Egypt’s World No.1 Ali Farag got his Canary Wharf Classic under way with a victory over Spain’s Iker Pajares Bernabeu as the top seeds advanced to the quarter finals of the PSA World Tour Gold event in London’s East Wintergarden.
The top half of the draw was in action tonight and Farag, who is searching for his first Canary Wharf Classic title this week after missing out in last year’s final to Mohamed ElShorbagy, got his tournament off to the dream start with an 11-7, 11-2 victory.
World No.27 Pajares made life difficult for the reigning World Champion in the first game, forcing some errors, but it was not enough to take an important first game in the best-of-three format and Farag was able to assert his dominance to take the match.
“This is one of our favourite tournaments across the year, because of the crowd,” said Farag afterwards.
“Yesterday, Iker put on a great show, I thought Castagnet was going to get through just because of his experience, but he was the worthy winner. I started the match with very open squash and he punished me right away. I thought I needed to go back to basics again, so that’s why the first part of the game took so long because I wanted to assert myself on the T but I found my game in the second.”
Farag will take on Colombia’s former World No.4 Miguel Rodriguez in the quarter finals after the No.7 seed overcame England’s Declan James in the last match of the evening.
The two players went the distance in a 61-minute affair as Rodriguez eventually overturned a one-game deficit to conquer the tall Englishman 10-12, 11-5, 11-8 and book his place in the last eight.
“Age is just a number,” said Rodriguez. “I adapt my game, squash has changed over the past few years to be very physical and fast so I’m trying to be smart to choose events and prepare differently and I’m still enjoying the game.
“It’s going to be a difficult match [against Farag], we played in an exhibition match in New York not long ago and he was fantastic. I wish I could play like that, he’s going to be very challenging. That the good thing about squash, you can play the same players every few months and you have the chance to learn and adapt. But the main thing is just to be back here, in front of this full crowd.”
The other quarter final in the top half of the draw will see a mouthwatering prospect between Egyptians Tarek Momen and Mostafa Asal with the two having a fiery past with controversy a plenty in their previous fixtures.
World No.6 Asal made light work of England’s Adrian Waller to advance on his first appearance at the PSA World Tour Gold event as the 2021 U.S. Open winner was in emphatic form to comfortably dispatch an out-of-sorts Waller, 11-1, 11-4 in 22 minutes.
“It’s my first time here in Canary Wharf and it’s amazing for me,” said Asal. “The crowd, they are playing with us, I love the crowd.
“I want to push more, everything I have achieved is in the past, not thinking about my age, thinking about the future. I have the confidence every tournament is a new chance for a new title.”
Meanwhile, former World Champion Momen started sharply in his opening match of the tournament to take out France’s Baptiste Masotti.
The World No.4 took the first game, before Masotti showed his fighting spirit in the second to capitalise on Momen’s loose shots and get back into the encounter. However, the Egyptian’s class shone through as he recovered to dominate the third and safely book his place in the last eight.
“I knew he’s a danger as an upcoming French player and I tried to be very sharp from the beginning today,” said Momen after the match.
Tarek Momen in action against Baptiste Masotti
“Coming into this event, I didn’t think I had the best preparation, but I felt like I was getting into it, I wanted to get into the rhythm, the past two days I’ve been spending a lot of time on court and today I tried to start well, get myself in the zone.”
On his quarter final opponent, Momen said: “Mostafa is doing very well for a 20-year-old. You don’t see many players breaking through to later stages of Platinum events. He is a great player, I wish he didn’t resort to the stuff that causes issues every time. Tomorrow it’s a new day and all I care about is playing my best, hopefully no shenanigans and it’ll be a good match.”
The bottom half of the draw feature in round two tomorrow (November 16) and play will begin at 18:00 (GMT). All of the action will be shown live on SQUASHTV.
Fans can stay up to date with the latest news on the tournament by visiting the event’s official website or by following the Canary Wharf Classic on Twitter.
Results: Canary Wharf Classic – Round Two (top half)
 Ali Farag (EGY) bt Iker Pajares Bernabeu (ESP) 2-0: 11-7, 11-2 (25m)
 Miguel Rodriguez (COL) bt Declan James (ENG) 2-1: 10-12, 11-5, 11-8 (61m)
 Mostafa Asal (EGY) bt Adrian Waller (ENG) 2-0: 11-1, 11-4 (22m)
 Tarek Momen (EGY) bt Baptiste Masotti (FRA) 2-1: 11-4, 9-11, 11-1 (32m)
Draw: Canary Wharf Classic – Round two (bottom half) – To be played November 16
 Diego Elias (PER) v George Parker (ENG)
James Willstrop (ENG) v  Gregoire Marche (FRA)
 Joel Makin (WAL) v Saurav Ghosal (IND)
Youssef Soliman (EGY) v  Paul Coll (NZL)
Draw: Canary Wharf Classic – Quarter Finals (top half) – To be played November 17
 Ali Farag (EGY) v  Miguel Rodriguez (COL)
 Mostafa Asal (EGY) v  Tarek Momen (EGY)