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Karim Abdel Gawad during his first round match

British Open - Day Three: As It Happens

Follow us here for reports and reaction as the iconic Allam British Open – the 'Wimbledon of Squash' – reaches the third day of action in Hull's Airco Arena.

World Champion Karim Abdel Gawad is one win away from becoming the fifth Egyptian of all time to claim the World No.1 spot – with a win over countryman Mohamed Abouelghar guaranteeing that he will overtake current incumbent Mohamed ElShorbagy.

Victory could also see him take on former World No.1 Ramy Ashour in the quarter-finals, with Ashour up against Peruvian Diego Elias, while two-time British Open champion Gregory Gaultier is also in action.

The Frenchman's compatriot, Camille Serme, heads up the Women's draw on day three against Egypt's Nour El Tayeb, while five-time winner Nicol David will do battle with Joey Chan.

You can watch the action LIVE on SQUASHTV and Eurosport Player.

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Here's the Order of Play
(All times are local GMT)
12:00 Tesni Evans (WAL) v [7] Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG)
13:00 [3] Gregory Gaultier (FRA) v Cameron Pilley (AUS)
14:00 [Q] Nada Abbas (EGY) v [15] Donna Urquhart (AUS)
15:00 Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) v Max Lee (HKG)
17:00 [6] Nicol David (MAS) v [14] Joey Chan (HKG)
18:00 [5] Ramy Ashour (EGY) v Diego Elias (PER)
19:00 [11] Nour El Tayeb (EGY) v [2] Camille Serme (FRA)
20:00 Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY) v [2] Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY)

Perry Becomes Third Englishwoman to Reach Quarter-Finals

England No.2 Sarah-Jane Perry joined compatriots Laura Massaro and Emily Whitlock in the last eight of the 2017 Allam British Open, World Series tournament after she beat World No.19 Tesni Evans in Hull’s Airco Arena.

Perry took the opener in comfortable fashion, but had to be at her very best to navigate past a tricky opponent, in the following two games, with World No.19 Evans fighting valiantly throughout and pushing Perry all the way.

But the Welsh No.1 was unable to combat Perry’s commanding and powerful style of play and the World No.8 closed out an 11-5, 11-8, 11-8 triumph to reach the last eight.

Perry’s win means that there will be three female English quarter-finalists in the sport’s oldest tournament for the first time since 2014 after Massaro and Whitlock both booked their places in the last eight yesterday with respective wins over Mayar Hany and Alison Waters.

“It’s fantastic that we’ve got three English women through to the quarter-finals,” said Perry.

“I can’t remember that happening many times at the British Open, it shows that we’re really pushing on and challenging the Egyptian reign.

“It’s so prestigious and it’s such a fantastic event. My sponsors have come up to watch me today and they’re asking me when there are more events in England. This is our only World Series event, so it is really big for all of the British players.”

Perry will take on either Egyptian qualifier Nada Abbas – who stunned 2016 runner-up Nouran Gohar in round one – or Australia’s Donna Urquhart for a first ever British Open semi-final berth.

“I’ve seen a couple of players really go for it, as there’s no pressure on the lower seeded players,” Perry continued.

“They can just throw everything at it and they’ve got nothing to lose. As a seeded player, that can be quite dangerous to play against sometimes. You’ve just got to try and focus on your own game, hope that makes for a good game, and it’s even better if you get the win.

“I hadn’t seen Nada play until I saw her a bit of her first round match the other day. I’ve played Donna a few times so I know what to expect from her. I played her here a couple of years ago on the glass court.

“Nada obviously played fantastically to beat Nouran Gohar, so I can’t take anyone lightly. I’ve been playing some really good squash recently, so I’m just trying to keep that going and let’s see if I can reach my first British Open semi-final.”

[7] Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) bt Tesni Evans (WAL) 3-0: 11-5, 11-8, 11-8 (43m)

Ruthless Gaultier Marches Past Pilley

Two-time British Open champion Gregory Gaultier continues to go from strength-to-strength in the 2017 iteration of the sport’s iconic event after he steamrollered his way past Australian No.1 Cameron Pilley in round two.

The 34-year-old laid down a marker for the rest of the field by annihilating former World No.4 Miguel Angel Rodriguez in the opening round – dropping just nine points throughout and inflicting a dreaded bagel on the Colombian – and he was even better against Pilley.

Not a single element of Gaultier’s game wasn’t firing on all cylinders as he outclassed and outmatched Pilley, with the affable Aussie having no answer to Gaultier’s masterclass of a display.

