The 2018 UCS Swedish Open gets underway in Linköping, Sweden today with eight compelling matches coming up.
Top seed Gregory Gaultier pulled out of the tournament earlier this week due to injury, meaning Egyptian Ali Farag moved up the draw to top the bill.
Farag takes on qualifier Joshua Masters later tonight in a compelling battle, while Tournament of Champions winners Simon Rösner starts the action up against the ever-improving Declan James.
Here's the breakdown of what's coming up:
13:00 Declan James (ENG) v  Simon Rösner (GER)
14:00  Daryl Selby (ENG) v Gregoire Marche (FRA)
15:00 [Q] Tom Richards (ENG) v  Cameron Pilley (AUS)
16:00  Tarek Momen (EGY) v Mathieu Castagnet (FRA)
17:30  Paul Coll (NZL) v [Q] Nafiizwan Adnan (MAS)
18:30 [WC] Rasmus Hult (SWE) v  Omar Mosaad (EGY)
19:30 [Q] Joshua Masters (ENG) v  Ali Farag (EGY)
20:30  James Willstrop (ENG) v [Q] Olli Tuominen (FIN)
Rösner Sees Off James In 5
Fresh from a breakthrough win at the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions in New York two weeks ago, Germany's Simon Rösner was quickly brought back to reality during the opening round of the 2018 UCS Swedish Open as he was pushed to the limit by England's Declan James in a high qualify first round encounter.
Rösner became the first German ever to win a major World Series event with victory over Tarek Momen in New York in January but was offered no time to ease out of any post-victory hangover, as James grasped the match from the off to take the first game and put the 'Tree-Chopper' immediately on the back foot.
The 30-year-old managed to settle in the second to level the match and improved throughout the third to restore normality and put himself ahead.
James though refused to give-in and from 8-9 down in the fourth tough his way back into proceedings, hitting a series of sumptuous winners to force the match into a decisive fifth game.
In the end Rösner managed to do just enough to come through but knows he will have to up his level if he hopes to add another trophy to his cabinet – while James, though frustrated at defeat, will take heart from his performance and ability to test Rösner from start to finish.
“Declan is a big guy like me, so there were some traffic issues at times,” said Rösner.
“He gave a huge fight today. I was playing well in patches – maybe a little edgy to the front, but that was because of the pressure he was putting me under and he was moving me around.
“The first round is sometimes the toughest. I was struggling to hit with quality and that got me frustrated at times – but credit to him because eh got me to that stage.
“I'm just really glad to get it in the end. He kept coming back at me.”
 Simon Rösner (GER) bt Declan James (ENG) 3-2: 6-11, 11-8, 11-8, 9-11, 11-5 (79m)
Selby Seals Comeback Win Over Marche
After looking down and out a 2-0 down, England's Daryl Selby staged a mammoth comeback to defeat Gregoire Marche in a 79-minute five-game thriller and move into the Swedish Open quarter-finals.
Selby was out-moved and out-played by Marche in the opening two games as the Frenchman utilised his blistering pace and agility to take Selby's arsenal of attacking shots out of the equation.
But the match swung in the third when Selby got off to a 7-0 lead before clinging on to take the game as Marche launched a fightback.
But after losing that game, Marche seemed to drop off mentally and physically, falling behind 5-0 in the fourth en route to a 3-11 game loss. And Selby wrapped it up with an 11-7 fifth game leaving Marche to cut a perplexed character having lost out on what looked to be certain victory.
“I was down at the start of the fifth and I knew he was getting tired so I dug in and I'm happy to show that there's still a bit of fight and life left in the old dog yet,” said Selby.
“I played well in the first two games but he was able to nullify everything I was doing. I didn't feel like I was that far off and some good words from Declan James between games helped me clarify what I needed to do on there.
“I'm pleased with the fight back and to come back from two games down and win is good. I played some good squash all the way through, but especially in the last couple of games.”
 Daryl Selby (ENG) bt Gregoire Marche (FRA) 3-2: 7-11, 9-11, 11-8, 11-3, 11-7 (79m)
Pilley Too Good For Richards
Cameron Pilley was just too good as he went up against Tom Richards for a place in the Swedish Open quarter-finals.
The hard-hitting Australian stormed out of the blocks in the opener, mixing perfect length with exquisite touch to leave Richards without an answer, to go take the first advantage on the boards.
But Richards managed to halt the flow in the second and raised his game to level the match and continued to act ass the controller through large parts of the third.
Pilley then managed to swing things back in his favour in the dying stages to re-establish a lead, and from then on he was in cruise control as he saw out etc fourth 11-3 to take the match.
“First game I was focused and felt sharp – got off to a good start and I think Tom gave me a few too many opportunities,” said Pilley.
He fixed that in the second and put me under a lot of pressure. Halfway through the third I was just running on adrenaline.
“You have to recognise what's going on out there and work on it, and fix it.”
 Cameron Pilley (AUS) bt [Q] Tom Richards (ENG) 3-1: 11-6, 6-11, 11-9, 11-3 (59m)
Momen Wins Marathon Battle With Castagnet
Tarek Momen overturned a two-game deficit to come through an epic 97-minute thriller with Mathieu Castagnet – the longest match in the tournament's history – to seal his place in the quarter-finals of the PSA M70 event.
