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Ramy Ashour

Tournament of Champions: Day Two - As It Happens

Follow us here for reports and reaction from day two of the 2018 J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions, which is held at one of the most iconic locations in squash – New York's Grand Central Terminal.

Some of the world's greatest players are in action today, with World No.2 Mohamed ElShorbagy making his first appearance since lifting last month's PSA World Championships.

The Bristol-based Egyptian will take on Hong Kong's Leo Au, while World No.3 Ali Farag will play Kiwi qualifier Campbell Grayson.

Three-time winner and crowd favourite Ramy Ashour returns to the Tournament of Champions for the first time since 2013 and he takes on fellow shot-maker Mazen Hesham in a tantalising match that is sure to throw up some Shot of the Month contenders.

Peruvian World No.10 Diego Elias makes his return from a hamstring injury against England's Declan James, while the likes of World No.7 Tarek Momen, World No.11 Paul Coll and 'Colombian Cannonball' Miguel Angel Rodriguez are also in action.

You can watch LIVE coverage on SQUASHTV and Eurosport Player.

Not able to watch live? Then check out our live scoring page instead.

Here's the Order of Play
(All times are local GMT-5)

Elias Beats James to Make Winning Return from Injury

Diego Elias (front) v Declan James (back)

Peruvian World No.10 Diego Elias marked his return from a hamstring injury to book his place in the second round of the 2018 J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions at the expense of England’s Declan James.

Elias was making his first appearance on the PSA World Tour since November’s Qatar Classic, with a hamstring injury meaning he missed out on competing at last month’s PSA World Championships.

The pair had met just once before on the PSA World Tour, with a brutal five-game epic going the way of James in the 2016 Nash Cup final.

Elias hit his groove early on in a slow-paced beginning to the proceedings and he was seldom tested in the opening stages of the first game, going 9-3 up until James began to test him, but the Peruvian ultimately took it 11-8.

Errors from James then saw Elias build up another substantial lead in the second game as he went 6-2 ahead, before pressing forward to double his lead for the loss of five points.

However, Elias was forced off court at the outset of the third game when he fell, lunging into the back-hand corner, and he was rattled from that point onwards as James took charge, building up two game balls before Elias hammered a volley into the tin to hand his opponent a lifeline.

The fourth game was a captivating affair as James pushed Elias all the way to a tie-break, although the Englishman could consider himself unfortunate to have a couple of strokes given against him after he was adjudged to have taken Elias’s line, with the second of those strokes given Elias two game balls.

True to nature, James dug in and took the next two points on offer to draw level, but Elias prevailed in the next point, before James hit the ball out of court to send Elias through to the next round, where he will face either World No.7 Tarek Momen or World No.9 Mohamed Abouelghar.

“This is my first match after the injury but I’m feeling really good and I’m just happy to win my first match of the year,” said Elias.

“He’s been playing really well and he beat me the last time, so I knew how good he was. I was really concentrating and I knew it was going to be really hard.

“I’m just coming back, I’m not feeling really confident yet with my fitness, so I was trying to close it out in the fourth.”

Diego Elias (PER) bt [Q] Declan James (ENG) 3-1: 11-8, 11-5, 8-11, 12-10 (62m)

Cuskelly Vanquishes Mosaad

Ryan Cuskelly

Australia’s World No.15 Ryan Cuskelly dispatched former World No.3 Omar Mosaad by a 3-1 scoreline to book his place in the second round of this tournament for the third time in succession.

The 30-year-old from Evans Head made blistering starts to the first three games and, while Mosaad managed to weather the storm in the opening game to go 1-0 up, he was unable to prevent the Australian from converting victories in games two and three.

The fourth game was a tight affair which saw both players trade points as momentum ebbed and flowed between the two of them, with Cuskelly eventually getting the better of the Egyptian to amass two game balls.

Mosaad managed to save one of them, but a tinned effort soon after from ‘The Hammer of Thor’ brought the match to a close, with Cuskelly progressing to face either World Champion Mohamed ElShorbagy or Hong Kong’s Leo Au in the next round.

“I’m really happy, I’ve played Omar a few times and he’s a good, solid player,” said Cuskelly.

“He cuts off the ball well and hits it very hard, so I was just trying to be aggressive and my coach [former World Champion Rodney Martin] changed the tactics a bit after the first game.

“If I didn’t have Rod here I might have lost that because he told me to be a bit more aggressive and it paid off. I was rallying too much in the first game and then I started taking it in short and being more aggressive and it worked out in the end.

“He’s [Martin] probably the reason why I’m here today, we’ve been working hard on my game for over ten plus years. Now I’m starting to see the results, I’ve put in the hard work, so it’s good to see it’s finally paying off.

“I’m not done yet, I still want to get to the top 10 and I’ve got to keep beating guys like Omar.”

Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) bt Omar Mosaad (EGY) 3-1: 8-11, 11-8, 11-6, 11-9 (54m)

Momen Weathers Abouelghar Storm to Reach Round Two

Tarek Momen

Egyptian World No.7 Tarek Momen fended off a late comeback from compatriot Mohamed Abouelghar to book his second round berth – where Peru’s World No.10 Diego Elias awaits.

