It promises to be an electric day of action at the 2017 AJ Bell PSA World Championships as three-time World Champion Ramy Ashour and World No.2 rekindle their extraordinary rivalry which has thrown up some of the greatest matches of all time.
Ashour – known on Tour as 'The Artist' – claimed wins over ElShorbagy in the finals of both the 2012 and 2014 World Championships but ElShorbagy won their last meeting in the final of the 2016 British Open.
Ashour currently leads the head-to-head record with seven wins to ElShorbagy's two but, with ElShorbagy in red-hot form after winning five of his last six tournaments, the latest chapter of their rivalry could go right down to the wire.
The winner will play either home hero Nick Matthew or Qatar's Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi in the next round, while World No.1 Gregory Gaultier plays England's Declan James, and World No.15 Daryl Selby clashes with New Zealand's Paul Coll.
Title-holder Nour El Sherbini gets proceedings under way in the women's event against qualifier Satomi Watanabe – who is the first Japanese player ever to reach the second round – while 2013 World Champion Laura Massaro plays Tesni Evans.
World No.10 Alison Waters is the other English player in action on day three as she takes on World No.5 Nouran Gohar, with Nour El Tayeb and fellow Egyptian Salma Hany meeting in the other fixture.
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Here's the Order of Play
(All times are local GMT)
12:00  Nour El Sherbini (EGY) v [Q] Satomi Watanabe (JPN)
13:00  Gregory Gaultier (FRA) v Declan James (ENG)
14:00  Alison Waters (ENG) v  Nouran Gohar (EGY)
15:00  Daryl Selby (ENG) v  Paul Coll (NZL)
16:00  Nour El Tayeb (EGY) v Salma Hany (EGY)
17:00  Nick Matthew (ENG) v Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi (QAT)
18:00  Tesni Evans (WAL) v  Laura Massaro (ENG)
19:00  Ramy Ashour (EGY) v  Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY)
El Sherbini Comfortably Secures Quarter-Final Place after Beating Watanabe
Nour El Sherbini (right) v Satomi Watanabe (left)
Words by Alex Mason
World No.1 and defending World Champion Nour El Sherbini got day three under way with a straight-games win over Japan’s Satomi Watanabe, taking it 11-6, 11-5, 11-5 in 23 minutes.
The 22-year-old never once trailed in her 3-0 victory, despite Watanabe – the first Japanese player ever to reach round two – threatening to force a comeback in the opening game after a slow start.
El Sherbini – who’s going for her third consecutive World Championship crown this year – was ruthless against the Japanese qualifier as she gave her little room to attack.
The Egyptian showcased subtlety and finesse to book her place in the last eight, where she will take on either World No.5 Nouran Gohar or England’s Alison Waters, who play later today.
“I was moving well and towards the end of the game I found my range,” said El Sherbini.
“I’m pleased with the performance because she’s (Watanabe) very talented and has beaten a lot of good players.
“This is the first time I’ve played against her so it was all about reading her game early on and working out how she plays.
“It wasn’t an easy game because of the long rallies but going into the next game I need to close down on the unforced errors that I made today.”
 Nour El Sherbini (EGY) bt [Q] Satomi Watanabe (JPN) 3-0: 11-6, 11-5, 11-5 (23m)
Gaultier Ends James's Run
Gregory Gaultier (right) v Declan James (left)
Words by Fiona Tomas
World No.1 Gregory Gaultier ended home hope Declan James’s run at the latters’ most prolific showing at a PSA World Championships ever, overpowering the Englishman in straight games to progress to the quarter-finals.
The 2015 World Champion made little work of dispatching World No.28 James, claiming an 11-5, 11-3, 11-5 victory in 40 mins.
Gaultier had not dropped a game heading into the match, having made little work of his round one and two competitors Todd Harrity and Tsz Fung Yip.
It was a different story for James though, who heroically fought back from two games down and match ball down against No.15 seed Cesar Salazar yesterday.
The opening exchanges saw the duo battle in a cagey encounter, watched eagerly by an English crowd rooting for Nottingham-born James – the first of three home hopefuls to take to the court at Manchester’s National Squash Centre in the men’s last 16.
It was level pegging on sticky on-court conditions at 5-4 of the opener, with play characterised by drawn out rallies as both players probed each other with straight drives from deep. But Gaultier soon put daylight between himself and his English challenger to close it out comfortably at 11-5.
The World No.1 was more clinical with his use of drop shots in the second to double his lead for the loss of three points.
