‘I have had stomach problems and fevers but I will fight to the end’
By NATHAN CLARKE
World No.1 Mohamed ElShorbagy was forced to call on all his resilience to save two match balls and avoid a shock Delaware Investments U.S. Open first round defeat to Mexican qualifier Cesar Salazar during today’s action at Philadelphia’s Drexel University.
ElShorbagy, who won this PSA World Series event in 2014 to go top of the world rankings for the first time in his career, looked out of sorts as he battled against an inspired Salazar who had won two qualifying encounters just to reach the main draw.
The Mexican World No.27 took the opening game to take advantage of a slow start from the 25-year-old Egyptian but, after seeing the scores levelled, produced sublime squash to take the third and engage in a bruising, physical encounter that went all the way to the wire.
Salazar found himself with match ball at 10-9 in the fifth and then again at 11-10 but ElShorbagy’s dogged resilience shone through as he clawed back to take the match 13-11 and save his spot in the tournament.
“Being World No.1 isn’t always about playing the best but about finding the way to win,” said ElShorbagy.
“In the past two seasons I have played more matches than anyone else and lately things have been going wrong with my body. I’ve had stomach problems and fevers and been struggling.
“Today I fought and fought. I won – that’s what matters – and I’ll keep fighting until the end. I’m really happy to come through. Finding the way to win is the most important thing and I know that I’ll definitely be better next round after that match.”
Sporting Adnan scalps former No.4 Rodriguez
Malaysian World No.33 Nafiizwan Adnan secured his place in the second round of a PSA World Series tournament for only the third time in his career, and the first since 2011, as he turned the odds upside down to eliminate World No.11 and number seven seed Miguel Angel Rodriguez in straight games during the first round of action at the 2016 Delaware Investments U.S. Open today.
Adnan, the 30 year old from Terengganu, came through in straight games as he played with composure and control that belied the gap of 22 positions between them on the World Rankings to secure the victory – one of the most significant of his career in recent times.
On top of the win, Adnan displayed exemplary sportsmanship when, after being awarded the match by the referees after a No Let ruling was made against Rodriguez, he asked for the point to replayed and grant his opponent a second chance – which he duly eradicated in the very next exchange to complete an impressive win (right).
“I’m really, really happy,” said Adnan afterwards. “It’s not before time. I’ve been trying for ten years to get past the first round of these big World Series tournaments and it is really pleasing to do that today.
“I almost lost to Charles Sharpes in the first round of qualification when I was 0-2 down. I told myself just to play – that I had nothing to lose – and relax. That worked then and I tried to do the same today, and it is really pleasing to win. It’s a big win for me.”
James Willstrop topples Omar Mosaad
to win battle of the giants
Having reached the semi-final or better in each of his last five U.S. Open appearances, James Willstrop needed a good performance to keep that run going against last year’s finalist and world number three Omar Mosaad.
He produced more than that, matching the Egyptian all the way and coming out the victor at the end of three close games that took just short of an hour to complete.
“You can’t have a plan for these things,” said Willstrop, “but 3-0 against Omar, I couldn’t have wanted it to go much better than that. The strength of all the top guys is so good nowadays you just have to take each match as it comes.
“I’ve been playing well and had some good performances in San Francisco which set me up for this tournament, but Omar is such a tough opponent, I’m just glad I could hold on at the end of each of those games.”
Further success for England came in the women’s event, where Sarah-Jane Perry and Alison Waters advanced to the second round. Perry beat Australian veteran Rachael Grinham in straight games to set up a second round tie with top seed Nour El Sherbini, who accounted for Japanese qualifier Misaki Kobayashi. Waters beat the USA wild card Sabrina Sobhy in less than 20 minutes and meets Egyptian qualifier Salma Hany Ibrahim, who beat Jenny Duncalf in a tough five-setter lasting almost an hour.
Number two seed Laura Massaro meets the athletic Kanzy El Defrawy this evening, while there is a real Battle of Britain featuring near neighbours Tesni Evans (Wales) and Emily Whitlock (England). Number 15 seed Victoria Lust faces Australia’s Donna Urquhart.
Delaware Investments US Open 2016, Drexel University, Philadelphia, USA
PSA M150 First Round:
 Mohamed Elshorbagy (EGY) bt Cesar Salazar (MEX) 6-11, 11-9, 8-11, 11-7, 13-11 (77m)
Chris Simpson (ENG) bt [Q] Karim Ali Fathi (EGY) 11-7, 11-9, 12-14, 13-11 (70m)
[Q] Diego Elias (PER) bt Gregoire Marche (FRA) 7-11, 11-3, 11-7, 11-6 (60m)
 Marwan Elshorbagy (EGY) bt Cameron Pilley (AUS) 11-4, 11-8, 4-11, 11-8 (60m)
[Q] Nafiizwan Adnan (MAS) bt  Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL) 11-9, 11-8, 11-9 (67m)
Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY) bt [Q] Campbell Grayson (NZL) 11-8, 11-9, 11-7 (41m)
James Willstrop (ENG) bt  Omar Mosaad (EGY) 11-8, 11-8, 11-8 (56m)
Max Lee (HKG) bt [Q] Henrik Mustonen (FIN) 11-4, 11-5, 11-1 (20m)
PSA W150 First Round:
 Nour El Sherbini (EGY) bt [Q] Misaki Kobayashi (JPN) 13-11, 11-9, 11-2 (28m)
 Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) bt Rachael Grinham (AUS) 11-7, 11-5, 11-8 (26m)
[Q] Salma Hany Ibrahim (EGY) bt  Jenny Duncalf (ENG) 11-8, 7-11, 11-8, 13-15, 11-5 (55m)
 Alison Waters (ENG) bt [WC] Sabrina Sobhy (USA) 11-8, 11-5, 11-3 (19m)
 Raneem El Welily (EGY) bt [Q] Nele Gilis (BEL) 11-6, 11-4, 11-3 (30m)
 Joelle King (NZL) bt [Q] Nadine Shahin (EGY) 11-8, 11-7, 12-10 (33m)
 Nour El Tayeb (EGY) bt [Q] Fiona Moverley (ENG) 11-4, 11-8, 14-12 (28m)
 Nicol David (MAS) bt Line Hansen (DEN) 11-3, 11-6, 11-6 (30m)
Pictures by STEVE LINE (www.squashpics.com)