There were no upsets to be found on the opening day of main draw action at the Life Time Fitness Hutkay.fit Houston Open as World Champion Karim Abdel Gawad led his fellow seeds into the quarter-final stage of the PSA M70 tournament taking place at the Life Time Athletic Club.
Gawad, the 25-year-old from Giza who will become World No.1 next month, found it tough going in the early stages of his first round encounter with Pakistani qualifier Nasir Iqbal – who was making his first Tour appearance in 14 months – and fell a game behind after losing on the tie-break.
But the talented Egyptian soon found his range to gain control of the match and he took the next three games without reply to record an 11-13, 11-4, 11-3, 11-7 victory.
Gawad will pit his wits against World No.14 Ryan Cuskelly in the last eight after Cuskelly’s first round encounter with Farhan Mehboob was cut short due to an injury to the man from Pakistan, with Cuskelly – a semi-finalist here last year – two games up at the time.
The other quarter-final fixture in the top half of the draw will feature Egypt’s World No.9 Fares Dessouky and World No.13 Paul Coll from New Zealand, with the pair set to contest a thrilling match in Houston as they battle for a share of the $70,000 prize fund – a $20,000 increase compared to last year’s tournament.
Dessouky only just snuck through against Coll’s compatriot, World No.39 Campbell Grayson, to take it 11-9 in the fifth, while Coll eased past World No.24 Zahed Mohamed to seal his quarter-final berth.
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Results – First Round (Top Half): 2017 Life Time Fitness Hutkay.fit Houston Open
 Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) bt [Q] Nasir Iqbal (PAK) 3-1: 11-13, 11-4, 11-3, 11-7
 Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) bt Farhan Mehboob (PAK) 2-0: 11-8, 11-2 ret.
 Paul Coll (NZL) bt Zahed Mohamed (EGY) 3-0: 11-7, 11-9, 11-9
 Fares Dessouky (EGY) bt Campbell Grayson (NZL) 3-2: 4-11, 11-4, 2-11, 11-8, 11-9
Draw – First Round (Bottom Half): To Be Played April 20th
 Tarek Momen (EGY) v [Q] Reuben Phillips (ENG) [Q] Arturo Salazar (MEX) v  Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL)
 Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY) v [Q] Nathan Lake (ENG)
[WC] Mazen Hesham (EGY) v  James Willstrop (ENG)
Draw – Quarter-Finals (Top Half): To Be Played April 21st
 Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) v  Ryan Cuskelly (AUS)
 Paul Coll (NZL) v  Fares Dessouky (EGY)