After a long wait the British Open returned to the tournament scene in a fantastic setting in London’s O2 Arena.
Men’s Round One, top half:
 Amr Shabana (Egy) bt Tarek Momen (Egy) 11/7, 7/11, 6/11, 11/3, 11/6 (55m)
Olli Tuominen (Fin) bt Ali Anwar Reda (Egy) 11/6, 12/10, 11/6 (39m)
Borja Golan (Esp) bt Cameron Pilley (Aus) 12/10, 12/10, 11/5 (63m)
 Ramy Ashour (Egy) bt Daryl Selby (Eng) 8/11, 11/7, 11/5, 16/14 (55m)
 Mohamed El Shorbagy (Egy) bt [Q] Mathieu Castagnet (Fra) 11/7, 9/11, 11/7, 12/10 (61m)
Adrian Grant (Eng) bt Adrian Waller (Eng) 11/6, 11/8, 11/5 (36m)
Alister Walker (Bot) bt [Q] Chris Simpson (Eng) 11/7, 11/6, 11/7 (43m)
 James Willstrop (Eng) bt Simon Rosner (Ger) 11/3, 11/5, 11/7 (49m)
Shabana survives in bid for first British
First up at the O2 was four-time world champion Amr Shabana, who has won everything the sport has to offer with the exception of the British Open. He started off well enough, taking a 6-0 lead against his young compatriot Tarek Momen, but the youngster fought back to close the gap in the first game before taking the next two to set up the prospect of an early upset. Shabana was having none of it though as the took the next two games to keep his hopes of completing that collection alive.
“I think this was an amazing match to win,” said a relieved Shabana, “but when I saw the draw the first time, I was not very happy really. Today I had a game plan, and even if it didn’t really work for me in the 2nd and 3rd, I stuck to it.”
He’ll meet Olli Tuominen in the last sixteen after the Finn beat Egyptian Ali Anwar Reda in straight games.
“I’m very happy indeed to win 3/0, it’s very important for me point wise, as I keep losing a lot at the moment,” said the Finn of his win, “and I’m looking forward to playing Shabana in the next round.”
Spain’s Borja Golan also won in straight games, but he had to save game balls in the first two, coming from 10/5 down to win the second much to Cameron Pilley’s frustration, b efore taking the third against a somewhat dispirited opponent.
“I needed the win, I had a few losses, I keep on playing some hard 3/2, which I keep losing,” said Golan.
The afternoon session concluded with a win for another Egyptian who has won most things going but not a British Open, as Ramy Ashour saw off a spirited challenge from Daryl Selby. The Englishman pulled away to take a tight first game, but Ashour started finding his winners to take a 2-1 lead. Selby led the fourth, and had several game balls before Ashour finally took it 16/14 with a nick at the back of the court which only added to Selby’s frustration.
Delighted with his win, Ashour was also impressed with the setting: “First time I came and saw the venue, I thought whoaaaa, it’s just huge, it’s different, and I’m so happy to be back, he said. “I haven’t played in the tournament for a while, and it’s nice to be back. England sets up the model for the rest of the world, and all the players are so happy to come and playing in the prestigious British Open.”
Fresh from a two hour marathon last night, Mathieu Castagnet always had the odds against him as he took on Mohamed El Shorbagy, but the Frenchman did well, took the second game and had a decent lead in the fourth before the seventh-seeded Egyptian stormed back to avoid a decider.
“Why does he always play so well against me,” enquired a relieved and impressed Shorbagy. “Mathieu had a very hard match yesterday, but I was struggling too, I had a three hour exam this morning in Bristol! I used my experience on the glass court to get me through that first game, and that gave me huge confidence. Plus the cold conditions really suited me, as I didn’t want to get into long rallies.”
The first Brit to progress was Adrian Grant, who was always in control as he beat fellow left-hander Adrian Waller in straight games, swiftly followed by Botswana’s Alister Walker, who was always ahead against Chris Simpson.
“We played a very tough 85m training match last week, and a very tough 85m match in Berkshire recently on a warmer court,” said Walker. “I won 3/1, but it was hard work. The conditions probably suited me better tonight, it was easier to get on top and put the ball away.”
Top seed and world number one James Willstrop wrapped up the day with an impressive straight-games win over Simon Rosner, the big German unable to make an impression on the equally-big Englishman bidding to reach his fourth British Open final.
“I’m very pleased with my performance,” said the world number one. “Today, because of the conditions, and Simon being such an attacker, I knew that I had to move fast, not like last week where I was happy to stay at the back, today, I was ready for it.”
Women’s top qualifying seeds ousted
Women’s Qualifying Finals:
Sam Cornett (Can) bt Line Hansen (Den) 8/11, 11/9, 11/1, 12/10 (40m)
Lauren Briggs (Eng) bt Maud Duplomb (Fra) 11/3, 11/4, 11/4 (24m)
Heba El Torky (Egy) bt Joshna Chinappa (Ind) 11/9, 7/11, 11/7, 11/3 (49m)
Maria Toor Pakay (Pak) bt Emily Whitlock (Eng) 11/5, 4/11, 8/11, 11/6, 11/7 (46m)
Coline Aumard (Fra) bt Siyoli Waters (Rsa) 9/11, 11/8, 11/4, 11/2 (47m)
Latasha Khan (Usa) bt Kylie Lindsay (Nzl) 11/4, 11/4, 11/6 (24m)
Gaby Huber (Sui) bt Laura Pomportes (Fra) 11/1, 11/9, 11/8 (33m)
Sarah-Jane Perry (Eng) bt Aisling Blake (Irl) 11/5, 8/11, 11/6, 11/5 (44m)
Over at St George’s Hill the women’s qualifying finals saw three significant upsets as Canadian Sam Cornett beat top-seeded Dane Line Hansen 3/1, Pakistan’s Maria Toor Pakay overcame European Junior Champion Emily Whitlock in five games, and Sarah-Jane Perry took out qualifying second seed Aisling Blake ion four games.
Pakay got the ‘plum’ draw, as she goes forward to meet top seed, defending champion, world number one Nicol David in the last match of the first round tomorrow night.
Masters down to the semis
Meanwhile at Coolhurst the Masters Competitions continued, with most age groups reaching the semi-final stage.
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