3:11 am
15 Apr 2024

Ramy Ashour Extends 8-Year Unbeaten ToC Record

20 Jan 2018

Three-time JP Morgan Tournament of Champions champion Ramy Ashour extended his unbeaten record in the PSA World Series event since 2010 when he defeated fellow Egyptian Mazen Hesham in the first round at Grand Central Terminal in New York.

It was a triumphant return to the event after a four-year absence through injury - and after successive title victories in 2011 and 2013.

And, on day two of the 2018 edition, the 30-year-old maverick profited from a series of errors from Hesham to take an 11-5, 11-8, 13-11 victory through to round two, where he will take on world No.11 Paul Coll following the New Zealander's straight games victory over Egypt's Zahed Mohamed.

"It's been a while, last time I came here was 2013 and it's like a dream come true," said Ashour.

"The tournament is prestigious, everyone wants to win the Tournament of Champions. It's really good to be back, a lot has happened and I wasn't sure when I would be back here and when I would win again on court.

"On the last point I was just looking around and absorbing everything. I don't even want to win it, I just want to play because I've won it three times before and I want to be here. I'm just grateful for everything I've been through and I'm glad to be back."

Ashour will be joined in the last 16 by World Champion Mohamed Elshorbagy after the top-ranked Egyptian claimed a 21st successive win on the PSA World Tour courtesy of a 3/0 victory over Hong Kong's Leo Au.

Elshorbagy has won four tournaments in a row - including last month's PSA World Championship - and picked up where he left off in 2017 to complete an 11-8, 11-6, 11-6 triumph.

"I played him during my junior career and I know how dangerous he is," said Elshorbagy, who won the Tournament of Champions in 2015 and 2016.

"He's been in very good form - he beat Ramy in Hong Kong and he took his team into the semis of the World Team Championship last month as well.

"He's been playing very well and I had to be focused from the first point."

Elshorbagy will face Australia's Ryan Cuskelly for a place in the last eight, while compatriot Ali Farag also won on day two with a 3/1 victory against Kiwi qualifier Campbell Grayson.

"To get off to such a start against a tricky opponent is always good and I'm very glad to be through to the second round," said Farag.

"Campbell likes to play at a mid-pace and he is very accurate, so I had to push up the court a little bit and play with more intensity and I'm happy I was able to do that in the third and the fourth."

Colombia's former world No.4 Miguel Angel Rodriguez awaits Farag in round two in a repeat of their quarter-final meeting at the World Championship last month, in which Farag prevailed.

Rodriguez made his breakthrough at this event back in 2015 when he beat current world No.1 Gregory Gaultier en-route to a maiden World Series semi-final. The 32-year-old from Bogota advanced to the second round of this year's tournament courtesy of a 14-12, 11-8, 11-5 victory over Yip Tsz Fung.

"Yip is a very talented player, he's very fast and he's a big guy," Rodriguez said.

"The last time I played him, I lost in Hong Kong two years ago but I was ready to play this match. The end of the year for me was excellent, so I'm trying to keep that momentum and it worked."

World No.7 Tarek Momen, meanwhile, defeated Egyptian compatriot Mohamed Abouelghar in a captivating five-game encounter and will now take on Peruvian world No.10 Diego Elias, who required four games to beat English qualifier Declan James.

Elsewhere, qualifying for the women's tournament came to an end with Harvard Junior Sabrina Sobhy beating World Junior Champion Rowan Elaraby to ensure that there will be four American women in the main draw of the Tournament of Champions for the first time in history.

Sobhy - who will compete alongside older sister Amanda, US No.1 Olivia Blatchford and 15-year-old wildcard Marina Stefanoni - will take on world No.3 Camille Serme in round one.

Meanwhile, Amanda is set to make her return from a 10-month injury absence against 2007 World Champion Rachael Grinham after the 40-year-old Australian defeated US No.3 Haley Mendez in the final round of qualifying.

England's former world No.2 Jenny Duncalf was also a victor as she edged experienced Mexican Samantha Teran 16-14 in the fifth game of a dramatic 80-minute clash at the Yale Club and she will take on World Champion Raneem El Welily in round one.