2:16 am
21 Apr 2018

Qualifier Coppinger Conquers Second Seed Mosaad At St George's

10 Dec 2016

South African qualifier Stephen Coppinger defied a 16-place rankings gap to upset Egypt's world No.8 Omar Mosaad on the second day of first round action at the Channel VAS Championship at St George's Hill in Weybridge, England.

The opening day of the PSA M100 event saw three of the four matches go against form - with world No.1 Mohamed Elshorbagy being the biggest casualty when he lost to Daryl Selby. Coppinger looked to be maintaining the run after an error-strewn performance from Mosaad saw the Cape Town underdog go two games ahead.

But former world No.3 Mosaad managed to vary the range of his hitting in the third and fourth games to restore parity, but the errors on his backhand side in particular handed the momentum back to Coppinger in the decider as the world No.24 pressed on to take the match 11-8, 11-9, 6-11, 6-11, 11-3 in 77 minutes.

"I think today I was far, far more relaxed than I normally would be," said Coppinger.

"Normally, I would be looking to really push the pace and just throw everything at it from the word go. I think that actually helped because I didn't feel like I was going for high risk shots.

"It's been a good season so far, so I've been fairly confident with my game. I'm just looking forward to the rest of tournament and long may it last, every day is a bonus."

Former world No.1 James Willstrop also got his tournament off to a successful start after the Yorkshireman defeated Swiss qualifier Nicolas Mueller in straight games.

Willstrop was appearing at the event just four days after losing out to rival Nick Matthew in the final of the British Grand Prix in Manchester, but showed no signs of fatigue as he dictated the tempo in the early exchanges, finding all four corners with his pinpoint accuracy to unsettle Mueller's rhythm and go a game ahead.

Mueller responded with an attacking brand of squash in the second as he looked to play the ball into the front corners, but Willstrop pushed through to victory, before coming out on top in a high-quality third game to seal the win by an 11-7, 11-9, 11-8 margin.

"I backed up alright, if I can play Nicolas and win 3/0 against him, then it's a promising start," said Willstrop, who will play Coppinger next.

"I've done my best over the last couple of days to get away from the squash court, keep the body moving and I'm doing everything I can to keep it healthy.

"It feels like I've done a decent job, and I've got to keep looking after it because it is a bit heavy to play back-to-back tournaments like that, but I was ready for it. I would much rather it was tough and back-to-back than being out early, so it's good."

Earlier, world No.6 Marwan Elshorbagy ensured that he didn't follow his older brother out of the tournament after coming through against England's defending champion Chris Simpson in four games.

The 64-minute battle was a high-quality fixture, with both players trading blows in an absorbing encounter that saw few unforced errors and consistent line hitting throughout, and it was the man from Alexandria who recovered from a game down to claim a 10-12, 11-8, 11-7, 11-4 victory.

"I was really looking forward to being on court today, I like this venue, especially because my sponsors [Channel VAS] are sponsoring this event," said Elshorbagy junior.

"Every match that I play now is going to be tough and you have to prepare mentally for each match. I'm really happy to get the win today," added the Egyptian.

World No.11 Tarek Momen set up a mouthwatering quarter-final clash with fellow countryman Elshorbagy after he defeated tournament wildcard and local hero Joe Lee to dash home hopes at the St George's Hill Lawn Tennis Club.

"From the very beginning, I knew that I wasn't going to play a regular match, I knew that he would be a very tough opponent for me," said Momen.

"He played really well today."