4:35 pm
21 Feb 2019

Rösner Title Defence Underway At ToC in New York

18 Jan 2019

World No.3 Simon Rösner kicked off the defence of his JP Morgan Tournament of Champions title in New York with a commanding 3/0 victory over Australia's Ryan Cuskelly at the city's iconic Grand Central Terminal.

Rösner became the first German player ever to win a major PSA World Tour event when he defeated world No.4 Tarek Momen to lift this trophy 12 months ago - and the Paderborn-based 31-year-old picked up where he left off in New York with an 11-4, 11-8, 11-9 victory over his Australian opponent.

"I think he [Cuskelly] is a really dangerous player and we have never played before in a PSA match," Rosner said after the match.

"I didn't really know what to expect. I went off and played really well at the beginning and had a good start. He then kind of came back at me but I was really pleased with my performance. It was a good effort.

"There is a lot of pressure on your shoulders coming back as a defending champion, but I didn't want to think about that too much. I just wanted to enter the tournament and play the best I can really. Exactly the same as last year, I think, I went in without any expectations."

Rösner will now play Max Lee after the Hong Kong No.1 overcame Mexico's Cesar Salazar in straight games. They will be joined in the last 16 by world No.1 Mohamed Elshorbagy, who defeated Nicolas Mueller 3/0.

Elshorbagy suffered a shock defeat to Cuskelly in the second round of last year's event, but the two-time Tournament of Champions winner was unstoppable against his Swiss counterpart as he powered to an 11-3, 12-10, 11-4 triumph.

"It is always such an honour to win this title and to know that I have won this title twice before is such an honour," Elshorbagy said afterwards.

"I would like to win it a few more times, but it is not easy. There are a lot of challenges, a lot of players that are playing well right now."

Compatriot Zahed Salem lies in wait for Elshorbagy in round three, with the world No.25 getting the better of Malaysia's Eain Yow Ng in four games.

Day two almost saw a big upset as unseeded Welshman Joel Makin went two games up against world No.5 Karim Abdel Gawad, only to see an ankle injury cruelly end his chances of a victory.

A series of fine displays this season have seen Makin climb from 38 to 23 in the world over the past five months and he dominated the in-form Gawad to go two games ahead and 4-3 up in the third.

But he rolled his ankle after contact with Gawad mid-way through a rally and he was unable to continue, meaning Gawad moves through to the third round, where he will play compatriot Fares Dessouky.

"It is not a normal end to the match," Gawad admitted.

"He played really well and he was dominating. I was having a really hard time, especially today when I was not playing my best squash. He was playing his best squash so of course it is very bad for him. I wish him the best of luck to recover and to be back for the World Championships next month."

Elsewhere, Peru's Diego Elias got the better of world No.8 Marwan Elshorbagy by a 3/1 margin to book his place in round two. Elias will line up against Australia's Cameron Pilley in the next round, with Pilley progressing courtesy of a 3/0 victory against England's Tom Richards.

"Well, he started playing really well in the third game and I didn't really know what was happening," said Elias.

"After a couple of minutes, I was 7-0 down, so I was trying to concentrate from then for the next game and I think it worked. The last game was really hard and I am happy to win it."