AJ Bell British Squash Grand Prix: World’s top four vie for Manchester title

The world’s top-four men’s squash players are on show in Manchester this weekend as they compete in the 2015 AJ Bell British Grand Prix.

The annual tournament, staged at the National Squash Centre in Eastlands, has attracted the biggest stars in the sport as they look to fine-tune their games ahead of the US Open and World Championships later this year.

World number one and top seed Mohamed Elshorbagy (main picture above) put in a strong performance in his first-round match on Friday with a 3-0 win over wildcard entrant Richie Fallows.

The 24 year-old spoke to MM after his victory and says performing well in Manchester this weekend is an important building block for later this season.

“Doing well at the beginning of the season always gives you a really big boost,” said the Egyptian.

“It’s always important to get some wins in tournaments like this before the World Series events especially as I’ll be defending most of those events this year.

“I need my confidence and to play my best to defend those titles and we’ll see what I can do.”

Elshorbagy now faces seventh seed Daryl Selby in the quarter-finals later today. Selby overcame Australian Cameron Pilley 3-0 in his first-round tie and is relishing the opportunity to play the world number one in Manchester – a city he feels he has always played well in.

“He’s world number one and deservedly so. He’s been very consistent and an excellent player over the last 12 months so it’s going to be tough of course,” said the Commonwealth Games bronze medallist.

“I’ve taken a few games off Mohamed before and had a few tough matches with him so there’s nothing for me to lose. 

“I always enjoy playing in Manchester. I’ve got a good history and a good record here.

“I’ve always seemed to play well here so it’s a nice feeling to come back and play well again.”

The quarter-final draw also pits world number three Gregory Gaultier against fifth seed Peter Barker in what is arguably the tie of the round.

Gaultier, a semi-finalist at the event in 2012 and 2014, says the British Grand Prix is a tournament he always enjoys competing in.

The French number one told MM: “England is a big country for squash and I’m always happy to come here.

“You’ve got the best players this week, the top-four in the world, so it is a fantastic tournament and hopefully people will produce their best squash.

“All the fans who have travelled to watch will enjoy their time here.”

English number one Nick Matthew will face long-term rival James Willstrop in the opening quarter-final on Saturday.

Tickets for the final three days of action can be purchased on the door and are priced at £20 this weekend and £25 for Monday’s final.

Saturday’s order of play

13:00 [2] Nick Matthew (ENG) v [8] James Willstrop (ENG) 
14:00 [4] Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL) v [6] Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY)
17:00 [5] Peter Barker (ENG) v [3] Gregory Gaultier (FRA)
18:00 [1] Mohamed Elshorbagy (EGY) v [7] Daryl Selby (ENG)

Image courtesy of PSA Squash TV via YouTube, with thanks.

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