‘It feels weird being an underdog,’ says Mohamed ElShorbagy
By ALAN THATCHER and ELLIE MAWSON
Top seeds Paul Coll and Nouran Gohar made a winning start to the PSA World Championships as the richest tournament in squash history got under way in Cairo.
Coll and Gohar made confident starts on day one at the Club S Allegria, although windy weather interrupted proceedings as players began to battle it out for a $1.1m prize fund split equally between the male and female draws.
Coll, the only male New Zealander to reach the summit of the PSA World Rankings, started his first World Championship as world No.1 and top seed in confident mood as he overcame Egyptian wildcard Seif Shenawy in straight games.
Coll, who turned 30 four days ago, kept his composure to take a two-game lead and held off a comeback from his opponent in the third to complete an 11-5, 11-3, 11-8 victory in 40 minutes.
“Today, it was more about getting a feel for the court for me,” said Coll. “With the outdoor court you’ve got to get used to it. There’s a lot of external factors to deal with, but I felt more comfortable as the game went on. I’m happy with a 3-0 first round win and I got off there and did the job.
“The last couple of tournaments I’ve felt that pressure [of being the No.1 seed] more. It was really good being home training for four weeks, I got back into a normal routine. I’m feeling good on court, so I’m probably feeling less pressure at this tournament compared to the British Open.”
The 2017 world champion, Mohamed ElShorbagy, required just 25 minutes to record his first win of the 2021-22 PSA World Championships, getting the better of Hungary’s Balazs Farkas in straight games.
“It’s very weird to go into a tournament being an underdog,” said ElShorbagy. “I haven’t had that for the last 10 years and that’s due to my poor run of form this season. In my last three majors I have not even made it to the quarters. It’s a very different stage in my career and I have never experienced anything like this.
“I’ve made some changes, I’ve started working with Greg [Gaultier] which has given me so much hunger and motivation back. Even though I lost the final in Manchester, I wanted to be on court mentally, the aggression was back, so I have a good feeling about this week.
“I’m being written off by so many people and I think that can put a lot of pressure on the other guys and not on myself.”
ElShorbagy’s fellow Egyptians Tarek Momen, Fares Dessouky and Mazen Hesham also successfully booked their places in the second round tomorrow (Sunday May 15).
Momen, who won this tournament back in 2019 when he defeated Coll in the final, overcame a resilient Eain Yow Ng of Malaysia in 43 minutes to set up a last 32 clash with USA’s Faraz Khan, who caused an upset on day one with victory over Egypt’s Mohamed ElSherbini.
Dessouky and Hesham beat Portugal’s Rui Soares and Canada’s David Baillargeon.
World No.1 Nouran Gohar kicked off her attempt for PSA World Championship glory with a win over France’s Enora Villard at the Club S Allegria.
This year’s PSA World Championships is the richest professional squash tournament in history as the players battle it out for $1,100,000 in total player prize compensation, which is split equally amongst the male and female athletes and Gohar got her tournament off to the perfect start with a 3-0 victory.
The match, which was delayed by 45 minutes due to adverse weather conditions, was over in just 28 minutes as the top seed adapted to the cooler conditions quickly and hit her targets at the front and back.
Villard showed some nice touches – particularly in a first game which saw her mount a mini-revival from 7-2 down to 7-6 – but was unable to put a game on the board against a ruthless Gohar, who finished as runner-up at the 2020-21 PSA World Championships.
Gohar said: “It’s always great when you’re done 3-0. It’s a 64 draw, there are a lot of matches, it’s the biggest tournament of the year, and you just want to be as fresh as possible.
“I’m just trying to enjoy it. I’m not going to lie and say there is no pressure, obviously there is a bit of pressure, but I’m not trying to think about it too much. I’m trying to take it a match at a time and execute my game plan. I’m trying to focus on the small things, so I don’t get too overwhelmed with the whole thing.”
Gohar will face compatriot Farida Mohamed for a place in the third round after she came from a game down in a fiery encounter with Nour Aboulmakarim on the traditional courts.
“On the big points, I was trying to stay calm, especially when the rallies were long,” said Mohamed afterwards. “It was so physical today. There was a lot of contact during the game, each point.”
Joining them in the last 32 will be the USA’s World No.4 Amanda Sobhy, who claimed victory over her compatriot Haley Mendez in just 17 minutes on the glass court on day one.
The 28-year-old had won both of her previous meetings against Mendez in similarly dominant fashion – winning those matches in just 34 minutes of combined play time – and Sobhy wasted no time in making it a hat-trick of victories as she bounded round the court and hit winners at will.
