The first round of the 2016 Qatar Classic continues today, with a number of exciting matchups in store during a whirlwind day of top-class action.
World No.16 Ryan Cuskelly clashes with the player immediately below him in the World Rankings – Hong Kong’s Max Lee – in what promises to be a superb spectacle.
Cuskelly, the Australian No.2, wrote his name into the history books last year after he became the first player in 14 years to come through qualification and progress to the semi-final stage of a World Series tournament.
That tournament proved to be a breakthrough moment for Cuskelly, who consolidated his place as a genuine top 20 player, but he’ll be coming up against a player who reached a maiden World Series semi-final himself three months ago at the Hong Kong Open.
Lee put in a host of superb performances in his home country to halt England’s Joe Lee, World No.6 Ali Farag and Egypt’s Fares Dessouky, before coming up short against eventual winner Ramy Ashour in the last four.
The pair last met during September’s NetSuite Open, with Cuskelly running out a 3-1 victor, and it is the Australian who leads the head-to-head record between the two by four games to one.
World No.4 Omar Mosaad will look to put a disappointing PSA Men’s World Championship campaign behind him as he looks to fend off the threat of England’s Daryl Selby in a difficult first round fixture for ‘The Hammer of Thor’.
Mosaad fell to a surprise second round defeat to Malaysia’s Nafiizwan Adnan in Cairo and will hope to avoid the same fate against Selby, who made it to round three before going down in a spirited 3-1 defeat to Ashour.
Mosaad and Selby have met five times on the PSA World Tour, with the hard-hitting Egyptian winning all of their encounters. With three of the five matches going all the way to five games and the shortest match between the pair totalling 71 minutes, spectators at the Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex could be settling in for yet another gargantuan encounter between the pair.
Australian No.1 Cameron Pilley will look to extend a five-match unbeaten run against Adnan in his first round fixture, but will need to be wary of the impressive fortitude that Adnan displayed when beating Mosaad a fortnight ago.
Pilley himself fell to a shock defeat against Egypt’s Karim Ali Fathi to send him crashing out of the World Championship at the first hurdle, but the 34-year-old remains one of the leading players on the PSA World Tour and will be the favourite to reach the second round of the Qatar Classic for the first time since 2013.
Elsewhere, World Champion Karim Abdel Gawad competes at his first tournament since lifting the sport’s biggest prize, and will need to secure his first ever win against fellow Egyptian Mohamed Reda if he is to reach the second round.
The pair’s most recent meeting was six years ago when Gawad was ranked outside the world’s top 50, and the current World No.3 will be confident of breaking his duck against his Cairo-born opponent this time around.
World No.7 Marwan ElShorbagy is in action against Hong Kong qualifier Tsz Fung Yip, while England’s Tom Richards takes on Egypt’s Zahed Mohamed.
The other two fixtures on the second day of action see Switzerland’s Nicolas Mueller lock horns with English qualifier Adrian Waller, with Cesar Salazar and Omar Abdel Meguid also set to do battle.
Draw – 2016 Qatar Classic: First Round (Bottom Half)
 Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) v [Q] Mohamed Reda (EGY)
Tom Richards (ENG) v Zahed Mohamed (EGY)
Max Lee (HKG) v Ryan Cuskelly (AUS)
[Q] Tsz Fung Yip (HKG) v  Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY)
 Cameron Pilley (AUS) v [Q] Nafiizwan Adnan (MAS)
Cesar Salazar (MEX) v Omar Abdel Meguid (EGY)
Nicolas Mueller (SUI) v [Q] Adrian Waller (ENG)
Daryl Selby (ENG) v  Omar Mosaad (EGY)
- The PSA World Tour's biggest-ever season is showing more than 450 live games on SQUASHTV.
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