George Parker pushes England legend to the limit
By SEAN REUTHE
Three-time World Champion Nick Matthew led four of his fellow Englishmen through to the second round of the 2017 Men’s AJ Bell PSA World Championship as the sport’s most prestigious tournament got under way today (December 10) in Manchester’s National Squash Centre. But there was heartache for former world number one James Willstrop, who conceded his match against Saurav Ghosal because of illness.
Matthew, the 37-year-old from Sheffield, overcame a fierce challenge from compatriot George Parker as he fought back from 2-1 down to avoid a shock exit at his last-ever World Championships.
This is Matthew’s final season on the PSA World Tour after he announced his decision to retire at the end of the season. And the man known as ‘The Wolf’ lives to fight another day at the tournament after coming back to take an 11-2, 8-11, 10-12, 11-3, 11-6 victory in 60 minutes.
“I’m relieved, you don’t want to take away from your opponent’s performance but mentally I wasn’t at the races at all,” said Matthew, who will face Hong Kong’s Max Lee in round two.
“After the first game I just sort of switched off and I thought it was going to be easier than what it was. I should know better than that and hopefully it will get me into the tournament now.
“I had to dig in and I guess that’s why I’ve been successful in the past, as you are able to win those sorts of matches. I felt like I was hitting the ball pretty well, I was moving pretty well, it’s all there but mentally I need to apply myself a lot better and remember how hard I have to work tomorrow.”
Matthew will be joined in the next round by compatriots Daryl Selby, Declan James, Chris Simpson and Ben Coleman, while his long-term rival and former World No.1 Willstrop bowed out on day one after retiring from his match with former training partner Saurav Ghosal due to illness.
“It’s really sad that James, who is such a great player and has achieved so much, has fallen sick in his home World Championship and he’s not well,” said Ghosal.
“Considering the way the season has gone, I think it would have been a really good match for the spectators to watch and for both of us to play. Both of us know each other really well and it’s a travesty that that has happened today.”
World No.2 Mohamed ElShorbagy (right) kick-started his attempts to win a first ever World Championship title after the Bristol-based Egyptian saw off compatriot Mazen Hesham.
ElShorbagy, a runner-up at this tournament in 2012 and 2014, has reached six consecutive PSA World Tour finals and his superb spell showed no signs of slowing down against Hesham as he claimed an 11-6, 11-8, 11-6 victory in 36 minutes to set up a second round meeting with Joel Makin.
“I’m really happy, it was such a tough first round for both of us,” ElShorbagy said.
“He definitely doesn’t deserve to be out in the first round. He’s such a great player and I had to prepare so well for it. Normally at the start of a tournament you’re not sharp, but I couldn’t do that today. We played some good squash, it was very high quality and I’m happy to be through in three.”
There were also wins for World No.1 Gregory Gaultier, defending champion Karim Abdel Gawad and World No.3 Ali Farag, who beat Todd Harrity, Nicolas Mueller and Adrian Waller, respectively. Three-time World Champion Ramy Ashour was also in action as he dispatched tournament wild card Joshua Masters in straight games.
“Last year I won the tournament and I wasn’t really expecting to win,” said Gawad. “I just wanted a good result and I won the tournament. This year, I came here with a lot of pressure trying to defend my title. I’m just trying to forget about the pressure a little bit and focus match by match and take baby steps and hopefully I can reach the final and defend my title.”
Qatar’s World No.37 Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi was also in impressive form to see off World No.9 Simon Rösner. The German was feeling under the weather but Al Tamimi still had to dig deep to win12-14, 11-9, 7-11, 11-7, 11-3.
Meanwhile, the qualifying stages of the Women’s World Championship came to an end today, with Yathreb Adel claiming the day’s biggest win over top qualifying seed Hania El Hammamy in five games to set up a main draw clash with Alison Waters.
The 40-year-old Rachael Grinham was also victorious to move through to her 22nd World Championship main draw, where she will meet Hong Kong’s Annie Au. Belgium’s Nele Gilis and Canada’s Hollie Naughton were also winners courtesy of triumphs against Nada Abbas and Amanda Landers-Murphy.
