England’s Daryl Selby provided the biggest shock on the opening day of the St. James’s Place Canary Wharf Classic, as he beat Welsh World No.10 Joel Makin in the first round at the spectacular East Wintergarden in London.
It was the third time that the pair were meeting on the PSA World Tour, after facing off against each other twice in the space of six days in September 2016, and like the first two, this one went the way of the Englishman as well.
The two-game clash lasted more than 50 minutes, a match that seemed to never end, but there was some top quality squash from both players, with Selby producing several fine shots to put Makin off his rhythm.
After going 6-0 up in the first, Selby went on to take the early lead in the match, but the second went the other way, with the Golden Tiger taking the lead. However, the Englishman saved seven game balls to pull it back from 10-5 down to win it 15-13, taking the victory to set up a clash with World Champion Tarek Momen in the last 16.
“I got off to a good start which is important in best-of-three, and I am not notoriously a good starter. It wasn’t quick, as you would expect with someone like Joel. I felt like I played good squash, and I stuck to my gameplan quite well!” Selby admitted.
“At the end of the day, I pulled out some shots at crucial times, especially in the second game. I had to be positive today because there is now way you are going to out-manoeuvre Joel. He has learnt his place in the top 10 and it is pleasing for me to get a win over a top 10 guy.
“Playing Tarek [Momen] tomorrow and I played the World No.1 in Chicago last week, now the World Champion tomorrow. I might be coming to the end but I love testing myself against the best guys to see how close I can get, just constantly trying to push and finish strong.”
Mathieu Castagnet (left) and Gregoire Marche on court in London
There were a couple of other surprise results on the opening day, with Frenchman Mathieu Castagnet and Scotland’s Greg Lobban earning victories over France’s Gregoire Marche and Egypt’s Mazen Hesham, respectively.
The World No.22 got the better of his compatriot on the glass court at East Wintergarden, after battling through a lengthy first game, taking it after half an hour. The second game was slightly more straight-forward, as he eventually came through to take the win, booking his place in the second round, where he will face World No.1 Mohamed ElShorbagy.
Lobban got the better of Hesham, who had pulled out of his third round clash at the Windy City Open presented by the Walter Family in Chicago last week, and he was clearly not fully fit here, but the Scot pushed on to secure victory, booking his place against Karim Abdel Gawad on Tuesday.
“I didn’t know which Mazen was going to turn up. I knew he was not 100%, but for me, even Mazen at 50 or 60% is a good win. You never know when he is going to roll out some winners, but I wish him a speedy recovery and hopefully he gets back to full fitness!” Lobban said.
Greg Lobban (fore) and Mazen Hesham in action
Elsewhere, there were victories for the English pair of Declan James and James Willstrop, the Egyptian duo of Omar Mosaad and Fares Dessouky, and India’s Saurav Ghosal, who all advance to the second round of the PSA Gold tournament.
St. James’s Place Canary Wharf Classic: First Round Results
Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) bt Gregoire Marche (FRA) 2-0: 12-10, 11-8 (46m)
Saurav Ghosal (IND) bt Tom Richards (ENG) 2-0: 11-7, 11-7 (25m)
James Willstrop (ENG) bt [WC] Richie Fallows (ENG) 2-0: 11-5, 11-6 (21m)
Daryl Selby (ENG) bt Joel Makin (WAL) 2-0: 11-8, 15-13 (52m)
Greg Lobban (SCO) bt Mazen Hesham (EGY) 2-0: 11-6, 11-7 (25m)
Omar Mosaad (EGY) bt Eain Yow Ng (MAS) 2-1: 7-11, 14-12, 11-8 (69m)
Fares Dessouky (EGY) bt Raphael Kandra (GER) 2-1: 8-11, 11-3, 11-5 (35m)
Declan James (ENG) bt Adrian Waller (ENG) 2-0: 12-10, 11-6 (43m)
St. James’s Place Canary Wharf Classic: Second Round Draw (Top Half) – To be played Monday 9th March
 Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) v Mathieu Castagnet (FRA)
Saurav Ghosal (IND) v  Simon Rösner (GER)
 Diego Elias (PER) v James Willstrop (ENG)
Daryl Selby (ENG) v  Tarek Momen (EGY)
St. James’s Place Canary Wharf Classic: Second Round Draw (Bottom Half) – To be played Tuesday 10th March
 Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) v Greg Lobban (SCO)
Omar Mosaad (EGY) v  Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY)
 Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY) v Fares Dessouky (EGY)
Declan James (ENG) v  Ali Farag (EGY)