Switzerland’s Nicolas Mueller secured the biggest win of his career as he dumped defending champion Karim Abdel Gawad, the World No.4, out of the 2018 J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions on day three of the PSA World Series tournament held inside New York’s Grand Central Terminal.
The 28-year-old from Zurich came through a tense five-game match with England’s Adrian Waller to reach the second round, but he put in one of the best displays of his career as he dominated and controlled the court from the off, taking Gawad out of his comfort zone and playing a high-tempo attacking game that saw him take the first two games untroubled.
The World No.27 then found himself with match ball in hand to complete an unexpected 3-0 victory, but the tension told as he snatched at a golden opportunity at 11-10 up, allowing Gawad back in to punish him and he took the next two games to send the match into a decider. Mueller refused to give in though and he held the nerves at bay to take a massive 11-6, 11-6, 11-13, 3-11, 11-9 victory.
“I’m really over the moon,” said Mueller afterwards.
“That’s one of best matches that I have played in a long time and it is one of the biggest wins of my career.
“To knock out the defending champion here in New York, inside Grand Central, is pretty special.”
2012 winner Nick Matthew got the better of long-term domestic rival James Willstrop after prevailing by a 3-1 margin against his fellow Yorkshireman to avenge his defeat to Willstrop at the same stage of last year’s tournament.
The duo have contested one of the sport’s most captivating rivalries ever, but it was a rivalry dominated by Matthew between 2007-2017 as he struck up 19 consecutive wins against his compatriot until a momentous win for Willstrop in New York last January – but Matthew got his revenge today after prevailing in a high-quality four-game encounter.
“I was relieved to get over the line there and progress in this great tournament,” said Matthew.
“I read before the match that this was the 60th time [including 36 PSA World Tour meetings] that James and I have played and that’s an absolutely incredible statistic.
“No matter whether it’s the first time or 60th time, James is an incredible player and hopefully there will be one or two more chapters left yet.”
World No.1 Gregory Gaultier stands between Matthew and a place in the last four after the 35-year-old powered past English qualifier Tom Richards in straight games.
Germany’s Simon Rösner made it four European victories out four in the men’s draw today after he defeated World Championship runner-up Marwan ElShorbagy, coming through a scrappy affair to win it in five and he will face best friend Mueller for a place in the semi-finals.
The women’s draw saw two players from the United States in action, with the country’s number one player, World No.13 Olivia Blatchford, taking out Hong Kong’s Liu Tsz-Ling by an 3-0 scoreline to set up a second round fixture with World No.8 Sarah-Jane Perry.
“Being out here is incredible, I’ve been watching this [in the crowd] since I was in diapers, so to have a win on this court is massive for me,” said Blatchford, who is one of four American women in the main draw of a PSA World Tour event for the first time in history.
“Playing for my country is one of the biggest honours and privileges that I have ever had in my life. I know how good the US is, I’m proud that the ladies are leading the way and I feel very blessed to be a part of it.”
Blatchford’s compatriot, Marina Stefanoni, today became the youngest player ever to compete at the Tournamant of Champions but the 15-year-old bowed out after going down in straight games to World No.5 Nouran Gohar, despite acquitting herself well showing some deft touches and vicious drives that belied her tender years.
World No.1 Nour El Sherbini kicked off her campaign after the 2016 champion eased past World No.19 Joey Chan of Hong Kong with a 3-0 victory in 29 minutes seeing her through to face compatriot Mariam Metwally, who upset World No.14 Joshna Chinappa.
“Joey is a very tricky first round, so I was trying to put her deep in the back of the court,” said El Sherbini, who will face compatriot Mariam Metwally in the next round.
“In the first game I was doing well, I hit zero errors, but after that she was playing better and I found the tin more. But I’m really happy to finish it in three and I’m looking forward to the next round.”
