Willstrop's Allam British Open Title Hopes Still Alive

World squash number three James Willstrop’s hopes of securing a first British Open title are still alive after defeating South African Steve Coppinger 3-1 in a nail-biting first round match today (Tuesday, May 21st).

Willstrop, who hails from Pontefract in West Yorkshire, took 57 minutes to stop Coppinger 12/10, 11/8, 9/11, 12/10 at Hull’s KC Stadium as the two players traded points in the most exciting match of the tournament so far.
He joins fellow Yorkshireman and world number two Nick Matthew in the second round of the Allam British Open, as well as top seed, Egyptian Ramy Ashour.

A delighted Willstrop described winning his first round match as a ‘very positive’ thing.

He said: “I came through it when he was making some very serious challenges and that is positive.
“I try not to worry, I try to focus on what I am doing, try to keep relaxed and breath.”

Willstrop is seeded to meet the world number one Ramy Ashour in the semi-final on Saturday in a repeat of last year’s epic encounter at the O2 Arena.

Ashour dominated from the off in his match against fellow Egyptian Omar Mossad with some extremely precise hitting and deft foot work. Looking relaxed, the number one seed drew blood quickly and was soon 3-0 up. Mossad came back but soon found himself dancing round to court to lose the game 11/4.

In the second game Mossad fought back strongly to open up a 6-1 lead. But Ashour refocused to take five points on the trot to draw level at six all. Mossad continued to fight hard to Ashour proved too much for the underdog, eventually taking the second game 11/9.

Mossad again showed his mettle in the third game, attacking strongly and taking the score to 6-3. But Ashour again fought back, this time displaying some moments of brilliance, to win eight points consecutively to take the final game 11/6, and the match 3-0.

Speaking after his victory, Ashour described the present season as his ‘hardest but most successful’.
He said: “There is a lot of tough players (in the Allam British Open). Of course I want to win but if I don’t it will be because of a better player than me.”
 
The opening match of the day saw qualifier Chris Simpson caused the first notable upset of the tournament with a win over Nicolas Mueller.
Mueller had the better of the opening exchanges but Simpson stepped it up in the second, hitting better length and width which secured the second game to take the match to 1-1.
The Guernsey-born 26-year-old fell behind in the third but came back strongly from 6-1 down to celebrate with a fist pump and win the game 11/9 to take a crucial 2-1 lead.

There was no stopping Simpson in the fourth as he confidently stormed through to take the fourth 11/4 and for the first time in his career book a place in the second round.

A delighted Simpson told the Hull crowd: “Qualifying was very tough but I treated today like a new tournament.  I started a bit slowly but then adapted well to the outdoor court, I’m so pleased to have won!”

In slightly peculiar twist of fate Karim Abdel Gawad and Joe Lee ended up playing each other for the second time in the tournament after the Englishman was awarded a lucky loser spot after the qualifying finals.

Unfortunately for Lee he could not avenge his previous defeat in qualifying to the Egyptian and went down by the same 3-1 scoreline.

“It was a very close game and I was lucky to win today,” Gawad reflected afterwards.
Australian Cameron Pilley was clearly fired up for his first round match against Ong Beng Hee as he proved too strong for the Malaysian in the first game sweeping him aside 11/1.

The third was a much tighter affair but the Australian managed to find another gear and some great lengths to close it out. 
Speaking to the Yorkshire crowd afterwards Pilley said: “I tried to stamp my authority on the match and focussed on getting a good length on the court.”

The last match of the afternoon session featured the wildcard Adrian Waller against the German number one Simon Rosner.  Two games down the young Englishman fought back brilliantly in the third to earn game ball by commanding the court and converting at the first time of asking. 

It looked to be game on but Rosner was not in the mood to be taken to five and he raced to claim a comfortable lead in the fourth and picked up the pace to win the match. 

The first round of the women’s matches were all completed at Pontefract today with a few surprise results.
The most notable upset was by England’s Sarah-Jane Perry who managed one of the best victories of her career so far with a 3-1 win against the seventh seed, Malaysian Low Wee Wern.
"It's going pretty well at the minute," admitted a delighted Perry. "I said to my mum yesterday that if the match took over an hour I would lose, but it was just over, I think, and I won! The second was important, she was starting to get into the rallies and picking off anything I left short, so to go 2-0 up was a massive boost.

