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Mohamed ElShorbagy

Channel VAS Championships: Day One - As it Happens

Follow us here for reports and reaction from day one of the 2017 Channel VAS Championships at St George's Hill held in Weybridge, England.

World No.3 Mohamed ElShorbagy will look to bounce back from his U.S. Open final defeat to Ali Farag last week when he takes on Spain's former World No.5 Borja Golan, while his younger brother, Marwan, is also in action and he will face Indian qualifier Saurav Ghosal.

Elsewhere, former World No.4 Miguel Angel Rodriguez will clash with World No.9 Fares Dessouky and World No.13 Mohamed Abouelghar will go head-to-head with Germany's Raphael Kandra in the day's other fixture.

You can watch LIVE coverage on SQUASHTV and Eurosport Player.

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Here's the Order of Play
(All times are local BST)
17:30 [Q] Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL) v [5] Fares Dessouky (EGY)
18:30 [8] Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY) v [Q] Raphael Kandra (GER)
20:00 [1] Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) v Borja Golan (ESP)
21:00 [Q] Saurav Ghosal v [3] Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY)

Superb Rodriguez Axes Dessouky

Miguel Angel Rodriguez (left) v Fares Dessouky (right)

Colombia’s World No.23 Miguel Angel Rodriguez kept his cool to beat World No.8 Fares Dessouky on day one of the 2017 Channel VAS Championships at St George’s Hill, claiming his first win over a top 10 player since May 2016.

The two players went head-to-head in a back-and-forth encounter that saw both players enjoy spells of superiority in an engaging 80-minute spectacle. Dessouky fought back from 2-1 down to force a decider but Rodriguez kept his head to prevail in the fifth game to seal an 8-11, 11-6, 11-7, 6-11, 11-5 victory.

“I have won three matches in a row, last season I kept losing in the first round, so I’m happy with the performance and I think I played well,” said Rodriguez.

“Playing an Egyptian player is always tough, they have too many ideas and too many shots so you don’t know what to expect from them. Fares is a star, he’s a top 10 player who has had some good results and he played very well at the U.S. Open.

“This is my second time here, I also played the quarter-finals last year and, in terms of the match, it was very tactical, he’s a very fast player. I had to play very consistently with him because he is very attacking from the four corners.

“I found he got desperate because I felt he didn’t know what to do and had no solutions. I was in a rush to get the match finished too quickly, especially in the fourth which he won after winning five rallies in a row. I was a bit mentally stronger than him today.

“I had to be very patient and I think it worked.”

Dessouky had the better of the early stages and the 23-year-old went a game ahead after dominating the court against the ‘Colombian Cannonball’, who came through qualifying to reach the main draw.

31-year-old Rodriguez, a former World No.4, came out all guns blazing in the second and third games as he played simple squash and hit consistently good length and width to keep Dessouky away from the ’T’ and overturn the younger man’s lead.

Dessouky looked to have found his rhythm again in the fourth game as triumphed to draw level but Rodriguez came out on top in a scrappy fifth game to earn his place in the last eight, where he will take on either top seed Mohamed ElShorbagy or Borja Golan.

[Q] Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL) bt [5] Fares Dessouky (EGY) 3-2: 8-11, 11-6, 11-7, 6-11, 11-5 (80m)

Abouelghar Sweeps Past Kandra

Raphael Kandra (left) v Mohamed Abouelghar (right)

World No.13 Mohamed Abouelghar moved through to the quarter-finals after dispatching German qualifier Raphael Kandra in four games.

The 24-year-old Egyptian had it all his own way in the opening two games as his superb shot-making and impressive retrieval skills saw him repel everything Kandra threw at him to take them 11-3 and 11-5.

Kandra though had beaten two seeded players – Karim Ali Fathi and home favourite Tom Richards – in the qualification stage and a resilient display from the World No.42 saw him come back to win the third for the loss of just four points.

Abouelghar was in complete control in a one-sided fourth game, however, as he dropped just two points to seal an 11-3, 11-5, 4-11, 11-2 victory in 41 minutes to claim his fourth win in a row over the German.

“He’s so tricky, he never plays in one rhythm,” said Abouelghar.

“Before the third game, I thought that I would go out and play at a fast pace but he surprised me with his shots and he wasn’t doing that in his first two games.

