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Manchester Open RD1: World No.1 ElShorbagy Starts Strong

World No.1 Mohamed ElShorbagy got his first tournament since the six-month enforced suspension of the PSA World Tour up and running with a straight-games victory over Germany’s Raphael Kandra at the Manchester Open.

Kandra, who played his first PSA tournament last week in Prague when he reached the final of the Expression Networks Nolan and Liam’s Tournament, got off to the better start in the opening exchanges as he showed his squash fitness to take an 8-4 lead.

However, ElShorbagy rattled off seven points in succession to take the first game and from then on never looked back as he grew into the match to take a dominant 11-8, 11-5, 11-8 victory in 34 minutes.

The World No.1 will face the winner of James Willstrop v Tayyab Aslam in the second round.

“I’m really happy to be back,” said the World No.1 afterwards.

“It’s really exciting for all of the players to be back competing and seeing everyone in the zone again. I was really nervous before I played, but I’m just really happy to be back on court and competing again.

“When I saw the draw, I knew it was going to be a different match because he’s a leftie and he goes for shots. Usually when you haven’t played for a while, you want to just get used to the glass court and get used to competing, but with Kandra he breaks that rhythm with the way he plays. Mentally I knew it wasn’t going to be easy at the beginning. When I was 8-4 down I think I just had to up the pace a bit, I was a bit passive at the beginning and fair play to him when I gave him an easy shot, he put it away.

“Seeing everyone here is great. When you aim to win tournaments, you always want to win the tournaments that have everyone and the top guys in it. I’m just happy to be back competing with all the top guys here and it will be interesting to see how fit everyone is and the changes they have made. It’s always interesting to see the different styles.”

[1] Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) bt Raphael Kandra (GER) 3-0: 11-8, 11-5, 11-8 (34m)

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