12:17 am
20 Mar 2018

English Quintet Advance To PSA World Championship Round Two

11 Dec 2017

England's three-time World Champion Nick Matthew led four of his compatriots through to the second round of the Men's AJ Bell PSA World Championship as the 2017 edition of the sport's most prestigious tournament got underway at the National Squash Centre in Manchester.

Matthew, the 37-year-old from Sheffield, overcame a fierce challenge from compatriot George Parker as he fought back from 2/1 down to avoid a shock exit at his last ever World Championships.

2017/18 will be Matthew's final season on the PSA World Tour after he announced his decision to retire at the end of the season and the man known as 'The Wolf' lives to fight another day at the tournament after coming back to take an 11-2, 8-11, 10-12, 11-3, 11-6 victory in 60 minutes.

"I'm relieved, you don't want to take away from your opponent's performance but mentally I wasn't at the races at all," said Matthew, who will face Hong Kong's Max Lee in round two.

"After the first game I just sort of switched off and I thought it was going to be easier than what it was. I should know better than that and hopefully it will get me into the tournament now.

"I had to dig in and I guess that's why I've been successful in the past, as you are able to win those sorts of matches. I felt like I was hitting the ball pretty well, I was moving pretty well, it's all there but mentally I need to apply myself a lot better and remember how hard I have to work tomorrow."

The Yorkshireman later told his Twitter followers: "Started well but let George in in the 2nd & he took full advantage. Have been challenging the young English guys to step up to the plate so can't complain if they do it against me. Mentally wasn't at my best today & relieved to still be in the draw."

Matthew will be joined in the next round by fellow countrymen Daryl Selby, Declan James, Chris Simpson and Ben Coleman, while his long-term rival and former world No.1 James Willstrop bowed out on day one after retiring from his match with former training partner Saurav Ghosal due to illness.

"It's really sad that James, who is such a great player and has achieved so much, has fallen sick in his home World Championship and he's not well," said Ghosal.

"Considering the way the season has gone, I think it would have been a really good match for the spectators to watch and for both of us to play. Both of us know each other really well and it's a travesty that that has happened today."

World No.2 Mohamed Elshorbagy kickstarted his attempts to win a first ever World Championship title after the Bristol-based Egyptian saw off compatriot Mazen Hesham.

Elshorbagy, a runner-up at this tournament in 2012 and 2014, has reached six consecutive PSA World Tour finals and his superb spell showed no signs of slowing down against Hesham as he claimed an 11-6, 11-8, 11-6 victory in 36 minutes to set up a second round meeting with Welshman Joel Makin.

"I'm really happy, it was such a tough first round for both of us," Elshorbagy said.

"He definitely doesn't deserve to be out in the first round. He's such a great player and I had to prepare so well for it. Normally at the start of a tournament you're not sharp, but I couldn't do that today.

"We played some good squash, it was very high quality and I'm happy to be through in three."

There were also wins for world No.1 Gregory Gaultier, defending champion Karim Abdel Gawad and world No.3 Ali Farag - who beat Todd Harrity, Nicolas Mueller and Adrian Waller, respectively. Three-time World Champion Ramy Ashour was also in action as he dispatched tournament wildcard Joshua Masters.

"Last year I won the tournament and I wasn't really expecting to win," said Gawad.

"I just wanted a good result and I won the tournament. This year, I came here with a lot of pressure trying to defend my title. I'm just trying to forget about the pressure a little bit and focus match by match and take baby steps and hopefully I can reach the final and defend my title."

World No.37 Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi was also in impressive form to see off Germany's world No.9 Simon Rösner to become the first Qatari ever to reach the event's second round.

Meanwhile, the qualifying stages of the Women's World Championship came to an end today, with Yathreb Adel claiming the day's biggest win over top qualifying seed and fellow Egyptian Hania El Hammamy in five games to set up a main draw clash with Alison Waters.

40-year-old Rachael Grinham was also victorious to move through to her 22nd World Championship main draw - after making her debut in 1994 - where she will meet Hong Kong's Annie Au. Belgium's Nele Gilis and Canada's Hollie Naughton were also winners courtesy of triumphs against Nada Abbas and Amanda Landers-Murphy.

Gilis will play 2013 World Champion Laura Massaro, while New Zealand's world No.9 Joelle King awaits Naughton.