Egypt’s Fares Dessouky announced his arrival as a bonafide top 10 player after a superb victory over three-time World Champion Nick Matthew on the second day of the 2017 El Gouna International Squash Open, World Series tournament – a month after he lost out to the Englishman in the final of the Canary Wharf Classic.
Dessouky twice fell behind to the 36-year-old veteran, but an impressive fightback in the fourth and fifth games saw the tide turn in the World No.9’s favour and he battled to a 10-12, 11-4, 7-11, 11-5, 11-6 triumph in El Gouna’s New Marina to record one of the biggest wins of his career.
“I’m very happy with the win, last time it was a close game and I lost it 3-1,” said Dessouky, a semi-finalist here last year.
“He’s very experienced and today I don’t know how I won. The crowd was always behind me from the first point, so that was a great thing for me today. It gave me a push and I kept on going from the first point to the end of the game.
“I love playing here and I always dream of winning this tournament. I didn’t play well in Al Ahram, so I hope to play well here and achieve more than the semi-final. I’m just thinking about things step-by-step. It’s always great to be here playing in front of this great crowd.”
Dessouky’s compatriot, World No.6 Ali Farag, couldn’t follow him into the second round after a surprise defeat to Peruvian World No.22 Diego Elias.
Elias, two-time World Junior Champion, has struggled to translate his junior success into senior triumphs, but looked to have turned a corner in his still fledging career as he put in a mature and focused performance to overturn a recent, and painful, losing streak against Farag.
In their last two meetings, Elias found himself on the wrong side of a 3-2 scoreline – having squandered 2-1 game leads on both occasions – but turned the tables as he took advantage of a misfiring Farag early on to secure a huge win that takes him through to meet Mexican Cesar Salazar in the second round.
“I knew it was going to be a very tough match because I lost to him 3-2 the last two times,” said Elias.
“Those two defeats really hurt – I was 2-1 up in both – so I was very determined today to try and turn it around and I’m really happy. I knew the crowd would be behind him but I stuck to my plan and kept my focus.
“I came in with a plan and it worked. I have been on Tour for a few years now and lost a lot of very tough matches. I feel like I know how to deal with the situation much better now and I’m really looking forward to playing Cesar in the next round.”
Elsewhere, World Champion Karim Abdel Gawad bounced back from a disappointing second round exit at last month’s Allam British Open with a 3-0 win over compatriot Zahed Mohamed.
Gawad, the World No.2 who could top the World Rankings next month if results go his way in El Gouna, claimed an 11-8, 11-9, 11-9 victory to set up a second round clash with Spain’s Borja Golan – the former World No.5 who scalped Gawad during February’s Windy City Open.
“It’s very important to come back, mentally and physically, after playing so many tournaments this season,” Gawad said.
“I had a tough loss in the British Open, but it’s part of the game and you have to try to learn from it and try to move on and play your best squash possible in the next tournament.”
Australian No.1 Ryan Cuskelly defeated Egyptian qualifier Mohamed Reda to claim a second round berth against Dessouky, while World No.10 Simon Rösner and Karim Ali Fathi will go head-to-head after they beat Raphael Kandra and Saurav Ghosal, respectively.
Results – First Round (Bottom Half): 2017 El Gouna International Squash Open
Fares Dessouky (EGY) bt  Nick Matthew (ENG) 3-2: 10-12, 11-4, 7-11, 11-5, 11-6 (76m)
Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) bt [Q] Mohamed Reda (EGY) 3-0: 11-8, 11-3, 11-5 (34m)
Cesar Salazar (MEX) bt [Q] Gregoire Marche (FRA) 3-1: 10-12, 11-7, 11-4, 11-9 (63m)
Diego Elias (PER) bt  Ali Farag (EGY) 3-0: 11-9, 12-10, 11-8 (55m)
 Simon Rösner (GER) bt [Q] Raphael Kandra (GER) 3-0: 11-6, 12-10, 11-8 (46m)
[Q] Karim Ali Fathi (EGY) bt Saurav Ghosal (IND) 3-1: 5-11, 12-10, 11-7, 11-9 (71m)
Borja Golan (ESP) bt [LL] Omar Abdel Meguid (EGY) 3-0: 11-9, 11-7, 11-8 (44m)
 Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) bt Zahed Mohamed (EGY) 3-0: 11-8, 11-9, 11-9 (46m)
Draw – Second Round (Top Half): To Be Played April 9
 Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) v Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY)
Cameron Pilley (AUS) v  Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY)
 James Willstrop (ENG) v Paul Coll (NZL)
[Q] Mazen Hesham (EGY) v  Gregory Gaultier (FRA)
Draw – Second Round (Bottom Half) – To Be Played April 10
Fares Dessouky (EGY) v Ryan Cuskelly (AUS)
Cesar Salazar (MEX) v Diego Elias (PER)
 Simon Rösner (GER) v [Q] Karim Ali Fathi (EGY)
Borja Golan (ESP) v  Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY)