Willstrop Wipes Out Mosaad In US Open Shock
9 Oct 2016
England's 32-year-old James Willstrop evoked memories of the form that took him to the top of the world rankings in 2012 when he produced a virtuoso display to knock out third seed Omar Mosaad, the 2015 runner-up, in a major upset on the opening day of action in the Delaware Investments US Open, the second PSA World Series event of the season at Drexel University in Philadelphia.
Willstrop, currently ranked 19 in the world after slowly working his way back from a serious hip operation in 2014, rekindled his form during last week's NetSuite Open when he reached a first high profile tournament final since that surgery. The Yorkshireman picked up where he left off as he controlled the ball and lived up to his 'Marksman' moniker to put Mosaad to the sword.
"I'm feeling good," said Willstrop after his 11-8, 11-8, 11-8 triumph in 56 minutes. "But it's been a long time since I've put together a tournament winning, or latter stages, run.
"Last week in San Francisco was good but doing it at a World Series event is even tougher. I'm feeling good and if I can keep the intensity then you never know what could happen.
"The enjoyment is there for me and there's a freshness about how I feel, which is pleasing."
Willstrop will now face Mohamed Abouelghar in the second round of a draw that is now wide open after Malaysian qualifier Nafiizwan Adnan also produced a mighty upset, beating No.7 seed Miguel Angel Rodriguez 11-9, 11-8, 11-9.
"I'm really, really happy," said Adnan. "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 and I tried to do the same today, and it is really pleasing to win - it's a big win for me."
Elshorbagy, who won the tournament in 2014 to go top of the world rankings for the first time in his career, struggled to contain an inspired Salazar during their 77-minute battle but managed to do just enough in the end to escape the clutches of defeat.
"Being world No.1 isn't always about playing the best, but about finding the way to win," said Elshorbagy after his 6-11, 11-9, 8-11, 11-7, 13-11 win.
"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."
Elsewhere in the Men's draw there was an impressive win for Peruvian qualifier Diego Elias as he downed Frenchman Gregoire Marche, while England's Chris Simpson came through against Egyptian Karim Ali Fathi.
It was more straightforward for the top seeds in the Women's draw as world No.1 Nour El Sherbini, three-time US Open champion Nicol David and World No.5 Raneem El Welily all set down impressive markers to stroll into the second round.
After returning to form at last month's Al Ahram Open, where she claimed the honours with victory over El Sherbini in the decider, El Welily continued to impress as she saw off Belgian qualifier Nele Gilis courtesy of a comfortable 3/0 win.
"I'm always happy to be back in the US Open - I always enjoy coming back here," said El Welily.
"Looking back at Al Ahram really makes me smile but it is in the past now. I want to make a strong push now and carry on that kind of form for the rest of this tournament."
El Sherbini was equally as impressive as she downed Japanese qualifier Misaki Kobayashi 3/0 while three-time US Open champion David got off to a positive start to defeat Denmark's Line Hansen in straight games and set up a second round battle with Egyptian Nour El Tayeb - the 2015 runner-up.
David, who struggled at the first PSA World Series tournament of the season in Hong Kong, cut a different figure as she played with confidence and precision to put in an assured 30-minute win over Hansen.
"It has been great to see the US Open grow over the past few years and be involved in this great tournament," said David.
"A 3/0 win is always a good start for me and I'm pleased to get through and get into the rhythm here on the glass court. You just have to keep working harder and harder with each and every round and I'm looking forward to playing against Nour in two days."
US Open image courtesy of www.squashpics.com