Former runner-up Stewart Boswell was denied a place in the second round of the 2011 Delaware Investments US Open when Egypt’s Mohamed El Shorbagy recovered from two games down to beat the Australian on the opening day of first round action in the fifth PSA World Series squash event of the year at Drexel University in Philadelphia.
Boswell, the 33-year-old from Canberra who made his US Open debut in 2000 and reached the final two years later, thoroughly deserved his two-game lead at the Daskalakis Athletic Center.
But it was almost one-way traffic for the next three games as seventh seed El Shorbagy, 13 years younger than his opponent, took advantage of the tiring Australian.
“This is only my second World Series tournament of the year, and I was quite nervous at the start,” admitted El Shorbagy after his 8-11, 9-11, 11-7, 11-5, 11-4 win in 64 minutes.
“After a slow start I started to play better from the middle of the second, and I could have won that but he played better than me at the end of it,” explained the two-time world junior champion, now ranked nine in the world.
“I was pleased with my performance to come back and take the last three games.”
The UK-based 20-year-old now faces Englishman Tom Richards, a 7-11, 11-3, 11-9, 13-11 winner over Egyptian qualifierTarek Momen.
“It should be a tough match with Tom tomorrow,” added El Shorbagy. “I’ve beaten him a couple of times but he’s a much better player now and I think we’re going to have quite a few hard matches over the next few years.”
Despite several meetings as juniors, it was only the second time that 25-year-old Richards had faced Momen, aged 23, on the PSA Tour.
It was the Egyptian who made the better start, pulling clear from seven-all to take the first game. But Richards struck back to draw level.
After the Englishman took the third, the fourth game was level all the way with both players fighting hard and moving swiftly around the McWil all-glass court. It was on his third match-ball that Richards finally clinched victory after 61 minutes.
“Tarek always used to beat me in juniors,” said the world No25 from Surrey afterwards. “So he probably had a psychological advantage going into the match. But I knew the way I wanted to play and I thought I executed it pretty well, apart from losing a bit of discipline in the middle.
“But I got through it and it worked out ok – I’m pretty pleased to win that one.”
Three seeded Englishmen prevailed in comfortable fashion. Favourite Nick Matthew faced surprise opponent Zac Alexander, a 22-year-old Australian who earned a last-minute place in the qualifiers, then survived two tough battles against higher-ranked opponents.
“I’d heard of Zac as an upcoming player for a while, but never played him before,” said world number one Matthew after his 11-4, 11-5, 11-8 win. “Coming out of the AIS I knew he’d move well and be a clean striker of the ball, so I wanted to make sure I started out strongly.”
Fifth-seeded Londoner Peter Barker beat Finland’s Olli Tuominen 11-3, 11-2, 11-9 while James Willstrop, the No3 seed from Leeds, saw off former England international Alister Walker, now representing Botswana, 11-9, 11-8, 12-10.
“First rounds are never easy these days – and scorelines often don’t reflect the nature of the match, like this one,” said Willstrop later. “We know plenty about each other – we’ve been playing since we were 12.”
The Yorkshireman now faces current England team-mate Daryl Selby, the reigning British national champion who stopped German qualifier Simon Rosner 7-11, 11-5, 11-9, 11-3.
“It’s a similar story with Daryl next round,” Willstrop continued. “We’ve had some heavy matches so I’m looking forward to a rest day and getting as well prepared for that as I can.”
Egypt’s Hisham Mohamed Ashour gained revenge for his defeat by Alan Clyne in their only previous meeting in Malaysia when he beat the Scottish qualifier 11-8, 12-10, 9-11, 11-4.
“I’m pretty happy with how I played,” said Ashour. “He’s a very tough opponent who can give anyone in the top 20 a lot of trouble. There was a bit of revenge on my mind for Malaysia, too, I knew I had to be 100% focused from the start and not give anything away.
“I haven’t won for the last two tournaments so I need to do well in this one and hopefully the wins will keep on coming,” added the 29-year-old from Cairo.
In a match between two of the tallest players in the game, Omar Mosaad became the third Egyptian to book a place in the last 16 when he beat Australian Cameron Pilley 11-9, 11-8, 11-8.
1st round (top half of draw):
 Nick Matthew (ENG) bt [Q] Zac Alexander (AUS) 11-4, 11-5, 11-8 (50m)
Omar Mosaad (EGY) bt Cameron Pilley (AUS) 11-9, 11-8, 11-8 (60m)
Tom Richards (ENG) bt [Q] Tarek Momen (EGY) 7-11, 11-3, 11-9, 13-11 (61m)
 Mohamed El Shorbagy (EGY) bt Stewart Boswell (AUS) 8-11, 9-11, 11-7, 11-5, 11-4 (64m)
 Peter Barker (ENG) bt Olli Tuominen (FIN) 11-3, 11-2, 11-9 (40m)
Hisham Mohamed Ashour (EGY) bt [Q] Alan Clyne (SCO) 11-8, 12-10, 9-11, 11-4 (49m)
Daryl Selby (ENG) bt [Q] Simon Rosner (GER) 7-11, 11-5, 11-9, 11-3 (71m)
 James Willstrop (ENG) bt Alister Walker (BOT) 11-9, 11-8, 12-10 (43m)
More details on the Official Website: www.usopensquash.com