2016 Allam British Open runner-up Nouran Gohar fell to a shock defeat in the opening round of the 2017 instalment of the iconic World Series tournament after she succumbed to 16-year-old Egyptian qualifier Nada Abbas.
Abbas, a two-time PSA World Tour title winner, counteracted Gohar’s trademark hard-hitting style brilliantly, with the World No.45 slowing the pace right down and controlling the ball well at the front of the court to claim a stunning 12-10, 14-12, 5-11, 11-8 victory.
“It's a great feeling, it's the first time I've ever beaten anyone in the top 10, I can't believe it,” said Abbas, who will play Donna Urquhart in the next round.
“I tried to break her game and to not let her play a fast game. I tried to slow things down a little bit and go for shots in the front more.
“There's no pressure on me, so I want to play my best squash. I want to go as far as I can, if I play like this then I could go to the quarter-finals.”
Abbas will be joined in round two by defending champion Nour El Sherbini, who eased past Denmark’s Line Hansen in straight games.
El Sherbini looked comfortable as she eased her way into the tournament with a 21-minute 11-5, 11-7, 11-3 victory to set down a marker for the rest of the week.
“I feel like I’m playing well and I’m looking forward to seeing how it goes this week,” said El Sherbini.
“Winning here last year was very big for me. But I’m trying not to think about being the defending champion – I’m trying to just win the title again.
“I haven’t won a tournament for a while, but I’m happy with how I’m playing and I’m pleased to back towards some of my best form.”
There were also wins for 2015 champion Camille Serme, World No.3 Raneem El Welily and five-time winner Nicol David – while home hero Laura Massaro also got off to a winning start on day one.
“I’m happy to be back at the British Open,” Massaro said.
“Being British myself makes this event even more special. There’s so much history and prestige and it’s the first of the big events that I won – and I made the final three years in a row as well, so it’s very special for me.”
In the Men’s event, World No.19 Mathieu Castagnet upset England’s three-time runner-up James Willstrop, with a 3-1 victory sending ‘The Marksman’ out at the first hurdle.
Castagnet played out an entertaining, 71-minute encounter with Willstrop as both players treated the spectators to some absorbing rallies, and the opening two games saw each player claim a game apiece, before the Frenchman eventually took the next two games to close it out 11-9, 10-12, 12-10, 11-9.
“To beat James, who is in great form at the moment and sixth in the world is something special for me,” said Castagnet, who will play Hong Kong’s Max Lee next.
“I can feel his [Willstrop’s] depression, it’s such a big tournament for him, it’s so important for him to represent his country at the British Open. It is a big tournament for me, but it is different because it is not my country.”
Castagnet will line up against Hong Kong’s Max Lee in round two after Lee completed a stunning comeback from two games down against World No.7 Marwan ElShorbagy.
“It was amazing, but I have no idea how I did it,” Lee admitted.
“I’ve been ready to play the last three tournaments, but it didn’t go well. The matches were even, long matches but my body cramps have been quite strange. That’s why I rested a bit after Windy City. I didn’t play Canary Wharf or any other tournaments and I’m a bit fresher.”
World No.1 Mohamed ElShorbagy was pushed hard against compatriot Fares Dessouky, taking it 11-8 in the fifth as he looks to become the first player since the legendary Jansher Khan in the 1990s to win three British Open titles in a row.
The Egyptian, now based in Bristol, will hope to keep his winning run going in Hull – where his status as World No.1 is also on the line with both Karim Abdel Gawad and Gregory Gaultier in a position to overtake ElShorbagy atop the standings.
“I’m playing with no expectations right now – but if I can be the first player since Jansher to win three in a row I’d love that,” said ElShorbagy.
“I’ve been No.1 for 28 months [in total], and I think it’s natural for that to catch up on you at some point.
“I knew there was going to be a point where my level would drop and the motivation went a little. I think having that when I’m 26 is good for me though because I can learn so much from this and come back stronger – I’ve seen Nick [Matthew], Greg [Gaultier], [Amr] Shabana and all those players go through these kind of times, so I know I can come out stronger again at the end.”
Gawad and Gaultier both won on day one against Omar Mosaad and Miguel Angel Rodriguez, respectively, while three-time winner Nick Matthew defeated Spain’s Borja Golan.