“He got the lead and I was just catching up and it wasn’t enough to win against him.

“I’ve been working with [coach] Ferry and we’ve been working so hard on hitting the back corners. I was waiting for myself to win points in the front court and he made me see the back court a little bit more and I’m trying to hit the corners more.

“Fitness is very important, I’m working with an Austrian guy who lives here in London. We’ve been doing a lot of endurance work and strength work and it is paying off.”

Abouelghar will lock horns with either compatriot Marwan ElShorbagy or Indian qualifier Saurav Ghosal for a place in the semi-finals.

[8] Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY) bt [Q] Raphael Kandra (GER) 11-3, 11-5, 4-11, 11-2 (41m)

ElShorbagy Grinds Out Victory Against Golan

Borja Golan (left) v Mohamed ElShorbagy (right)

World No.3 Mohamed ElShorbagy had to dig in during three tight games against Spain’s former World No.5 Borja Golan to earn a hard-fought quarter-final berth, where he will take on Colombian qualifier Miguel Angel Rodriguez.

Golan was 9-2 down on the head-to-head record and had lost his last six matches against the Egyptian powerhouse but he was ElShorbagy’s equal for the majority if the match, with ElShorbagy coming out on top in the crucial moments to get the win.

ElShorbagy fought back from 6-3 down in the opening game before prevailing in the tie-break after some ferocious squash from both players.

And he benefitted for a contentious no let decision given against Golan to put him game ball up in the second game and he made no mistake to double his lead. From there, the 26-year-old kept a tiring Golan at arm’s length to close out the win and improve on last year’s shock first round defeat to England’s Daryl Selby.

“I’m enjoying it more this year, I want to play this year,” said ElShorbagy.

“Last year I went through a lot and I struggled a little bit mentally, but all the greatest athletes have bad phases in their careers.

“If I have that phase when I’m 25 or 26, when I’m still building my career, then I am lucky. I did a lot of things differently the summer in the way I approach my game and the way I approach life in general.

“I’m blessed because I held the World No.1 spot for 28 months, I won all those World Series titles. I’ve been given a life that not many people can have and I have been able to be successful and make a living out of it.

“One of the hardest things you can do is get that World No.1 spot back after you’ve lost it. You need to work even harder and you need to forget about those 28 months you spent at World No.1 because that level won’t be good enough anymore.

“You need to raise that bar and to accept that it isn’t easy. I had to go to someone who understood it, who has lived it and who can talk me through it. It’s not about teaching me how to play squash anymore, it’s about teaching me how to look at things differently mentally.

“I had to go to someone who knows it all and that’s why I’ve been training with David Palmer this summer. I’m also much more relaxed in life and my career.”

[1] Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) bt Borja Golan (ESP) 3-0: 15-13, 11-8, 11-4 (56m)

Ghosal Beats Marwan ElShorbagy in Three

Saurav Ghosal (left) v Marwan ElShorbagy (right)

Indian No.1 Saurav Ghosal was in fine form to overcome World No.6 Marwan ElShorbagy to reach the quarter-finals of the Channel VAS Championships.

The World No.26 pounced on any loose shots from an out-of-sorts ElShorbagy as he raced around court and punished the Egyptian time and time again.

He held his nerve towards the end of the first two games and surged to an 11-2 victory in the third to set up a quarter-final meeting with Egyptian number eight seed Mohamed Abouelghar.

“He’s No.6 in the world right now and he’s had a really good 12/18 months and deserves to be where he is,” said Ghosal, who claimed his 200th win on the PSA World Tour.

“Beating a player of his calibre is definitely a good win and it goes with when I beat [Simon] Rösner in Macau, which was also a good win for me.

“All the wins against the top guys are important, they’re small steps towards realising what I want to achieve in my career, so I’m happy that I managed to win today against a quality opponent.

“I’ve just realised as I’ve turned 31 that I have to take care of my body a little bit better. I’ve always done that but I’m paying that little bit more attention to it. Together with the squash, that’s the focus for me.

“I think that’s the key really and because I don’t have to worry about the body I am just enjoying things a little bit more because it’s a privilege to play in a tournament like this and around the world.”

[Q] Saurav Ghosal (IND) bt [3] Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) 3-0: 11-7, 11-7, 11-2 (36m)

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