World No.3 Simon Rösner kicked off the defence of his J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions title with a commanding 3-0 victory over Australia’s Ryan Cuskelly inside New York’s iconic Grand Central Terminal.
Rösner became the first German player ever to win a major PSA Tour event when he defeated World No.4 Tarek Momen to lift this trophy 12 months ago and the Paderborn-based 31-year-old picked up where he left off in New York with an 11-4, 11-8, 11-9 victory over his opponent today.
“I think he [Cuskelly] is a really dangerous player and we have never played before in a PSA match,” Rosner said.
“I didn’t really know what to expect. I went off and played really well at the beginning and had a good start. He then kind of came back at me but I was really pleased with my performance. It was a good effort.
“There is a lot of pressure on your shoulders coming back as a defending champion, but I didn’t want to think about that too much. I just wanted to enter the tournament and play the best I can really. [It was] Exactly the same as last year, I think I went in without any expectations.”
Rösner will play Hong Kong’s Max Lee in the next round after Lee overcame Mexico’s Cesar Salazar in straight games, and they will be joined in the last 16 by World No.1 Mohamed ElShorbagy, who defeated Nicolas Mueller 3-0.
ElShorbagy suffered a shock defeat to Cuskelly in the second round of last year’s event, but the two-time Tournament of Champions winner was unstoppable against his Swiss counterpart as he powered to an 11-3, 12-10, 11-4 triumph.
“It is always such an honour to win this title and to know that I have won this title twice before is such an honour,” ElShorbagy said afterwards.
“I would like to win it a few more times, but it is not easy. There are a lot of challenges, a lot of players that are playing well right now.”
Egypt’s Zahed Salem lies in wait for ElShorbagy in round three, with the World No.25 getting the better of Malaysia’s Eain Yow Ng in four games.
Day two almost saw a big upset as Welshman Joel Makin went two games up against World No.5 Karim Abdel Gawad, only to see an ankle injury cruelly end his chances of a victory.
A series of fine displays this season have seen Makin climb from No.38 in the world to No.23 over the past five months and he dominated the in-form Gawad to go two games ahead and 4-3 up in the third.
But he rolled his ankle after contact with Gawad mid-way through a rally and he was unable to continue, meaning Gawad moves through to the third round, where he will play compatriot Fares Dessouky.
“It is not a normal end to the match,” Gawad admitted.
“He played really well and he was dominating. I was having a really hard time, especially today when I was not playing my best squash. He was playing his best squash so of course it is very bad for him. I wish him the best of luck to recover and to be back for the World Championships next month.”
Elsewhere, Peru’s Diego Elias got the better of World No.8 Marwan ElShorbagy by a 3-1 margin to book his place in round two. Elias will line up against Australia’s Cameron Pilley in the next round, with Pilley progressing courtesy of a 3-0 victory against England’s Tom Richards.
“Well, he started playing really well in the third game and I didn’t really know what was happening,” said Elias.
“After a couple of minutes I was 7-0 down, so I was trying to concentrate from then for the next game and I think it worked. The last game was really hard and I am happy to win it.”
The men’s second round continues tomorrow (Friday January 18) at 12:00 (GMT-5) and the action from Grand Central Terminal will be shown live on SQUASHTV (rest of world) and Eurosport Player (Europe only).
The women’s tournament also gets under way tomorrow, with fixtures spread between the Harvard Club, New York Athletics Club and the Princeton Club.
Results – Men’s Second Round (Top Half): 2019 J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions
 Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) bt Nicolas Mueller (SUI) 3-0: 11-4, 12-10 11-4 (27m)
Zahed Salem (EGY) bt Eain Yow Ng (MAS) 3-1: 9-11, 11-5, 11-7, 11-8 (63m)
Cameron Pilley (AUS) bt Tom Richards (ENG) 3-0: 11-3, 11-7, 11-5 (28m)
Diego Elias (PER) v  Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) 3-1: 11-8, 11-6, 0-11, 12-10 (50m)
Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) bt Joel Makin (WAL) 3-2: 4-11, 11-13, 3-4 ret. (65m)
Fares Dessouky (EGY) bt Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) 3-1: 11-8, 5-11, 11-6, 11-6 (43m)
Max Lee (HKG) bt Cesar Salazar (MEX) 3-1: 8-11, 11-3, 11-4, 11-2 (40m)
 Simon Rosner (GER) bt Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) 3-0: 11-4, 11-8, 11-9 (49m)
Draw – Men’s Second Round (Bottom Half): To Be Played January 18th
 Tarek Momen (EGY) v Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY)
Gregoire Marche (FRA) v Lucas Serme (FRA)
Greg Lobban (SCO) v Chris Simpson (ENG)
Omar Mosaad (EGY) v  Miguel Rodriguez (COL)
 Paul Coll (NZL) v Todd Harrity (USA)
Saurav Ghosal (IND) v Campbell Grayson (NZL)
Daryl Selby (ENG) v Youssef Soliman (EGY)
James Willstrop v  Ali Farag (EGY)
Draw – Men’s Third Round (Top Half): To Be Played January 19th
 Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) v Zahed Salem (EGY)
Cameron Pilley (AUS) v Diego Elias (PER)
Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) v Fares Dessouky (EGY)
Max Lee (HKG) v  Simon Rösner (GER)
Draw – Women’s First Round: To Be Played January 18th
 Raneem El Welily (EGY) [bye]
Ho Tze-Lok (HKG) v [17/32] Mariam Metwally (EGY)
[17/32] Coline Aumard (FRA) v Tinne Gilis (BEL)
 Joshna Chinappa (IND) [bye]
 Annie Au (HKG [bye]
Satomi Watanabe (JPN) v [17/32] Joey Chan (HKG)
[17/32] Mayar Hany (EGY) v Low Wee Wern (MAS)
 Nouran Gohar (EGY) [bye]
 Camille Serme (FRA) [bye]
Haley Mendez (USA) v [17/32] Milou van der Heijden (NED)
[17/32] Rachael Grinham (AUS) v Liu Tsz-Ling (HKG)
 Victoria Lust (ENG) [bye]
 Nicol David (MAS) [bye]
Alexandra Fuller (RSA) v [17/32] Rowan Elaraby (EGY)
[17/32] Zeina Mickawy (EGY) v [WC] Marina Stefanoni (USA)
 Joelle King (NZL) [bye]
 Nour El Tayeb (EGY) [bye]
Lisa Aitken (SCO) v [17/32] Nada Abbas (EGY)
[17/32] Samantha Cornett (CAN) v Danielle Letourneau (CAN)
 Amanda Sobhy (USA) [bye]
 Alison Waters (ENG) [bye]
Hollie Naughton (CAN) v [17/32] Emily Whitlock (ENG)
[17/32] Millie Tomlinson (ENG) v Amanda Landers-Murphy (NZL)
 Tesni Evans (WAL)
 Laura Massaro (ENG) [bye]
Julianne Courtice (ENG) v [17/32] Yathreb Adel (EGY)
[17/32] Fiona Moverley (ENG) v Sivasangari Subramaniam (MAS)
 Salma Hany (EGY) [bye]
 Olivia Blatchford Clyne (USA) [bye]
Tsz-Wing Tong (HKG) v [17/32] Nele Gilis (BEL)
[17/32] Hania El Hammamy (EGY) v [WC] Emilia Soini (FIN)
 Nour El Sherbini (EGY) [bye]