12:04 am
22 Jun 2024

Ryosei Records Japanese PSA World Championship Breakthrough

16 Jul 2021

Yokohama-born Ryosei Kobayashi has become the first Japanese man to reach the second round of the PSA World Championships after ousting India's Mahesh Mangaonkar in five games at the University Club of Chicago.

The 27-year-old world No.70's first round appearance at the 2019-20 PSA World Championships saw him become the first male Japanese player since 1982 to compete at squash's most prestigious tournament, and Kobayashi went one better this time around with a 10-12, 11-7, 8-11, 11-9, 11-3 victory over the world No.48 from India.

"I'm the only one that is actively playing on the PSA and I'm eager to improve," said Kobayashi afterwards.

"I had to get outside of my country and I'm training in Aix-en-Provence and learning a third language as well. You need to be determined as a Japanese player, and I hope that a lot of juniors coming up will do the same thing, have the fighting spirit I have, or even more, and make ourselves proud.

"I'm really happy and really proud to make that record for the squash fans in Japan, for myself, my family and everyone that is supporting family. It's something that will stay forever in Japan, especially because squash in Japan is so small."

Kobayashi will take on Fares Dessouky in the next round after the world No.7 came back from a game down to defeat Scotland's Greg Lobban, while 2017 World Champion Mohamed Elshorbagy ramped up his attempts to take the world No.1 ranking with a 3/0 win over Hong Kong's Tsz Fung Yip.

If Elshorbagy makes it to the final he will be guaranteed the world No.1 spot regardless of what current incumbent Ali Farag does, and the 30-year-old's strong start against Yip could spell danger for Farag's reign as the world's top player.

"I know that if he doesn't reach the final I'm going to become world No.1, but if I reach the final I'll be world No.1 anyway," Elshorbagy said.

"It's all in my hands, I'm in control, I want him to keep winning, and I want to keep winning. I want to kick him out of the world No.1 spot, that's all I'm thinking of. I've been counting down the days until that moment, and that moment is very, very soon now."

2016 World Champion Karim Abdel Gawad also got his title challenge underway with an entertaining 3/0 win over Frenchman Sebastien Bonmalais, while 2019-20 World Championship runner-up Paul Coll axed Pakistan's Tayyab Aslam in straight games.

The in-form world No.2 Nouran Gohar began her event in the women's draw with an 11-6, 11-1, 11-5 victory against England's Lucy Beecroft.

Like Elshorbagy, Gohar is bearing down on the world No.1 spot - currently held by fellow Egyptian Nour El Sherbini - and will be guaranteed pole position in the August rankings if El Sherbini fails to reach the semi-finals.

"Who doesn't want to win this one?" Gohar said.

"For me, it is about taking it match by match, I am really enjoying it right now and that is the main thing. My aim is the semis so hopefully I can do better."

No.3 seed Camille Serme also began her tournament, beating Hong Kong's Lee Ka Yi 11-7, 11-1, 11-4 in 23 minutes to set up a round two fixture with Australia's Donna Lobban.

"I was quite happy with my accuracy today and I will try to move better and better each day, and also be more aware of where my opponent is because she caught me a few times today," Serme said.

"This year is different because although it is the World Championships, we can't have our staff with us [due to COVID-19 protocols]. These are special conditions, so I will try to take it as it comes."

USA duo Sabrina Sobhy and Olivia Clyne also secured victories with respective wins over Wales' Ali Loke and Switzerland's Cindy Merlo.