The ‘French General’ romped to an 11-1, 11-3, 11-2 triumph in just 31 minutes to move through to the last eight, where he will take on either compatriot Mathieu Castagnet or Hong Kong’s Max Lee.

Gaultier’s incredible start to the tournament has seen him take 66 points out of a possible 81, but the World No.3 admitted he hadn’t anticipated such a comfortable match against Pilley.

“I didn’t expect to win with such a score line,” he said.

“Cameron is dangerous, especially on the glass courts because he can put the ball away really easily, so I made sure I gave no angles or openings. I was in front of him in most of the rallies, making him do a lot of work.

“The only thing when you’re really confident is not to relax. When you’re leading 2-0 with score lines like 11-1 or 11-2 you can come back on the court, relax and give up cheap points or openings for your opponent.

“I’m very confident, but there are a lot of really strong players. One day you feel 100%, another you can feel 30% for whatever reason and you still have to find the keys and solutions to win.”

[3] Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt Cameron Pilley (AUS) 3-0: 11-1, 11-3, 11-2 (31m)

Castagnet Axes Lee to Set Up All-French Quarter-Final Tie with Gaultier

World No.19 Mathieu Castagnet ground out a 3-0 victory over Hong Kong’s Max Lee to set up a tantalising quarter-final meeting with compatriot Gregory Gaultier.

Castagnet, who has spend three months on the sidelines this season due to adductor and calf injuries, had won both of his previous matches against Lee and proved difficult to break down as he came out on top of some lengthy, attritional rallies to back up his 71-minute opening round victory over former World No.1 James Willstrop.

The 30-year-old squandered three game balls in the opener as Lee fought back to force a tie-break, but he held out to take it 12-10, before doubling his lead by an 11-8 margin in the second.

Castagnet appeared to be feeling the effects of some tough rallies at the beginning of the third as his movement slowed slightly, but he adapted his game well and edged it 11-9 to seal his place in the last eight for the first time since 2015.

“It has always been something special for me to reach the quarter-finals of the British Open, it’ll be my third time and I just try to enjoy every one,” said Castagnet.

“The next one against will be a really tough battle against Gregory because he is in great form at the minute, but I will do my best. It has always been a nightmare for me because he is such a strong player to beat, he’s always been inside the top five in the last 10 years.

“To be honest, I’m going to work on my game plan, to try to find the solutions to have the opportunities to win some rallies and maybe win one or two games, and hopefully the match.

“It will impact me a lot because I was injured and this is my first tournament back. I will do some good work with my physio and try to have a good sleep and some good food tonight.

“I will wake up in the morning, see how my body feels and we’ll see how I am moving when I am warming up. Then I will give my best to try and win.”

Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) bt Max Lee (HKG) 3-0: 12-10, 11-8, 11-9 (54m)

Surprise Package Abbas Falls Short Against Urquhart

16-year-old Egyptian qualifier Nada Abbas was prevented from adding to her shock defeat of 2016 runner-up Nouran Gohar in the opening round after a narrow defeat to World No.18 Donna Urquhart to five games in round two.

Urquhart admitted she knew ‘absolutely nothing’ about Abbas after learning that she would be facing her in round two, but Abbas put in a strong display to signal the arrival of another potential Egyptian star.

The encounter was Abbas’ first competitive match on the glass court in her burgeoning career and she started from where she left off against Gohar, taking the first game after forcing Urquhart into several errors.

30-year-old Urquhart managed to regain control by taking the second and third, but Abbas – who is ranked World No.45 – wouldn’t go down without a fight and battled back, taking the fourth to set up an intriguing decider in the fifth.

But Urquhart’s class and experience showed as she comprehensively took the fifth 11-1 to advance through to the quarter-finals stage for the first time since 2009, where she will meet World No.8 Sarah-Jane Perry.

Speaking after her victory, Urquhart said: “I know now she’s a tough little competitor, her style is to try and hit it really hard and she likes that fast pace.

“I needed to try and control the pace, slow it down, mix it up a bit more and not get sucked into playing that hard, fast pace which suited her more.

“There was a little doubt in my mind because anything can happen in a fifth game, especially because I felt like I wasn’t playing well at that point so I was a bit 
worried. I knew I could improve a lot from the fourth game, I knew I was better than that and I guess it really went my way in the fifth.

“Maybe my experience came into it at the end there, I don’t know if she was nervous in that fifth game so maybe my experience helped me get over the line today.

“I never felt nervous, even given the fact she had beaten the World No.4, Gohar. I know it was completely different conditions at the [University of Hull Sports and Fitness Centre] to today. I didn’t go into today with any nerves I just went out and played my game.”