Meanwhile, two-time runner-up Laura Massaro lives to fight another day after digging in to come through a difficult encounter with compatriot Fiona Moverley, eventually edging an 11-9, 9-11, 11-9, 11-13, 11-8 victory to ensure she will take on another fellow Englishwoman – Victoria Lust – in the last 16.
There was also a victory for 2015 runner-up Alison Waters after her first round opponent, World No.18 Salma Hany, retired shortly after the second game had started. Waters will take on Gohar in the next round.
Round two action from the men’s event and the opening round of the women’s tournament continues tomorrow (January 21), with play beginning at 12:00 local time (GMT-5).
Glass court fixtures inside Grand Central Terminal’s Vanderbilt Hall will be shown live on SQUASHTV (Rest of World) and Eurosport Player (Europe only).
Results – Second Round (Top Half): 2018 Men’s J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions
 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt [Q] Tom Richards (ENG) 3-0: 11-4, 11-5, 11-5 (33m)
 Nick Matthew (ENG) bt James Willstrop (ENG) 3-1: 11-8, 8-11, 11-8, 11-6 (68m)
Simon Rösner (GER) bt  Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) 3-2: 8-11, 11-8, 4-11, 15-13, 12-10 (76m)
Nicolas Mueller (SUI) bt  Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) 3-2: 11-6, 11-6, 11-13, 3-11, 11-9 (71m)
Draw – Men’s Second Round (Bottom Half): To Be Played January 21st
 Ali Farag (EGY) v Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL0
Ramy Ashour (EGY) v  Paul Coll (NZL)
 Tarek Momen (EGY) v Diego Elias (PER)
Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) v  Mohamed ElShobagy (EGY)
Draw – Men’s Quarter-Finals (Top Half): To Be Played January 22nd
 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) v  Nick Matthew (ENG)
Simon Rösner (GER) v Nicolas Mueller (SUI)
Results – First Round (Top Half): 2018 Women’s J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions
 Nour El Sherbini (EGY) bt Joey Chan (HKG) 3-0: 11-5, 11-6, 11-8 (29m)
[Q] Mariam Metwally (EGY) bt  Joshna Chinappa (IND) 3-1: 15-13, 13-11, 7-11, 11-9 (58m)
 Olivia Blatchford (USA) bt [Q] Liu Tsz-Ling (HKG) 3-0: 11-5, 11-5, 11-9 (24m)
 Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) bt [Q] Yathreb Adel (EGY) 3-1: 11-5, 11-5, 8-11, 11-8 (39m)
 Nouran Gohar (EGY) bt [WC] Marina Stefanoni (USA) 3-0: 11-5, 11-8, 11-5 (23m)
 Alison Waters (ENG) bt Salma Hany (EGY) 3-0: 11-2, 3-1 ret. (8m)
Victoria Lust (ENG) bt  Emily Whitlock (ENG) 3-1: 12-10, 12-14, 11-3, 11-2 (42m)
 Laura Massaro (ENG) bt Fiona Moverley (ENG) 3-2: 11-9, 9-11, 11-9, 11-13, 11-8 (65m)
Draw – First Round (Bottom Half): To Be Played January 21st
 Camille Serme (FRA) v [Q] Sabrina Sobhy (USA)
Donna Urquhart (AUS) v  Annie Au (HKG)
 Joelle King (NZL) v [Q] Heba El Torky (EGY)
[Q] Samantha Cornett (CAN) v  Nicol David (MAS)
 Nour El Tayeb (EGY) v Dipika Pallikal Karthik (IND)
[Q] Rachael Grinham (AUS) v  Amanda Sobhy (USA)
 Tesni Evans (WAL) v Hania El Hammamy (EGY)
[Q] Jenny Duncalf (ENG) v  Raneem El Welily (EGY)
Draw – Second Round: (Top Half): To Be Played January 22nd
 Nour El Sherbini (EGY) v [Q] Mariam Metwally (EGY)
 Olivia Blatchford (USA) v  Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG)
 Nouran Gohar (EGY) v  Alison Waters (ENG)
Victoria Lust (ENG) v  Laura Massaro (ENG)