The third PSA World Series event of the year is under way in Egypt’s Red Sea resort of El Gouna, with a split first round.
Ghosal and Hesham Stun Seeds In El Gouna
Egyptian qualifier Mazen Hesham delighted the home crowd at the 2015 El Gouna International, PSA World Series event, with a stunning 3-1 win over World No.10 Simon Rösner during the opening day of action from the Red Sea resort.
Hesham, the maverick and unpredictable World No.30, produced a mercurial display as he out-gunned Rösner from the start, executing an array of incredible winners whilst keeping his error count low to deny the powerful man from Paderborn the opportunity to get on the front foot.
“I’m happy with how I played today because I was patient when I needed to be patient and I played the right pace when I needed to,” said Hesham.
“Since the beginning of the year I have had a lot of matches where I came very close to winning and then to lose but I’m really happy it all came together here in front of my family and my friends in Egypt.”
Hesham will now take on compatriot Mohamed Elshorbagy, the 2014 runner-up, in a mouth-watering second round encounter after the World No.1 made sure of his place in the second round with an effortless 3-0 win over Ali Farag, the Egyptian who toppled seeded Gregiore Marche in qualification, while indian Saurav Ghosal also upset the rankings as he edged a tense affair against World No.7 Tarek Momen.
Ghosal, the World No.23 from Kolkata, raced out to a two-game lead against a lacklustre looking Momen before the Egyptian began to find his form and when Ghosal squandered several match ball opportunities, the scores were level and Momen looked the dominant player.
But 28-year-old Ghosal managed to withstand some nervy exchanges in the deciding fifth game to take the match 12-10, 11-1, 7-11, 12-14, 11-9 in 85-minutes to set up a second round encounter with Omar Mosaad.
“We’re both similar players in the way we move and the amount of attacking play we instinctively like to play so it makes for an entertaining match and we tend to play well against each other,” said Ghosal.
“Tarek showed real guts to come back when I was 2-0 up today and he played unbelievable in the fourth game especially. I’m really happy to have played so well against him and to have gotten the win against a top ranked player.
“I don’t think I played badly on any of those match ball points but I was ecstatic to stick one on the wall and win the match in the fifth game.”
Results – Sun 5th Apr, Round One, Top Half:
 Mohamed Elshorbagy (EGY) bt [Q] Ali Farag (EGY) 3-0: 11-9, 13-11, 11-5 (44m)
[Q] Mazen Hesham (EGY) bt Simon Rösner (GER) 3-1: 12-10, 11-7, 11-13, 11-7 (56m)
Max Lee (HKG) bt [Q] Nafiizwan Adnan (MAS) 3-2: 7-11, 8-11, 11-5, 11-5, 11-8 (75m)
 Peter Barker (ENG) bt Adrian Waller (ENG) 3-0: 3-0: 11-5, 11-7, 11-3 (47m)
Saurav Ghosal (IND) bt  Tarek Momen (EGY) 3-2: 12-10, 11-1, 7-11, 12-14, 11-9 (85m)
Omar Mosaad (EGY) bt [Q] Olli Tuominen (FIN) 3-0: 11-5, 11-8, 13-11 (42m)
Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) bt [Q] Omar Abdel Meguid (EGY) 3-2: 7-11, 6-11, 11-5, 12-10, 11-9 (88m)
 Nick Matthew (ENG) bt [WC] Zahed Mohamed (EGY) 3-0: 11-6, 11-6, 11-6 (47m)
Simpson Shocks Shabana In El Gouna
Egyptian four-time World Champion Amr Shabana suffered a shock first round exit during the second day of action at the 2015 El Gouna International PSA World Series event, falling to England’s Chris Simpson 3-2 in a topsy-turvy 57-minute encounter.
The former World No.1 had cruised to an early two-game lead against Simpson, the World No.22, and looked odds on to seal a straight-forward victory but the 34-year-old then appeared to self-destruct, recording a catalogue of errors as Simpson fought back and levelled the match.
The 28-year-old then held his nerve to complete the 5-11, 7-11, 11-5, 11-4, 11-5 triumph and inflict Shabana’s first PSA World Series first round defeat since the 2011 Qatar Classic.
“But I’m not sure what even happened after that. I managed to get some long rallies in and he seemed to lose a bit of interest which worked in my favour and I’m incredibly happy to win that match.
“Amr has been my idol since I first started playing and it’s very hard to get over the respect you have for someone like that and be competitive but I managed to do that and it’s a strange feeling for me to get a win over him.”
Simpson will now face James Willstrop, another former World No.1, in his second round encounter after the man from Pontefract came from one-game down to see off South African Stephen Coppinger.
“James and I train together a lot and he’s been No.1 before as well so it’s two classy players one after the other for me,” added Simpson.
“I’m going to recover tonight and do my best for tomorrow.”
Elsewhere on day two of action defending El Gouna International champion Ramy Ashour, the 2014 World Champion, survived a double scare against Marwan Elshorbagy, losing the opening game and suffering an initially potentially troublesome knee injury before surging through to a 3-1 win.
Ashour hasn’t competed on the PSA World Tour since winning the World Championship in November but he’ll be hoping to return to winning ways again in his home country.
“It’s great to be here and playing in Egypt again,” said Ashour. “It’s a big deal for us and we’re proud to have such a world class event taking place here and it’s a just a privilege to be competing.
“Marwan is doing well at the minute and I knew it would be tough match. He gave me a hard game and I’m happy he pushed me that way.
“I was a little off at the start of the match. I’m coming back from a brutal period in my life with injuries and I’m fighting every day with myself and the injuries but I have been doing this all of my life and I will keep on pushing.”
Results – Mon 6th Apr, Round One, Bottom Half:
 Ramy Ashour (EGY) bt Marwan Elshorbagy (EGY) 3-1: 10-12, 11-8, 11-6, 11-6 (50m)
Fares Dessouki (EGY) bt [Q] Leo Au (HKG) 3-0: 11-5, 11-4, 11-7 (34m)
James Willstrop (ENG) bt Stephen Coppinger (RSA) 3-1: 4-11, 14-12, 11-7, 11-8 (58m)
Chris Simpson (ENG) bt  Amr Shabana (EGY) 3-2: 5-11, 7-11, 11-5, 11-4, 11-5 (57m)
 Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL) bt [Q] Karim Ali Fathi (EGY) 3-0: 11-5, 11-2, 13-11 (48m)
Daryl Selby (ENG) bt Nicolas Mueller (SUI) 3-2: 8-11, 11-9, 11-9, 12-14, 11-8 (84m)
Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) bt [Q] Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY) 3-2: 13-11, 8-11, 11-9, 3-11, 11-7 (67m)
 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt Cameron Pilley (AUS) 3-1: 10-12, 11-7, 11-4, 11-4 (56m)