12:19 pm
21 Feb 2019

Pilley Pulls Off Great Escape As Rain Stops Play In Hull

24 May 2013

In a day beset by weather conditions which finally led to the transfer of the last second round match in the Allam British Open Squash Championships in Hull onto a conventional indoor court, Australian Cameron Pilley pulled off the comeback of the tournament to upset sixth-seeded Egyptian Mohamed Elshorbagy to become the second unseeded player to reach the quarter-finals of the PSA World Series event at the KC Stadium in the English county of Yorkshire.

Elshorbagy, the world No5 and a semi-finalist in last year's event, was the favourite heading into their last 16 round match - and could not have expected what was to come.

A tight opener saw the two exchanging points up until 12-12 when a sudden downpour caused the crowd surrounding the open air court erected on the turf of the soon-to-be Premier League Hull City football club to head to the back of the stand - with a surprised Pilley shouting "where's everyone going?" much to the amusement of the crowd.

Pilley was the first to crack and the Egyptian took the first 15-13 - swiftly followed by a comfortable second 11-4.

"What came next was a truly epic and gritty comeback from the Aussie at 9-3 down, with even members of the crowd leaving for refreshment and overheard saying 'this one's all over'," said event spokesperson Scarlett Smith. "How wrong they turned out to be."

Pilley (pictured in action with Elshorbagy) went on an incredible run winning the next eight points to secure the third 11-9 - then the fourth 11-6 to set up a thrilling decider.

A no let decision on match ball for Elshorbagy at 10-9 gave Pilley the tie-break and some frantic rallying ensued with both looking understandably edgy.

After saving a further match ball, Pilley reached his first match ball 12-11 - which he duly converted after a long rally when the Egyptian's shot hit the tin.

"You've got to have faith in yourself - I had it under control the whole time," joked Pilley minutes after the 13-15, 4-11, 11-9, 11-6, 13-11 victory which takes him into the quarter-finals of the historic championship for the first time in his fifth attempt.

"There was no purpose in my game early on - it was awful," admitted the tall 30-year-old from New South Wales. "I relaxed a little bit and tried to straighten up a bit and try and volley more than him.

"He's beaten me the last few times, so I'm pleased to get through."

Pilley will now face English hope James Willstrop, the world No4 from Yorkshire who has reached the event's final on three occasions, each time finishing as runner-up.

In the last match of the day against world No12 Simon Rosner, the German was leading 6-5 when rain stopped play and it was decided that the match should be moved to an indoor court at Hull and East Riding Squash Club.

The third-seeded Yorkshireman was clearly fired up and adjusted to the warmer and drier conditions much more quickly than his opponent, taking just 41 playing minutes to close out the match 11-9, 11-1, 11-6.

The win moves the former world number one a step closer to a repeat of last year's epic semi-final against Ramy Ashour, the reigning world number one from Egypt who despatched English qualifier Chris Simpson 11-2, 11-4, 11-9 in just 22 minutes.

Ashour will now face eighth seed Borja Golan after the top-ranked Spaniard recovered from a game down to beat Egyptian qualifier Karim Abdel Gawad 9-11, 11-9, 11-8, 11-4 in 55 minutes.

"We only play two or three tournaments outside a year so it does take a bit of getting used to," commented the Spaniard after reaching the quarter-finals for the first time since making his British Open debut in 2004.

Picture by www.squashpics.com

Quarter-final line-up:
[1] Ramy Ashour (EGY) v [8] Borja Golan (ESP)
[3] James Willstrop (ENG) v Cameron Pilley (AUS)
[4] Gregory Gaultier (FRA) v Tarek Momen (EGY)
[2] Nick Matthew (ENG) v [5] Karim Darwish (EGY)

2nd round (top half of draw):
[1] Ramy Ashour (EGY) bt [Q] Chris Simpson (ENG) 11-2, 11-4, 11-9 (22m)
[8] Borja Golan (ESP) bt [Q] Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) 9-11, 11-9, 11-8, 11-4 (55m)
Cameron Pilley (AUS) bt [6] Mohamed Elshorbagy (EGY) 13-15, 4-11, 11-9, 11-6, 13-11 (74m)
[3] James Willstrop (ENG) bt Simon Rosner (GER) 11-9, 11-1, 11-6 (41m)