The No.4 seed will go up against South Africa’s Alexandra Fuller in the next round as she steps up her bid to become the first American ever to win the World Championships.
Sobhy admitted: “I’m happy that I finished it quickly because it was cold and windy. I’m happy with how I played, but the conditions were tough.
“We’ve [Sobhy and Fuller] never played. It’s exciting to play someone new after so many years on tour. We have a rest day tomorrow, so I know she’s going to feel fresh and I’m going to use the glass court to my advantage because she hasn’t played on it. I’m going to try and make as fast a start as possible.”
New Zealand’s Joelle King and Egypt’s Rowan Elaraby also safely made their way through to round two following wins over Hong Kong’s Tsz-Wing Tong and England’s Millie Tomlinson.
Round one continues today (May 14) and play starts at 12 noon local time (GMT+2). Action from the glass court will be broadcast live on SQUASHTV, while the side court matches will be shown live on the PSA SQUASHTV YouTube channel.
PSA World Championships, Club S Allegria, Cairo, Egypt.
Men’s Round One (Top half):
 Paul Coll (NZL) bt [WC] Seif Shenawy (EGY) 3-0: 11-5, 11-3, 11-8 (40m)
Mahesh Mangaonkar (IND) bt Mazen Gamal (EGY) 3-0: 11-9, 11-2, 11-5 (33m)
Karim El Hammamy (EGY) bt Ibrahim Elkabbani (EGY) 3-1: 11-9, 11-9, 9-11, 11-4 (67m)
 Mazen Hesham (EGY) bt David Baillargeon (CAN) 3-0: 11-9, 11-7, 11-7 (23m)
 Joel Makin (WAL) bt Leandro Romiglio (ARG) 3-0: 11-8, 11-4, 11-2 (32m)
Lucas Serme (FRA) bt Tsz Kwan Lau (HKG) 3-0: 11-6, 11-6, 11-5 (28m)
Faraz Khan (USA) bt Mohamed ElSherbini (EGY) 3-1: 5-11, 11-8, 11-9, 11-5 (49m)
 Tarek Momen (EGY) bt Eain Yow Ng (MAS) 3-0: 15-13, 11-6, 11-9 (43m)
 Fares Dessouky (EGY) bt Rui Soares (POR) 3-0: 11-4, 11-2, 11-2 (22m)
George Parker (ENG) bt Edmon Lopez (ESP) 3-0: 11-6, 11-3, 11-4 (33m)
Ramit Tandon (IND) bt Christopher Gordon (USA) 3-0: 11-4, 11-4, 11-6 (27m)
 Gregoire Marche (FRA) bt Auguste Dussourd (FRA) 3-2: 11-4, 11-7, 6-11, 9-11, 11-3 (71m)
 Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) bt Dimitri Steinmann (SUI) 3-1: 11-9, 11-6, 7-11, 11-9 (54m)
Victor Crouin (FRA) bt Baptiste Masotti (FRA) 3-1: 11-6, 9-11, 11-5, 11-5 (45m)
Juan Camilo Vargas (COL) bt Shahjahan Khan (USA) 3-0: 11-6, 12-10, 9-7 retired (41m)
 Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) bt [I] Balazs Farkas (HUN) 3-0: 11-8, 11-2, 11-6 (25m)
Women’s Round One (top half):
 Nouran Gohar (EGY) bt Enora Villard (FRA) 11-7, 11-6, 11-2 (28m)
 Farida Mohamed (EGY) bt Nour Aboulmakarim (EGY) 3-1: 10-12, 11-8, 14-12, 11-5 (40m)
Coline Aumard (FRA) bt  Rachel Arnold (MAS) 3-2: 5-11, 6-11, 11-8, 13-11, 11-3 (46m)
 Tesni Evans (WAL) bt Karina Tyma (POL) 3-1: 7-11, 11-5, 11-5, 11-4 (32m)
 Joshna Chinappa (IND) bt Katie Malliff (ENG) 3-0: 11-6, 11-8, 11-9 (33m)
 Emily Whitlock (WAL) bt Cindy Merlo (SUI) 3-1: 4-11, 11-1, 11-4, 11-4 (33m)
 Hana Ramadan (EGY) bt Marie Stephan (FRA) 3-0: 11-8, 11-7, 11-9 (27m)
 Rowan Elaraby (EGY) bt Millie Tomlinson (ENG) 3-0: 11-5, 11-5, 11-9 (28m)
