Colombia’s Miguel Rodriguez made sure it was not an Egyptian whitewash on the second day of the Houston Open, as he got the better of Egypt’s Mohamed ElSherbini to reach the quarter finals of the PSA World Tour Gold level tournament.
The 2018 British Open champion had only faced off against his Egyptian opponent once before on the Tour, with ElSherbini getting the better of a beleaguered Rodriguez in the quarter finals of the Motor City Open in February 2020.
Unlike that encounter in Detroit, this battle between the pair was tight throughout, with neither man holding a large advantage in any of the three games. At all the right times though, the Colombian was able to steer the match in his favour.
After winning the first game on a tie-break, 12-10, the World No.10 was just able to keep ElSherbini at bay for the rest of the match, winning out in three to book his place in the last eight at Houston Squash Club.
“When we played each other the first time, I was injured, but Mohamed is climbing the rankings and is a talented and skilful player,” the Colombian said.
“I had to put my balls at the back of the court and work with my speed and move the ball around. It worked, the first game was the key, but I kept it patient, was focused and I had a great performance.
“Age is just a number and I’m still enjoying my game. I don’t want to retire soon, so I’m just focusing on being better every day, every year and doing things differently to last year. For now, I’m just happy to be back here in Houston, this is my second or third time, and I’m very grateful to win this match.”
The only all-Egyptian battle of the second day also brought the only upset, as Youssef Soliman overcame No.8 seed Youssef Ibrahim to secure his place in the quarter finals of the Gold level event.
Ibrahim was the higher-ranked player coming into the contest, sitting three places above his compatriot in the world rankings, but it was Soliman that was able to win in straight games, getting the better of the World No.15 in their first ever encounter on the PSA World Tour.
“Today was way different to yesterday, yesterday I was coping with Nathan’s game plan, today I was coping with my nerves,” Soliman said.
“Youssef is up and coming and he’s talented and I tried to contain him. It was a nervy start and a nervy end but I’m glad to be through.
“Ali is my training partner, I train with him every day and he teases me every single second. He looks at me and teases me about what I wear, how I play squash, everything, so it will be different. I have to be aggressive against him and it will be exciting.”
Soliman will now face World No.1 Ali Farag, who got his campaign underway with a comfortable victory over Germany’s Raphael Kandra in the opening match of the day. The other match of Wednesday’s action saw Egypt’s Mostafa Asal beat Switzerland’s Dimitri Steinmann in straight games.
The second round continues tomorrow, Thursday, January 6, at 17:00 (GMT-6) with live action being shown on SQUASHTV.
Second Round Results (Top Half): Houston Open
 Ali Farag (EGY) bt Raphael Kandra (GER) 3-0: 11-3, 11-6, 11-4 (26m)
Youssef Soliman (EGY) bt  Youssef Ibrahim (EGY) 3-0: 11-7, 11-8, 11-9 (58m)
 Miguel Rodriguez (COL) bt Mohamed ElSherbini (EGY) 3-0: 12-10, 11-8, 11-8 (47m)
 Mostafa Asal (EGY) bt Dimitri Steinmann (SUI) 3-0: 11-3, 11-4, 11-8 (46m)
Second Round Draw (Bottom Half): Houston Open (To Be Played Thursday 6th)
 Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) v Cesar Salazar (MEX)
Nicolas Mueller (SUI) v  Mazen Hesham (EGY)
 Gregoire Marche (FRA) v Omar Mosaad (EGY)
Shahjahan Khan (USA) v Nathan Lake (ENG)
Quarter Final Draw (Top Half): Houston Open (To Be Played Friday 7th)
 Ali Farag (EGY) v Youssef Soliman (EGY)
 Miguel Rodriguez (COL) v  Mostafa Asal (EGY)