Egypt’s Amr Shabana kicked off the defence of his ATCO PSA World Series Finals title in fine style at The Queen’s Club in London by upsetting England’s second seed Nick Matthew in today’s first pool round of the flagship PSA World Tour championship featuring the world’s top eight players.
Shabana, the four-time world champion from Cairo whose World Series Finals success last year gave him his maiden title in the UK, despatched world number two Matthew 11-6, 11-6 in 28 minutes.
The illustrious Egyptian was “too sharp tonight” conceded Yorkshireman Matthew (pictured above with Shabana) later. “I need to improve against @MoElshorbagy tomorrow or I’m going home early,” the 32-year-old from Sheffield told his Twitter followers.
But there was better Yorkshire success for top seed James Willstrop. The former world number one from Leeds got his campaign off to a perfect start when he eased past Egypt’s Karim Darwish 11-9 11-5 in his opening pool match on the unique all-glass Z-Court.
“When you’re No1 in the world and you have losses I think you want to prove yourself a bit,” said Willstrop after his match. “This is a big event for me.”
Simon Rosner, the world No16 who became the first German to qualify for the event after the late withdrawal of world champion Ramy Ashour, made an impressive debut by taking the opening game against third seeded Frenchman Gregory Gaultier.
But twice winner Gaultier, who has made the final in all his four appearances in the event, recovered the advantage to close out the match 10-12, 11-4, 11-7.
The tournament’s round robin format means that both Matthew and Barker can still qualify for Saturday’s semi-finals (which will be broadcast live on Sky Sports 3). Matthew takes on El Shorbagy on Thursday, while Barker must try and overcome Shabana.
1st pool round:
4 Mohamed El Shorbagy (EGY) bt  Peter Barker (ENG) 11-6, 11-7 (22m)
5 Amr Shabana (EGY) bt  Nick Matthew (ENG) 11-6, 11-6 (28m)
1 James Willstrop (ENG) bt  Karim Darwish (EGY) 11-9, 11-5 (29m)
3 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt  Simon Rosner (GER) 10-12, 11-4, 11-7