Gilis will play 2013 World Champion Laura Massaro, while New Zealand’s World No.9 Joelle King awaits Naughton.
2017 AJ Bell PSA World Championship, Manchester, England.
Men’s First Round:
 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt Todd Harrity (USA) 3-0: 11-6, 11-9, 11-6 (41m)
Tsz Fung Yip (HKG) bt [Q] Edmon Lopez (ESP) 3-1: 9-11, 11-4, 11-9, 11-8 (65m)
Declan James (ENG) bt [Q] Richie Fallows (ENG) 3-1: 11-8, 11-13, 11-7, 12-10 (69m)
 Cesar Salazar (MEX) bt Tom Richards (ENG) 3-0: 11-9, 11-9, 11-9 (45m)
 Daryl Selby (ENG) bt [Q] Mahesh Mangaonkar (IND) 3-0: 11-8, 11-5, 11-5 (36m)
Campbell Grayson (NZL) bt [Q] Peter Creed (WAL) 3-0: 12-10, 11-4, 12-10 (51m)
Greg Lobban (SCO) bt Raphael Kandra (GER) 3-1: 11-4, 11-13, 11-8, 11-5 (66m)
 Paul Coll (NZL) bt Gregoire Marche (FRA) 3-0: 11-6, 11-8, 11-3 (52m)
 Nick Matthew (ENG) bt [Q] George Parker (ENG) 3-2: 11-2, 8-11, 10-12, 11-3, 11-6 (60m)
Max Lee (HKG) bt [Q] Jan Van Den Herrewegen (BEL) 3-0: 13-11, 12-10, 11-6 (54m)
Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) bt Arturo Salazar (MEX) 3-1: 9-11, 13-11, 11-5, 11-5 (62m)
Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi (QAT) bt  Simon Rösner (GER) 3-2: 12-14, 11-9, 7-11, 11-7, 11-3 (52m)
 Ramy Ashour (EGY) bt [WC] Joshua Masters (ENG) 3-0: 11-7, 11-3, 11-9 (39m)
Omar Mosaad (EGY) bt [Q] Karim El Hammamy (EGY) 3-0: 11-4, 11-5, 11-7 (46m)
Joel Makin (WAL) bt [Q] Christopher Binnie (JAM) 3-1: 11-13, 11-8, 11-8, 11-4 (63m)
 Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) bt Mazen Hesham (EGY) 3-0: 11-6, 11-8, 11-6 (36m)
 Ali Farag (EGY) bt Adrian Waller (ENG) 3-0: 11-9, 11-5, 11-5 (30m)
[Q] Youssef Soliman (EGY) bt Mohamed Reda (EGY) 3-2: 11-5, 4-11, 11-2, 7-11, 11-7 (67m)
Karim Ali Fathi (EGY) bt [Q] Baptiste Masotti (FRA) 3-0: 11-8, 11-7, 11-4 (39m)
Cameron Pilley (AUS) bt  Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) 3-1: 11-8, 11-7, 4-11, 11-6 (62m)
 Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY) bt Olli Tuominen (FIN) 3-0: 11-8, 11-5, 11-5 (24m)
Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL) bt Leo Au (HKG) 3-0: 11-2, 11-6, 11-7 (34m)
Zahed Mohamed (EGY) bt [Q] Rui Soares (POR) 3-1: 11-6, 6-11, 11-7, 11-8 (38m)
 Tarek Momen (EGY) bt [Q] Eain Yow Ng (MAS) 3-0: 11-6, 11-3, 11-9 (25m)
 Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) bt Omar Abdel Meguid (EGY) 3-0: 11-6, 11-8, 11-7 (31m)
Chris Simpson (ENG) bt Nathan Lake (ENG) 3-0: 11-6, 11-6, 11-9 (48m)
Lucas Serme (FRA) bt [Q] Iker Pajares Bernabeu (ESP) 3-1: 12-14, 11-7, 11-1, 3-0 retired (56m)
 Borja Golan (ESP) bt [Q] Bernat Jaume (ESP) 3-0: 11-4, 11-7, 11-9 (42m)
Saurav Ghosal (IND) bt  James Willstrop (ENG) 3-0: 11-6 (retired) (10m)
Ben Coleman (ENG) bt [Q] Harinder Pal Singh Sandhu (IND) 3-0: 11-4, 11-6, 11-4 (48m)
