The PSA Men’s World Championship 2019-2020 got underway today, with action coming from the Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex in Doha, Qatar.
Play took place on both the spectacular glass court, along with eight matches on each of the three traditional plaster courts.
Here is what happened in the first session of play in Qatar, with twelve matches in the afternoon salvo.
Willstrop Wins All-English Battle Against Parker
Former World No.1 James Willstrop is through to the second round of the World Championships after he navigated a tricky c lash with fellow countryman George Parker.
The 37-year-old used his knowledge and nouse in the opening two games to get the better of his younger opponent in both the first and second games, allowing Parker to get just four and five points respectively.
However, the World No.42 looked to fight back in the third game, and had a 7-4 lead. Willstrop came fighting back though to take the third on a tie-break, booking his place in the second round.
“You have got to expect you cannot sustain that quality of squash throughout the game, especially as George was playing extremely well,” Willstrop admitted.
“The thing is not to let negative thoughts come to your mind, and stay positive. It would be very easy to let your head down, but it’s all about being ready to react when you feel the danger coming up.”
James Willstrop (ENG) bt George Parker (ENG) 3-0: 11-4, 11-5, 12-10 (45m)
Salazar Secures First Victory Of 2019-2020 Men’s World Champs
Just a few minutes before the former World No.1 took victory, Cesar Salazar put his name in the books as the first man to win a match at the 2019-2020 Men’s World Championships.
The Mexican overcame England’s Nathan Lake in the first round, and and he admitted that he knew it would be tough. After taking the first 14-12, he was able to then go on to take the match in straight games, carrying the momentum throughout their 38-minute clash.
“It was a very tough match with him because he is playing well. He won a tournament a few weeks ago and he played really well in Cairo,” Salazar said.
“I knew it would be a hard first round. I also knew it would be tough because I felt something in my leg at the U.S. Open. I came back to Mexico to work with my physio and my doctor, and I feel a little bit better, especially after winning this one as well.”
Cesar Salazar (MEX) bt Nathan Lake (ENG) 3-0: 14-12, 11-6, 11-6 (38m)
Lopez Downs Frost To Reach Round Three
Spain’s Edmon Lopez is through to the last 32 of the Men’s World Championship after defeating Kristian Frost on the first day of the tournament.
The Spaniard had to overcome an ankle injury just to be fit for the event, but he showed no signs of it hindering him, as he defeating the Dane in straight games.
“It means a lot this win. I injured my ankle a month ago and I did so much work to get ready for this. I think it is a team win, instead of an individual win,” Lopez explained.
“It was a hard match. He is a tough opponent with a lot of experience, and I knew he would try to use that. I am happy to win it, and I played well, I hit my shots and it worked out.”
Edmon Lopez (ESP) bt [L] Kristian Frost (DEN) 3-0: 11-9, 11-4, 11-6 (42m)
The ‘Dark Knight’ Rises From Two Down To Beat Malhotra
England’s Declan James had to fight, and fight hard, to reach the second round of the Men’s World Championship, as came back from two games down to win his opening match of the week.
The ‘Dark Knight’ overcame India’s Vikram Malhotra, who had scampered into a two-game lead, including restricting James to just a single point in the second game.
However, a change in mentality from the Englishman saw the match turn on its head, as James won the next three games to overturn the tie and win it 3-2, booking his place in the last 32.
“I was being completely outplayed, and I didn’t have any fire in the belly. I was aware that I had lost my first three matches of the season and my last win came in the spring,” James admitted.
“I was just going down in 20 minutes and not even really fighting, and I said to myself that I needed to take this moment to make it right and to fight for my life. I think it will be a big moment in the season because I got that monkey off the back, but it was so important for me for my confidence.”
Declan James (ENG) bt Vikram Malhotra (IND) 3-2: 8-11, 1-11, 11-5, 11-3, 11-6 (51m)
Lobban Defeats Lee In First Round
In the second match of the day on Court 3, Scotland’s Greg Lobban got the better of Hong Kong’s Max Lee to book his place in the last 32.
The Scot took the first two games 11-6, but the World No.33 fought back to take the third game 11-8. Lobban then ran out into a 10-4 lead in the fourth game, only for Lee to start making a comeback.
However, the Scot eventually got over the line, winning the fourth 11-8 and booking his place in the second round.
“I am delighted to get through. I knew that with the World Champs, you can get a tough draw or a really fortunate one, and with Max I knew it was going to be tough because we are pretty even,” Lobban explained.
“He is not easy to play against because he is a solid competitor. Even when I was 10-4 up in the fourth, he brought it back to 10-8 and really showed his fighting spirit and his experience, so I was pleased to get that last point on the board.”
Greg Lobban (SCO) bt Max Lee (HKG) 3-1: 11-6, 11-6, 8-11, 11-8 (56m)
Dessouky Downs Yow Ng To Reach Last 32
Egypt’s Fares Dessouky is into the second round of the Men’s World Championships after defeating Malaysia’s Eain Yow Ng in his opening match of the tournament.
