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Key Encounters: World Championship Day One

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The first round of the biggest and most anticipated tournament on the PSA World Tour gets under way on Thursday October 27 as the Wadi Degla PSA Men’s World Championship lights up the world of squash.

Here is a look at the key matchups on the opening day of action.

Simon Rösner v Diego Elias

German No.1 Simon Rösner will have to be at his very best if he is to stop Peruvian two-time World Junior Champion Diego Elias from continuing his recent fine form.

Rösner, the World No.12, has consistently reached the quarter-final stage so far this season and his last three tournaments have seen him lose in brutal five-game encounters to the likes of World No.1 Mohamed ElShorbagy, former World No.1 James Willstrop and three-time World Champion Nick Matthew.

Elias, meanwhile, displayed some of the best performances of his career to reach a maiden PSA M100 semi-final at the NetSuite Open just last month, sealing superb wins against World No.6 Ali Farag and Frenchman Gregoire Marche, before the 19-year-old qualifier’s San Francisco adventure was halted by Willstrop.

The pair are nine years apart in age and will be meeting for the first time on the PSA World Tour. Rösner’s superior experience means that he will be the favourite to progress from the first round, but the tall German will need to be wary of the skill and ability that marks Elias out as a potential future World No.1.

Gregory Gaultier v Paul Coll

Reigning World Champion Gregory Gaultier begins his title defence against Paul Coll of New Zealand as he looks to bounce back from a disappointing quarter-final exit at the Delaware Investments U.S. Open two weeks ago.

The ‘French General’, who defeated Egypt’s Omar Mosaad to triumph in a World Championship final at the fifth attempt, won the NetSuite Open last month, and his last trip to Egypt yielded a runner-up finish at the El Gouna International in April.

World No.34 Coll, whose ‘Superman’ dives at last season’s Canary Wharf Classic went viral , lost out to Gaultier in the second round of the U.S. Open – the pair’s only meeting thus far.

Both players are superb movers around the court and they look set to serve up a terrific match in front of the SQUASHTV cameras.

Ali Farag v Declan James

Egyptian World No.6 Ali Farag reached the final of the Al Ahram Squash Open NEWGIZA in front of the iconic Great Pyramid of Giza in his last tournament in Cairo – and the 24-year-old Harvard graduate will face England’s Declan James as he aims to kick off another successful event on home soil.

Farag reached the quarter-final of his maiden World Championship during a breakthrough 2015/16 season and has continued to go strength to strength, breaking into the world’s top 10 in May before rising to a career-high No.6 ranking this month.

James also performed well last season as the 23-year-old claimed four successive Tour titles between June – October 2015, before ending an 11-month drought at last month’s Nash Cup by beating Elias in the final.

The odds are stacked against James, who will need to pull a special result out of the bag if he is to make the second round – something he almost managed last year, before falling to a 3-2 defeat to Farag’s compatriot, Karim El Hammamy.

Max Lee v Zahed Mohamed

Max Lee (right) celebrates after beating Fares Dessouky during the 2016 Hong Kong Open

World No.18 Max Lee and Egypt’s Zahed Mohamed go head-to-head for the second time this season after Mohamed overcame Lee in the final qualifying round of the China Open back in September.

Lee started the season with a flourish, reaching the semi-final of the Hong Kong Open on home soil, where only a defeat to eventual winner Ramy Ashour prevented him from claiming a maiden World Series final berth.

Lee did reach the final of the Macau Open shortly afterwards, but was forced to pull out after sustaining an injury during his semi-final clash with Egypt’s Marwan ElShorbagy.

Meanwhile, Mohamed comes into the tournament off the back of a third PSA World Tour title win at the CNS International last week and the World No.25 will be hoping to maintain his form into his encounter with Lee as he looks to claim a second straight win.

Daryl Selby v Tom Richards

Englishmen Daryl Selby and Tom Richards will line up against each other for the fifth time on the PSA World Tour, with the current head-to-head record between the pair tied up at two wins apiece.

Richards won the most recent clash between the duo at last year’s British Open where the Guildford-born 30-year-old sent Selby to an ignominious first round exit.

Since then, Selby has fared the better of the two, winning his first PSA World Tour title in over four years in September’s Macau Open, but Richards will push his compatriot hard as the battle for a place in the second round intensifies.

Cameron Pilley v Karim Ali Fathi

Australian No.1 Cameron Pilley gets his tournament under way against Egypt’s Karim Ali Fathi in a potential banana skin encounter.

World No.13 Pilley crashed out at the first round stage of last year’s tournament to Matthew, but quickly recovered to play some of the best squash of his career over the past 12 months, yielding runner-up finishes at both the Hong Kong Open and season-ending Dubai PSA World Series Finals.

Fathi, a talented shot maker, has struggled with some mixed form of late, but did make it to the final of the Qatar Circuit III back in March and will look to cause a big upset against the hard-hitting Pilley.

Elsewhere on day one, Mohamed ElShorbagy kickstarts his tournament against Australian qualifier Rex Hedrick, while Matthew and Ashour are also in action and will take on New Zealand’s Campbell Grayson and United States No.1 Todd Harrity, respectively.

A trio of high-ranking Egyptians also begin their tournament’s on day one, with Mosaad, Al Ahram Open winner Karim Abdel Gawad and Marwan ElShorbagy all hunting for a second round berth.

Draw – 2016 Wadi Degla PSA Men’s World Championship
[1] Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) v [Q] Rex Hedrick (AUS)
Lucas Serme (FRA) v Olli Tuominen (FIN)
Omar Abdel Meguid (EGY) v Nicolas Mueller (SUI)
Karim Ali Fathi (EGY) v [14] Cameron Pilley (AUS)
[10] Ali Farag (EGY) v Declan James (ENG)
James Willstrop (ENG) v [Q] Jaymie Haycocks (ENG)
Mohamed Reda (EGY) v [Q] Eain Yow Ng (MAS)
[Q] Mahesh Mangaonkar (IND) v [8] Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL)
[6] Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) v [Q] Nathan Lake (ENG)
Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY) v [Q] Shehab Essam (EGY)
Chris Simpson (ENG) v [Q] Alister Walker (BOT)
Zahed Mohamed (EGY) v [16] Max Lee (HKG)
[12] Simon Rösner (GER) v Diego Elias (PER)
Cesar Salazar (MEX) v [Q] Karim El Hammamy (EGY)
Leo Au (HKG) v [Q] Lance Beddoes (NZL)
Campbell Grayson (NZL) v [4] Nick Matthew (ENG)
[3] Omar Mosaad (EGY) v [Q] Shawn Delierre (CAN)
Alan Clyne (SCO) v Nafiizwan Adnan (MAS)
Gregoire Marche (FRA) v [WC] Youssef Ibrahim (EGY)
Joe Lee (ENG) v [15] Fares Dessouky (EGY)
[9] Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) v [Q] Mazan Gamal (EGY)
Tom Richards (ENG) v Daryl Selby (ENG)
Greg Lobban (SCO) v Stephen Coppinger (RSA)
Todd Harrity (USA) v [5] Ramy Ashour (EGY)
[7] Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) v Raphael Kandra (GER)
Ben Coleman (ENG) v [Q] Joshua Masters (ENG)
Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi (QAT) v [Q] Youssef Soliman (EGY)
[Q] Peter Creed (WAL) v [11] Tarek Momen (EGY)
[13] Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) v [Q] Jens Schoor (GER)
Tsz Fung Yip (HKG) v [Q] Joel Makin (WAL)
Saurav Ghosal (IND) v Adrian Waller (ENG)
Paul Coll (NZL) v [2] Gregory Gaultier (FRA)

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