Milestone wins for Tesni Evans and Paul Coll as Mohamed ElShorbagy beats Ramy Ashour in a squash classic
By SEAN REUTHE and ALAN THATCHER
Welsh World No.14 Tesni Evans claimed the biggest win of her career as she sent England No.1 Laura Massaro crashing out of the 2017 Women’s AJ Bell PSA World Championships on day three of the prestigious tournament taking place in Manchester – becoming the first Welsh player since former men’s World No.5 and current PSA Chief Executive Alex Gough in 2007 to reach the last eight of the World Championships.
The pair had met in the quarter-final stage of last month’s Hong Kong Open, with Massaro, the 2013 World Champion, prevailing in four games.
But, inside Manchester’s National Squash Centre, it was Evans who got the better of the World No.4 this time around, and she will face U.S. Open champion Nour El Tayeb in the last eight, while Massaro has failed to reach the quarter-finals of this tournament for the first time in seven years.
“I kept on wondering throughout the match if today would be my day – and it was,” Evans said. “My heart is racing fast. I felt like I had quite a lot of control in the first two games and then towards the end of the third game I was edgy to the max.
“I was just hoping she would give me a tin and that’s probably not the best way to play Laura because she didn’t give me anything. I was really working hard to get the point at the end but she kept coming back and back at me and I’m just delighted to get the win.”
Evans and El Tayeb will be joined in the quarter-finals by defending champion Nour El Sherbini and World No.5 Nouran Gohar, who beat Japan’s Satomi Watanabe and England’s Alison Waters, respectively, to set up a third consecutive World Championships meeting between each other.
“I was moving well and towards the end of the game I found my range,” said El Sherbini. “I’m pleased with the performance because she’s a very talented player and has beaten a lot of good players.”
The men’s tournament saw World No.2 Mohamed ElShorbagy avenge his 2012 and 2014 World Championship final defeats to three-time winner Ramy Ashour, beating his fellow Egyptan 14-12, 11-7, 11-4.
It was the latest chapter in the pair’s enthralling rivalry – with Ashour winning seven of their previous nine meetings coming into the match – but ElShorbagy, who has won five of his last six PSA World Tour events, pulled away after a pulsating first game to claim a 17th successive victory on the Tour.
“The level we played at in the first game, I haven’t played that level in a very long time,” said ElShorbagy.
“The quality of the game was unbelievable and to be able to get the win today, I’m just really happy. It gives me a lot of confidence for the rest of the tournament.
“I feel really blessed to be part of a squash match that the whole world was waiting for, as not many athletes when they retire can say something like that.”
ElShorbagy will face yet another long-term rival in England’s three-time World Champion Nick Matthew, who reached an 11th successive World Championship quarter-final after beating Qatar’s Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi – despite the match suffering a 90-minute delay towards the end of the fixture after a lunge from Matthew saw the 37-year-old dislodge a floorboard on the court.
Matthew was two games up and 8-6 ahead in the third when the incident happened and, when it was fixed, he made no mistake in closing out the match, taking it 11-4, 11-8, 11-8 to set up a 23rd PSA World Tour meeting between himself and ElShorbagy.
“It’s not easy to stay warm [during the delay], it’s an awkward length of time and it’s difficult mentally as well,” said Matthew, who is playing his last World Championships after announcing his decision to retire at the end of the season.
“You’re feeling the burn in the legs because they’ve got cold and there were a couple of mis-hits and a few nerves because it was a really crucial point of the match. It wasn’t easy, but it’s the same for both players and you have to adapt.”
World No.1 Gregory Gaultier and World No.8 Paul Coll will meet for a second tournament in a row in the other confirmed men’s quarter-final courtesy of respective wins over English duo Declan James and Daryl Selby.
Round three action from the men’s tournament and fixtures from round two of the women’s tournament continues tomorrow, with all matches broadcast live on SQUASHTV (Rest of World) and Eurosport Player (Europe only).
PSA 2017 AJ Bell PSA World Championships, Manchester, England.
Men’s Third Round (top half):
 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt Declan James (ENG) 3-0: 11-5, 11-3, 11-5 (39m)
 Paul Coll (NZL) bt  Daryl Selby 3-1: 8-11, 11-5, 11-7, 11-7 (82m)
 Nick Matthew (ENG) bt Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi (QAT) 3-0: 11-4, 11-8, 11-8 (126m)
 Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) bt  Ramy Ashour (EGY) 3-0: 14-12, 11-7, 11-4 (51m)
Men’s Third Round (bottom half) December 13:
 Ali Farag (EGY) v Cameron Pilley (AUS)
Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL) v  Tarek Momen (EGY)
 Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) v Lucas Serme (FRA)
Saurav Ghosal (IND) v  Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY)
Men’s Quarter-Finals (Top Half) December 14:
 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) v  Paul Coll (NZL)
 Nick Matthew (ENG) v  Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY)
2017 Women’s AJ Bell PSA World Championships, Second Round:
 Nour El Sherbini (EGY) bt [Q] Satomi Watanabe (JPN) 3-0: 11-6, 11-5, 11-5 (23m)
 Nouran Gohar (EGY) v  Alison Waters (ENG) 3-1: 12-10, 8-11, 11-2, 11-8 (50m)
 Nour El Tayeb (EGY) bt Salma Hany (EGY) 3-1: 6-11, 11-8, 7-11, 11-7, 11-5 (52m)
 Tesni Evans (WAL) bt  Laura Massaro (ENG) 3-1: 11-5, 11-8, 9-11, 13-11 (77m)
Women’s Second Round (Bottom Half) December 13:
 Camille Serme (FRA) v  Olivia Blatchford (USA)
 Joelle King (NZL) v  Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG)
 Nicol David (MAS) v  Annie Au (HKG)
 Victoria Lust (ENG) v  Raneem El Welily (EGY)
Women’s Quarter-Finals (Top Half) December 14:
 Nour El Sherbini (EGY) v  Nouran Gohar (EGY)
 Nour El Tayeb (EGY) v  Tesni Evans (WAL)
Pictures courtesy of PSA