Latest injury setback for Egyptian superstar
By NATHAN CLARKE in El Gouna
The second day of action at the 2016 El Gouna International was dominated by home success as Egyptian players triumphed in six of eight matches during a dramatic day of competition at the Red Sea resort that saw three-time champion and 2015 winner Ramy Ashour’s hopes of title-defence halted prematurely due to injury.
The maverick Egyptian returned to competitive action on the PSA World Tour during last month’s Allam British Open following an extended injury absence. Here in Egypt he appeared to suffer a recurrence of the hamstring difficulty that has plagued his career over the past three years as he conceded his first round match to recent Grasshopper Cup winner Marwan ElShorbagy.
Ashour started slowly in the first game before an awkward looking movement into the front of the court midway through the second led to a handshake and a subdued end to what promised to be a compelling encounter.
“Ramy is a great player – he’s won this tournament three times,” said ElShorbagy. “I didn’t expect what happened today – it’s sad what has happened to him.
“When he’s around it is great for the sport and the players, I just hope he can fix all his injuries because when he’s playing fit the sport is in a better place.
“Before playing today I just wanted to enjoy the experience and make the most of it. Sadly that didn’t happen today but last week in Zurich gave me a lot of confidence. I can’t wait to be back on the court again tomorrow – playing in Egypt is a great opportunity and I’ve never made the quarters here before so I’ll give it a big push tomorrow.”
Earlier in the day qualifier Omar Abdel Meguid produced a mammoth performance to overcome a gap of 12 places on the World Rankings and take out Hong Kong’s World No.17 Max Lee in a gruelling 75 minute match up while fellow compatriots Fares Dessouki, Karim Abdel Gawad, Tarek Momen and Ali Farag also came through to the delight of home fans.
The other winners on the second day were World Champion Gregory Gaultier and South African Stephen Coppinger, who avoided total collapse in his first round encounter against Qatar’s Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi as, after storming ahead 2-0 a series of costly errors with the finishing line in sight led the match to be turned upside down.
On a hot and humid court Tamimi stormed back into contention to force a fifth game but the experience Coppinger managed to recompose himself at the crucial stage to avoid a shock first round defeat.
“Everyone is talking about the conditions and it is hot, it is humid, but for me the most difficult thing today was him,” said Coppinger.
“He made it hard to find any kind of rhythm and I never felt settled. I’m livid with myself for that third game because it was just simple mistakes and then I lost my way in the fourth. Thankfully the opposite happened in the fifth and I got it back.”
PSA M150 El Gouna International Open 2016, New Marina, El Gouna, Egypt.
Results – First Round (Bottom Half)
Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) bt  Ramy Ashour (EGY) 3-0: 12-10, 11-6, 0-0 retired (20m)
[Q] Omar Abdel Meguid (EGY) bt Max Lee (HKG) 3-2: 2-11, 12-10, 4-11, 16-14, 11-6 (75m)
Fares Dessouki (EGY) bt Daryl Selby (ENG) 3-2: 8-11, 11-5, 11-3, 5-11, 11-8 (75m)
 Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) bt Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) 3-1: 8-11, 11-7, 11-7, 11-5 (63m)
 Tarek Momen (EGY) bt [Q] Gregoire Marche (FRA) 3-1: 6-11, 12-10, 11-9, 11-6 (65m)
Ali Farag (EGY) bt [Q] Nicolas Mueller (SUI) 3-0: 11-7, 11-6, 11-7 (23m)
Stephen Coppinger (RSA) bt [Q] Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi (QAT) 3-2: 11-9, 11-9, 9-11, 3-11, 11-3 (61m)
 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt Tom Richards (ENG) 3-0: 11-6, 11-8, 11-4 (36m)
Draw – Second Round
 Mohamed Elshorbagy (EGY) v Chris Simpson (ENG)
[Q] Cesar Salazar (MEX) v  Simon Rösner (GER)
 Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL) v Leo Au (HKG)
Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) v  Omar Mosaad (EGY)
Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) v [Q] Omar Abdel Meguid (EGY
Fares Dessouki (EGY) v  Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY)
 Tarek Momen (EGY) v Ali Farag (EGY)
Stephen Coppinger (RSA) v  Gregory Gaultier (FRA)
Picture courtesy of PSA