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Ali Farag

Channel VAS Champs: Day Three - As It Happens

Join us here for reports and reaction from day three of the Channel VAS Championships at St George’s Hill.

World No.1 Mohamed ElShorbagy’s shock defeat to Welshman Joel Makin yesterday blew the draw wide open and his fellow Egyptians Ali Farag and Karim Abdel Gawad will be looking to make their mark today as they begin their tournaments.

Gawad, the 2016 World Champion, kicks off tonight’s action at 17:30 (BST) against Scotland’s Greg Lobban, who saw off wildcard Charlie Lee on day one.

Frenchman Mathieu Castagnet came through a gruelling 103-minute battle with compatriot Lucas Serme on the opening day and will hope that his legs have recovered as he takes on the in-form World No.11 Saurav Ghosal.

2015 World Championship runner-up Omar Mosaad is also in action as he plays home favourite Tom Richards, while Farag will bring tonight’s play to a close when he does battle with World No.20 Declan James.

You can watch LIVE coverage on SQUASHTV and Eurosport Player or follow our live scoring page.

Here's the Order of Play
(All times are local BST)

Gawad Comes from Behind to Beat Lobban

Karim Abdel Gawad

Former World Champion Karim Abdel Gawad came back from a game down to defeat Scoland’s Greg Lobban at St George’s Hill Lawn Tennis Club.

Gawad, the World No.10, had beaten Lobban in all three of their previous matches on the PSA Tour and he overcame the 26-year-old at the U.S. Open two weeks ago.

Today, Gawad made a traditionally slow start as Lobban, who had already played on this court in the opening round, dominated the opener to go a game up for the loss of just three points.

But the Egyptian came onto court a different man in the second as he found his range and he looked considerably quicker around court as he recovered to take the next two games.

Lobban’s tenacity saw the World No.34 match Gawad point for point for the majority of the fourth game and he saved three match balls before pulling ahead to hold a game ball of his own.

However, Gawad’s ability at the front of the court enabled him to stay on top and a stroke against Lobban handed the match to the former World No.1.

“He made it very tough for me today and it’s always hard to play an opponent twice in a week,” said Channel VAS Championships debutant Gawad.

“In the first game, I was struggling to see the ball and to get used to that court, which is much faster than any court we play on the tour. My shots were loose and he was attacking everything.

“We just played at the U.S. Open and now we’re playing here. He made it very tough for me today and I had to try different things to win. He was controlling the ’T’ really well and I was just moving around him the whole time.

“I was trying to push myself in front a little bit. Luckily I played some nice killing shots and I managed to find a way to win today, especially with him playing such great squash.

“I lost weight, actually 6% of fat in pre-season, working with a nutritionist and also I changed fitness coach. Ali [Ismail] was great, but I now work with Raneem’s [El Welily] fitness coach, Ahmed Faragallah, and I changed my training regime as Mohamed Abbas moved to the [United] States. I’m now working with Omar Abdel Aziz and Abdel Kader at Alhy Club.”

[4] Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) bt Greg Lobban (SCO) 3-1: 3-11, 11-8, 11-8, 15-13 (55m)

Ghosal Axes Castagnet to Reach Last Eight

Saurav Ghosal (left) v Mathieu Castagnet (right)

Indian No.1 Saurav Ghosal booked his place in the last eight courtesy of a 3-0 victory over Frenchman Mathieu Castagnet.

Ghosal was making his first appearance of the tournament after receiving a bye into round two, while Castagnet had to fight through a brutal 103-minute battle against compatriot Lucas Serme in round one.

And Ghosal’s fresher legs made a big impact on the scoreline as he sent Castagnet bombing around all four corners of the court, while his accuracy was of an extremely high standard.

To his credit, Castagnet fought valiantly and showed off some nice skills to test the World No.11 at times, but he visibly tired the longer the match went on and Ghosal picked him off to record an 11-5, 11-7, 11-5 victory in 42 minutes.

“I just tried to stay strong and solid,” said Ghosal.

“I took it in short and I enjoyed the court and the game. I tried to implement the game plan we [coaches David Palmer and Malcolm Willstrop] wanted.