[15] Donna Urquhart (AUS) bt [Q] Nada Abbas (EGY) 3-2: 8-11, 11-3, 11-8, 6-11, 11-1 (46m)

David Dispatches Chan to Reach Last Eight

Five-time British Open champion Nicol David moved into a 12th successive quarter-final at the iconic World Series tournament after she overcame Hong Kong’s Joey Chan in four games.

The pair were meeting for the second tournament in a row after David triumphed in their meeting at the Ciudad de Floridablanca in straight games a fortnight ago, en route to claiming her first Tour title since 2015.

And it was the Malaysian who started the better once more as she cruised to an 11-4 win in the first game, with an accurate performance at the front of the court paying dividends.

David’s impressive showing continued into the start of the second as she held four games balls, but she was forced to a tie-break by a resurgent Chan – who claimed a couple of game balls herself – before the eight-time World Champion came through to double her advantage.

Chan improved considerably in the third as she began to hit her lines with more accuracy and she halved the deficit after converting her third game ball to claim her first ever game against the Malaysian icon.

But she was at the mercy of a rampant David in the fourth game as the 33-year-old powered to victory, dropping just two points along the way.

“Joey was coming at me with all her shots, she didn’t make any errors in that third game and pushed me all the way through the second, so I knew I had to be clinical,” David said.

“I think the temperature dropped slightly as well, so I didn’t quite get my length in the third. That exposed a lot more space for her to put it away. I really pushed myself to step it up in the fourth and it paid off.

“I feel more comfortable every time I play matches and tournaments. I think playing another tournament in Colombia [Floridablanca] helped me get the feel of what I’m trying to do and it really gives me that confidence to put it together.

“You get spurred on playing on the glass court, so I think I raise my game up even more. I’m just happy to get through to the quarter-finals, there’s no expectations on me, so I’m looking forward to a good match tomorrow.”

David also paid tribute to the support she received from a contingent of Malaysian fans in the crowd, saying: “It’s great, they’re so supportive and excited to just see some squash and watch me play. You can feel their energy, so I just bring my A-game.”

She will take on either 2015 champion Camille Serme or World No.13 Nour El Tayeb for a place in the semi-finals.

[6] Nicol David (MAS) bt [14] Joey Chan (HKG) 3-1: 11-4, 14-12, 9-11, 11-2 (47m)

Ashour Downs Elias to Set Up Second All-Egyptian Quarter-Final

Former World No.1 Ramy Ashour navigated his way past Peruvian Diego Elias to book his place in the quarter-finals – where a mouthwatering repeat of his PSA Men’s World Championship clash with World No.2 Karim Abdel Gawad could be in store.

It was a battle of two former World Junior Champions and Elias started brightly in the opener, but a few sloppy errors let Ashour back into it and the enigmatic Egyptian went on to take the first 11-9.

2016 runner-up Ashour – who spent 21 months atop the World Rankings between 2010 and 2013 – really got into his stride during the second and displayed a fantastic range of shots from his extensive repertoire, with his unrelenting pace enabling him to take a 2-0 lead into the third.

World No.22 Elias looked as if he’d taken the match to a fourth with an impressive performance in the third game but, at 10-8 down, Ashour battled back to win the next four points, confirming an all Egyptian quarter-final, where he will face the winner of Karim Abdel Gawad and Mohamed Abouelghar’s clash.

Ashour’s win ensures that five of the eight quarter-finalists in the Men’s event will be Egyptian for the second year in a row, with defending champion Mohamed ElShorbagy due to face Ali Farag and Tarek Momen drawn to play Nick Matthew.

“People from outside the court would think it was comfortable, but it wasn’t,” said Ashour.

“I was in Diego’s position one day and I was always the underdog without any pressure and that’s the mentality I try to keep.

“I came out today knowing he was going to come out firing without any pressure. He really played well. He pushed me all over the court and was on top of me in the last game.

“I didn’t want this one to go to four or five, so I had to squeeze everything out to get those last couple of points.”

Last year saw Ashour spend an incredible 287 mins on court throughout the tournament – over an hour more than eventual winner ElShorbagy – which was then followed by an injury in the first round of the El Gouna International the following month.

Ashour has been ravaged by knee and hamstring injuries over the past three years – resulting in extended periods on the sidelines – but he is hoping to become a more regular fixture on the Tour in future.

“Last year, all the way to the final, the matches were tough on my body,” he continued.

“That gives me a lot of confidence because my body can handle more than I think.

