2022 Day THREE

The 2022 Optasia Championship continued tonight at The Wimbledon Club with three more second round matches.

First up is defending champion Karim Abdel Gawad, seeded a lowly eighth this time around, against fellow Egyptian Youssef Soliman. Second seeded former champion Mohamed ElShorbagy takes on England’s George Parker, then wildcard Joe Lee is up against Peruvian third seed Diego Elias.

You can Watch Live on SquashTV (the ElShorbagy v Parker match is free on YouTube), follow on Live Scoring and our social feeds, and we’ll have updates and reaction here with a roundup at the end of the day.

Optasia Championship 2022 : Round TWO (bottom), Tue 8th Mar

[8] Karim Abdel Gawad (Egy) 3-1 [9/16] Youssef Soliman (Egy)  11-6, 7-11, 11-8, 11-9 (70m)

[2] Mohamed ElShorbagy (Egy) 3-0 George Parker (Eng)      11-9, 11-6, 11-7 (29m)

[3] Diego Elias (Per) 3-0 [wc] Joe Lee (Eng)     11-9, 11-8, 11-4 (38m)

[6] Mazen Hesham (Egy) w/o [9/16] Saurav Ghosal (Ind)


Diego ends wildcard Joe’s hopes

[3] Diego Elias (Per) 3-0 [wc] Joe Lee (Eng)     11-9, 11-8, 11-4 (38m)

Home favourite Joe Lee bowed out at the hands of third seed Diego Elias. After a competitive first two games the Peruvian raced through the third to clinch the final spot in the quarter-finals.

“It’s a very dead court and Joe has a very good length game and the lobs he plays to the back are very accurate, so at the beginning it was hard because it was my first time playing on this court.

“But I’m very happy with the way it finished; I could play my shots and hit a way better length. I’m very happy with this and looking forward to tomorrow.

“Squash in Peru is only really in three cities, mostly in the capital Lima. After the PanAm Games, interested started to grow, but then the pandemic came and so it’s not growing as fast as we’d thought. But I think there are a lot more players now and hopefully it keeps growing.”

ElShorbagy eases past Parker

[2] Mohamed ElShorbagy (Egy) 3-0 George Parker (Eng)    11-9, 11-6, 11-7 (29m)

Former champion Mohamed ElShorbagy made short work of last-minute entry George Parker, completing a straight games win in just under the half hour.

“It’s very different to St. George’s Hill. It’s funny, I played on this court in 2012 or 2011 in Australia and it’s great that you brought it back. It’s a great court and a great venue and I’m so happy to be playing here. I love playing in England, it’s been a home for me since 2006. I always feel at home playing here and I look forward to playing in front of the English crowd for a few more days, hopefully!

“I’ve played a lot of the English players, I think I’ve played all of them now. I’ve played George a couple of times now, we’ve actually trained together a few times. He’s a great player and I always told him he has great potential, but only when he’s interested to play.

“I’m playing in the British Open next, unfortunately I’m missing Canary Wharf, there are a lot of tournaments back-to-back, so I’m playing the British and then hopefully the Manchester Open after. I look forward to playing them, but for now let’s focus on here first.”

Defending champ Gawad edges into quarters

[8] Karim Abdel Gawad (Egy) 3-1 [9/16] Youssef Soliman (Egy)  11-6, 7-11, 11-8, 11-9 (70m)

Karim Abdel Gawad got his title defence off to a successful start, but was pushed all the way by compatriot Youssef Soliman in four close games.

 “Playing Youssef is always very tough. Last time I played him in the World Championship I was 2-0 up and then lost 3-2, so I’ve very bad memories of him! He’s a complete player and very tough to play. He’s pushing up the rankings really well, so I had to really focus from the first game. I can’t have a slow start against Youssef, so I warmed up very well and focused. Luckily, in the last game, when he was 6-1 up, I managed to get back into the game and finish it in four.”

On the value of video reviews : “A match can be tough, not just for players but for referees, too. Just as we’re having a tough match, he’s having a tough match, too. We went to the video ref a lot and everyone’s hoping to get more chances to win on the video ref and then get another one. This is normal when we have two players of almost the same quality, so thanks to the ref. We give them a hard time of course, and thanks to the video ref, and everyone.”

On trying to reclaim his status as World No.1 : “Of course, everyone is playing very well and players are really fit. The top ten players are very tough now. So regarding getting back up the rankings, I had a chronic injury so it took me a while to get back on court so I don’t focus on the rankings now. I’m only happy to be on court again and have the chance again to compete with the players and have more chances to play in tournaments. I’m just grateful and enjoying every moment on court now.”