World No.9 Abouelghar represented one of the toughest first round draws that Momen could possibly have had, with the 24-year-old enjoying a strong start to the season that has seen him win two titles, resulting in his rise into the top 10 earlier this month.

But Momen was red-hot in the opening two games of their clash in New York as Abouelghar failed to connect with his drop shots and he took full advantage to open up a two-game lead.

The older Egyptian then squandered a 9-8 lead in the third as Abouelghar came through to claim a game back, before building on a 7-1 lead in the fourth to draw level and set up a nail-biting decider.

There was little between the two in a dramatic fifth game, but the experience of Momen won out as he held his composure at the crucial points to take the win on the tie-break.

“It’s extremely tough to play someone as good as Abouelghar in the first round of a major tournament,” said Momen.

“It’s just crazy, he’s such a talented player and he’s a nightmare to play in any round, especially the first round.

“I’m so happy to pull through today, I’ve been playing a few tough matches and they weren’t going my way, so I’m really happy to have managed to stick with it today and to squeeze it in the end.

“We do a lot of physical work [in training], but even that doesn’t help when it’s 2-2 and 10-10 after that many minutes. I could feel that the cramping stage was approaching, so I’m very lucky to have pulled it off without any cramps.

“It was a mental battle as well today and I want to congratulate Mohamed on getting into the top 10.”

[7] Tarek Momen (EGY) bt Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY) 3-2: 11-5, 11-9, 9-11, 7-11, 12-10 (70m)

Crowd Favourite Rodriguez Downs Yip

Miguel Angel Rodriguez (left) v Tsz Fung Yip (right)

Colombia’s Miguel Angel Rodriguez moved through to round two after a solid display from the former World No.4 saw him dispatch Hong Kong’s Tsz Fung Yip in straight games.

Rodriguez truly established himself as an elite player here back in 2015 when he made it to the semi-finals, beating current World No.1 Gregory Gaultier en route, and his all-action displays and incredible speed around court has made him a firm crowd favourite at Grand Central Terminal over the past few years.

The 2016/17 season saw his form slip – culminating in a shock loss to Yip in the opening round of the 2016 Hong Kong Open – but he made amends for that defeat today in New York.

A crucial first game saw both players hold game balls as they traded blows, with Rodriguez eventually converting at the third attempt to go ahead.

And his athleticism came to the fore at the end of the second game as he leapt through the air and glided around court to pick up a series of deft touches from Yip to double his advantage, eliciting a huge roar from the crowd packed inside Vanderbilt Hall.

The 32-year-old then put up the barricades in the third game and gave Yip little to attack as he closed out an 14-12, 11-8, 11-5 victory to move through to the last 16, where he will come up against either World No.3 Ali Farag or New Zealand’s Campbell Grayson.

“Yip is a very talented player, he’s very fast and he’s a big guy,” Rodriguez said.

“The last time I played him, I lost in Hong Kong two years ago but I was ready to play this match. The end of the year for me was excellent, so I’m trying to keep that momentum and it worked.

“I had to push really hard in the first and second games because I knew it was going to be very hard against him but I’m happy with my performance today.”

Now ranked at World No.23, Rodriguez has shown glimpses of recapturing his best form over the past two months, reaching the quarter-final stage of December’s PSA World Championships, and says that he is relishing being fully fit after revealing that he had carried an injury for the majority of last season.

“I think I fixed a few problems that I had in my body,” he said.

“Last season was very tough for me and I was playing with injuries, but I have my physical trainer back at home and my dad is with me here, which I’m very happy about because he is the one who has guided me since I was a kid.

“I’m 100 per cent at this event now.”

Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL) bt [Q] Tsz Fung Yip (HKG) 3-0: 14-12, 11-8, 11-5 (42m)

Kiwi Coll Earns Second Round Spot After Beating Mohamed

Paul Coll (right) v Zahed Mohamed (left)

New Zealand’s World No.11 Paul Coll put in a polished performance to overcome Egypt’s Zahed Mohamed by a 3-0 margin to move into round two.

Coll, the 25-year-old from Greymouth who reached the quarter-finals at last year’s tournament, was solid right from the beginning of the match and he went a game up after profiting off six unforced errors from Mohamed.

Mohamed showed glimpses of quality throughout the encounter – hitting a stunning cross court nick towards end of the opener – but Coll was too consistent and dictated the pace of the match as he surged to an 11-4, 11-6, 11-6 win in 44 minutes.

“I felt very good out there and I’ve got good memories on this court from last year,” said Coll.

“I’ve been working hard over Christmas and I was a bit disappointed with my last appearance [at the PSA World Championships] so I worked pretty hard for this.

“It’s definitely a different feeling this season being ranked where I am now compared to last year, but I’m enjoying coming into the first round fresh and not having any matches under my belt.