“I’m trying to step it up, I just want to be like the other players, I want to play every tournament. I want to get to that level, but I don’t want to be stupid about it by keep playing tournaments not knowing the limits of my body.

“It’s about finding the right balance, it takes time and you’ve got to be smart. It takes a lot of trial and error, so the aim for me now is to just stay in the game. It’s an amazing sport, I just want to be a part of it.”

[5] Ramy Ashour (EGY) bt Diego Elias (PER) 3-0: 11-9, 11-6, 12-10 (42m)

Serme Halts El Tayeb to Set Up David Clash

2015 champion Camille Serme overcame World No.13 Nour El Tayeb despite a contentious end to their second round match in Hull’s Airco Arena.

Serme was 2-1 up and 9-8 up in the fourth, when a cross-court effort from El Tayeb struck Serme’s racket – resulting in a controversial conduct stroke being awarded against the Egyptian player to hand Serme match ball.

World No.2 Serme then converted at the second attempt to set up a quarter-final meeting with five-time winner Nicol David – a player who Serme has never beaten in 15 attempts.

“To be honest I’m relieved to be through,” Serme said.

“I’m not really sure what happened on court [at the end], I need to see the match again to really see what happened. She came to me and asked why I didn’t offer a let like she did [earlier on in the match].

“But it was a different situation, to be honest, I think that she gave that let because she was 7-3 up, and it is easier to give a let when you’re winning, rather than 9-8 in the fourth.

“I’m very happy to be through, but I don’t know how I managed to get that win. I was trying to get in front of her and play a bit faster, she responded well to playing even tighter, so I couldn’t volley anymore.

“I’ve never beaten her [David]. To be honest, I knew I had a tough draw, I didn’t want to look any further than this second round. I’m going to enjoy it and be more relaxed on court, I’m very much ready to get that first win over Nicol.”

Result – Second Round: 2017 Women’s Allam British Open
[2] Camille Serme (FRA) bt [11] Nour El Tayeb (EGY) 3-1: 11-8, 11-9, 5-11, 11-9 (54m)

Gawad Forced to Wait to Claim World No.1 Ranking After Surprise Loss to Abouelghar

World Champion Karim Abdel Gawad missed the opportunity to become the new World No.1 after losing out to fellow Egyptian Mohamed Abouelghar in a shock 3-1 defeat.

‘The Baby Faced Assassin’ only needed to reach the quarter-finals of this year’s British Open to replace current incumbent Mohamed ElShorbagy at the top of the World Rankings, but World No.23 Abouelghar prevented him by causing yet another upset at this year’s tournament in Hull.

Gawad looked in real control throughout the first and he raced into a 1-0 lead, with Abouelghar making several errors which made life a lot easier for the potential new World No.1.

But life wasn’t easy for Gawad for much longer as Abouelghar came out in an assured manner. He matched Gawad throughout and won in a tie-break after Gawad had thrown away two game balls.

Abouelghar’s onslaught continued in the third and he stayed ahead for the entire game, taking a 2-1 lead with Gawad’s desperate dive at game ball – which saw him crash into the side wall – encapsulating the 25-year-old’s increasingly tumultuous situation

Gawad – who has struggled with a cold over the course of the tournament – continued to struggle in the fourth. Abouelghar didn’t take any prisoners and carried on imposing his fast-paced style, which in the end was too much for Gawad.

“We train day in, day out for four hours a day, we’re sharing a room this week and we’re best friends,” said Abouelghar.

“I try to maintain my game, if I’m going for winners I’ll just keep going, if it’s not coming off and I keep hitting the tin, I have to change my plan, but luckily today it worked.

“I know it was a very big deal for Karim, if he’d have won he’d have become the World No.1 and I think that relaxed me a lot. I had nothing to lose, I just wanted to go out, enjoy my squash and prove something for myself.

“It was mixed feelings for me. I really wanted him to become World No.1 because I know how hard he works, but on the other side I wanted to win. I was thinking about that before the match, but as soon as I went in, I didn’t think about anything other than winning.

“I believe in myself, but I am playing against the very top guys. I have no pressure and I’m enjoying my squash.”

Gawad can still become the World No.1 at this tournament – but only if ElShorbagy and World No.3 Gregory Gaultier fail to lift the title.

With ElShorbagy and Gaultier now seeded to meet each other in the final, there could be both the coveted World No.1 berth – and the iconic title – up for grabs as the sport’s oldest and most distinguished tournament moves closer to a fitting conclusion.

Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY) bt [2] Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) 3-1: 6-11, 12-10, 11-9, 11-7 (64m)

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