The World No.13 took the first game, only to see his opponent fight back in the second to level the match. However, the Egyptian would be the man to take victory, as he won the third and fourth games in comfortable fashion to take a 3-1 win.
“I’m really happy to be through because I thought it was a very tough draw. Don’t look at the rankings, but how hungry he is and how great he is playing at the moment,” Dessouky said.
“I was in control in the second, a couple of points ahead, but I think I lost a bit both my focus and my game plan, and he played extremely well.”
 Fares Dessouky (EGY) bt Eain Yow Ng (MAS) 3-1: 11-6, 9-11, 11-8, 11-5 (58m)
Ibrahim Battles Through Injury To Beat Selby
Egypt’s Youssef Ibrahim has put in one of the performances of the season so far to defeat England’s Daryl Selby, after coming back from an ankle injury mid-game to take the win.
The young Egyptian won the first and third games by the same scoreline, 11-5, but the 37-year-old Englishman kept fighting to keep himself in the match, winning both the second and fourth games on tie-breaks.
The injury break came in the final game, with the score locked at 9-9. Ibrahim went over on his ankle, and struggled to walk off court. After a lengthy delay of almost half an hour, the Egyptian hobbled back on to court and won the next two points to claim a wonderful victory against the odds.
Youssef Ibrahim (EGY) bt Daryl Selby (ENG) 3-2: 11-5, 10-12, 11-5, 11-13, 11-9 (107m)
Makin Fights Past Fallows
In the second all-British battle of the day, World No.12 Joel Makin used all of his skill to fight his way past England’s Richie Fallows to reach the last 32.
The Welshman won the first game by a tight margin, before then power away in the second game, restricting his fellow Brit to just two points.
The third went all the way through to a tie-break, as neither man was able to make a breakthrough towards the end. It would be Makin that eventually took the win, after securing the third 15-13, to book his place in the second round.
“When Richie is playing well he has some good options and he is naturally a good athlete. You have always got to be wary with someone like Richie that he can do that,” Makin explained.
“I expected him to come out firing, which he did. He led 7-2 but I got back to 10-8, ahead of the tie-break.”
 Joel Makin (WAL) bt Richie Fallows (ENG) 3-0: 11-9, 11-2, 15-13 (49m)
ElSherbini Through After Fathi Retires
Mohamed ElSherbini is through to the second round of the Men’s World Championships after his opponent, fellow Egyptian Karim Ali Fathi, had to retire from the match.
ElSherbini had won the first game 11-4, and held a convincing lead in the second game, before Fathi decided that he was not able to carry on, and withdrew.
Mohamed ElSherbini (EGY) bt Karim Ali Fathi (EGY) 3-0: 11-4, 3-0 rtd (12m)
Golan Downs Tandon To Reach Last 32
After waiting for almost an hour after the delay in the Selby-Ibrahim game, Borja Golan eventually got onto court in Qatar, and he got the better of Ramit Tandon to advance to the second round.
The Spaniard showed his class throughout the match, and he also used his nous and experience to get the job done. He will now fa ePaul Coll on the glass court on Sunday evening.
“I was ready to play. The injury [to Ibrahim] happened just after 3, so I stopped warming up, and then I started doing it patches. It is not ideal, but after so many years, it does get easier,” Golan explained of the delay.
“I was happy with my match because the last few weeks were not great. I was at home with my daughters and I did not sleep that much, so when I got to Cairo, I was not at my best. I came into this tournament with a lot of doubts, so I was focussed today and everything worked well.”
Borja Golan (ESP) bt Ramit Tandon (IND) 3-0: 11-9, 11-6, 11-3 (31m)
Hesham Fights Past Richards
Egypt’s Mazen Hesham is through to the second round of the Men’s World Championship after overcoming a tough test from England’s Tom Richards.
The ‘Black Falcon’ needed every fibre of his being to win the first game, which went all the way to 17-15. From there, though, he was able to control the match, winning both the second and third games 11-8 to take the victory.
“I didn’t feel comfortable at all. I was trying to keep ahead a couple of points, but I didn’t manage it consistently enough to be able to relax a bit,” Hesham explained.
“Taking the first game was massive for me, it was a big boost of confidence. But he moved me around very today, while I think I was patient enough at times and managed to play the big points a bit better than he did.”
Mazen Hesham (EGY) bt Tom Richards (ENG) 3-0: 17-15, 11-8, 11-8 (43m)
Castagnet Cruises Into Round 2
Frenchman Mathieu Castagnet made his way into the second round of the Men’s World Championships, after a comfortable victory against Canada’s Shawn DeLierre.
Castagnet made light work of the match, winning in straight games in just under half an hour with an 11-7, 11-8, 11-4 scoreline to book his place in the last 32.
“I had never played him but he really astonished me with how well he read my game. Normally, I have a few deceiving shots that give me a point or two per game but he seemed to read them all,” Castagnet explained.
“I’m very happy I came back from 4-0 down in the second, because against such a player, you don’t want to be 1-1. You just don’t. If you give him a sniff at it, you will find yourself under a lot of pressure.”
Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) bt [L] Shawn DeLierre (CAN) 3-0: 11-7, 11-8, 11-4 (29m)