“I’m just trying to stay relaxed and I’ve got good people around me and watching me. I’m just focusing on my game and my strengths and going from there.

“I felt really good on court today, a lot of the stuff I’ve been working on was coming off, so I’m extremely happy with where my game is at and it’s a good start to the year.”

[8] Paul Coll (NZL) bt Zahed Mohamed (EGY) 3-0: 11-4, 11-6, 11-6 (44m)

Ashour Beats Hesham After Making ToC Return

Ramy Ashour dives against Mazen Hesham

Three-time Tournament of Champions winner Ramy Ashour made his return to Grand Central Terminal for the first time since 2013 after the former World No.1 overcame compatriot Mazen Hesham by a 3-0 margin.

A litany of injuries over the past five years have prevented Ashour from becoming a regular fixture at the tournament but he had won his last 10 matches in New York, a run which encompassed title wins at both the 2011 and 2012 instalments.

Both players are renowned for their shot-making talents and had met just once before on the PSA World Tour, with Ashour taking a one-sided victory in just 26 minutes during the 2015 PSA Men’s World Championships.

Hesham struggled to keep the ball above the tin throughout as the 23-year-old maverick failed to really hit his stride and it was Ashour who found his shots first.

The older Egyptian took the first two games in relatively comfortable fashion but was forced to a tie-break in the third, with Hesham threatening to take the match to a fourth.

But he squandered the opportunity as Ashour came back into it and the three-time World Champion held out to seal an 11-5, 11-8, 13-11 victory.

“It’s been a while, last time I came here was 2013 and it’s like a dream come true,” said Ashour.

“The tournament is prestigious, everyone wants to win the Tournament of Champions. It’s really good to be back, a lot has happened and I wasn’t sure when I would be back here and when I would win again on court.

“On the last point I was just looking around and absorbing everything. When I came to the States, I started thinking about living here and every time I say that this is the year.

“I don’t even want to win it, I just want to play because I’ve won it three times before and I want to be here. I’m just grateful for everything I’ve been through and I’m glad to be back.”

Ramy Ashour (EGY) bt [Q] Mazen Hesham (EGY) 3-0: 11-5, 11-8, 13-11 (44m)

World Champ ElShorbagy On Form to Dispatch Au

Mohamed ElShorbagy (right) v Leo Au (left)

World Champion Mohamed ElShorbagy made it 21 wins in a row after storming to a 3-0 victory over Hong Kong’s Leo Au to seal his place in round two.

The Bristol-based Egyptian has been in sensational form of late and finally got his hands on the PSA Men’s World Championship trophy last month – beating younger brother Marwan in the final – to win a fourth tournament in a row.

Au, meanwhile, had hit the headlines on home soil during November’s Hong Kong Open, when he stunned defending champion Ramy Ashour in a memorable first round victory and he was playing at a career-high ranking of World No.22.

However, ElShorbagy picked up where he left off in 2017 with a dominant display against Au and the 27-year-old’s unrelenting pressure and incredible pace of hitting saw him claim an 11-8, 11-6, 11-6 victory to set up a second round matchup with Australia’s Ryan Cuskelly.

“I played him during my junior career and I know how dangerous he is,” said ElShorbagy, who won the Tournament of Champions in 2015 and 2016.

“He’s been in very good form, he beat Ramy in Hong Kong and he took his team into the semis of the World Team Championships last month as well.

“He’s been playing very well and I had to be focused from the first point.”

[2] Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) bt Leo Au (HKG) 3-0: 11-8, 11-6, 11-6 (32m)

Farag Comes Through Against Grayson

Ali Farag (right) v Campbell Grayson (left)

Egyptian World No.3 Ali Farag was made to work for his victory over Kiwi qualifier Campbell Grayson before ultimately coming through to take the win by a 3-1 margin.

Grayson had won their only previous meeting on the Tour – back in 2009 when Farag was just 17 years of age.

Harvard-graduate Farag had the better of the opening game to go ahead but a superb response from Grayson saw the World No.39 stretch the court and keep the ball away from Farag’s racket in game two.

The New Zealander was rewarded with victory in the second as he drew level but Farag was soon back on top and he claimed 11-4 victories in the third and fourth games, with the final point serving up a bizarre climax to the match after Grayson lost his grip on his racket, only to see Farag inadvertently volley it along with the ball before being awarded a stroke due to interference.

Next up for Farag is a second round meeting with Colombia’s former World No.4 Miguel Angel Rodriguez. It will be a repeat of their quarter-final clash at last month’s PSA World Championships, in which Farag prevailed.

“To get off to such a start against a tricky opponent is always good and I’m very glad to be through to the second round,” said Farag.

“Campbell likes to play at a mid-pace and he is very accurate, so I had to push up the court a little bit and play with more intensity and I’m happy I was able to do that in the third and the fourth.

“It was a shame the way it ended, I’m sorry about that and I’m glad that everyone is okay.”

[3] Ali Farag (EGY) bt [Q] Campbell Grayson (NZL) 3-1: 11-6, 7-11, 11-4, 11-4 (50m)

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