"It's my first win over a top ten player in WSA, so it's going pretty well, I didn't expect to do this well this soon ...” added Perry.

There was no such problems for fellow Malaysian and the world number one, Nicol David.  The reigning champion swept aside Joshana Chinappa 3-0 in thirty minutes.

It was a great day all round for England’s female players with five players through to tomorrow’s second round.
Laura Massaro defeated Joey Chan after a tense opening game that saw the world number two get off to a tentative start edging the first 14/12 before finding her feet and taking control to win comfortably.

Elsewhere there were victories for last year’s finalist Nour El Sherbini and third seed Raneem El Weleily.
 
Men’s Round One Top Half
[Q] Chris Simpson (Eng) bt Nicolas Mueller (Sui) 7/11, 11/6, 11/9, 11/4 (50m)
[Q] Karim Abdel Gawad (Egy) bt [LL] Joe Lee (Eng) 12/10, 11/4, 2/11, 11/8 (58m)
Cameron Pilley (Aus) bt Ong Beng Hee (Mas) 11/1, 11/8, 114/12 (46m)
Simon Rosner (Ger) bt Adrian Waller (Eng) 11/4, 12/10, 8/11, 11/6 (46m)
[1] Ramy Ashour (Egy) bt Omar Mosaad (Egy) 11/4, 11/9, 11/6 (39m)
[8] Borja Golan (Esp) bt Adrian Grant (Eng) 11/4, 11/2, 8/11, 11/9 (59m)
[3] James Willstrop (Eng) bt Steve Coppinger (Rsa) 12/10, 11/8, 9/11, 12/10 (57m)
[6] Mohamed El Shorbagy (Egy) bt Miguel Angel Rodriguez (Col) 11/6, 11/7, 11/6 (34m)
Women’s Round One (Played at Pontefract)
Sarah-Jane Perry (Eng) bt [7] Low Wee Wern (Mas) 11/7, 13/11, 7/11, 11/9 (62m)
[12] Kasey Brown (Aus) bt [Q] Lauren Briggs (Eng) 11/6, 11/5, 11/7 (39m)
[4] Alison Waters (Eng) bt Emily Whitlock (Eng) 11/13, 11/7, 11/7, 11/9 (56m)
[16] Rachael Grinham (Aus) bt [Q] Nicolette Fernandes (Guy) 10/12, 1/11, 11/7, 11/9, 11/8 (58m)
[6] Joelle King (Nzl) bt [Q] Sam Cornett (Can) 11/8, 11/7, 11/8 (34m)
[13] Annie Au (Hkg) bt Aisling Blake (Irl) 11/9, 8/11, 11/6, 11/6 (56m)
[1] Nicol David (Mas) bt [Q] Joshana Chinappa (Ind) 11/4, 11/5, 11/4 (30m)
Sarah Kippax (Eng) bt [10] Natalie Grinham (Ned) 9/11, 13/11, 11/6, 9/11, 11/7 (68m)
Nour El Tayeb (Egy) bt [9] Camille Serme (Fra) 10/12, 11/6, 11/7, 11/5 (49m)
[8] Jenny Duncalf (Eng) bt [Q] Latasha Khan (Usa) 11/4, 11/2, 11/2 (24m)
[11] Madeline Perry (Irl) bt [Q] Emma Beddoes (Eng) 12/10, 11/8, 11/9 (44m)
[3] Raneem El Weleily (Egy) bt [Q] Delia Arnold (Mas) 8/11, 11/7, 11/3, 11/4 (39m)
[14] Omneya Abdel Kawy (Egy) bt Donna Urquhart (Aus) 11/9, 11/4, 11/4 (22m)
[5] Nour El Sherbini (Egy) bt [Q]Amanda Sobhy (Usa) 12/10, 9/11, 14/12, 11/7 (47m)
[15] Dipika Pallikal (Ind) bt Line Hansen (Den) 13/11, 14/16, 11/6, 8/11, 11/4 (76m)
[2] Laura Massaro (Eng) bt Joey Chan (Hkg) 14/12, 11/1, 11/6 (29m)

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