Sunday, February 5, 2023

Nick Matthew’s British Open farewell can wait

Nick Matthew celebrates an epic victory over Tarek Momen

Hull of a battle as The Wolf takes out Tarek Momen


Three-time Allam British Open champion Nick Matthew has put his retirement on hold for another two days at least after the 37-year-old veteran rolled back the years to dispatch World No.5 Tarek Momen in a gruelling five-game epic on day one of the 2018 edition of the PSA World Series tournament held at Airco Arena.

Matthew is appearing at his last ever British Open and will retire at the end of this season. Whether or not his final professional match takes place in Hull or not depends on whether he qualifies for next month’s ATCO PSA Dubai World Series Finals. Defeat to Momen would have seen him pushed out of the top eight on the PSA World Series Standings by former World No.3 Omar Mosaad, who would have qualified in Matthew’s place.

But a thrilling 80-minute battle went the way of Sheffield’s Matthew, who put in a valiant display that epitomised the grit and determination that have been hallmarks of the three-time World Champion’s glittering 20-year career to mark his 700th PSA World Tour match with an 11-4, 10-12, 11-4, 8-11, 11-2 victory.

“That was my final, I’m not used to not being seeded, it’s hard work,” said Matthew, who will play Germany’s Raphael Kandra in the next round.

“Every first round is tough but it’s totally different when you’re not seeded. It’s only this month that my ranking slipped out. I knew it was going to be tough and I feel over the moon at the minute.

“The good thing is that I’ve got a day off tomorrow so I think that will give me a chance to reset mentally as much as anything. That was a bit emotional and it was potentially my last one, so I didn’t want to go out on a Tuesday night. I want to go all the way to the weekend so fingers crossed I can keep pushing and I’m sure the crowd will be behind me.”

Meanwhile, World No.1 Mohamed ElShorbagy avoided a shock first round exit as he came back from two games down to defeat Peru’s World No.12 Diego Elias in five.

Top seed Mohamed ElShorbagy is delighted after fighting back from two games down to beat Diego Elias

ElShorbagy, a two-time British Open winner, was in all sorts of trouble as an out of sorts showing from the two-time winner saw him go two games down against a composed Elias, but the Egyptian powerhouse came onto court a completely different player in the third as he stepped up the court and forced Elias into some brutal movements to record an 5-11, 6-11, 11-4, 11-8, 11-4 triumph.

“To be the best in any sport, you don’t win matches because you play your best every match, you find ways to win when you’re not playing your best and today I found a way to win,” ElShorbagy said afterwards.

“The British Open is our ‘Wimbledon of Squash’ and you don’t want to lose a match easily. If someone is going to take me out I’m going to make sure that they have to be at their best.”

Three-time runner-up James Willstrop exited the tournament after he lost to World No.3 Marwan ElShorbagy, while 2013 winner Ramy Ashour is also out after falling to Colombia’s Miguel Angel Rodriguez in four games.

There were also wins for the likes of second seed Ali Farag, defending champion Gregory Gaultier, former World Champion Karim Abdel Gawad and World No.10 Paul Coll, with the latter pair set to face off against each other. 

Elsewhere, World No.26 Cesar Salazar made history as he beat Switzerland’s Nicolas Mueller to become the first Mexican man ever to reach round two of the British Open.

Laura Massaro, the reigning champion, gets in front to play a drop shot against Mayar Hany

In the women’s event, title holder Laura Massaro earned her spot in the last 16 courtesy of a 3-0 victory over Egyptian qualifier Mayar Hany which will see her play Yathreb Adel in the next round.

The 34-year-old Massaro and Hany – 13 years Massaro’s junior – had met at the second round stage of last year’s British Open, with Massaro taking a comfortable 3-0 win in just 29 minutes, while the pair met last month at the El Gouna International, with Massaro again triumphing in straight games.

While the scoreline was the same this time around, Massaro didn’t always have it her own way as the two-time British Open champion was forced to overturn three separate game balls in a dramatic 25-minute opener, eventually prevailing 21-19, before following that up with 11-6 victories in each of the final two games.