“I worked with them both in the summer, first David, then Malcolm for a month. Those two periods obviously helped, and I’m focusing now on trying to implement what we worked on.

“The majority of who I am as a professional player is because of him [Willstrop], and there’s never anything that I could possibly do to show how grateful I am for all the time he spent telling me what to do on court, as well as how to deal with things in life and how to be refreshingly positive and pure from within.”

Ghosal will line up against the player one place above him in the World Rankings – Karim Abdel Gawad – in the quarter-finals and will look to beat the Egyptian for the first time since 2012.

[7] Saurav Ghosal (IND) bt Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) 3-0: 11-5, 11-7, 11-5 (42m)

Home Hero Richards Scores Upset Over Mosaad

Tom Richards (left) celebrates his win over Omar Mosaad (right)

World No.30 Tom Richards delighted spectators at St George’s Hill Lawn Tennis Club as he upset former World No.3 Omar Mosaad at his home club.

Richards, 32, has played at St George’s Hill since he was just two years old and he claimed one of his biggest wins on the PSA Tour in recent years with a fine comeback from a game down.

Mosaad was on top in the opening game as he hit some thunderous rallies on the forehand side, but he looked to be struggling with an injury from the second game onwards.

He couldn’t match Richards’ intensity and the Englishman took full advantage as he rattled off an array of winners and forced the World No.12 into a number of errors.

Richards closed out the win by a 10-12, 11-7, 13-11, 11-2 margin to ensure that he will play the winner of World No.2 Ali Farag and World No.20 Declan James in the quarter-finals.

“[The result] has been coming for a few years, I felt like I’ve been playing well again over the last year and a half,” Richards said afterwards.

“I’ve been close to getting a couple of scalps, but I felt really good there. I was playing well and I feel fit and strong.

“It all comes down to that feeling when you win, that’s why you spend so many hours in rehab, in the gym and work so hard.

“Touch wood, I haven’t been injured for a year and a half now, and when I came back I thought I could compete with the players at my level. Now I feel that my base platform is good enough to compete with the top guys.”

Tom Richards (ENG) bt [8] Omar Mosaad (EGY) 3-1: 10-12, 11-7, 13-11, 11-2 (61m)

Farag Holds Off James to Win in Four

Ali Farag (right) v Declan James (left)

Last year’s runner-up Ali Farag took a step closer to a second successive final at this tournament after he came through a challenging encounter with World No.20 Declan James.

Farag, the World No.2, had gotten the better of James in both of their previous fixtures on the PSA Tour and he marched into a 6-0 lead in the opening game as he adapted quickly to the fast front wall.

But James shook off the nerves and reeled his opponent back in with some tight play and consistent length hitting. The 25-year-old fought back to hold a game ball, but a couple of errors towards the end of the game meant he was unable to capitalise as Farag came back to build up a one-game advantage.

The Englishman was superb in the second though as he troubled Farag and, after building up three game balls, he was able to convert to draw level.

Farag took the first six points on offer in the third too as he stepped up the court to re-establish his prior rhythm and he weathered a late storm from James to restore his lead.

The Egyptian was relentless in the fourth as he put James under a great deal of pressure, which sapped the energy from the Englishman’s legs. James played out of his skin to force a tie-break, but Farag just about held him off to complete a 13-11, 7-11, 11-7, 13-11 triumph.

“Tonight’s match is a testament to Declan’s talent, he never ceased to attack and I’m just happy to get through today,” Farag said.

“It’s never easy to back it up off the back of another tournament, especially with serious jet lag, and especially when you get to play a great player such as Declan.

“We’ve played twice before already, but tonight is the best he ever played against me by far. He took it to me, he was never passive and never let off for a second.

“He was always attacking and he always kept me on my toes. In the first game, I started well, but then he changed his game and started to slow it down on the backhand side. I started to rush things a bit, and that’s when I realised I was not sharp enough at the front of the court.

“Nick [Matthew], James [Willstrop], Daryl [Selby], Peter Barker, Adrian Grant and all of those guys have left a great legacy. They [the younger English generation] have big shoes to fill, but I’m sure they’re up to it.”

[2] Ali Farag (EGY) bt Declan James (ENG) 3-1: 13-11, 7-11, 11-7, 13-11 (57m)

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