Egypt’s former World No.1 Karim Abdel Gawad led the top seeds into the next round of the Channel VAS Championships at St. George’s Hill as the quarter final places were confirmed at the PSA World Tour Gold tournament taking place in Weybridge, England.
Gawad survived a comeback charge from England’s World No.42 George Parker in an entertaining four game battle at the St. George’s Hill Lawn Tennis Club as he claimed a hard fought 13-11, 11-3, 4-11, 11-7 victory in 51 minutes.
The World No.4 took an important first game on the tie-break before doubling his lead comfortably in the second. However, Parker made life difficult for Gawad with an impressive performance to take the third, but unfortunately for the feisty Englishman it was not enough with Gawad utilising his experience in the fourth to claim the victory.
“Over these past years, I’ve managed to work on my fitness and on my squash, but the thing I still need to improve vastly is my concentration and my mental consistency,” said Gawad afterwards.
“I used to lose the first game, now I win it most of the time and I’m trying to be in strong from the word go. I feel that I’m still in and out during matches and that’s what I really need to improve in the coming weeks and months.”
Gawad will take on compatriot and World No.10 Marwan ElShorbagy in the quarter finals tomorrow after he battled past Malaysia’s World No.32 Eain Yow Ng.
The 21-year-old Malaysian gave a good account of himself to cause some problems for the younger ElShorbagy brother, but ultimately, he took control to close out in four games.
“I knew how tough this match was going to be,” said 26-year-old ElShorbagy. “I have played with him once or twice in practice and I know how much he has improved and how well he has done this season.
“He did well in the Malaysian Open in September and moved to Bristol a few weeks back – we’re really happy to have him there and think he will add a lot to the city. He’s a former World Junior Champion and I’m pretty sure he will have a great career in the PSA.”
Meanwhile, New Zealand’s World No.5 Paul Coll and Wales’ World No.12 Joel Makin will go head-to-head in the other quarter final in the bottom half of the draw.
Coll, who lifted the title back in 2016, showed no signs of a hangover from the PSA Men’s World Championship last week in Qatar where he reached the final for the first time in his career as he swept aside England’s former World No.9 Daryl Selby in straight-games in a confident performance.
“It was a perfect match for me really, I had a little bit of a niggle in Qatar, but I didn’t feel it at all today,” said Coll afterwards. “I took a couple of days off after Qatar and went to Birmingham to see my coach, Rob Owen. We just had a light week and did some really good hitting just to get me sharp, but nothing too physical. I’ve had a lot of physio and rehab so I’m feeling really good.
“I love this court and I’ve got some good memories here. When you’ve got good memories somewhere it’s always good to come back and play, so I’m looking forward to this week.”
Makin and Coll will go head-to-head for the sixth time in their careers after the 25-year-old Welshman prevailed against a resilient Mathieu Castagnet of France in four games.
World No.12 Makin continued his fine run of form that has served him well during the first half of the season as he was clinical to open up a 2-0 lead. Castagnet, who looked down and out at the end of the second game, rallied back to take the third but Makin was able to get back to basics in the fourth to cut out the errors and break away to take an 11-7, 11-7, 8-11, 11-6 win in 61 minutes.
“I’ve tried to add a bit more variation to my game and be a bit more severe on the short balls,” said 25-year-old Makin. “Like Mathieu started to do to me today, he slowed the pace down and really got control of the game to get me stuck behind, so I had to get back in front and inject a bit more pace and be a bit more severe going short.
“I played and lost against Paul a couple of times, in the British Open in the first round – that was a long hard match. We have played a fair amount recently and if I want to reach the top eight, that’s the kind of matches I will need to start winning.”
The quarter finals of the Channel VAS Championships take place tomorrow (Friday November 22) at 17:30 local time (GMT) with the action shown live on SquashTV (rest of world), Eurosport Player (Europe only) and the official Facebook page of the PSA World Tour (excluding Europe and Japan).
Results: 2019 Channel VAS Championships at St George’s Hill Round Two (Bottom half)
 Paul Coll (NZL) bt Daryl Selby (ENG) 3-0: 11-4, 11-8, 11-8 (43m)
 Joel Makin (WAL) bt Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) 3-1: 11-7, 11-7, 8-11, 11-6 (61m)
 Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) bt Eain Yow Ng (MAS) 3-1: 11-9, 11-6, 5-11, 11-6 (49m)
 Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) bt George Parker (ENG) 3-1: 13-11, 11-3, 4-11, 11-7 (51m)
*Draw: 2019 Channel VAS Championships at St George’s Hill Quarter Finals – To be played Friday November 22 *
 Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) v  Saurav Ghosal (IND)
 Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY) v Mazen Hesham (EGY)
 Paul Coll (NZL) v  Joel Makin (WAL)
 Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) v  Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY)