DOHA (AFP) – Newly elevated world number one Mohamed El Shorbagy hurtled into the third round of the World Open in less than half an hour and then explained how he likes the view from top spot.
“I feel better trying to protect this ranking than trying to get it,” he claimed after a 11-6, 11-4, 11-1 win over Mahesh Mangaonkar, a 20-year-old member of India’s Asian Games gold medal winning team.
There was evidence of this in the way El Shorbagy steadily increased his domination of the match against one of the world’s most promising young players. After a well-contested first game, and an increase in the weight of his drives in the second, he made a fierce surge in the second half of the third, taking the last nine points, and finishing amidst laughter as he played five wall-clinging drop shots in a row in the final rally.
Matthew, the defending champion, whom El Shorbagy could meet in Thursday’s semi-finals, may have other views, especially after a typically efficient performance in disposing of Gregoire Marche, the promising world number 29 from France, 11-6, 11-3, 11-4.
The Englishman kept his pace high, volleyed with predatory skill, and forced his opponent into an increasing ratio of errors. He talked a good match too.
Matthew now pays Saurav Ghosal, the Leeds-based top 20 Indian with whom he has been practising. It may, Matthew admitted, be harder to extract errors from him.
Gaultier, who is seeded to meet El Shorbagy in Friday’s final, had a rest day and the Frenchman will attempt to reach the quarterfinals on Tuesday when he takes on Omar Mosaad, the ninth-seeded Egyptian. But Amr Shabana, the elder statesman of world squash, whom El Shorbagy could conceivably meet in the semi-finals, won the day’s best match. The 35-year-old Egyptian did that by producing a magical transformation which suggested his chances of winning a fifth World Open title may yet be alive.