Grand Central showdown in second round
By SEAN REUTHE in New York
Long-term rivals Nick Matthew and James Willstrop will meet in the second round of the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions for a second year in succession after the Englishmen defeated France’s Gregoire Marche and Australia’s Cameron Pilley, respectively, on day one of the PSA World Series tournament taking place inside New York’s iconic Grand Central Terminal.
World No.13 Willstrop ended a 19-match, 10-year losing streak to Matthew during last year’s tournament and he will look to end Matthew’s run at the prestigious tournament for a second year running after he saw off World No.19 Cameron Pilley by an 11-6, 11-9, 11-3 margin.
“I love playing here, the Tour is strong and to beat Cameron here is really tough,” said Willstrop.
“I’m very happy. Every single event brings up either a new player or someone who is very good like Cameron, so I don’t really look at the draw anymore because you know you’ve got to turn up and be ready and that’s what I’m trying to do from the very beginning.”
Matthew, meanwhile, began his final ever Tournament of Champions campaign with an 11-6, 11-8, 11-5 victory over World No.29 Marche.
Matthew, 37, will retire at the end of the season and has been a regular participant at the Tournament of Champions over the past 16 years, with five runner-up finishes to go with his title triumph in 2012.
Matthew and Willstrop will meet for the 36th time on the PSA World Tour, with Matthew currently leading their head-to-head record 26-9.
“You try and take it like any other match but there’s something extra special about playing at this station, never mind with it being the last time,” said Matthew.
“The first match of any tournament is the trickiest, especially here because no matter how many times you play the noise and the ambience takes some getting used to.
“I’ve started this tournament a little slowly [in the past], even when I’ve won it I’ve dropped games, so I was really determined to start well and he’s a tricky first round opponent. I was really delighted with how I played.”
Meanwhile, World No.1 Gregory Gaultier became the first male player of the modern era to reach 700 PSA matches after the Frenchman dispatched men’s United States No.1 Todd Harrity to end home hopes in the men’s draw.
The 35-year-old Gaultier, who was a losing finalist at last year’s tournament, will line up against English qualifier Tom Richards in the last 16, with World No.40 Richards upsetting India’s Saurav Ghosal to claim his first victory in the main draw of a World Series tournament since February 2016.
“700 is not a nice number, I will make it to 1000, I’m sure!” said Gaultier.
“I still feel good but I’ve been pretty upset with the last few months, coming back from an ankle injury was tough because I had to go to Qatar with no preparation at all. I thought I would catch up with the matches but I never really felt comfortable.
“But over Christmas I managed to have three good weeks for the first time since summer, so I’m happy that I managed to have these weeks on the court, which will probably make a difference.”
The man Gaultier lost to in the 2017 final, World No.4 Karim Abdel Gawad, is also through to round two after the Egyptian defeated Welshman Joel Makin to set up a meeting with Swiss World No.27 Nicolas Mueller, who came back from two games down to overcome England’s Adrian Waller.
“It’s always hard when you have the pressure of defending your title, especially here in Grand Central,” said Gawad.
“It’s nice to play here, I love New York and I love being on court here. I’m trying to get as much time on court as I can and I’m really enjoying it.”
World Championship runner-up Marwan ElShorbagy and Germany’s World No.8 Simon Rösner were the other players to triumph on day one and they will go head-to-head in the next round after claiming respective wins over Cesar Salazar and England’s Daryl Selby.
The first qualifying stage of the women’s tournament also took place today, with US players Sabrina Sobhy and Haley Mendez making it through unscathed.
Sobhy, who beat World No.30 Coline Aumard, will line up against World Junior Champion Rowan Elaraby, while Mendez’s victory over Milou van der Heijden means she will take on 2007 World Champion Rachael Grinham.
First round action from the men’s draw continues tomorrow (January 19) when stars such as World Champion Mohamed ElShorbagy and Ali Farag begin their tournaments, while the women’s qualifying finals will also take place.
Matches start from 12:00 local time (GMT-5) and action from the glass courts inside Grand Central Terminal’s Vanderbilt Hall will be shown live on SQUASHTV (Rest of World) and Eurosport Player (Europe only).
2018 Men’s J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions, Grand Central Terminal, New York, USA.
Men’s First Round (Top Half):
 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt [WC] Todd Harrity (USA) 3-0: 11-7, 11-6, 11-8 (38m)
[Q] Tom Richards (ENG) bt Saurav Ghosal (IND) 3-1: 11-8, 5-11, 11-8, 11-7 (49m)
James Willstrop (ENG) bt Cameron Pilley (AUS) 3-0: 11-6, 11-9, 11-3 (41m)
 Nick Matthew (ENG) bt [Q] Gregoire Marche (FRA) 3-0: 11-6, 11-8, 11-5 (43m)
 Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) bt Cesar Salazar (MEX) 3-0: 11-7, 11-3, 11-8 (29m)
Simon Rösner (GER) bt Daryl Selby (ENG) 3-1: 11-4, 9-11, 11-6, 11-7 (75m)
Nicolas Mueller (SUI) bt [Q] Adrian Waller (ENG) 3-2: 7-11, 9-11, 11-4, 11-7, 11-5 (63m)
 Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) bt [Q] Joel Makin (WAL) 3-1: 10-12, 11-4, 11-7, 11-7 (51m)
Bottom Half (To Be Played January 19):
 Ali Farag (EGY) v [Q] Campbell Grayson (NZL)
Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL) v [Q] Tsz Fung Yip (HKG)
Ramy Ashour (EGY) v [Q] Mazen Hesham (EGY)
Zahed Mohamed (EGY) v  Paul Coll (NZL)
 Tarek Momen (EGY) v Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY)
Diego Elias (PER) v [Q] Declan James (ENG)
Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) v Omar Mosaad (EGY)
Leo Au (HKG) v  Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY)
Men’s Second Round (Top Half) To Be Played January 20:
 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) v [Q] Tom Richards (ENG)
James Willstrop (ENG) v  Nick Matthew (ENG)
 Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) v Simon Rösner (GER)
Nicolas Mueller (SUI) v  Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY)
Women’s First Qualifying Round:
 Mariam Metwally (EGY) bt [L] Thaisa Serafini (BRA) 3-0: 11-4, 11-0, 11-1 (17m)
 Nada Abbas (EGY) bt Menna Hamed (EGY) 3-1: 8-11, 11-6, 11-7, 11-9 (53m)
 Rowan Elaraby (EGY) bt [L] Olivia Fiechter (USA) 3-0: 11-5, 11-5, 11-7 (21m)
[L] Sabrina Sobhy (USA) bt  Coline Aumard (FRA) 3-1: 10-12, 11-7, 12-10, 11-7 (41m)
 Jenny Duncalf (ENG) bt [L] Elani Landman (RSA) 3-0: 11-2, 11-1, 11-5 (19m)
 Samantha Teran (MEX) bt Tinne Gilis (BEL) 3-1: 6-11, 11-6, 11-9, 11-6 (53m)
 Liu Tsz-Ling (HKG) bt Nikki Todd (CAN) 3-2: 9-11, 11-7, 7-11, 11-6, 11-8 (48m)
 Nele Gilis (BEL) bt [L] Reyna Pacheco (USA) 3-0: 11-5, 11-1, 11-1 (17m)
 Rachael Grinham (AUS) bt Hana Moataz (EGY) 3-2: 11-3, 8-11, 7-11, 11-7, 11-8 (45m)
Haley Mendez (USA) bt  Milou van der Heijden (NED) 3-1: 8-11, 11-9, 11-4, 11-6 (41m)
Yathreb Adel (EGY) bt  Zeina Mickawy (EGY) 3-1: 11-5, 10-12, 11-7, 11-5 (34m)
 Mayar Hany (EGY) bt [L] Mary Fung-A-Fat (GUY) 3-0: 11-5, 12-10, 11-1 (19m)
 Heba El Torky (EGY) bt Sarah Cardwell (AUS) 3-1: 12-10, 8-11, 11-7, 11-7 (38m)
 Hollie Naughton (CAN) bt Nicole Bunyan (CAN) 3-0: 11-2, 11-3, 11-4 (21m)
 Danielle Letourneau (CAN) bt [L] Tiffany Hau (USA) 3-0: 11-2, 11-2, 11-3 (17m)
 Samantha Cornett (CAN) bt [L] Weenee Low (MAS) 3-0: 11-2, 11-3, 11-4 (20m)
Women’s Final Qualifying Round (To Be Played January 19):
 Mariam Metwally (EGY) v  Nada Abbas (EGY)
 Rowan Elaraby (EGY) v [L] Sabrina Sobhy (USA)
 Jenny Duncalf (ENG) v  Samantha Teran (MEX)
 Liu Tsz-Ling (HKG) v  Nele Gilis (BEL)
 Rachael Grinham (AUS) v Haley Mendez (USA)
Yathreb Adel (EGY) v  Mayar Hany (EGY)
 Heba El Torky (EGY) v  Hollie Naughton (CAN)
 Danielle Letourneau (CAN) v  Samantha Cornett (CAN)
Pictures courtesy of PSA