The third day of action at the 2016 Qatar Classic – the World Series tournament taking place at the Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex in Doha – saw German No.1 Simon Rösner put in an immaculate display to defeat former World No.1 James Willstrop.
Rösner, the current World No.13, was deadly from the outset and executed his game plan to perfection, with a powerful and accurate performance sending Willstrop into all four corners of the court, drawing the normally accurate Yorkshireman out of his comfort zone and into a number of errors to record a superb 11-7, 11-7, 11-8 victory.
“I think I played my best squash, my best squash of the season, at least,” said Rösner.
“I kept him behind me most of the time and I was able to attack quite well at the front. I played attacking squash and I think that I can’t play much better than that.
“It’s so tough to beat this guy, I think he’s pretty much back to normal and playing the way he used to before he was injured. To beat him in this form is quite special for me, so I’m really glad.”
Rösner will take on defending champion Mohamed ElShorbagy for a place in the semi-finals after the World No.1 overcame a strong challenge from Hong Kong’s Leo Au.
World Champion Karim Abdel Gawad continued his title charge, but was forced all the way to five games after a dogged challenge from fellow Egyptian Zahed Mohamed to set up a quarter-final fixture with World No.7 Marwan ElShorbagy, with the 23-year-old defeating Australia’s Ryan Cuskelly.
Frenchman Gregoire Marche has reached his first ever World Series quarter-final after coming through an intense five-game contest with World No.9 Tarek Momen.
Three-time World Champion Nick Matthew will face Marche for a place in the semi-finals after defeating tenacious Scotsman Alan Clyne, while Australian No.1 Cameron Pilley and World No.19 Daryl Selby will contest the other quarter-final fixture courtesy of respective wins over Mexico’s Cesar Salazar and qualifier Adrian Waller.
At the World Series tournament held at the Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex in Doha, the World No.19 relinquished a one-game lead to go 2-1 down, but produced a spirited fightback to claim a huge 11-9, 5-11, 2-11, 11-9, 11-2 victory for the 34-year-old – his first win over Mosaad at the sixth attempt.
“It was tough as it always is, and it hasn’t really sunk in yet, but I’m delighted obviously to beat him for the first time,” said Selby.
“It was a similar match to the ones we’ve played in the past, they always seem to be five-gamers and they’re always fairly physical. I expect that really because he’s such a big guy. He’s tough to play because he hits the ball so hard and so cleanly.
“Maybe I kept my head a little bit better in the fifth game and he looked a little bit despondent. He’s lacking a little bit of confidence at the moment, whereas I’ve been having some decent results.”
World champion Karim Abdel Gawad got his tournament off to a winning start as he led compatriots Marwan ElShorbagy and Zahed Mohamed through to the second round, where there will be a five-strong Egyptian contingent after World No.1 Mohamed, the older brother of Marwan, and World No.9 Tarek Momen claimed wins on the opening day of action.
Gawad, competing less than two weeks after he defeated compatriot Ramy Ashour in the PSA Men’s World Championship final in Cairo, went a game behind courtesy of some consistent play from Reda.
But the 25-year-old found his range and showcased his sublime attacking talents to full effect as he won the next three games in comfortable fashion, taking it 9-11, 11-6, 11-4, 11-3 to ensure that he will take on Mohamed – who beat England’s Tom Richards – for a place in the quarter-finals.
“I was very, very tired after the World Championship,” said Gawad.
“I finished on the Friday and then I had to travel on Monday to Qatar. I only had a couple of sessions in Qatar, I didn’t have enough time to do loads of fitness, I just tried to relax my body and tried to recover.”
World No.7 Marwan booked his place in round two after rising to a routine 3-0 win over Hong Kong’s World No.41 Tsz Fung Yip.
Yip, who claimed a notable win over World No.8 Miguel Angel Rodriguez in August’s Hong Kong Open, started brightly and went 3-0 ahead in the opening game before ElShorbagy took control, coming through 11-7, 11-8, 11-6 in 27 minutes – and he will face Australian No.2 Ryan Cuskelly in the next round.
“I was very happy, it was my first time playing Yip, he’s had a few good wins and I had to watch a few of his matches to study him,” said ElShorbagy.
“I had to be careful from the beginning and not give him any chances as he would have taken them. I’m very happy to win in less than half an hour. There are no rest days for us in the bottom half, so it’s perfect for me against Cuskelly.”
