Top seed overpowers fellow Egyptian Omar Mosaad in Grasshopper Cup
By ALAN THATCHER and NATHAN CLARKE
World No.1 Mohamed ElShorbagy notched up his 10th consecutive victory on the PSA World Tour as he downed compatriot Omar Mosaad to book a place in the quarter-finals of the 2018 Grasshopper Cup, the PSA M100 tournament taking place in Zurich.
ElShorbagy, the current World Champion, has lost just two of his last 40 PSA World Tour matches, winning seven titles in the process. He continued to carry his imperious form into Zurich as he dealt with everything the tall, hard-hitting Mosaad, a former World No.3, could throw at him throughout a 47-minute encounter.
The 27-year-old ElShorbagy is himself a phenomenal physical specimen, with his relentless power-game now finely-tuned by Australia’s former world champion David Palmer. He was just too accurate and too aggressive for Mosaad, forcing a plethora of errors from the racket of his opponent as he wrapped up the win 11-6, 11-7, 8-11, 11-8
“Omar is a very high quality player – he’s been inside the top four before so I knew I had to be focused from the very first point against him tonight,” said ElShorbagy.
“I’ve been having an incredible season, but this time of the season is very dangerous because there are still a few events to play before the summer break and you have to stay sharp mentally.
“I’m here to give it my best shot to win and there are still some big events to come which I want to win to finish the season strong. I have a huge challenge in this event but that is the kind of challenge that I train for.”
There are five Egyptians in the last eight, where ElShorbagy will now face Tarek Momen, the man he beat to win the Qatar Classic in October and the Canary Wharf Classic last week.
It promises to be a compelling encounter after the World No.6 Momen put in a hugely impressive display to defeat gritty Spaniard Borja Golan 3-0.
Momen, known on Tour as ‘The Viper’, has played some of the best squash of his career this season, reaching three finals, and continued to play relentlessly efficient squash to take out Golan 12-10, 11-4, 11-3.
“I’m happy with the way I played today,” said Momen. “Borja is a very tough opponent and I hadn’t played him for five years so I didn’t know what to expect. I knew had to be very focused.
“In the first game he gave me a scare. I was 9-3 up and he played some ridiculous squash and all of a sudden he was back and almost winning the game. So I’m happy that I managed to scrap that one out and then in the next two I think I played really well.”
Former World Champion Karim Abdel Gawad held off the fighting challenge of Scottish qualifier Greg Lobban, who had gained his first-ever victory over compatriot Alan Clyne in the qualifying finals.
Lobban took him to 14-12 in the first game and 11-9 in the second, and a third game score of 11-8 was no disgrace. Lobban, having qualified for the main draw at Canary Wharf last week, is looking sharp as he gears up for a crack at the Commonwealth Gams next month.
England’s former World No.1 James Willstrop, who beat Lobban in the first round at Canary Wharf, secured his place in the last eight with a 3-0 win over India’s No.8 seed Saurav Ghosal.
These two great friends, often room-mates on the PSA World Tour, played on the same side for Pontefract in the PSL earlier this week, then flew to Zurich together to compete.
This was a rare occasion when Ghosal was seeded above Willstrop, but the Yorkshireman closed out two tight opening games before imposing himself on the third to take the match 12-10, 11-9, 11-4.
The opening game set the tone for the match as Ghosal, playing with confidence and aggression, opened up an early lead which he extended to 10-8 to hold game ball. But Willstrop showed the gritty stubbornness associated with his home county of Yorkshire as he dug in to extend the rallies and put the pressure on Ghosal to finish it off.
The pressure told as Willstrop overturned it to come through 12-10 and it was almost a mirror repeat in the second game as the Englishman came back from 9-7 down to overturn the momentum once again and prevail 11-9 to double the lead.
The Indian number one was then left wondering what could have been as Willstrop raced away in the third to complete the win.
“Those moments in the first two games are so important – they turn the momentum of the match and you have to make them yours,” said Willstrop. “That gives you huge impetus and confidence because it was very level throughout.
“We’ve got different styles but we’re both coached by my dad and he encourages that with his players. We move differently, there are so many differences, but I think we played a clean game of squash and played an enjoyable match.”
PSA M100 $100,000 Men’s Grasshopper Cup 2018, Halle 622, Zurich, Switzerland.
First Round (Bottom Half):
 Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) bt [Q] Greg Lobban (SCO) 3-0: 14-12, 11-9, 11-8 (43m)
James Willstrop (ENG) bt  Saurav Ghosal (IND) 3-0: 12-10, 11-9, 11-4 (49m)
 Tarek Momen (EGY) bt Borja Golan (ESP) 3-0: 12-10, 11-4, 11-3 (41m)
 Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) bt [Q] Omar Mosaad (EGY) 3-1: 11-6, 11-7, 8-11, 11-8 (47m)
 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) v  Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY)
 Ramy Ashour (EGY) v  Simon Rösner (GER)
 Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) v James Willstrop (ENG)
 Tarek Momen (EGY) v  Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY)
Pictures courtesy of PSA