Elshorbagy and Gaultier build on heartbreak to motivate them in World Championship
By NATHAN CLARKE in Seattle
World No.1 and number one seed Mohamed Elshorbagy began his bid to win a maiden World Championship crown with a comfortable victory over Mexican challenger Alfredo Avila during the opening day of action at the 2015 Men’s World Championship in Bellevue, Washington.
The 2012 and 2014 runner-up Elshorbagy was in impressive form as he saw off a doggedly determined Avila 3-0 after just 31 minutes to send an early message out to his main title-rivals during an opening day of first round action that saw the seeds in control of proceedings throughout.
“I’ve only got this one [the World Championship] left to win,” said Elshorbagy, who held match-ball to win the title against Ramy Ashour 12 months ago in Doha.
“I’m only 24 years old so it’s not too bad. If I don’t get it this year I still have so many years to come, but of course I really want to win this one.
“It’s the first time ever that the World Championship is here in the United States. It’s great, the tournament has been set up perfectly for the players and I’m really looking forward to playing well here this week.
“Losing last year was tough but everything has made me the player I am today. I struggled a little bit after last year but I was able to come back and win the Tournament of Champions and the British Open.
“It was a test of character and to get back here the year after is tough. There are bad memories, but I’m trying to put that behind me now and hopefully I will be able to play well this week.”
One of Elshorbagy’s main challengers from the title, French World No.3 Gregory Gaultier, produced an equally impressive first round performance to win 11-9, 11-7, 11-4 compatriot Lucas Serme, a training partner in Prague, to get his campaign off to a positive start as he aims to end his heartbreak at the sport’s most prestigious tournament – having fallen at the final hurdle on four separate occasions.
With the all-French battle coming in the wake of the atrocities that occurred in Paris on Friday, Gaultier was keen to reference the impact the events had on his preparations and the extra motivation it has given him.
“I was really thinking that I needed to give all my heart and produce a good performance for my country today,” said Gaultier.
“What happened in France has been really hurting everybody. You think about it every day and you see the news. I will do all I can to win the title this year.”
Elsewhere, Todd Harrity will carry the hopes of nation on his shoulders after he overcame Scotland’s Alan Clyne to become the only US player to progress beyond the first round of the tournament.
Harrity scraped through 3-2 after 63 minutes to book his second round berth, improving on the performances of top ranked US player Christopher Gordon, who bowed out of the competition during the final round of qualification, and the most successful US player of recent times, Julian Illingworth, who fell to a straight-games defeat to Miguel Angel Rodriguez of Colombia in round one.
The in-form Australian, Ryan Cuskelly, was unable to repeat recent success as he fell 3-1 to India’s Saurav Ghosal, whose compatriot Harinder Pal Sandhu put up a brave fight before losing to Switzerland’s Nicolas Mueller.
Top seed Elshorbagy was one of five Egyptians to win through on the opening day. Karim Ali Fathi overcame No.11 seed Peter Barker 3-1, and there were further Egyptian successes for Ali Farag, Fares Dessouki and Omar Abdel Meguid.
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2015 Men’s World Championship, Bellevue, Washington, USA.
First Round (Top Half)
 Mohamed Elshorbagy (EGY) bt Alfredo Avila (MEX) 3-0; 11-4, 11-9, 11-7 (31m)
Tom Richards (ENG) bt [Q] Laurens Jan Anjema (NED) 3-1: 12-10, 3-11, 11-8, 12-10 (62m)
James Willstrop (ENG) bt [Q] Ben Coleman (ENG) 3-0: 11-9, 11-3, 11-6 (38m)
 Saurav Ghosal (IND) bt Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) 3-1: 7-11, 11-8, 11-7, 11-3 (62m)
 Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) bt [Q] Peter Creed (WAL) 3-0: 11-3, 11-5, 11-3 (32m)
[Q] Todd Harrity (USA) bt Alan Clyne (SCO) 3-2: 11-8, 2-11, 11-6, 6-11, 11-3 (63m)
Campbell Grayson (NZL) bt [Q] Carlos Cornes Ribadas (ESP) 3-0: 11-3, 11-6, 11-8 (39m)
 Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL) bt [WC] Julian Illingworth (USA) 3-0: 11-7, 11-4, 11-5 (29m)
 Simon Rösner (GER) bt [Q] Tsz Fung Yip (HKG) 3-0: 11-8, 11-8, 11-5 (35m)
Nicolas Mueller (SUI) bt [Q] Harinder Pal Singh Sandhu (IND) 3-1: 11-5, 2-11, 11-4, 11-9 (55m)
Ali Farag (EGY) bt [Q] Kristian Frost Olesen (DEN) 3-0: 11-6, 11-6, 11-3 (34m)
 Max Lee (HKG) bt Greg Lobban (SCO) 3-0: 11-7, 11-8, 11-5 (50m)
Karim Ali Fathi (EGY) bt  Peter Barker (ENG) 3-1: 9-11, 11-7, 11-4, 12-10 (52m)
Fares Dessouki (EGY) bt Nasir Iqbal (PAK) 3-0: 11-7, 11-3, 11-7 (27m)
Omar Abdel Meguid (EGY) bt Olli Tuominen (FIN) 3-0: 11-3, 13-11, 11-8 (29m)
 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt Lucas Serme (FRA) 3-0: 11-9, 11-7, 11-4 (41m)
Today’s schedule (Monday November 16, 2015). First Round (Bottom Half):
 Ramy Ashour (EGY) v Mazen Hesham (EGY)
Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY) v [Q] Shawn Delierre (CAN)
Cesar Salazar (MEX) v [Q] Mohamed Reda (EGY)
[Q] Andrew Wagih Shoukry (EGY) v  Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY)
 Borja Golan (ESP) v Alister Walker (BOT)
Shaun Le Roux (RSA) v Paul Coll (NZL)
Nafiizwan Adnan (MAS) v [Q] Charles Sharpes (ENG)
[Q] Farhan Zaman (PAK) v  Omar Mosaad (EGY)
 Tarek Momen (EGY) v [Q] Joe Lee (ENG)
Adrian Grant (ENG) v Diego Elias (PER)
Gregoire Marche (FRA) v [Q] Henrik Mustonen (FIN)
Chris Simpson (ENG) v  Stephen Coppinger (RSA)
 Marwan Elshorbagy (EGY) v Leo Au (HKG)
Daryl Selby (ENG) v Zahed Mohamed (EGY)
Declan James (ENG) v [Q] Karim El Hammamy (EGY)
Cameron Pilley (AUS) v  Nick Matthew (ENG)
Pictures courtesy of PSA