Cuskelly made history at this tournament last year after he became the first player since 2001 to come through qualification and progress to the last four of a World Series tournament – and he required five games to see off World No.17 Max Lee.
Lee was irresistible early on as he swept to a one-game lead for the loss of three points, but a tenacious Cuskelly refused to bow down to the pressure as he battled back to go 2-1 ahead. The 29-year-old was unable to convert a match ball though, and Lee forced a decider, only to succumb to cramp as Cuskelly closed out a 3-11, 11-9, 11-6, 11-13, 11-9 victory.
“I probably didn’t play the best but I tried to stay solid and he gave me a few cheap ones in the end before he started cramping, so I was a bit lucky,” Cuskelly admitted.
“Overall, I’m happy with the win. I’ve had a couple of bad results, so everything was going through my head. I could have lost it but I stayed strong in the fifth and snuck it.”
Cuskelly will be joined in the next round by fellow Australian Cameron Pilley, who defeated Nafiizwan Adnan in straight games, and Pilley will face Cesar Salazar in round two after the Mexican beat Omar Abdel Meguid.
England’s Adrian Waller overcame World No.34 Nicolas Mueller in the day’s other fixture and he will take on Selby for a place in the quarter-final stage.
Results – First Round (Bottom Half): 2016 Qatar Classic
 Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) bt [Q] Mohamed Reda (EGY) 3-0: 9-11, 11-6, 11-4, 11-3 (41m)
Zahed Mohamed (EGY) bt Tom Richards (ENG) 3-0: 11-6, 12-10, 11-4 (27m)
Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) bt Max Lee (HKG) 3-2: 3-11, 11-9, 11-6, 11-13, 11-9 (96m)
 Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) bt [Q] Tsz Fung Yip (HKG) 3-0: 11-7, 11-8, 11-6 (27m)
 Cameron Pilley (AUS) bt [Q] Nafiizwan Adnan (MAS) 3-0: 11-5, 11-9, 11-5 (52m)
Cesar Salazar (MEX) bt Omar Abdel Meguid (EGY) 3-1: 11-5, 11-8, 9-11, 15-13 (53m)
[Q] Adrian Waller (ENG) bt Nicolas Mueller (SUI) 3-1: 6-11, 11-5, 11-8, 12-10 (62m)
Daryl Selby (ENG) bt  Omar Mosaad (EGY) 3-1: 11-9, 5-11, 2-11, 11-9, 11-2 (69m)
Draw – Second Round: To be played Tuesday November 15
 Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) v Leo Au (HKG)
James Willstrop (ENG) v  Simon Rösner (GER)
 Tarek Momen (EGY) v Gregoire Marche (FRA)
[Q] Alan Clyne (SCO) v  Nick Matthew (ENG)
 Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) v Zahed Mohamed (EGY)
Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) v  Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY)
 Cameron Pilley (AUS) v Cesar Salazar (MEX)
[Q] Adrian Waller (ENG) v Daryl Selby (ENG)
The three-time World Champion won this tournament in 2009, but relinquished a two-game lead against Qatari No.1 Al Tamimi, who – buoyed by vocal home support – went 8-4 up in the decider to threaten a huge upset.
But Matthew drew on his 18 years of professional experience to wrestle back momentum of the match, taking seven of the next eight points on offer to seal an 11-9, 11-8, 9-11, 10-12, 11-9 victory.
“Physically I felt great, but he is such a clever player and anything I played short he was able to counterattack me beautifully,” said Matthew.
“I’m not sure how I won that to be honest. I think today he deserved to win. When we had that ridiculous rally where we both ran like headless chickens, and he ended up playing that incredible winner, I thought ok, maybe this is not your day, maybe it’s his day, you’ve got to take it on the chin.
“The only thing I tried to do was to hold my head high and hope that maybe at the end he would get a bit nervous.”
Defending champion Mohamed ElShorbagy was also in action on day one as he too was forced all the way to five games by his first round opponent, Peruvian Diego Elias.
The World No.1, who defeated Frenchman Gregory Gaultier in last year’s final, went ahead twice but was forced all the way to a fifth by two-time World Junior Champion Elias, who hit some superb winners.
The hard-hitting Egyptian looked to be struggling with his movement a little bit towards the end of the fourth game, but he recovered to take the fifth, closing out an 11-4, 8-11, 11-8, 6-11, 11-5 triumph, ensuring he will face Hong Kong’s Leo Au in the next round.