Results – First Round: 2017 Allam British Open
 Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) bt Fares Dessouky (EGY) 3-2: 11-8, 10-12, 11-7, 8-11, 11-8 (93m)
Daryl Selby (ENG) bt [Q] Tom Richards (ENG) 3-2: 11-9, 10-12, 9-11, 11-1, 11-6 (78m)
[Q] Tsz Fung Yip (HKG) bt Stephen Coppinger (RSA) 3-0: 11-6, 6-0 retired (19m)
 Ali Farag (EGY) bt Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) 3-1: 11-9, 11-1, 9-11, 11-1 (54m)
 Tarek Momen (EGY) bt [Q] Alan Clyne (SCO) 3-0: 11-7, 11-8, 11-3 (35m)
Paul Coll (NZL) bt [WC] Declan James (ENG) 3-2: 9-11, 11-8, 9-11, 11-2, 11-5 (75m)
Simon Rösner (GER) bt [Q] Gregoire Marche (FRA) 3-0: 11-3, 11-4, 11-8 (41m)
 Nick Matthew (ENG) bt Borja Golan (ESP) 3-0: 11-9, 11-6, 11-3 (49m)
 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL) 3-0: 11-5, 11-4, 11-0 (30m)
Cameron Pilley (AUS) bt [Q] Adrian Waller (ENG) 3-0: 11-6, 11-5, 11-6 (46m)
Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) bt James Willstrop (ENG) 3-1: 11-9, 10-12, 12-10, 11-9 (71m)
Max Lee (HKG) bt  Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) 3-2: 5-11, 7-11, 11-5, 11-6, 11-6 (61m)
 Ramy Ashour (EGY) bt [Q] Zahed Mohamed (EGY) 3-0: 11-4, 11-6, 11-5 (29m)
Diego Elias (PER) bt [Q] Nathan Lake (ENG) 3-1: 11-7, 8-11, 11-1, 11-6 (55m)
Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY) bt [Q] Charles Sharpes (ENG) 3-1: 11-3, 5-11, 11-5, 11-6 (41m)
 Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) bt Omar Mosaad (EGY) 3-2: 13-11, 6-11, 11-2, 5-11, 11-6 (72m)
Draw – Second Round:
 Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) v Daryl Selby (ENG)
[Q] Tsz Fung Yip (HKG) v  Ali Farag (EGY)
 Tarek Momen (EGY) v Paul Coll (NZL)
Simon Rösner (GER) v  Nick Matthew (ENG)
 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) v Cameron Pilley (AUS)
Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) v Max Lee (HKG)
 Ramy Ashour (EGY) v Diego Elias (PER)
Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY) v  Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY)
Results – First Round: 2017 Women’s Allam British Open
 Nour El Sherbini (EGY) bt Line Hansen (DEN) 3-0: 11-5, 11-7, 11-3 (21m)
 Annie Au (HKG) bt [Q] Coline Aumard (FRA) 3-2: 7-11, 6-11, 11-9, 11-5, 11-9 (55m)
 Emily Whitlock (ENG) bt Liu Tsz-Ling (HKG) 3-1: 11-8, 1-11, 11-6, 11-3 (36m)
 Alison Waters (ENG) bt Mariam Metwally (EGY) 3-0: 11-5, 7-2 retired (12m)
 Laura Massaro (ENG) bt Dipika Pallikal Karthik (IND) 3-1: 11-4, 11-5, 11-13, 11-1 (39m)
[Q] Mayar Hany (EGY) bt  Joelle King (NZL) 3-1: 7-11, 11-9, 11-4, 11-9 (42m)
 Joshna Chinappa (IND) bt [Q] Rachael Grinham (AUS) 3-1: 11-6, 8-11, 11-6, 12-10 (40m)
 Raneem El Welily (EGY) bt [WC] Fiona Moverley (ENG) 3-0: 13-11, 11-7, 11-6 (27m)
[Q] Nada Abbas (EGY) bt  Nouran Gohar (EGY) 3-1: 12-10, 14-12, 5-11, 11-8 (45m)
 Donna Urquhart (AUS) bt [Q] Millie Tomlinson (ENG) 3-1: 9-11, 14-12, 11-6, 11-5 (46m)
Tesni Evans (WAL) bt  Salma Hany Ibrahim (EGY) 3-0: 11-7, 11-5, 11-9 (38m)
 Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) bt [Q] Nele Gilis (BEL) 3-0: 11-6, 11-5, 11-5 (26m)
 Nicol David (MAS) bt Olivia Blatchford (USA) 3-0: 11-7, 11-7, 11-4 (30m)
 Joey Chan (HKG) bt Jenny Duncalf (ENG) 3-0: 11-2, 11-6, 11-7 (25m)
 Nour El Tayeb (EGY) bt [Q] Samantha Teran (MEX) 3-0: 11-3, 11-7, 11-4 (18m)
 Camille Serme (FRA) bt [Q] Hania El Hammamy (EGY) 3-0: 11-9, 12-10, 11-3 (34m)
Draw – Second Round:
 Nour El Sherbini (EGY) v  Annie Au (HKG)
 Emily Whitlock (ENG) v  Alison Waters (ENG)
 Laura Massaro (ENG) v [Q] Mayar Hany (EGY)
 Joshna Chinappa (IND) v  Raneem El Welily (EGY)
[Q] Nada Abbas (EGY) v  Donna Urquhart (AUS)
Tesni Evans (WAL) v  Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG)
 Nicol David (MAS) v  Joey Chan (HKG)
 Nour El Tayeb (EGY) v  Camille Serme (FRA)