Ashour & Elshorbagy Set Up Mighty Manchester Meeting
12 Dec 2017
Egyptians Mohamed Elshorbagy and Ramy Ashour, the world No.3 and three-time World Champion, respectively, will meet in an eagerly-anticipated third round showdown at the 2017 Men's AJ Bell PSA World Championship in a repeat of the event's 2012 and 2014 finals.
The pair has had an enthralling rivalry ever since their first meeting in 2009 - and will meet for the 10th time on the PSA World Tour after claiming respective wins over Welshman Joel Makin and 2015 World Championship runner-up Omar Mosaad at the National Squash Centre in Manchester.
Ashour has won seven of their meetings - including triumphs in both of their World Championship final clashes - but, with Elshorbagy in red-hot form having won five of his last six PSA World Tour events, the eyes of the squash world will be on their climactic meeting.
"It was a tough match as he [Makin] fought hard," said Elshorbagy after his 15-13, 11-5, 12-10 victory.
"It's a long tournament and you're not going to feel at your best every single day, but it's more important that for those difficult days you find a way to win - and that's what I did.
"Matches like this sharpen you up and it was important for me to get a hard match before I play a big match against Ramy. We [he and Ramy] are both athletes and we both want to win."
Meanwhile, Ashour triumphed 11-5, 11-6, 11-6 to dispose of compatriot Mosaad, a former world No.3, in straight games.
"It's not good to play people who are your friends on tour and that you are close to," said Ashour.
"As Egyptians we are close and we train together so there is a matter of respect and decency on court because we are together all the time. I thought he played well and I thought I played well so it was a good match."
England's three-time World Champion Nick Matthew was also victorious on day two courtesy of a 3/1 win over Hong Kong's Max Lee and his reward is a third round meeting with world No.37 Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi, who will become the first Qatari ever to appear in the third round of the World Championships after his win over Frenchman Mathieu Castagnet.
Matthew will be joined by compatriots Daryl Selby and Declan James, with Selby beating New Zealand's Campbell Grayson and James coming back from two games down and match ball down to upset Mexico's 15th seed Cesar Salazar, reaching the third round of this tournament for the first time in his career.
James will face world No.1 Gregory Gaultier, while defending champion Karim Abdel Gawad, world No.3 Ali Farag, Miguel Angel Rodriguez, Marwan Elshorbagy, Lucas Serme and Saurav Ghosal all claimed victories.
2013 World Champion Laura Massaro prevailed on the opening day of main draw action in the women's event after a 3/0 win over Belgian Nele Gilis saw her progress to round two, where she will take on Welshwoman Tesni Evans in a repeat of last month's Hong Kong Open quarter-final.
"It just felt really good to get my World Championships underway," said Massaro.
"With all the build-up and with it being in Manchester, I've been asked a lot of questions about the event, not only for the last few weeks but the last few months, so it was great to get it going.
"I've got to be careful it doesn't feel too homely, like I'm just rocking up for a practice match, so it was nice to have some home support and I'm sure it'll be the same again tomorrow."
"We just played in Hong Kong second round," said El Sherbini following the match.
"I'm just trying to focus on my game and my squash more and not put any pressure on myself and try to enjoy the game. I'm going to do my best and, whatever happens, it's not the end of the world."