Egyptian squash star Ramy Ashour came back from losing the first game to local hero Stewart Boswell to power his way into the quarter-finals of the Viridian Australian Open, the third PSA World Series squash event of the year inCanberra.
Boswell, who hails from the Australian capital, had home supporters cheering when he claimed the opening game – but the four-time champion couldn’t maintain the momentum as second seed Ashour stormed home to win 9-11, 11-7, 11-8, 11- 7.
The 33-year-old Australian, who first won his country’s premier title nine years ago, was brilliant at times – but was undone by the shot-making wizardry of the world number two from Cairo, who was able to hit winners from seemingly impossible positions.
However, he was pushed all the way by Boswell, currently ranked 21 in the world.
“He should be ranked better than he is the way he played,” said 23-year-old Ashour. “He played like a top 10 player. I think we played a very good quality match tonight.”
Ashour now takes on Englishman Peter Barker, who was also in great touch as he disposed of Malaysia’s Mohd Nafiizwan Adnan with a minimum of fuss 11-4, 11-2, 11-7.
Barker has faced players ranked in the 40s in his first two rounds but said he wasn’t too concerned that he hadn’t been really tested yet.
“I’ve been quite lucky I’ve had two players ranked where they are, but at the same time someone like Greg (Gaultier) has had two tough matches and he’s managed to win them both three-love,” said the 27-year-old Londoner.
‘I’m very happy with the way I’m hitting the ball, I’m very pleased with the way I’m moving in my first tournament back.”
Earlier, Gregory Gaultier set up a mouth-watering quarter-final clash with England’s fourth seeded James Willstropafter the Frenchman beat Adrian Grant 11-7, 11-5, 11-8, showing glimpses of the form that took him to world number one in 2009.
The Frenchman was in complete control throughout, never allowing Grant to settle into any sort of rhythm.
His clash with Willstrop, an 11-5, 11-5, 11-2 winner over Scottish qualifier Alan Clyne, is sure to be the highlight of the quarter-finals.
Gaultier said he believed he had an advantage heading into the match against Willstrop because he had played two high quality players, whereas Willstrop’s opponents had been ranked much lower.
“He’s in great form but he didn’t have tough matches – he hasn’t played top players yet,” Gaultier said.
“It’s easy to be in good form when you don’t play top players, but he’s a great player and he’s really good to watch so I think it’s going to be a really good match.”
Willstrop was in superb touch as he demolished Clyne.
Clyne won through qualifying to make the main draw then outplayed Malaysian Muhd Asyraf Azan in the first round – but he was no match for the towering Yorkshireman, who dominated all aspects of the match.
“He’s come through qualifying, he’s winning his matches, he’s played a few games and that can mean a lot at this early point of the season,” a delighted Willstrop said.
“He’s the type of player who will get balls back all day long, so for me to get in a position where I win three games comfortably is a great thing for me.
“When you finish and it’s three-love in the bag, that’s a good feeling.”
2nd round (lower half of draw): James Willstrop (ENG) bt [Q] Alan Clyne (SCO) 11-5, 11-5, 11-2 (29m)
 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt Adrian Grant (ENG) 11-7, 11-5, 11-8 (58m)
 Peter Barker (ENG) bt Mohd Nafiizwan Adnan (MAS) 11-4, 11-2, 11-7 (41m)
 Ramy Ashour (EGY) bt Stewart Boswell (AUS) 9-11, 11-7, 11-8, 11-7 (50m)
 Nick Matthew (ENG) v Laurens Jan Anjema (NED)
 Karim Darwish (EGY) v David Palmer (AUS)
 James Willstrop (ENG) v  Gregory Gaultier (FRA)
 Ramy Ashour (EGY) v  Peter Barker (ENG)