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15 Apr 2024

Gawad Leads Charge As Upsets Abound At British Open

23 Mar 2016

Egyptian Karim Abdel Gawad pulled off the event's biggest shock so far when he downed compatriot Omar Mosaad, the world No.4, in the first round of the 2016 Allam British Open during a day of high drama that saw six players upset the odds to book places in the second round of the prestigious PSA World Series championship at the Airco Arena in Hull.

Gawad played with poise and composure to halt the run of Mosaad - who reached the final at both the Canary Wharf Classic and Squash Colombia Open during the past month - and inflict a first round exit on the World Championship runner-up for the first time since January 2014.

"I'm over the moon to come through today," said the 24-year-old from Giza.

"The last time we played I think I only took about four points from him so when I saw I was playing Omar in the first round I knew it would be tough. He's played a lot of tournaments recently and has had some good results and been in great form so I'm very happy to win.

"He's one of the toughest players on tour mentally and physically and I could feel he was tired today but I still had to play at my best to make sure I could get the win and I need to focus on the second round and push on in the next match."

Gawad will play compatriot Fares Dessouki - who upset fellow Egyptian Mazen Hesham, a quarter-finalist last year - for a place in the quarter-finals.

Indian Saurav Ghosal toppled eighth seed Mathieu Castagnet, winner of the Canary Wharf Classic, to reach the second round for the first time since 2013.

Castagnet, who had suffered with illness prior to the tournament, struggled to cope with Ghosal's pace and attrition and after sharing the first two games it was the world No.19 from Calcutta who asserted himself to earn an impressive win.

"Mathieu has been playing extremely well, his results over the last couple of months have been great," said Ghosal.

"He won at Canary Wharf which was a massive win. I knew I had to be ready for an absolute battle. I was expecting long lung busting rallies but I was very pleased with how I played."

Ghosal's long-time training partner James Willstrop, the English former World No.1 currently ranked 13 in the world, was another surprise victor as he dismissed Egypt's world No.7 Tarek Momen 3/1 to set up a last sixteen match with Mohamed Elshorbagy, the world No.1 and defending champion.

Fellow Egyptian Mohamed Abouelghar, a qualifier, also upset the form book to defeat under-the-weather Englishman Daryl Selby 3/0.

In the women's draw Dane Line Hansen completed a remarkable come from behind victory to record an unexpected win over Malaysian Delia Arnold, ranked 11 places higher at No.15.

Arnold shocked the squash world last year when she reached the semi-finals of the British Open but, after edging the first two games, the 30-year-old from Kuala Lumpur was unable to halt the 32-year-old Dane's charge as Hansen sealed an incredible comeback.

"This is the best I've ever done at the British Open and I've played here a fair few times," said Hansen.

"Last time we played, I lost 12-10 in the fifth so I knew it was going to be close but I also knew I was in with a chance. I'm just glad I finally got a good win. To be honest, I got a little bit annoyed because I definitely thought I shouldn't have lost the first.

"I was just thinking that I had to hit through the ball rather than try to be pretty and it worked."

Hansen will face world No.1 Laura Massaro in the next round after the top seed and former champion from England saw off American Olivia Blatchford with ease while fellow Englishwoman Victoria Lust overcame higher-ranked Emily Whitlock in straight games to progress.

"I'm thrilled to win, Emily's a tough player and she's been playing well so to get off in three is great and I'm really happy with how I played," said Lust.

British Open image courtesy of www.squashpics.com