James briefly led for the first time in a more physical third game but Gaultier – a four-time runner-up – upped the tempo and showed his attacking prowess to book his quarter-final place, with James hitting down at 11-5.
After the match, Gaultier paid tribute to James’s fighting spirit and hinted there were greater things to come from the 24-year-old.
Flat as a pancake from
declanjames1</a><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/AJBellWorldChamps?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#AJBellWorldChamps</a> <a href="https://t.co/zv8cdHU9WX">pic.twitter.com/zv8cdHU9WX</a></p>— PSA World Tour (PSAWorldTour) December 12, 2017
“It’s never easy to play against these young guys, because they’re hungry,” said Gaultier.
“He [James] had a very tough match yesterday, coming back from match point and 2-0 down was probably draining physically and mentally, so credit to him for putting in a good effort.
“I did the job today. There’s always a lot of motivation to play in this tournament – you dream of it as a kid – it’s a dream to lift this trophy. There’s no secret to success – you have to work harder than the others and believe you can do it.”
 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt Declan James (ENG) 3-0: 11-5, 11-3, 11-5 (39m)
Waters edged out in four as Gohar books place in last eight
Nouran Gohar celebrates her win over Alison Waters
Words by Gareth Evans
The second round tie between a pair of national No. 3s went the way of Egypt, as Nouran Gohar defeated England’s Alison Waters 3-1.
With five world ranking places separating the two players, 20-year-old World No. 5 Gohar established an early advantage by shading a tight first game – but Waters got back on level terms after putting her opponent under greater pressure to claim the second.
Gohar responded with a brilliant mix of aggressive drives and tight boasts to race home in the third with some comfort. And, despite a battling fightback by Waters, a closely-fought fourth game – featuring three player reviews and a video decision – also went the way of the young Egyptian.
“It was a very, very tough match,” said Gohar, who has reached the semi-finals of the last two World Championships.
“Alison is very experienced, and I have so much respect for her. We have the same type of game, as we like to hit the ball hard and put pace on it – so there were lots of long rallies.”
World No. 10 Waters, 33, was philosophical in defeat, after falling in the second round for the third successive World Championship.
“After two close games, I wasn’t quite consistent in the middle of the match,” she said.
“You can’t afford to play anything loose against Nouran, as she’ll put it away.
“But I’ve really enjoyed playing in front of a home crowd. Hopefully I’ll come back next year and put a good show on.”
Defending champion Nour El Sherbini awaits Gohar in the quarter-finals – with El Sherbini eliminating Gohar in the last four stage of the two previous World Championships.
 Nouran Gohar (EGY) bt  Alison Waters (ENG): 3-1 12-10, 8-11, 11-2, 11-8 (50m)
Coll Becomes First Male New Zealander Since 1991 to Reach World Championship Quarter-Finals
Paul Coll (left) v Daryl Selby (right)
Words by Alex Mason
Kiwi World No.8 Paul Coll became the first male New Zealander since Ross Norman in 1991 to reach the quarter-finals of the PSA World Championships after he came through a gruelling 82-minute matchup with England’s Daryl Selby.
The pair were meeting for the third time on the PSA World Tour – with Coll winning their two previous encounters – but veteran Selby, appearing at his 11th World Championships – took the opener 11-8 after working Coll around the court well.
Great squash between— PSA World Tour (@PSAWorldTour) December 12, 2017
paulcollsquash</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/DarylSelby?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">DarylSelby so far!
Strong rally, brilliantly finished off by Selby#AJBellWorldChamps pic.twitter.com/2aBZ2IoCiJ
The exhausting rallies continued into the second and both players battled to keep the ball alive. However, Coll just had the edge and pulled away to take the second game 11-5.
The Kiwis firepower forced Selby to move around the court tirelessly, which caused a loss of momentum from the Harlow-born 35-year-old, which allowed Coll to claim the third game 11-7.
The lion-hearted Selby was stronger around the centre of the court in the fourth, however Coll – who is one of the fittest players on the PSA World Tour – held his nerve clinched it 11-7, setting up a meeting with World No.1 Gregory Gaultier for a second tournament in a row.
Great flair on show!— PSA World Tour (@PSAWorldTour) December 12, 2017
Between the legs from
paulcollsquash</a> & then behind the back from <a href="https://twitter.com/DarylSelby?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">DarylSelbya href=“https://twitter.com/hashtag/AJBellWorldChamps?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#AJBellWorldChamps pic.twitter.com/3G9n4VKrlA
“I was very happy to close that out in four games because it was such a high quality game and there weren’t many mistakes between us,” Coll said.