“I haven’t won a World Series event this season but I’ve made the semi-finals in all of them apart from Chicago I think, so my ranking being at seven feels a little bit harsh because I feel like I’m making regular semis,” said Preston-based Massaro when asked about her season so far.

“Having said that, the tour is as strong as ever and my level just hasn’t been strong enough to win those titles this season.

“We’ve got this event to go and I’ll have to adapt as quickly as I can over the summer ready for next season otherwise my ranking will be even further down.”

Nour El Tayeb in action against Rachael Grinham

World No.3 Nour El Tayeb began her attempts to lift a third World Series title with a 3-0 win over Australia’s four-time champion Rachael Grinham, who was appearing in her 21st consecutive British Open.

“She is a legend of my whole world, everyone around me knows how big of a deal Rachael is to me,” said El Tayeb.

“I got most of my tricks from her and she’s the first professional squash player I grew up watching. She was the World No.1 at the time and she always played with me when I was around 12 back home in Cairo so I look up to her in every aspect.”

United States No.2 Amanda Sobhy awaits El Tayeb after beating fellow American Olivia Blatchford at the University of Hull Squash and Fitness Centre – which hosted 23 of the 32 first round matches – while World No.1 Nour El Sherbini and World Champion Raneem El Welily will face Salma Hany and Victoria Lust, respectively.

Second round action begins at 12:00 local time (BST) tomorrow (Wednesday May 16) and action will be shown live on SQUASHTV (Rest of World) and Eurosport Player (Europe only). 

2018 Allam British Open, Hull, England.

Men’s First Round:
[1] Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) bt Diego Elias (PER) 3-2: 5-11, 6-11, 11-4, 11-8, 11-4 (54m)
[Q] Gregoire Marche (FRA) bt Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) 3-2: 11-9, 2-11, 8-11, 11-7, 12-10 (76m)
Paul Coll (NZL) bt [Q] George Parker (ENG) 3-1: 11-9, 11-6, 4-11, 11-8 (72m)
[7] Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) bt Daryl Selby (ENG) 3-2: 9-11, 6-11, 11-3, 11-2, 11-4 (49m)
[6] Simon Rösner (GER) bt [WC] Declan James (ENG) 3-0: 11-8, 11-9, 11-6 (45m)
Saurav Ghosal (IND) bt [Q] Greg Lobban (SCO) 3-2: 11-9, 8-11, 6-11, 11-7, 11-3 (71m)
Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY) bt [Q] Joel Makin (WAL) 3-0: 11-9, 12-10, 11-9 (47m)
[3] Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt Cameron Pilley (AUS) 3-0: 11-5, 11-7, 11-4 (45m)
[4] Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) bt James Willstrop (ENG) 3-0: 11-8, 11-9, 11-8 (36m)
[3] Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt Cameron Pilley (AUS) 3-0: 11-5, 11-7, 11-4 (45m)
[4] Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) bt James Willstrop (ENG) 3-0: 11-8, 11-9, 11-8 (36m)
Cesar Salazar (MEX) bt Nicolas Mueller (SUI) 3-2: 11-9, 8-11, 11-5, 9-11, 13-11 (67m)
[Q] Raphael Kandra (GER) bt Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) 3-0: 11-7, 11-7, 11-9 (49m)
Nick Matthew (ENG) bt [5] Tarek Momen (EGY) 3-2: 11-4, 10-12, 11-4, 8-11, 11-2 (80m)
Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL) bt [8] Ramy Ashour (EGY) 3-1: 7-11, 11-8, 11-2, 11-4 (35m)
Omar Mosaad (EGY) bt [Q] Ben Coleman (ENG) 3-1: 12-10, 5-11, 11-6, 11-5 (58m)
Max Lee (HKG) bt [Q] Adrian Waller (ENG) 3-1: 11-4, 11-7, 3-11, 11-5 (47m)
[2] Ali Farag (EGY) bt [Q] Chris Simpson (ENG) 3-0: 11-5, 11-5, 11-6 (32m)

