French World No.2 and number one seed Gregory Gaultier narrowly avoided crashing out of the 2014 Qatar PSA World Championships at the first hurdle at Doha’s Khalifa Tennis and Sports Complex, having to come from two games down to get past his opponent, Egyptian qualifier Andrew Wagih Shoukry.
Gaultier, who is competing in his 150th PSA World Tour event, looked in lacklustre form during the opening two games as Shoukry, who earned his place in the main draw after his qualifying opponent Shehab Essam Hosny failed to turn up, stormed into an early lead.
The 24-year-old World No.72 belied his ranking to stun the Frenchman, who has suffered heartbreak in four World Championship finals, but the man known on tour as ‘The General’ rallied to turn the match on its head and complete a 6-11, 9-11, 11-6, 11-7, 11-3 turnaround victory.
“I didn’t feel good at all today,” said Gaultier afterwards.
“I felt off and things were not working, but it’s better to play like that early and still go through because as long as I win I don’t care how I do it – I train to win even if I’m not at 100 per cent.
“He had no fear and played well but I didn’t really feel in danger. At 2-0 down I just told myself to start over again and pretend it was 0-0 and find my patience.
“You have to deal with these things I need to get on the practice court tomorrow and try and find my rhythm and tomorrow is another day.”
Gaultier’s likely semi-final opponent, Egyptian World No.5 Ramy Ashour, made is highly anticipated return to PSA World Tour action with a convincing 3-0 victory over Malaysian Ivan Yuen.
The two-time World Champion from Cairo has missed the better part of the past 12 months following an horrendous run of injuries but his title rivals will have been paying attention as he came through in emphatic fashion, taking the match 11-5, 14-12, 11-5.
Elsewhere on the opening day of main round action Scotland’s Greg Lobban pulled off an upset win over Finland’s Henrik Mustonen to become the only qualifier to progress in the top half of the draw, while championship hopefuls Borja Golan, Omar Mosaad and Peter Barker all began their campaigns with wins.
The action from the bottom half of the first round will take place on Saturday November 15
Results: First Round, Top Half – 2014 Squash World Championship: Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt [Q] Andrew Wagih Shoukry (EGY) 3-2: 6-11, 9-11, 11-6, 11-7, 11-3 [57m]Mohd Nafiizwan Adnan (MAS) bt Mazen Hesham (EGY) 3-1: 13-11, 11-7, 9-11, 11-5 [51m]Karim Ali Fathi (EGY) bt Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY) 3-2: 11-8, 1-11, 11-8, 5-11, 11-7 [55m] Omar Mosaad (EGY) bt [WC] Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi (QAT) 3-1: 11-8 11-8, 10-12, 11-5 [53m] Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) bt [Q] Rex Hedrick (AUS) 3-0: 11-3, 11-2, 11-8Alister Walker (BOT) bt [Q] Aamir Atlas Khan (PAK) 3-1: 10-12, 11-7, 11-4, 11-6 [44m]Cameron Pilley (AUS) bt Joe Lee (ENG) 3-2: [75m] 11-6, 7-11, 11-7, 6-11, 11-9 [75m] Peter Barker (ENG) bt Chris Simpson (ENG) 3-1: 11-8, 6-11, 11-7, 11-6 [67m] Borja Golan (ESP) bt Leo Au (HKG) 3-0: 11-5, 11-8, 11-9 [51m][Q] Greg Lobban (SCO) bt Henrik Mustonen (FIN) 3-0: 11,4 11-4, 11-4 [31m]Fares Dessouki (EGY) bt [Q] Farhan Zaman (PAK) 3-1: 11-8, 11-0, 6-11, 11-9 [46m] Marwan Elshorbagy (EGY) bt Olli Tuominen (FIN) 11-7, retired Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL) bt Shaun Le Roux (RSA) 3-0: 11-4, 11-6, 11-6 [24m]Zahed Mohamed (EGY) bt [Q] Ben Coleman (ENG) 3-0: 11-8, 11-8, 11-9 [49m]Adrian Grant (ENG) bt [Q] Piedro Schweertman (NED) 3-1: 9-11, 11-4, 11-2, 11-7 [42m] Ramy Ashour (EGY) bt [Q] Ivan Yuen (MAS) 3-0: 11-5, 14-12, 11-5 [32m]