Day Three Roundup

ElShorbagy leads seeds into Quarter Finals

Egypt’s World #3 Mohamed ElShorbagy was in powerful form to put England’s George Parker to the sword in straight games to reach the quarter finals of the Optasia Championship taking place at the Wimbledon Club in London.

Second seed ElShorbagy, a former winner of the event when it was known as the Channel VAS Championships and hosted at the St George’s Hill Lawn Tennis Club in Weybridge, came flying out of the blocks to take out the World #32 in just 29 minutes.

He has set up a thrilling last eight contest with fellow former World #1 Karim Abdel Gawad, who he lost to in an epic final of the 2019 event.

“I’ve played a lot of the English players, I think I’ve played all of them now,” said ElShorbagy. “I’ve played George a couple of times now and 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.

“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.”

Gawad, meanwhile, was forced to hold off his compatriot Youssef Soliman in an entertaining four-game battle.

The last time the two players met was at the 2018-19 PSA World Championship when Soliman claimed a shock 3-2 victory. However, Gawad got his revenge, playing sharp squash and hitting his trademark stylish winners to take an 11-6, 7-11, 11-8, 11-9 victory in 70 minutes.

“Playing Youssef is always very tough,” said Gawad in his post-match interview. “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.”

The other quarter final in the bottom half of the draw will see Peru’s Diego Elias take on Egypt’s Mazen Hesham.

Elias defeated spirited wildcard Joe Lee to get his tournament off to winning start in London. Despite being separated by 83 places in the PSA World Rankings, anyone watching would have been forgiven for being unsure who the higher ranked player was at the start, as Elias edged an evenly-contested first two games 11-9, 11-8 before closing out 11-4 in the third.

After the match, Elias said: “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.”

Meanwhile, Hesham is yet to take to the Wimbledon court after receiving a walkover in round two following the withdrawal of India’s Saurav Ghosal due to injury.

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)