World No.1s Paul Coll and Nouran Gohar led the top seeds into the third round of the PSA World Championships Cairo on an entertaining day of squash at the Club S Allegria in Egypt.
Men’s top seed Coll continued his impressive start at the event as he looks to win his first PSA World Championship crown. The 30-year-old was dominant to open up a 2-0 lead against India’s World No.52 Mahesh Mangaonkar as he used his athleticism and well-chosen attacks to dominate.
The Indian put up good resistance in the third game and caused Coll some trouble when he went short, but at 9-7 up, Coll built his way back into the match to rattle off four successive points and close out.
“I’m just sharpening everything, every shot we’ve been practicing with Rob [Owen] over the last two years. It’s overall a good week, sharpening everything that has got us to the top and just trying to keep it there.”
The Kiwi will move to the new glass court set up at the Egyptian National Museum of Civilization in the third round, where he faces Egypt’s World No.8 Mazen Hesham for a place in the quarter finals after he recorded an 11-8, 11-5, 11-6 victory over compatriot Karim El Hammamy to advance.
There will be a clash of the former World Champions in round three as Egyptians Mohamed ElShorbagy and Karim Abdel Gawad go head-to-head for a place in the last eight at the prestigious event.
The former World No.1, who defeated younger brother Marwan to lift the title in 2017, was in confident form as he dominated from minute one, leaving Juan Camilo Vargas struggling to come up with a response, to secure his place in the last 16.
“He tried to fight, but the conditions sometimes are really hard when you come from the [traditional] courts, especially when it’s your first time,” said ElShorbagy afterwards. “I’m sure I’m going to see him again playing these big stages in the future.
“I’m really excited to go to the museum to be honest, it’s an amazing venue, very unique and I can’t wait to get back there tomorrow and see the venue and have a practice tomorrow.”
Gawad, meanwhile, got his revenge on France’s Victor Crouin to safely move through to the third round. The two players faced each other just last week when Crouin secured another big scalping at the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions in New York. However, Gawad made sure he was not on the receiving end of another upset this time around as he was at his best to win 11-9, 11-5, 11-8.
On the traditional courts, recent Manchester Open winner Joel Makin once again showed his consistency as he eased past France’s Lucas Serme on court two to secure a round three berth.
Meeting him in the last 16 will be 2019 World Champion Tarek Momen after he was pushed hard by USA’s Faraz Khan, eventually prevailing 11-7, 8-11, 11-7, 11-8 in 50 minutes.
“You’ve got to accept that it’s not going to be a lot of fun for the first 30-45 minutes, take your punishment and accept he’s going to hit some unbelievable stuff,” said Makin on facing Momen in the next round.
“I can get into him physically and start to ask him a few questions, work him hard and wait for those errors to come because he’s always got them in him.”
The other men’s match in the top half of the draw will see Egypt’s Fares Dessouky take on France’s Gregoire Marche for only the third time in their careers as they were both put through tough battles to reach the last 16.
Dessouky came out on top in a fiery encounter with Englishman George Parker as tensions boiled over between the two players. It had been a tight and entertaining battle until a controversial decision in the fourth caused Parker to lose his focus and Dessouky was able to take full advantage. Meanwhile, Marche was forced to hold off a comeback from India’s Ramit Tandon as he showed his resilience to prevail in four games.
In the women’s draw, there were no problems for World No.1 Gohar as she powered her way past compatriot Farida Mohamed and into the third round of the sport’s biggest tournament.
The 24-year-old Cairo-native put in a typically brutal performance from minute one, with her power hitting consistently troubling the 20-year-old World No.19, who struggled to construct rallies throughout.
“I had to play my A Game today to do it in three,” said Gohar. “Last time against her, it was a very tough battle, so that’s what we call learning lessons and definitely I learned from this one.
“I was really looking forward to the World Championships from the beginning of the year, it was definitely a goal. I’m not trying to think about it right now. Any match I play on the court, I want to win it, it doesn’t matter if it’s in the World Championship or in a practice match, I just try to focus on the game and do my best.”
Gohar will face Wales’ Tesni Evans on the new glass court at the Egyptian National Museum of Civilization after she overcame France’s Coline Aumard, who was forced to retire from their match after the second game due to injury.
Also on the glass court, USA’s World No.4 Amanda Sobhy showed no signs of slowing down her charge in Egypt as she comfortably put South Africa’s Alexandra Fuller to the sword in just 22 minutes.
Waiting for Sobhy in the third round will be Belgium’s Nele Gilis as she was also in top form to expertly despatch Scotland’s Lisa Aitken by an 11-6, 11-5, 11-6 margin.
“Me and Nele are best friends,” said Sobhy. “We haven’t played each other in a while, I know it’s going to be a fair battle. I think we’re both excited to be at the museum. It’s going to feel like a totally different tournament which is kind of nice to break things up.”
Elsewhere, New Zealand’s World No.5 Joelle King will take on Egypt’s Nada Abbas after they claimed respective victories over Egypt’s Yathreb Adel and USA’s Olivia Clyne on the traditional courts at the Club S Allegria.
The other round three clash in the top half of the draw will see Egypt’s World No.8 Rowan Elaraby face India’s Joshna Chinappa after they both claimed 3-0 wins earlier in the day over Egypt’s Hana Ramadan and Wales’ Emily Whitlock, respectively.