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Ashour overcomes Rosner as top seeds advance at Swedish Open
By MICHAEL CATLING – Squash Mad Chief Reporter

Top seed Ramy Ashour marked his return from injury with a hard-fought four game victory over German number one Simon Rosner in the first round at the Swedish Open in Linköping.

Ashour, who was making his debut at the PSA International $70,000 event, was forced to save a game ball in a nail-biting fourth game before converting his third match ball to prevail 11-5, 6-11, 11-9, 14-12 in 57 minutes

Displaying ramy dive_DSC6286.jpgThe world number four will now face fellow compatriot Omar Mosaad in the quarter-finals, but will be relieved after failing to endorse Rosner’s reputation for upsetting the seedings following the German’s high-profile victories over Borja Golan and Karim Darwish at the Alwatan & Asnan International and Tournament of Champions respectively. 

Ashour (pictured right) was in sparkling form in the opening game, with a series of deft flicks and angled nicks leaving Rosner floundering at thin air on many occasions.

Yet roles were reversed in the second game as Rosner’s superior reach left the 26-year-old Egyptian scampering around the court as the world number 11 drew level at one-apiece. 

A tight third game saw Rosner inch ahead at 7-6 but the seven-time German National champion soon faced two game balls as Ashour reeled off a succession of quick points in trademark fashion. Rosner saved the first but inexplicably tinned a reverse angled boast as Ashour reclaimed his advantage.

The Cairo ace continued in the ascendancy in the following game and reeled off four successive points before an unfavourable video review halted his early momentum.

Rosner eventually pegged the Egyptian back and capitalised on a loose cross court nick attempt to move within one point of a decider. 

A tinned drop by Rosner ultimately proved the catalyst for Ashour’s comeback as the former world number one remained undeterred from squandering two match balls in the tie-break as he unleashed a cross court volley nick to seal his first victory since the Hong Kong in December.

“It’s great to be competing again,” said Ashour in his post match interview. “I’ve been struggling for a while and I’m glad I’m back.

Displaying hultDSC5306.jpg“It’s fun to be in Sweden for the first time,” added the British Open champion. “I have only heard good things about the Case Swedish Open – and Freddie (Johnson) does a fantastic job with the tournament.”

Ashour will now meet Mosaad for a place in the last four, after the Egyptian overcame Swedish wildcard Rasmus Hult in three tight games (pictured in action left).

The eighth seed was forced to save five game balls in the opening game before narrowly edging the following two games to end home hopes in 39 minutes.

England’s Nick Matthew and Frenchman Gregory Gaultier – the two players who have replaced Ashour as the sport’s first ever joint world number ones – were also in action at the Linköping Sporthall.

Matthew, the number three seed from Sheffield, survived an all-English clash with Tom Richards, beating the world number 26 11-7, 11-3, 12-10 in 46 minutes.

Three-time champion Matthew (pictured right in red) now faces another England team-mate Daryl Selby, after the seventh seed twice came from behind to overcome French qualifier Gregoire Marche 10-12, 11-6, 9-11, 11-6, 11-1 in 75 minutes.

“Happy to sneak through tonight against @GregMarche who played a great match,” tweeted the world number 10 later. “He will get his big breakthrough soon. Quarters tomorrow v Nick”

Marche responded: “Just lost 3/2 against @DarylSelby! One of my best matches but he is such a great player! I hope I will be like him one day!”

Displaying gaultier DSC4643.jpgDefending champion Gaultier (pictured left) was at his awesome best as he romped past English qualifier Adrian Waller 11-6, 11-7, 11-4. Bidding for a third title in a row, the 31-year-old from Aix-en-Provence now meets world number seven Peter Barker for a place in the semi-finals.

The English fifth seed, who lost in the final of the Motor City Open last week, finally came out on top in a five-game battle with Cameron Pilley, beating the Australian number one 11-7, 3-11, 11-7, 8-11, 11-5 in 71 minutes.

Amr Shabana, the former world number one from Egypt who won the first major title of the year at the Tournament of Champions in New York last month, also advanced through to the quarter-finals after recovering from a game down to defeat English qualifier Chris Simpson 9-11, 11-4, 11-3, 11-3.

The 34-year-old sixth seed from Cairo will now face top-ranked Spaniard Borja Golan after the number four seed defeated French qualifier Mathieu Castagnet 11-8, 11-6, 11-3.

Swedish Open draw

Pictures by Tommi Tapola

 

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