Egyptian qualifier Youssef Soliman pulled off a shock result in round one of the Wimbledon Club Squash Squared Open as he knocked out number four seed Declan James to reach the quarter-finals of the tournament for the first time.
21-year-old Soliman – who beat Spanish duo Edmon Lopez and Iker Pajares Bernabeu in qualifying to reach the main draw – had previously been knocked out of the tournament in the first round to James two years ago, however, the Egyptian made sure lightning didn’t strike twice as he took the first game by an 11-8 margin before World No.26 James battled back to level the scores in the second.
However, Soliman showed no signs of tiredness, despite having gone through a mammoth 115-minute battle against Pajares Bernabeu the day before, as he went through the gears to complete an 11-8, 7-11, 11-7, 11-1 victory in 63 minutes and condemn the Englishman to a round one defeat.
“I lost to Declan two years ago, so I’m glad to get one back,” said Soliman.
“I was really happy with how my body recovered. I was so focused on my backhand side and he’s a tall player so I’m happy to get my game plan right and I think it worked well.
“I love coming here and it is my first time getting to the quarter-finals so I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”
Soliman will now face France’s Mathieu Castagnet in the quarter-finals in the first meeting between the pair on the PSA World Tour, after the Frenchman beat tournament wildcard England’s Ben Coleman in straight games to progress at the Wimbledon Club.
“I know it will be tough against Mathieu,” added Soliman. “He has got a lot of experience but hopefully I can get another good result tomorrow.”
Elsewhere, top seed England’s Daryl Selby progressed through in straight-games as he took out Egypt’s World No.40 and 2016 tournament runner-up Omar Abdel Meguid.
World No.17 Selby took the advantage in a stop-start first game before both players engaged in some good squash which included some stylish retrievals and shots on show as the Englishman made it through to the next round 13-11, 11-7, 11-9.
“It was a testing match,” said the 35-year-old following his win.
“He’s a big lad and I struggle with the way he moves, and he probably struggles with the way I move. There were a lot of traffic issues in the first game and it was scrappy and I couldn’t get into any kind of rhythm.
“It was crucial to win the first, I think it settled me down a little bit and after that it was actually a good match of squash. In the second and third he hit some really good shots and I felt like I played some good stuff and I was happy with how I was hitting my length and moving him out of position.
“There are lots of good players at this tournament, on these plaster courts it can sometimes be a leveller and it is a ridiculously strong draw. I’m going to enjoy the week. I know I’m the number one seed but I don’t feel any pressure and I just want to carry on playing good squash.”
Selby will now face Germany’s World No.43 Raphael Kandra in the next round after he knocked out number six seed Scotland’s Greg Lobban in straight-games as he came firing out of the blocks in his round one battle.
“We always have tough matches and this time I felt good and I was ready for a tough match,” said the 27-year-old.
“I managed to stand in front of him for most of the time and dominate the rallies and vary the pace as much as I could, and it worked out quite well. I felt good throughout the match and I think that made a big difference in the end.
“The first rally was brutal and I think after that rally he realised that I was really up for a match today and it broke him a little bit in the head.
“I’m feeling well and I’m believing. I have confidence and coming back from the Grasshopper Cup where I lost to Ramy [Ashour] in the first round, I am just feeling good and looking forward to the upcoming matches.”
Meanwhile, at the opposite end of the draw, number two seed and England’s former World No.1 James Willstrop started his tournament strongly, downing compatriot and World No.44 Chris Simpson in straight-games.
Willstrop – who won the tournament in 2016 – continued his impressive form from the 2018 Grasshopper Cup last week – where he reached the semi-finals – as he claimed an 11-6, 11-7, 11-4 win over Simpson in 39 minutes.
The Englishman will now line-up against France’s Lucas Serme in the quarter-finals after he progressed in his match against English qualifier Richie Fallows, with the latter being forced to retire in the second game when the Frenchman was 11-9, 8-3 up.
Also, through to the quarter-finals is Welsh World No.41 Joel Makin after he won a testing encounter against Egyptian number three seed Zahed Mohamed.
Makin went 2-0 up against the Egyptian, with the game disrupted by a number of disagreements over decisions to create a tense atmosphere on court. However, Makin kept his cool and took advantage to take an 11-7, 11-8 lead.
However, World No.27 Mohamed struck back in the next two games to level the scores and put the Welshman under pressure but Makin was able to complete a composed and mature performance to win 11-7, 11-8, 9-11, 7-11, 11-4 in 84 minutes.
“I got off to a solid start and got on top early on,” said Makin following his victory.
“I think his error count was pretty high and once I went 2-0 up he seemed to really settle down and rally and got into it, but I think that cost him in the end really.
“The way he was playing was a lot better, but those games were tight as well and I just found a way back into it.
“I was really trying to keep play continuous because I felt that the play being broken up favoured him and so I just tried to stay focused to get the win.”
Makin will take on England’s World No.34 Tom Richards in the quarter-finals after he defeated American qualifier Todd Harrity in straight-games.
Harrity put in a good performance in the first as he went 5-3 up, however, errors started to appear the World No.52’s game as last year’s runner-up Richards displayed a controlled performance to never look in trouble and complete an 11-8, 11-3, 11-5 victory.
“He had a really good win beating Nathan [Lake] yesterday so he obviously feels at home on these courts,” said Richards.
“The first game was nip and tuck until right at the end, so I was happy to get that one and then I managed to stay ahead.
“My head-to-head record is good against him and it kind of confirms that your game plan is good because it has worked in previous encounters and it gives you confidence.
“I would love to go one step further this year but it is extremely strong the field and my next match will be really tough so I just need to take it match by match.”
Results – Round One
 Daryl Selby (ENG) bt Omar Abdel Meguid (EGY) 3-0: 13-11, 11-7, 11-9 (54m)
Raphael Kandra (GER) bt  Greg Lobban (SCO) 3-0: 11-6, 13-11, 11-5 (49m)
 Tom Richards (ENG) bt [Q] Todd Harrity (USA) 3-0: 11-8, 11-3, 11-5
Joel Makin (WAL) bt  Zahed Mohamed (EGY) (84m)
[Q] Youssef Soliman (EGY) bt  Declan James (ENG) 3-1: 11-8, 7-11, 11-7, 11-1 (63m)
 Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) bt [WC] Ben Coleman (ENG) 3-0: 11-3, 11-4, 12-10
 Lucas Serme (FRA) bt [Q] Richie Fallows (ENG) 3-0: 11-9, 8-3 retired (28m)
 James Willstrop (ENG) bt [Q] Chris Simpson (ENG) 3-0: 11-6, 11-7, 11-4 (39m)
Draw – Quarter-finals
 Daryl Selby (ENG) v Raphael Kandra (GER)
 Tom Richards (ENG) v Joel Makin (WAL)
[Q] Youssef Soliman (EGY) v  Mathieu Castagnet (FRA)
 Lucas Serme (FRA) v  James Willstrop (ENG)