Alan Clyne (SCO) bt [Q] Auguste Dussourd (FRA) 3-0: 11-3, 11-7, 11-7 (32m)
 Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) bt Nicolas Mueller (SUI) 3-0: 13-11, 11-6, 11-5 (29m)
Men’s Second Round (December 11):
 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) v Tsz Fung Yip (HKG)
Declan James (ENG) v  Cesar Salazar (MEX)
 Daryl Selby (ENG) v Campbell Grayson (NZL)
Greg Lobban (SCO) v  Paul Coll (NZL)
 Nick Matthew (ENG) v Max Lee (HKG)
Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) v Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi (QAT)
 Ramy Ashour (EGY) v Omar Mosaad (EGY)
Joel Makin (WAL) v  Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY)
 Ali Farag (EGY) v [Q] Youssef Soliman (EGY)
Karim Ali Fathi (EGY) v Cameron Pilley (AUS)
 Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY) v Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL)
Zahed Mohamed (EGY) v  Tarek Momen (EGY)
 Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) v Chris Simpson (ENG)
Lucas Serme (FRA) v  Borja Golan (ESP)
Saurav Ghosal (IND) v Ben Coleman (ENG)
Alan Clyne (SCO) v  Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY)
2017 Women’s AJ Bell PSA World Championship, Final Qualifying Round:
Yathreb Adel (EGY) bt  Hania El Hammamy (EGY) 3-2: 11-6, 9-11, 14-12, 7-11, 12-10 (77m)
 Nele Gilis (BEL) bt  Nada Abbas (EGY) 3-1: 8-11, 11-5, 11-8, 11-8 (50m)
 Nadine Shahin (EGY) bt  Milou van der Heijden (NED) 3-2: 5-11, 11-7, 11-7, 8-11, 11-7 (48m)
 Hollie Naughton (CAN) bt  Amanda Landers-Murphy (NZL) 3-2: 9-11, 9-11, 12-10, 11-9, 11-7 (56m)
[L] Satomi Watanabe (JPN) bt  Misaki Kobayashi (JPN) 3-1: 11-7, 6-11, 11-0, 11-7 (27m)
 Zeina Mickawy (EGY) bt  Liu Tsz-Ling (HKG) 3-0: 11-9, 11-3, 12-10 (27m)
 Rachael Grinham (AUS) bt [L] Lisa Aitken (SCO) 3-0: 11-3, 11-7, 11-2 (21m)
 Rowan Elaraby (EGY) bt  Mayar Hany (EGY) 3-2: 11-4, 7-11, 10-12, 11-9, 11-8 (47m)
Women’s First Round (December 11):
 Nour El Sherbini (EGY) v Donna Urquhart (AUS)
[Q] Satomi Watanabe (JPN) v  Emily Whitlock (ENG)
 Alison Waters (ENG) v [Q] Yathreb Adel (EGY)
Marian Metwally (EGY) v  Nouran Gohar (EGY)
 Nour El Tayeb (EGY) v Joey Chan (HKG)
Salma Hany (EGY) v  Joshna Chinappa (IND)
 Tesni Evans (WAL) v [Q] Nadine Shahin (EGY)
[Q] Nele Gilis (BEL) v  Laura Massaro (ENG)
 Camille Serme (FRA) v [Q] Zeina Mickawy (EGY)
Dipika Pallikal Karthik (IND) v  Olivia Blatchford (USA)
 Joelle King (NZL) v [Q] Hollie Naughton (CAN)
Millie Tomlinson (ENG) v Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG)
 Nicol David (MAS) v [WC] Jenny Duncalf (ENG)
[Q] Rachael Grinham (AUS) v  Annie Au (HKG)
 Victoria Lust (ENG) v Fiona Moverley (ENG)
[Q] Rowan Elaraby (EGY) v  Raneem El Welily (EGY)
Pictures courtesy of PSA