“The team I have around me are great and they help send me in the right direction. I’ve been very lucky for the people that have come into my career.
“I’ve put in the hard work and always try my best in training, so I’m looking forward to resting tomorrow and then playing in Thursday’s quarter-final.”
 Paul Coll (NZL) bt  Daryl Selby (ENG) 3-1: 8-11, 11-5, 11-7, 11-7 (82m)
Egypt’s World No.8 Nour El Tayeb was made to work hard for a place in the quarter-finals of the PSA World Championships as compatriot Salma Hany Ibrahim pushed her all the way to five games.
Ibrahim looked in good form as she came out of the blocks firing to take the first game by an 11-6 margin as she caused the U.S. Open winner a lot of problems on court inside Manchester’s National Squash Centre.
The two recently played each other at the U.S. Open – which El Tayeb went onto win – in a close encounter and this instalment proved no different as the 25-year-old was forced to work for ever point.
Despite going one game down, El Tayeb got herself back on level terms as she took the second game 11-8. However, it did not last long as she once again was forced to come from behind as Ibrahim hit her targets accurately to capitalise on the World No.8’s mistakes. as El Tayeb failed to take advantage of Ibrahim’s tiring legs.
PSA World Tour (@PSAWorldTour) December 12, 2017
After the game-break, El Tayeb seemed to come back onto court full of determination as she lengthened the rallies and took advantage of Ibrahim’s tired legs, forcing the World No.19 around the court, eventually levelling the scores at 2-2.
From that moment on, El Tayeb took control and punished her compatriot as she closed out the win by a tight 6-11, 11-8, 7-11, 11-7, 11-5 scoreline.
“It felt very scrappy at times and I felt that she was in control for most of the match,” said El Tayeb.
“I just had to fight, I wasn’t finding my shots and I will have to go back and look at it for the quarter-finals.
“when I was 2-1 down, I thought ‘I don’t want to leave’ and I kept telling myself that I’ll regret this once I go back home. I had to push myself, I wasn’t finding my rhythm, but I had to tell myself to give it one last shot.
“I tried to focus and fight for every point and I think it worked.”
 Nour El Tayeb (EGY) bt Salma Hany (EGY) 3-2: 6-11, 11-8, 7-11, 11-7, 11-5 (52m)
Matthew Beats Al Tamimi Despite Floorboard Havoc
Nick Matthew (right) looks at the hole in the floor
Words by Fiona Tomas
England’s three-time World Champion Nick Matthew kept his hopes for a fourth PSA World Championship title alive in his final appearance at the iconic tournament but was made to wait before sealing victory over Qatar’s Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi in a bizarre set of circumstances at Manchester’s National Squash Centre.
Matthew – who won the third of his World Championship titles in Manchester back in 2013 – claimed an 11-4, 11-8, 11-8 triumph in a match with saw a 90-minute delay when the floor suffered damage after a lunge from the Englishman, who was two games up and 8-6 ahead in the third.
It was, on the whole, a more accomplished performance from the English number one, who showed no signs of fatigue on court after being pushed by compatriot George Parker in a 60-minute duel in the tournament’s opening round, while was also tested by Hong Kong’s Max Lee.
The 37-year-old had raced into an early lead, dictating play from the off to keep Al Tamimi in the corners of the court with his trademark attritional style of play.
Despite saving three game balls, Tamimi struggled to build up any momentum, allowing Matthew to claim the first 11-4.
World No.37 Al Tamimi showed greater determination in a more competitive second, alternating a variety of cross courts shots as he attempted to open Matthew up.
Having been level with Matthew up until 5-5, the man from Qatar teased ‘The Wolf’ by saving another two game balls late on, with a superb drop which sizzled across court in particular impressing, as he tried to match Matthew.
But Matthew’s tenacity – characterised by his agile movement and greater resolve to keep Tamimi guessing from deep – was not enough for the qualifier to get a grip on the game, and the Englishman had the final say at 11-8.
The tournament’s fifth seed was within sealing victory – needing only three points to progress to last eight before the interruption.
But the Yorkshireman wrapped up victory in less than five minutes after play resumed on court, thanking the crowd for staying and joked his on-court movement might have caused the incident.
“Apologies for my heavy lunging – I’ll work on my lightness of feet tomorrow on my day off,” he said.
