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Rosner Romps into Second Round

German squash star Simon Rosner scored one of the biggest scalps of his career when he defeated world #6 Karim Darwish in straight games in second round play at the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions in Grand Central Terminal.

“It is truly electrifying to play here,” said the world #13, who is into the quarterfinals for the first time in these championships since he made his inaugural appearance in 2006.  Electrifying would also accurately describe Rosner’s play, as the 6’3”, 25-year-old was on the attack from the very first point of the match. Although he had been on court for 90 minutes in his opening victory over Saurav Ghosal, the young man from Paderborn was fully rested after having had a day off between matches and was more than ready to do battle.

Darwish won the opening salvo of the match, but the 32-year-old Egyptian would win only one other point in that first game. The former world #1 looked like he would even up the match when he took a second game lead at 4-3 and held it through 8-7. But Rosner was ready to respond. “I knew he would come back strong in the second game,” said Rosner. “I knew that I needed to continue to attack aggressively and not let him get into any kind of rhythm.” Executing his game plan in the final stretch of the second game, Rosner took a 2-0 match lead when he won the game 12-10.

A dispirited Darwish, who had come back from being 0-2 down in his first round match against Omar Mosaad, was unable to offer any defense against the surging confidence of his lower-ranking challenger.  Rosner sealed the victory with an 11-5 third game win to register his second victory in seven PSA tournament matches against Darwish.

The jubilant German was immediately on the cell phone to his father in Germany who had counseled his son to be patient over these past few years when he would get frustrated at his seeming inability to beat the higher ranking players. “In so many conversations, my father told me, ‘your time will come. You have to keep learning from these losses and keep improving your game every day.’”

Rosner’s quarterfinal opponent will be top seed Gregory Gaultier, who never let his second round opponent Alister Walker get a toehold in their match. Attacking early and with relentless pace, the 31-year-old Frenchman won the first point of the opening game and never relinquished the lead, winning the match 11-5,11-5,11-7.

Third seed Mohamed Elshorbagy, on the other hand, lagged behind in two games of his duel with compatriot Tarek Momen en route to a 9-11, 11-7, 11-8,12-10 victory. Known on the PSA tour for his competitive drive and fearless style of play, Elshorbagy’s come from behind winning games were inspiring but not surprising.

“I was nervous for this match,” said voluble Egyptian who achieved his career high world #4 ranking this month, “because it is my first tournament as a top four player and I was playing my countryman.”

Momen won the first game 11-9 and had a 7-4 lead in the second. “When I was down 4-7, we had a really long rally and when I won the point, it removed the nervousness and I felt like I had more power and energy.” The release of the early tension was explosive; Elshorbagy ran off seven straight points to win the game 11-7. After winning the third game, Elshorbagy saved three game balls from 7-10 in the fourth, and closed out the match by winning the tiebreak 12-10.

When asked how he came by his impressive competitive drive, Elshorbagy said, “I have a very, very tough mother and she has taught me about being tough and never, ever giving up.”

Elshorbagy’s quarterfinal opponent will be England’s Daryl Selby, who defeated his younger countryman Chris Simpson 11-6, 11-9,7-11,11-6. Selby’s father Paul, who is attending the tournament, offered this post-match analysis of his son’s play –“He played well in bits.”

Daryl’s own assessment was that he felt in control for most of the match, even after losing the third game. ”I definitely did not want to go to five, so I just came out firing in the fourth,” he said, ”and managed to keep the lead all the way though the game.”

The 31-year-old is looking forward to his match with Elshorbagy. “He certainly represents the next generation of PSA players, so it will be nice to play him while I am still in good shape.”

Men’s Second Round Results – J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions, 

Grand Central Terminal, New York, NY, A Professional Squash Association (PSA) World Series event

Monday, January 20, 2014

[3] Mohamed Elshorbagy (EGY) bt Tarek Momen (EGY) 3-1: 9-11, 11-7, 11-8, 12-10  63 mins
[8] Daryl Selby (ENG) bt Chris Simpson (ENG) 3-1: 11-6, 11-9, 7-11, 11-6 71 mins
Simon Rosner (GER) bt [5] Karim Darwish (EGY) 3-0: 11-2, 12-10, 11-5  38 mins
[1] Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt Alister Walker (BOT) 3-0: 11-5, 11-5, 11-7  44 mins

Schedule of Play – Tuesday, January 21, 2014
 – Quarter-finals, Top Half

6:15 [2] Nick Matthew (ENG) v [7] Amr Shabana (EGY)
8:00 [6] Peter Barker (ENG) v [4] James Willstrop (ENG)

Wednesday, January 23, 2014

 – Quarter-finals, Bottom Half

6:15 pm  [3] Mohamed Elshorbagy (EGY) v. [8] Daryl Selby (ENG)

8:00 pm  [1] Gregory Gaultier (FRA) v. Simon Rosner (GER)