Squash: Ashour reacts positively to 'slap in the face'

Egyptian Ramy Ashour, the squash genius who is unbeaten in 47 matches and almost 18 months, reckoned he had recovered from "a slap in the face" as he reached the last 16 of the World Championships.

The titleholder's words of relief matched his deeds in a second round encounter in which he overcame his 19-year-old Fares Dessouki 11-6, 11-6, 11-4 with a much more convincing performance than on Monday.

Then Ashour was within one good blow of going two games down against the Dutchman, Laurens Jan Anjema.

However on Tuesday against the world junior finalist from Egypt he was in control throughout, delivering delicate killer drops and masked drives with dazzling fluency.

His relief was obvious.

"Yesterday (Monday) I was pushed to the limit. It was kind of a slap in the face," Ashour said.

"When you play very hard you enjoy it, and next day you are calm when it is over. I had a hard test, and today I am more calm.

"I have never felt bad here in Manchester or lost a match, and hopefully it will stay the same. But I mustn't have too great an expectation as there are many incredible athletes here."

One of them is Nick Matthew who hinted, while overcoming Max Lee of Hong Kong, 11-7, 11-6, 11-6, that he could still be good enough to regain the title at the age of 33.

Lee gave Matthew plenty to think about, not least an aggrieved complaint that the Englishman was shouting "come on!" too loudly and left a ringing noise in his ear.

Matthew responded with mock concern, sidling over and pretending to inspect Lee's ear, and then following it with a retort that "it's not the sort of thing you're inclined to whisper, is it?"

Another is Amr Shabana, the 34-year-old four-times former champion who had moments of his old brilliance with an 11-8, 11-7, 12-14, 11-6 win over Mathieu Castagnet and afterwards he had to talk down his chances of winning a fifth world title.

A third is James Willstrop, the former world number one, who beat fellow Englishman Tom Richards 11-8, 11-3, 11-6 despite being distracted as his girlfriend, Vanessa Atkinson, the former world champion, is about to give birth to their first child and is a week overdue.

Two seeds went out.

Alister Walker, the 15th and a former England international from Botswana, lost 11-7, 11-5, 7-11, 11-7 to Saurav Ghosal, who matched last year's achievement in Doha when he became the first Indian man to reach the last 16 of the World Championships.

Peter Barker, the seventh seeded Englishman who has had a hard time of it with injuries, suffered another, to his calf and had to retire while leading by two games to one against Henrik Mustonen of Finland.

re/pi