The opening second round match of the 2012 Delaware Investments U.S. Open at Drexel University was a marathon affair which saw eighth seeded Egyptian Mohamed El Shorbagy survive a ferocious challenge from Australia’s Cameron Pilley.
Shorbagy, was dominant in the decider though to become the first player to reach the quarterfinals “It’s always tough between me and Cameron, so I’m really happy to have won this time,” said Shorbagy. “
The first of three all-English clashes saw top seed James Willstrop take on Daryl Selby with a 10-0 PSA head to head record in favor, but Selby came close to producing a major upset. The Essex man took a 23-minute first game, and had a 9-4 lead in the third, but felt the force of Willstrop’s will thereafter.
“That was probably one of Daryl’s best performance,” said an impressed and relieved world number one, “I had to bring out my A game to get through that.”
The next two matches were 3-0 victories for Gregory Gaultier and Karim Darwish, the third and fifth seeds. Gaultier won a scrappy encounter with Borja Golan, while Darwish proved his usual efficient self as he dispatched US hope Chris Gordon.
Despite a spirited finish from Gordon, Darwish was always well in control of his match against the home favourite. “You have to focus 100% on every match,” he explained, “it’s important to save energy in the early rounds if you can.”
“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 U.S. Squash and the crowd has been fantastic, I hope they all enjoyed it as much as I did.”
Matthew took advantage of an out of sorts Adrian Grant to take the first two games 11-2, 11-5, but Grant was unlucky not to take one of his three game balls as Matthew edged the third 15-13.
“He seems to come alive when he’s 2-0 down,” smiled a relieved winner. “I had a lead in the third and let it go, that’s something we’ll have to work on.”
Ashour and Tarek Momen played out what was by the winner’s own admission a “fast and furious” three games, with court sprints, stretching retrieves, flashing winners and more all thrown in to the delight of the audience.
“It’s always like that between us,” admitted Ashour, “it has been ever since we started playing as juniors. He’s a flying machine, you just have to try to control him.”
Defending champion Amr Shabana survived a shaky opening to his match as Dutchman LJ Anjema overpowered the resurgent former world number one and world champion to take the first game, .but Shabana’s silky skills and smooth shotmaking started to tell as he took the next three games.
“I had a game plan and I stuck to it,” the defending champion revealed afterwards. “He’s physically very strong and it was tough in the beginning, but I’m happy with how I played in the end.
The final match of the day was a third all-English clash, and this one too went to the seedings as Peter Barker kept ahead of regular training partner Tom Richards, who simply couldn’t find the formula to knock the left-handed Barker out of his rhythm.
“I was happy with my form tonight,” said Barker. “Tom maybe wasn’t at his best but I’ll take that and hope to have a good game with Ramy in the quarters.
 James Willstrop (Eng) bt Daryl Selby (Eng) 9-11, 11-4, 12-10, 11-5 (81m)
 Gregory Gaultier (Fra) bt Borja Golan (Esp) 11-7, 11-4, 11-7 (54m)
 Karim Darwish (Egy) bt Christopher Gordon (Usa) 11-4, 11-3, 11-8 (38m)
 Nick Matthew (Eng) bt Adrian Grant (Eng) 11-2, 11-5, 15-13 (68m)
 Ramy Ashour (Egy) bt Tarek Momen (Egy) 13-11, 11-7, 11-8 (45m)
 Amr Shabana (Egy) bt Laurens Jan Anjema (Ned) 9-11, 11-7, 11-1, 11-5 (64m)
 Peter Barker (Eng) v Tom Richards (Eng) 11-5, 11-7, 11-8 (51m)