantage over his 31-year-old opponent from Pontefract, England.
But Willstrop, who only recently returned to competitive action following a prolonged absence following a hip injury, responded to level the scores in the second game but couldn’t find enough to stop the number one seed from moving into the second round where he will face Spanish star Borja Golan.
“Playing James in the first round is so tough that I had to prepare myself for a final from the the start this week,” said Elshorbagy.
“He’s not back to his very best yet but I think having played a few events lately, and with the summer ahead, he will be back to his best soon.
“Hopefully I can keep playing well this week because I would love to get my name on that prestigious trophy. This is an event I look forward to coming back to every year so I hope I can play well.”
Elsewhere on day one there were impressive victories for Spaniard Borja Golan and Egyptian pairing Fares Dessouki and Marwan Elshorbagy.
Barker, who has been suffering from injuries in recent months, decided to retire after losing the opening two games to French rival Mathieu Castagnet, who meets Marwan Elshorbagy in the next round.
The second half of first round action continues tomorrow from 12noon at both the Airco Arena and University of Hull.
PSA World Series: All British Open 2015 Men’s Championships.
Results – First Round (Top Half):
 Mohamed Elshorbagy (EGY) bt James Willstrop (ENG) 3-1: 11-7, 5-11, 11-4, 11-7 (49m)
Borja Golan (ESP) bt Saurav Ghosal (IND) 3-0: 11-9, 11-9, 11-6 (53m)
Fares Dessouki (EGY) bt [Q] Omar Abdel Meguid (EGY) 3-2: 11-2, 10-12, 7-11, 11-7, 11-5 (72m)
 Simon Rösner (GER) bt [Q] Ben Coleman (ENG) 3-0: 11-5, 11-6, 11-7 (40m)
Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) bt  Peter Barker (ENG) 3-0: 12-10, 11-2, 0-0 retired (27m)
Marwan Elshorbagy (EGY) bt Alister Walker (BOT) 3-1: 10-12, 11-6, 11-5, 11-5 (43m)
Gregoire Marche (FRA) bt [Q] Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY) 3-0: 11-3, 13-11, 11-5 (44m)
 Nick Matthew (ENG) bt [Q] Laurens Jan Anjema (NED) 3-1: 6-11, 11-4, 11-9, 11-9 (61m)
Draw – First Round (Bottom Half)
 Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL) v Chris Simpson (ENG)
Cameron Pilley (AUS) v Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY)
Stephen Coppinger (RSA) v [Q] Zahed Mohamed (EGY)
[WC] Adrian Waller (ENG) v  Tarek Momen (EGY)
 Omar Mosaad (EGY) v Max Lee (HKG)
Mazen Hesham (EGY) v [Q] Leo Au (HKG)
Daryl Selby (ENG) v [Q] Tom Richards (ENG)
[Q] Nafiizwan Adnan (MAS) v  Gregory Gaultier (FRA)
Pictures courtesy of PSA