“I have great memories in Qatar, that’s where I won my first World Series title, so it’s a very important place for me,” ElShorbagy said.
“It’s very hard to back up tournaments, we just finished the Worlds in Cairo, and win or lose, it’s very hard to back them up. It’s just different emotions, but it’s very hard for the body.
“I’m just very happy to get through and live another day in this event. I think it’s just my experience that paid off at the end of the fifth, I got a good start there too.”
He will be joined in round two by compatriot Tarek Momen who played out the match of the day against New Zealand’s Paul Coll, with their high-octane 101-minute encounter featuring a veritable feast of stunning retrievals.
With the scores poised at two games apiece, both players fought against cramp as the match crept towards its conclusion, with Coll overturning multiple match balls to stay in the encounter. At 16-15 down though, a lunge towards the back of the court left Coll doubling over in pain, enabling Momen to force the win over the line to close out a nail-biting 7-11, 11-8, 8-11, 12-10, 17-15 triumph.
“In that last lunge I did, both my hamstring and my quads cramped together,” said Momen.
“I was wondering when he would cramp, up until he cramped I thought he wasn’t human to be honest, it was unbelievable. I had no idea how I pulled that off to be honest. My motto today was that I wasn’t going to give up until the last point. I knew I had good momentum after the World Championship, I didn’t want to break that momentum.”
Former World No.1 James Willstrop followed fellow Yorkshireman Matthew through to the second round after the 33-year-old recovered from a game down to defeat World No.20 Chris Simpson in an all-English affair.
The former World No.1 fell victim to a strong start from Simpson in game one, but put in a masterclass in the next three games, failing to drop a single point in the fourth to close out a 7-11, 11-2, 11-4, 11-0 triumph.
“He was playing well, but I didn’t really panic because I felt that my quality was there,” said Willstrop.
“You’ve just got to ignore the scoreboard a bit really, otherwise you get carried away with being behind and that becomes a negative thing. I just kept telling myself that it didn’t really matter and what did matter was how well I was playing squash. I held it together and it worked for me a little bit later in the match.”
‘The Marksman’ will take on German No.1 Simon Rösner for a place in the last eight after Rösner saw off World No.41 Declan James, while Scotland’s Alan Clyne came up with the day’s biggest upset after he ended a five-match losing streak to Indian No.1 Saurav Ghosal, setting up a second round clash with Matthew.
Frenchman Gregoire Marche and Hong Kong’s Leo Au were the other victors on day one and they have lined up fixtures with Momen and ElShorbagy in the next round.
Results – First Round (Top Half): 2016 Qatar Classic
 Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) bt Diego Elias (PER) 3-2: 11-4, 8-11, 11-8, 6-11, 11-5 (63m)
Leo Au (HKG) bt [Q] Campbell Grayson (NZL) 3-1: 6-11, 11-6, 11-5, 11-8 (55m)
James Willstrop (ENG) bt Chris Simpson (ENG) 3-1: 7-11, 11-2, 11-4, 11-0 (53m)
 Simon Rösner (GER) bt [Q] Declan James (ENG) 3-0: 11-6, 11-8, 11-6 (36m)
 Tarek Momen (EGY) bt [Q] Paul Coll (NZL) 3-2: 7-11, 11-8, 8-11, 12-10, 17-15 (101m)
Gregoire Marche (FRA) bt Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY) 3-2: 9-11, 11-6, 11-9, 3-11, 11-8 (54m)
[Q] Alan Clyne (SCO) bt Saurav Ghosal (IND) 3-1: 12-10, 9-11, 11-7, 11-1 (47m)
 Nick Matthew (ENG) bt [WC] Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi (QAT) 3-2: 11-9, 11-8, 9-11, 10-12, 11-9 (71m)
Draw – First Round (Bottom Half): To be played Monday November 14
 Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) v [Q] Mohamed Reda (EGY)
Tom Richards (ENG) v Zahed Mohamed (EGY)
Max Lee (HKG) v Ryan Cuskelly (AUS)
[Q] Tsz Fung Yip (HKG) v  Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY)
 Cameron Pilley (AUS) v [Q] Nafiizwan Adnan (MAS)
Cesar Salazar (MEX) v Omar Abdel Meguid (EGY)
Nicolas Mueller (SUI) v [Q] Adrian Waller (ENG)
Daryl Selby (ENG) v  Omar Mosaad (EGY)