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21 Apr 2024

Egyptian Teenager Meets Welsh Veteran Gough In ISS Canary Wharf Classic

9 Mar 2008

Egyptian teenage sensation Mohamed El Shorbagy held his nerve in a tense tie-break to beat India's Saurav Ghosal in today's qualifying finals of the ISS Canary Wharf Classic to reach the first round proper of the 5-star PSA Tour squash event in its fifth year at the East Wintergarden in Canary Wharf, London.

The 17-year-old Millfield student, the youngest player in the draw, will be firmly in the spotlight as he features in the tournament's opening match against Welsh veteran Alex Gough, the oldest, who is still playing solid squash at the age of 37. Despite the 20-year age gap, Shorbagy is confident that his all-out attacking flair will translate to the glass court in the unique setting of Canary Wharf's East Wintergarden.

"This is the draw I wanted," said Shorbagy. "I am so looking forward to playing on the glass court in front of a big crowd."

Shorbagy started nervously today against India's world No49 Ghosal, who began in fiery mood, reeling off the first six points of the match to establish an unassailable lead in the opening game. However, Shorbagy decided it was time to open his box of tricks and took control of the match with some outrageous shots and breathtaking retrieving.

Shorbagy held the lead throughout the second and third games and looked poised for a comfortable victory as he led 9-5 in the fourth. However, the UK-based Indian National champion produced a succession of winners to draw level and take it to a tiebreak. Shorbagy held match ball at 11-10 but Ghosal continued to dig in despite the effects of a 95-minute match the previous day. Ghosal won the next two points to reach game ball at 12-11, but Shorbagy regained his composure to reel off the final three points to book a place in the first round after 53 minutes of breathtaking squash, full of stunning winners and incredible pick-ups from both players.

Wolverhampton-based Chris Ryder became the only Englishman to qualify when he beat Australian Scott Arnold 11-6, 11-5, 8-11, 11-1 in 60 minutes. The stylish Hertfordshire No1 showed superb touch to negate the power of the tall, hard-hitting Australian and open up a two-game lead. Arnold played tighter, more disciplined squash to edge the third, but Ryder regained control in the fourth to cruise home for the loss of just one point. The 27-year-old World University champion meets compatriot Lee Beachill, the former world No1 from Yorkshire, in Monday's first round.

Mark Krajcsak of Hungary produced a determined fight-back and a spectacular finale to beat German Simon Rosner in a marathon all-European encounter. Rosner appeared to have the match under control as he cruised through the opening two games, but he tired visibly as the feisty Krajcsak fought his way back. Showing no ill-effects of the leg wound of the previous day, Krajcsak drew level at two games all. Rosner seemed to rediscover his earlier form to lead 5-2 in the fifth, but Krajcsak summoned all his physical reserves to win the next six points. The score seesawed one way then the other before the Hungarian moved to match ball with a stupendous volley following a massive rally, then buried a crosscourt volley-nick in sensational style to clinch victory after 73 minutes - earning a place in the first round against reigning champion James Willstrop, the No2 seed from Yorkshire.

Jesse Engelbrecht, the UK-based South African No1, cruised past England's Stacey Ross, who was suffering from a calf injury sustained during his warm-up before yesterday's match against Surrey team-mate Philip Nightingale. Ross competed for the first two games but was clearly in some discomfort as Engelbrecht eased through 11-7, 11-5, 11-0. Engelbrecht meets Frenchman Renan Lavigne in the first round on Tuesday.

Qualifying finals:
Chris Ryder (ENG) bt Scott Arnold (AUS) 11-6, 11-5, 8-11, 11-1 (60m)
Mohamed El Shorbagy (EGY) bt Saurav Ghosal (IND) 7-11, 11-7, 11-8, 11-10 (4-2) (53m)
Mark Krajcsak (HUN) bt Simon Rosner (GER) 8-11, 7-11, 11-8, 11-6, 11-9 (73m)
Jesse Engelbrecht (RSA) bt Stacey Ross (ENG) 11-7, 11-5, 11-0 (32m)