Egypt’s Karim Abdel Gawad recorded the first seeding upset in the Qatar PSA World Championship when he despatched England’s 14th seed Tom Richards in today’s first round of the premier championship on the PSA World Tour in the Qatar capital Doha.
World No12 Richards, a top 16 seed for the first time in the prestigious championship, twice led in the match against the lower-ranked Egyptian. But the 21-year-old from Cairo (pictured with Richards) kept fighting back – and, after drawing level, maintained the upper hand in the decider to close out the match 9-11, 11-6, 4-11, 11-5, 11-7 in 68 minutes to claim one of the biggest scalps of his career.
“Tough loss earlier, I train hard to win those matches,” Richards told his Twitter followers later. “Time to escape squash for a while!”
Gawad, who celebrated a career-high world No26 ranking last month, will now face Indian number one Saurav Ghosal, who needed just 30 minutes to see off 17-year-old Qatari wildcard Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi 11-5, 11-4, 11-9.
Omar Abdel Meguid became the first qualifier to claim a place in the second round when he outplayed world No29 Julian Illingworth to extinguish US interest in the event. Ranked almost 40 places lower, the 24-year-old from Egypt overcame a first game deficit to beat record eight-time US champion Illingworth 8-11, 15-13, 11-7, 11-4 in 75 minutes.
In a fine opening day for Egyptians, Gawad and Meguid were joined in the second round by compatriots Mohamed El Shorbagy and Karim Darwish. Fourth seed Darwish raced to the quickest first round win of the day, defeating Hungarian qualifier Mark Krajcsak 11-5, 11-3, 11-3 in just 26 minutes.
El Shorbagy, the No8 seed, survived an all-Egyptian encounter, beating Cairo-based Mohd Ali Anwar Reda 11-8, 11-9, 10-12, 11-5 in 56 minutes.
James Willstrop made a slow start in his bid to claim the title he is seeded to win. The world number one from England lost the first game to fellow countryman Chris Ryder – and only midway through the second game did he assume control before going on to brush aside his lower-ranked opponent 7-11, 11-5, 11-3, 11-2 after 52 minutes.
Willstrop’s two England team-mates in action on the opening day of first round action also secured their anticipated places in the last 32 round. Londoner Peter Barker, the sixth seed, beat New Zealander Martin Knight 11-5, 11-2, 11-3 in 27 minutes.
There was a notable upset in the all-Malaysian clash between former world No7 Ong Beng Hee and young pretender Mohd Nafiizwan Adnan. Beng Hee, the current world No22 who first began his world championship campaign in the 1997 qualifiers, took the opening game.
But Adnan, who had never before beaten his higher-ranked national rival on the PSA Tour, struck back to record a breakthrough 6-11, 11-4, 11-3, 11-7 victory in 58 minutes.
1st round (top half of draw):
1 James Willstrop (ENG) bt Chris Ryder (ENG) 7-11, 11-5, 11-3, 11-2 (52m)
Shawn Delierre (CAN) bt Adrian Waller (ENG) 12-10, 8-11, 11-7, 12-10 (102m)
Saurav Ghosal (IND) bt Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi (QAT) 11-5, 11-4, 11-9 (30m)
Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) bt  Tom Richards (ENG) 9-11, 11-6, 4-11, 11-5, 11-7 (68m)
15 Borja Golan (ESP) bt [Q] Kristian Frost Olesen (DEN) 11-6, 11-4, 11-6 (44m)
Alan Clyne (SCO) bt [Q] Charles Sharpes (ENG) 9-11, 11-5, 11-1, 11-6 (49m)
Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) bt [Q] Karim Ali Fathi (EGY) 11-7, 7-11, 14-12, 8-11, 11-8 (105m)
6 Peter Barker (ENG) bt Martin Knight (NZL) 11-5, 11-2, 11-3 (27m)
8 Mohamed El Shorbagy (EGY) bt Mohd Ali Anwar Reda (EGY) 11-8, 11-9, 10-12, 11-5 (56m)
Gregoire Marche (FRA) bt [Q] Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY) 11-2, 9-11, 11-6, 11-6 (49m)
Mohd Nafiizwan Adnan (MAS) bt Ong Beng Hee (MAS) 6-11, 11-4, 11-3, 11-7 (58m)
16 Cameron Pilley (AUS) bt [Q] Olivier Pett (ENG) 8-11, 11-8, 11-2, 11-4 (50m)
11 Daryl Selby (ENG) bt Olli Tuominen (FIN) 12-10, 11-4, 11-9 (55m)
[Q] Omar Abdel Meguid (EGY) bt Julian Illingworth (USA) 8-11, 15-13, 11-7, 11-4 (75m)
Simon Rosner (GER) bt Siddharth Suchde (IND) 11-3, 11-4, 11-5 (38m)
4 Karim Darwish (EGY) bt [Q] Mark Krajcsak (HUN) 11-5, 11-3, 11-3 (26m)