Eighth seed Mohamed El Shorbagy survived a 92-minute marathon in the second round of the Delaware Investments US Open to ensure that there will be Egyptian interest in all four quarter-finals of the PSA World Series event at Drexel University in Philadelphia for the first time in the Tour event’s 27-year history.
The 21-year-old world No8 from Alexandria faced a ferocious challenge from Cameron Pilley, the world No17 from Australia. After an evenly-contested first four games – three of which went to tie-breaks – El Shorbagy was dominant in the decider to become the first player to reach the last eight.
“It’s always tough between me and Cameron, so I’m really happy to have won this time,” said El Shorbagy (pictured with Pilley) after his 10-12, 11-8, 12-10, 10-12, 11-4 victory.
But underdog Selby came close to producing a major upset. The world No11 from Essex took a 23-minute first game, and had a 9-4 lead in the third, but felt the force of the world’s top player thereafter.
“That was probably one of Daryl’s best performances,” said an impressed and relieved Willstrop. “I had to bring out my A game to get through that.”
Karim Darwish will represent Egyptian interest in the other quarter-final in the top half of the draw. The No4 seed from Cairo despatched US hope Christopher Gordon, the wildcard entrant who produced the highlight of the first round by ousting higher-ranked Egyptian Hisham Mohd Ashour.
Despite a spirited finish from the New York-born 26-year-old, Darwish was always well in control of his match against the home favourite. “You have to focus 100% on every match,” explained the former world number one. “It’s important to save energy in the early rounds if you can.”
Gordon was delighted with his performance in Philadelphia: “I feel a bit tired after that,” admitted the world No72.
“I commentated on a lot of Karim’s matches last season so I know how efficient he can be at blitzing people in the early rounds. It was so tough, his length is just immaculate and I just tried to keep it going as much as I could.
“It’s been a fantastic week, I’m so glad to have had this amazing opportunity to play these guys when I’m fresh rather than after slogging through qualifying. The support from US Squash and the crowd has been fantastic. I hope they all enjoyed it as much as I did.”
Egypt’s defending champion Amr Shabana moved closer to his fourth appearance in the final after surviving a shaky opening to his match against Laurens Jan Anjema. The Dutchman overpowered the resurgent former world number one and world champion to take the first game.
But left-hander Shabana’s silky skills and smooth shot-making started to tell as he took the next three games to win 9-11, 11-7, 11-1, 11-5 in 64 minutes.
“I had a game plan and I stuck to it,” revealed the title-holder from Cairo afterwards. “He’s physically very strong and it was tough in the beginning, but I’m happy with how I played in the end.”
Shabana will now meet No2 seed Nick Matthew in a repeat of last year’s final. The 32-year-old from Sheffield survived one of three all-English second round clashes, beating Adrian Grant 11-2, 11-5, 15-13 in 68 minutes.
Matthew took advantage of an out of sorts opponent to take the first two games – but Londoner Grant was unlucky not to take one of his three game balls before Matthew edged the third.
“He seems to come alive when he’s 2/0 down,” smiled the relieved winner. “I had a lead in the third and let it go, that’s something we’ll have to work on.”
“It’s always like that between us,” admitted Ashour, the No4 seed, after his 13-11, 11-7, 11-8 win. “It has been ever since we started playing as juniors. He’s a flying machine, you just have to try to control him.”
“I was happy with my form tonight,” said Barker, the sixth seed. “Tom maybe wasn’t at his best but I’ll take that and hope to have a good game with Ramy in the quarters.”
1 James Willstrop (ENG) bt Daryl Selby (ENG) 9-11, 11-4, 12-10, 11-5 (81m)
8 Mohamed El Shorbagy (EGY) bt Cameron Pilley (AUS) 10-12, 11-8, 12-10, 10-12, 11-4 (92m)
5 Karim Darwish (EGY) bt Christopher Gordon (USA) 11-4, 11-3, 11-8 (38m)
3 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt Borja Golan (ESP) 11-7, 11-4, 11-7 (54m)
4 Ramy Ashour (EGY) bt Tarek Momen (EGY) 13-11, 11-7, 11-8 (35m)
6 Peter Barker (ENG) bt Tom Richards (ENG) 11-5, 11-7, 11-8 (51m)
7 Amr Shabana (EGY) bt Laurens Jan Anjema (NED) 9-11, 11-7, 11-1, 11-5 (64m)
2 Nick Matthew (ENG) bt Adrian Grant (ENG) 11-2, 11-5, 15-13 (68m)
1 James Willstrop (ENG) v  Mohamed El Shorbagy (EGY)
3 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) v  Karim Darwish (EGY)
4 Ramy Ashour (EGY) v  Peter Barker (ENG)
2 Nick Matthew (ENG) v  Amr Shabana (EGY)