Day THREE : Quarter-finalists are settled

Quarter-Finalists settled on Day Three

The remaining top seeds joined in for the conclusion of Round Two, with four matches from the bottom half of the draw, including two of those battling to capture top spot in the world rankings.

All the matches went to seeding, with Mazen Hesham, Paul Coll and Ali Farag winning in straight games, while veteran wildcard James Willstrop pushed Mohamed ElShorbagy all the way before finally succumbing in a tense decider.

Read on for reports and reaction …

GillenMarkets Canary Wharf Classic 2023 : Day THREE, Round TWO (bottom)

[8] Mazen Hesham (Egy) 2-0 [9/16] Nicolas Mueller (Sui)  11-9, 11-6 (28m)

[4] Paul Coll (Nzl) 2-0 [9/16] Karim Abdel Gawad (Egy)  11-9, 11-9 (40m)

[2] Ali Farag (Egy) 2-0 Eain Yow Ng (Mas)  11-5, 11-9 (22m)

[5] Mohamed ElShorbagy (Eng) 2-1 [wc] James Willstrop (Eng)  12-10, 12-14, 11-8 (49m)


[8] Mazen Hesham (Egy) 2-0 [9/16] Nicolas Mueller (Sui)  11-9, 11-6 (28m)

Mazen edges past Mueller

In the opening match of Day Three Egypt’s Mazen Hesham got the better of Nicolas Mueller in two tight games.

The Swiss will feel unlucky not to take the first game, and was right in the mix until the end of the second before Heaham reeled off a run of points to take the match.

“Usually me and Nicky play tough matches. I’ve managed to get there in the end every time, but you never know… I’ve had a few match balls before when I’ve played him, and he had a few match balls against me,” Hesham said.

“I think I did really to win the first game, and especially 11-9, squeezing it.

“Everybody wants to play here, everybody is just supportive for the sport, they really enjoy it, they know the players, everything about it. It’s always a pleasure playing here for this crowd. I really enjoy being here.”

[4] Paul Coll (Nzl) 2-0 [9/16] Karim Abdel Gawad (Egy)   11-9, 11-9 (40m)

Coll squeezes past Gawad

Nothing to separate these former world number ones, but tonight it was Coll who eked out the win, taking the first on a no let decision, and the second on a dying length. Could have gone either way … oh yes.

“When I saw the draw I knew it was going to be tight one, best of 3 is about winning the big points, in my opinion. I was very happy with how I won the back end of each game today, both games were 9-all and I played good squash to close them out.

“I see so many people, familiar faces and friends here, it’s wicked, it’s so cool to have that sort of feeling. I think it does the tournament justice. It’s quite a tournament, most players want to play and that shows by the depth of the field. The boys battling it out for world number one this week, I think they had no choice but to play it.”

[2] Ali Farag (Egy) 2-0 Eain Yow Ng (Mas)  11-5, 11-9 (22m)

Second Seed Farag through in two

World Champion Ali Farag, seeking his first Canary Wharf title, moved into the quarter-finals with a solid two game win over Malaysia’s Eain Yow Ng.

“I’m super happy. The four matches I’ve played so far since I got back, I’ve dropped all the first games. So I had to change something, especially in the best of three format. I think I did that well today. I think I was controlling the ’T’ for most of the match.

“Mid-injury, I thought I would never get back to my full self again, but I feel closer to it every tournament, which feels amazing. I wouldn’t say I’m there yet, but the plan is to be there by the World Champs, if I keep on improving tournament after tournament, I’m a very happy man.

“I just heard that 25% of the draw are former or current World Number ones, it’s Canary Wharf, it’s the history, the procedures, the 20th time it’s been held, the venue, the crowd, everything about it, that we all aspire to come back to.”

[5] Mohamed ElShorbagy (Eng) 2-1 [wc] James Willstrop (Eng)  12-10, 12-14, 11-8 (49m)

ElShorbagy ousts Willstrop in all-English thriller

What a match to conclude round two as Mohamed ElShorbagy kept his bid to regain the World #1 spot alive with a thrilling victory over four-time champion James Willstrop.

ElShorbagy edged home in a tight opening game, but Willstrop levelled in an equally close second, taking it on his fourth game ball. Willstrop had a lead in the middle of the decider, but it was ElsShorbagy who found the necessary to close out the match 11-8 after 48 minutes, the longest of the tournament so far.

“It was obviously a great match for the crowd. James was James, if you will give him any opening he is so accurate. We played a high quality match. I lost the second game, I was a bit flat of course you are going to be flat when you’ve just won a tournament.”

“Every time I play Ali I always look forward to it. Every time we step on court together it’s always huge and it doesn’t matter where we play, which round we play, we are the two players who have achieved the most within the past five or six years.”