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Marwan ElShorbagy

Houston Open Day Three: Player Reaction

Round two of the Houston Open concludes today with play getting under way at 17:00 (GMT-6) at the Houston Squash Club.

No.4 seed Marwan ElShorbagy is up against Mexico's Cesar Salazar in the evening's first match, while Switzerland's Nicolas Mueller takes on talented Egyptian Mazen Hesham at 18:00.

Frenchman Gregoire Marche then takes to court against former World No.3 Omar Mosaad, before Nathan Lake – granted a granted 'Lucky Loser' status following the withdrawal of Mohamed ElShorbagy – brings play to a close against USA's Shahjahan Khan.

All four of the evening's matches will be shown live on SQUASHTV, while you can keep up to date with all the action by visiting our live scoring page.

We'll also have reports and reaction from all the matches below.

Order of Play
All times are local (GMT-6)

ElShorbagy Through to Last Eight

Marwan ElShorbagy takes on Cesar Salazar

World No.7 Marwan ElShorbagy booked his place in the quarter finals of the Houston Open after he got the better of Mexico’s Cesar Salazar, winning 11-8, 11-7, 11-7 in 34 minutes.

ElShorbagy had won five of their previous six matches on the PSA Tour, but the pair were meeting for the first time since the 2018 Allam British Open. ElShorbagy won 3-1 on that occasion but was able to complete a comprehensive 3-0 victory this time around to claim his 250th win on the PSA Tour.

The 28-year-old won the Houston Open in 2016 and will take on either No.6 seed Mazen Hesham or Switzerland’s Nicolas Mueller in the next round.

“I’m very happy to see Cesar back on court,” said ElShorbagy afterwards.

“He’s been struggling for a very long time with injuries, and I think he got COVID last year and struggled with it afterwards. It’s really good to see him back, he’s done a lot for squash in Mexico and I’m really happy to share a court with him once again. We’ve had so many good battles before.

“It’s a shame that ToC got postponed because of the new variant… hopefully we get more of a consistent calendar. After this tournament I’m going to take some time off and hopefully have a good patch of training for the rest of the season.”

Result
[4] Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) bt Cesar Salazar (MEX) 3-0: 11-8, 11-7, 11-7 (34m)

Hesham Wins Five-Game-Thriller

Mazen Hesham takes on Nicolas Mueller

Egypt’s Mazen Hesham overcame Switzerland’s Nicolas Mueller in an entertaining five-game battle to set up a quarter final clash with No.4 seed Marwan ElShorbagy.

World No.13 Hesham looked out of sorts in the early exchanges. Mueller stepped up on the ’T’ and attacked well to take a comfortable win in the opening game.

Hesham had an answer for his opponent though and ramped up the pace of the match as well as responding with some attacking quality of his own to take the next two games.

The Egyptian’s hold was evident in the third as he deceived his opponent numerous times, but Mueller was finally able to weather the storm in the fourth, taking seven straight points after finding himself 7-5 down to draw level at two games apiece.

The match looked to be slipping away from Hesham as Mueller took an 8-4 lead in the decider, but it was at that moment that Hesham rediscovered the attacking shots that propelled him to victory in the second and third games.

He unleashed a series of superb winners at the front of the court and was finally able to overcome his opponent courtesy of a 12-10 win on the tie-break.

“It was really tough today and I had to work until the end,” Hesham said.

“To be honest, I’m not happy with the way I performed today, I can perform much better than this. All credit to Nicky, he pushed me really hard and he played the right game plan. Not to take anything away from him, but I expected more from myself.

“But a win is a win and I’m happy to win in a tournament like this, it’s very close to my heart. I know everybody here, it’s like a second home here, so it’s really good to win in front of them. I’ll focus on the next round now and see how it goes.

“I’ve played Marwan a few games and the head-to-head goes to him. I’ll try to rest and come back with a better performance than today.”

Result
[6] Mazen Hesham (EGY) bt Nicolas Mueller (SUI) 3-2: 4-11, 11-8, 11-9, 7-11, 12-10 (62m)

Marche Books Last Eight Berth

Gregoire Marche in action

Frenchman Gregoire Marche was in fine form to dispatch former World No.3 Omar Mosaad in straight games.

Marche had never beaten the Egyptian in three previous attempts but he started the better of the two today in Houston with an almost flawless performance from the World No.12 – allied with a number of errors from Mosaad – granting him a victory in game one.

Mosaad cut down the error count in the second and was duly awarded with a 7-4 lead, but Marche was able to turn the tables and reeled off seven points in succession to double his advantage.

And he raced away to victory in the third to set up a quarter final meeting with either USA’s Shahjahan Khan or England’s Nathan Lake.

“I think in the first game he had a really slow start, maybe he wasn’t as ready mentally as I was,” Marche said.

“I knew I had to be really accurate from the beginning, so that’s what I did. He made a few errors at the beginning, so of course that helped me a lot. Then he started to play much better and I didn’t feel that good with my shots today, so I told myself to be patient and be tight to the walls.

“That’s what I did at the crucial times and it’s what I need to do tomorrow again. I’m happy with the way I beat Omar, he’s been at No.3 in the world for a reason, so every time you go on court with him it’s a big battle. Today I’ve shown I’m capable of beating these guys 3-0, so it’s good to be a bit fresher for tomorrow and we’ll see how it goes.”

Marche is one of three Frenchmen to be ranked inside the top 20 for the first time since December 2004, and the 31-year-old discussed the recent influx of French players at the top of the rankings.

“It’s all because of Thierry Lincou and Greg Gaultier, they’ve been at the top for so many years,” he said.

“It motivates the young players, when I was younger I was watching Thierry and Greg and being part of the same team was an honour for me. Being No.1 in France is something I’m proud of and I hope I can get the French flag on top again.

“We have a really good group, the atmosphere is really good between us and it’s like Egypt, there are so many young players in Egypt, which is why you can see the rising stars coming up. We are far from this, but from a country like France, it’s really good to see so many players in the top 50 and three players in the top 20 now.

“It’s a shame there wasn’t the World Teams in December which we were looking forward to, so we hope next time it will be good.”

Result
[7] Gregoire Marche (FRA) bt Omar Mosaad (EGY) 3-0: 11-3, 11-7, 11-5 (45m)

Lake Secures Maiden Gold Quarter Final Berth

Nathan Lake in action

Nathan Lake is through to the last eight of the Houston Open, after a convincing performance to get the better of USA’s Shahjahan Khan, with the Englishman making it into the quarters of a Gold level tournament for the first time,

Lake came into the contest having won all three of their previous meetings, including beating the American in the final of the Wakefield PSA in both of their last appearances on Tour in 2021.

The first game was tight, and arguably was key to the rest of the contest. Lake took it on a tie-break 13-11, before then allowing Khan to score just four points in the second game. The American then had game balls in the third, but he was unable to take either of them, as Lake came through to win it 12-10 to set up a quarter final tie with Frenchman Gregoire Marche.

“Absolute rollercoaster. I didn’t know how to feel, obviously very disappointed to lose to [Youssef] Soliman so close.

“Then yesterday, I didn’t know whether to feel pressure that I was back in the tournament, guilty that I was back in, whether I should feel upset that I lost the day before. It’s weird, but I am really happy to have taken advantage of it and won in three.

“Looking forward to it. England v France is always good fun, but of rivalry there from over the years. Just looking forward to playing on this court again, loving the club, great to see a new facility. Looking forward to the battle, he [Greg Marche] played really well today so it will be a good challenge, a good chance to hopefully play some good squash.

“Masbeth is a cool place, in Queens, steel court, it is really exciting what they are doing there. And Wakefield is a great place, a friend of mine coaches there, Mark Broekman. They’re both great facilities and doing great things for squash.”

Result
Nathan Lake (ENG) bt Shahjahan Khan (USA) 3-0: 13-11, 11-4, 12-10 (54m)

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