“At the end there I was feeling the burn in my legs a bit – there were a couple of mishits, a couple of nerves. It was a really crucial point in the match when we came back on.
“It’s not easy to stay warm for that awkward length of time, and mentally too. I was really aware of him and wanted to impose myself from the beginning.”
 Nick Matthew (ENG) bt Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi (QAT) 3-0: 11-4, 11-8, 11-8 (126m)
Second Round exit shock for Massaro as Evans wins all-British clash
Tesni Evans (Photo courtesy of Hamish Irvine/PSA)
Words by Gareth Evans
An inspired performance by Welsh No.1 Tesni Evans over four games provided the shock of the 2017 World Championships to date, as she knocked out her English counterpart Laura Massaro.
Evans – a dozen World Ranking places below 2013 World Champion, and current World No. 4, Massaro – upset the odds from the outset by winning the first game in just nine minutes. And she then doubled her advantage by claiming the second, albeit over twice the duration.
PSA World Tour (@PSAWorldTour) December 12, 2017
Massaro dug deep after going 9-6 down in the third, to win 11-9 and halve the arrears – before a 23-minute fourth game, punctuated by lets, strokes and two video decisions, saw Evans edge victory on her fourth match point with an exquisitely tight front-of-court shot.
There was no disguising Evans’ delight at reaching the Quarter Finals for the first time – a feat not achieved by a Welsh player since Alex Gough 10 years ago.
“I kept on wondering throughout the match if today would be my day – and it was,” she said.
“My heart is racing fast. I felt like I had quite a lot of control in the first two games and then towards the end of the third game I was edgy to the max.
“I was just hoping she would give me a tin and that’s probably not the best way to play Laura because she didn’t give me anything. I was really working hard to get the point at the end but she kept coming back and back at me and I’m just delighted to get the win.”
A desperately disappointed Massaro’s departure from the competition is her first at this stage since 2010.
 Tesni Evans (WAL) bt  Laura Massaro (ENG): 3-1 11-5, 11-8, 9-11, 13-11 (77m)
ElShorbagy Conquers Ashour in Repeat of 2012 & 2014 World Championship Finals
Mohamed ElShorbagy (left) v Ramy Ashour (right) - Picture courtesy of Hamish Irvine / PSA
World No.2 Mohamed ElShorbagy avenged his 2012 and 2014 World Championship final defeats to fellow Egyptian Ramy Ashour to win a pulsating last-16 match by a 14-12, 11-7, 11-4 scoreline in 51 minutes.
It was a tense all-Egyptian contest at the National Squash Centre in Manchester as the pair were meeting for the ninth time on the PSA World Tour, with Ashour claiming seven of those victories.
Both had progressed with relative ease to the third round and – for the first half of the match at least – the highly-anticipated battle did not disappoint.
The draining rallies and subtle drop shots began in the first game, with both players fighting to keep the ball alive, but it was a fired up ElShorbagy who went on to win the tie break 14-12.
RamyAshour</a>!!<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/AJBellWorldChamps?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#AJBellWorldChamps</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/TheBeastvTheArtist?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#TheBeastvTheArtist</a> <a href="https://t.co/JqDfkaQTVj">pic.twitter.com/JqDfkaQTVj</a></p>— PSA World Tour (PSAWorldTour) December 12, 2017
The 26-year-old – who has won five of his last six PSA World Tour events – continued raising the momentum of the match with positive and aggressive play, claiming the second game 11-7
Then numerous mistakes from a tiring Ashour – the former World No.1 who was struggling for match fitness after playing just two tournaments so far this season – in the third gave the ‘The Beast of Alexandria’ an 11-4 victory in the final game.
“The level we played at in the first game, I haven’t played that level in a very long time,” said ElShorbagy.
“During the first game I was thinking that he was finding answers to everything that I was doing and I’m finding answers to everything he’s doing.
“The quality of the game was unbelievable and to be able to get the win today, I’m just really happy. It gives me a lot of confidence for the rest of the tournament.
“I’m really relaxed and I’m just trying to enjoy my game because I know that I’m not going to be playing like this for all of my career.
“I feel really blessed to be part of a squash match that the whole world was waiting for, as not many athletes when they retire can say something like that.”
PSA World Tour (@PSAWorldTour) December 12, 2017
 Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) bt  Ramy Ashour (EGY) 3-0: 14-12, 11-7, 11-4 (51m)