Momen, runner-up at the ToC last month, looked the stronger player throughout the first as he pushed Castagnet into all four corners of the court. But the Frenchman hunted down every ball with relentless hunger to take the game into a tie-break, which he managed to sneak after an energy-sapping 30 minutes of play.
That set the tone for what was to follow as an 18 minute second game followed in much the same pattern, with Castagnet retrieving and pressuring Momen at every opportunity to overturn the deficit once again, epitomising his warrior spirit to double the advantage.
But early in the third Castagnet looked to be running out of steam as he began to labour and slow. Momen grasped at the opportunity and finally got a game to his name, but was dragged back into a thrilling back-and-forth battle once again in the fourth as Castagnet left everything he had on the court.
At 2-2 and the match in the balance, Momen managed to hod his composure through a series of critical exchanges to complete the win, which he greeted with a huge sigh of relief.
“I have to be very thankful that I won today,” said Momen.
“I was playing against a superhuman out there. It was unreal.
“In the first game, of course I was annoyed to lose it, but I thought I had put a lot of work into him and I thought that I had him. But I was so wrong – he just didn't stop at all.
“Every now and then I got the momentum, but he he was just solid as a rock. I think I played well throughout the match but he hasn't played at that level for a long time – so there's positives for both of us.
“For me, it's a big boost to come back and win the mental battle.”
 Tarek Momen (EGY) bt Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) 3-2: 12-14, 10-12, 11-6, 11-7, 11-6 (97m)
Coll Comes Through Against Adnan
Despite a relatively scrappy performance, New Zealand's Paul Coll ensured his place in the quarter-finals of the Swedish Open with a 3-1 win over Malaysian Nafiizwan Adan.
The pair were forced to watch on as Tarek Momen and Mathieu Castagnet tore into each other in a humdinger of a match previously, resulting in them warming up over and over again in anticipation of taking to court.
Those delays looked to have had an impact on both players as they started slowly, struggling to find their lines and struggling to hit an instant rhythm – with Adnan adjusting quicker and eventually taking the first game after staying ahead for the majority.
Coll though settled in the second and, while never really looking at his best, the man who only a few days ago returned from a long stint in American competing at the ToC and then Motor City Open, came through to reach the last eight.
“I'd never beaten Wan before so it was tough – he was controlling the pace and it was difficult to put any pressure on him,” said Coll.
“We had a long warm up. You have to time it really well to get ready for the match, and it gets tougher the longer that delay goes. Mentally you have to be strong to deal with that well.
“I'm enjoying it here in Sweden, so I'm looking forward to tomorrow.”
 Paul Coll (NZL) bt [Q] Nafiizwan Adnan (MAS) 3-1: 11-13, 11-9, 11-8, 11-4 (72m)
Mosaad Motors Past Hult
Mosaad Motors Past Hult
Local hero and tournament wildcard could do no damage against the Hammer of Thor as Omar Mosaad secured his place in the quarter-finals of the Swedish Open.
Mosaad looked at ease as he, completely against the general rune of play throughout what has been an epic day of encounters, breezed into the next stage after just 32 minutes.
“This was my second time to play Rasmus in Sweden,” said Mosaad.
“I just try t play 100 per cent each match. I was sick for a while last month and have been trying hard to get back to full fitness. I’m happy with my performance today and looking forward to tomorrow.”
 Omar Mosaad (EGY) bt [WC] Rasmus Hult (SWE) 3-0: 11-5, 11-6, 11-8 (32m)
Farag Too Strong For Masters
Tournament top seed Ali Farag was just too good for English qualifier Joshua Masters in their first round match up, coming through in straight games.
The Egyptian only ever looked to be in first gear as he cruised around the court and, while Masters was at times able to display some true shot-making artistry and abilities that could see him make a sharp rise up the standings, dominate proceedings in the day’s shortest match.
The opening two both went Farag’s way courtesy of 11-8 scoreless before the World No.3 turned the screw win the third, seeing it out 11-3.
“I’m very excited to be here this year,” said Farag.
“It’s been a long day of squash but it was great to have the support here tonight and I’m looking forward to being back again tomorrow.
“We’re blessed to have turned a life-long hobby into a career. I love being on the court, especially a glass court, and I think the more you enjoy it the better you play so hopefully I can continue to have that attitude moving forward.”
 Ali Farag (EGY) bt [Q] Joshua Masters (ENG) 3-0: 11-8, 11-8, 11-3 (27m)
Willstrop In Charge Against Tuominen
A long opening day of action at the Swedish Open ended with a straight-forward win for James Willstrop as he halted experienced Finnish campaigner Olli Tuominen in straight games to cap a marathon day of battles in Linköoping.
Willstrop was controlled and poised as he raced through 11-6, 11-4, 11-3 to set up a compelling quarter-final encounter with Ali Farag.
 James Willstrop (ENG) bt [Q] Olli Tuominen (FIN) 3-0: 11-6, 11-4, 11-3 (27m)