Second Round (Top Half): To Be Played May 16th
[1] Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) v [Q] Gregoire Marche (FRA)
Paul Coll (NZL) v [7] Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY)
[6] Simon Rösner (GER) v Saurav Ghosal (IND)
Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY) v [3] Gregory Gaultier (FRA)

Second Round (Bottom Half): To Be Played May 17th
[4] Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) v Cesar Salazar (MEX)
[Q] Raphael Kandra (GER) v Nick Matthew (ENG)
Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL) v Omar Mosaad (EGY)
Max Lee (HKG) v [2] Ali Farag (EGY)

Women’s First Round:
[1] Nour El Sherbini (EGY) bt Emily Whitlock (ENG) 3-0: 11-6, 11-4, 11-8 (25m)
[16] Salma Hany (EGY) bt [Q] Nele Gilis (BEL) 3-0: 11-7, 11-4, 11-7 (27m)
[9] Alison Waters (ENG) bt Joey Chan (HKG) 3-0: 11-5, 13-11, 11-6 (33m)
[5] Nouran Gohar (EGY) bt Jenny Duncalf (ENG) 3-0: 11-8, 11-5, 11-6 (25m)
[7] Laura Massaro (ENG) bt [Q] Mayar Hany (EGY) 3-0: 21-19, 11-6, 11-6 (42m)
[Q] Yathreb Adel (EGY) bt [13] Joshna Chinappa (IND) 3-0: 11-7, 11-3, 12-10 (27m)
Amanda Sobhy (USA) bt [12] Olivia Blatchford (USA) 3-1: 11-3, 8-11, 11-8, 11-2 (30m)
[3] Nour El Tayeb (EGY) bt Rachael Grinham (AUS) 3-0: 11-5, 11-5, 11-5 (21m)
[4] Joelle King (NZL) bt [Q] Amanda Landers-Murphy (NZL) 3-0: 11-3, 11-6, 11-7 (25m)
[11] Tesni Evans (WAL) bt [Q] Alexandra Fuller (RSA) 3-0: 11-8, 11-9, 11-4 (30m)
[15] Donna Urquhart (AUS) bt Mariam Metwally (EGY) 3-0: 11-5, 11-9, 11-9 (26m)
[6] Camille Serme (FRA) bt [Q] Millie Tomlinson (ENG) 3-0: 11-1, 11-6, 11-8 (27m)
[8] Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) bt Hania El Hammamy (EGY) 3-1: 11-5, 6-11, 11-7, 11-8 (42m)
[10] Annie Au (HKG) bt [Q] Samantha Cornett (CAN) 3-0: 17-15, 11-5, 11-1 (31m)
[14] Victoria Lust (ENG) bt [WC] Fiona Moverley (ENG) 3-1: 11-8, 12-10, 9-11, 12-10 (48m)
[2] Raneem El Welily (EGY) bt [Q] Milou van der Heijden (NED) 3-0: 11-6, 11-6, 11-6 (26m)

Second Round (Top Half): To Be Played May 16th
[1] Nour El Sherbini (EGY) v [16] Salma Hany (EGY)
[9] Alison Waters (ENG) v [5] Nouran Gohar (EGY)
[7] Laura Massaro (ENG) v [Q] Yathreb Adel (EGY)
Amanda Sobhy (EGY) v [3] Nour El Tayeb (EGY)

Second Round (Bottom Half): To Be Played May 17th
[4] Joelle King (NZL) v [11] Tesni Evans (WAL)
[15] Donna Urquhart (AUS) v [6] Camille Serme (FRA)
[8] Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) v [10] Annie Au (HKG)
[14] Victoria Lust (ENG) v [2] Raneem El Welily (EGY) 

Report by SEAN REUTHE (PSA PR and Media Manager). Edited by ALAN THATCHER

Pictures courtesy of PSA


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