 Joelle King (NZL) bt Tsz-Wing Tong (HKG) 3-0: 11-7, 11-5, 11-8 (36m)
Yathreb Adel (EGY) bt  Mariam Metwally (EGY) 3-2: 9-11, 12-10, 14-12, 4-11, 11-5 (73m)
 Olivia Clyne (USA) bt Julianne Courtice (ENG) 3-1: 6-11, 11-8, 11-8, 11-9 (40m)
 Nada Abbas (EGY) bt Tze Lok Ho (HKG) 3-0: 11-6, 11-5, 13-11 (37m)
 Nele Gilis (BEL) bt Emilia Soini (FIN) 3-1: 9-11, 11-2, 11-3, 11-4 (41m)
Lisa Aitken (SCO) bt  Donna Lobban (AUS) 3-0: 11-9, 11-1, 11-4 (29m)
 Alexandra Fuller (RSA) bt Marta Dominguez Fernandez (ESP) 3-2: 7-11, 11-3, 11-4, 10-12, 11-2 (50m)
 Amanda Sobhy (USA) bt Haley Mendez (USA) 3-0: 11-4, 11-4, 11-1 (17m)
Men’s Round One (bottom half, May 14):
 Mostafa Asal (EGY) v Adrian Waller (ENG)
Omar Mosaad (EGY) v Moustafa El Sirty (EGY)
Alan Clyne (SCO) v Todd Harrity (USA)
Zahed Salem (EGY) v  Saurav Ghosal (IND)
 Youssef Soliman (EGY) v Borja Golan (ESP)
Asim Khan (PAK) v [WC] Yassin Elshafei (EGY)
Sebastien Bonmalais (FRA) v Bernat Jaume (ESP)
Patrick Rooney (ENG) v  Diego Elias (PER)
 Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) v Iker Pajares Bernabeu (ESP)
Henry Leung (HKG) v Ivan Yuen (MAS)
[I] Ryosei Kobayashi (JPN) v Nicolas Mueller (SUI)
Raphael Kandra (GER) v  Miguel Rodriguez (COL)
 Youssef Ibrahim (EGY) v Nathan Lake (ENG)
Greg Lobban (SCO) v Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi (QAT)
Cesar Salazar (MEX) v Yahya Elnawasany (EGY)
Leonel Cardenas (MEX) v  Ali Farag (EGY)
Women’s Round One (bottom half, May 14):
 Hania El Hammamy (EGY) v Sana Ibrahim (EGY)
[I] Satomi Watanabe (JPN) v  Lucy Turmel (ENG)
 Danielle Letourneau (CAN) v Anna Serme (CZE)
Milou van der Heijden (NED) v  Georgina Kennedy (ENG)
 Nadine Shahin (EGY) v Nicole Bunyan (CAN)
[I] Saskia Beinhard (GER) v  Sivasangari Subramaniam (MAS)
 Aifa Azman (MAS) v Nour El Tayeb (EGY)
Ineta Mackevica (LAT) v  Salma Hany (EGY)
 Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) v Chan Sin Yuk (HKG)
Zeina Mickawy (EGY) v  Melissa Alves (FRA)
 Sabrina Sobhy (USA) v Jana Shiha (EGY)
Ka Yi Lee (HKG) v  Olivia Fiechter (USA)
 Hollie Naughton (CAN) v [WC] Nardine Garas (EGY)
[I] Georgia Adderley (SCO) v  Tinne Gilis (BEL)
 Jasmine Hutton (ENG) v [WC] Kenzy Ayman (EGY)
Cristina Gomez (ESP) v  Nour El Sherbini (EGY)
Men’s Round Two (top half, May 15):
 Paul Coll (NZL) v Mahesh Mangaonkar (IND)
Karim El Hammamy (EGY) v  Mazen Hesham (EGY)
 Joel Makin (WAL) v Lucas Serme (FRA)
Faraz Khan (USA) v  Tarek Momen (EGY)
 Fares Dessouky (EGY) v George Parker (ENG)
Ramit Tandon (IND) v  Gregoire Marche (FRA)
 Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) v Victor Crouin (FRA)
[I] Juan Camilo Vargas (COL) v  Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY)
Women’s Round Two (top half, May 15):
 Nouran Gohar (EGY) 15 May 2022 v  Farida Mohamed (EGY)
Coline Aumard (FRA) v  Tesni Evans (WAL)
 Joshna Chinappa (IND) v  Emily Whitlock (WAL)
 Hana Ramadan (EGY) v  Rowan Elaraby (EGY)
 Joelle King (NZL) v Yathreb Adel (EGY)
 Olivia Clyne (USA) v  Nada Abbas (EGY)
 Nele Gilis (BEL) v Lisa Aitken (SCO)
 Alexandra Fuller (RSA) v  Amanda Sobhy (USA)
Pictures courtesy of PSA World Tour