9:34 am
24 Jul 2024

Ibrahim Stuns Hesham In Grasshopper Shock

19 Oct 2023

48 hours after rising to a career-high No.6 world ranking, Mazen Hesham lost his opening match of the Grasshopper Cup to Egyptian compatriot Youssef Ibrahim in the day's biggest upset in the PSA World Tour Gold event in Switzerland.

Ibrahim had lost his previous two matchups with Hesham on the PSA Tour, but took game one 11-5.

The No.4 seed fought back to level in game two and looked to be heading for the last eight at 7-4 up in the third.

Ibrahim, though, had other ideas, closing the gap with a delicate backhand volley to the forehand side which appeared to turn the tide.

The left-hander, ranked 26 in the world, then won five of the next six points to bring up two match balls, before slamming an outrageous forehand into the nick to claim his first ever Tour win over Hesham.

"I think my coach and my brother are going to kill me when they see this shot," Ibrahim joked after the match.

"The last couple of tournaments they've said please, please don't play a top spin, don't play those shots, just play it safe.

"When it goes wrong, it's horrendous to be honest, but when it goes right, it's really good so I'm happy that one went in."

Fellow Egyptian Mostafa Asal made a winning return to action at Halle 622 in Zurich. Playing in his first match since the CIB PSA World Tour Finals in June, Asal impressed in a 2/0 win over Auguste Dussourd.

The No.2 seed was quickly into his stride, but it was towards the end of game one when he reminded the squash world just what he's capable of.

Moving towards the back of the court, Asal hit a delightful cross-court forehand into the nick, drawing 'shot of the day' calls from the commentary box.

There were more fireworks in game two, with both Asal and Dussourd going off their feet in the same rally, and while the Frenchman came out on top in that point, Asal held firm in the crucial stages, closing out the game 11-9.

Speaking after the game, Asal was full of praise for former world No.1 James Willstrop, who has worked with the young Egyptian over the past few weeks.

"I trained a lot in three months," he said. "I was loving it, getting fit, fit, fit, and I'm ready for another challenge. I focused on a lot of things that make me better and don't get me into trouble again, and I want to thank James Willstrop for all his amazing work. The Pontefract club is amazing.

"I have my coach here with me, and the combination between him and James is unreal."

In the women's draw, world No.1 Nour El Sherbini avoided a major upset as she beat England's Lucy Turmel 2/1.

Having cruised through game one 11-3, El Sherbini was suddenly under pressure as Turmel staged an impressive fightback in the second, saving two match points at 10-8 before taking the game 14-12.

El Sherbini, though, stepped up a gear in game three, claiming it 11-2 to book a spot in the last eight.

"It's tough to play straight after the US Open," she said after her win. "I'm still a little bit jet-lagged and it's hard to get the body running again.

"Lucy's a very good player. I've never played her before so it was a tricky first round for me. She was more attacking and more aggressive in the second game so I just wanted to play more of my game in the third."

El Sherbini's quarter-final opponent will be England's Sarah-Jane Perry, who edged a dramatic domestic duel with Emily Whitlock, coming back from a game down to win in 36 minutes.

That was the penultimate match of the day and preceded an equally dramatic finale, which saw Baptiste Masotti save four match balls en-route to an impressive comeback win over Greg Lobban.