World No.18 Zahed Salem will appear in the quarter-finals of a PSA World Tour Platinum event for the first time in his career after he beat Frenchman Mathieu Castagnet in round three of the PSA Black Ball Squash Open.
Salem, from Alexandria, Egypt, defeated 2018 champion Karim Abdel Gawad in the last round after he was forced to retire due to injury, and he came from a game down to overcome Castagnet, winning 6-11, 11-6, 11-7, 11-6 to set up a last eight fixture with World Champion Tarek Momen.
“Castagnet is a very tough player, he’s a former World No.6 and we’ve always had very tough games,” said Salem.
“It’s my first time beating him. I think he’s beaten me four times, so I’m happy to get the win today.
“Today is the first time I have played this well in Egypt. I always lose in the first round or maybe in the second round. I’ve never had a good performance in Egypt, but I’m proud to win and get through and play tomorrow in the quarters.”
Meanwhile, World No.1 Ali Farag had to come from behind to overcome World Junior Champion Mostafa Asal in an absorbing contest.
Asal, the World No.12, was unstoppable in the opening game as he overpowered Farag who, at 28, is nine years Asal’s senior. However, Farag’s big match experience paid off as he weathered the storm and absorbed Asal’s pace to avoid an upset against his teenage opponent.
“Playing [Mohamed] Abouelghar in the second round and then potentially either [Mostafa] Asal or Declan James in the third round, I knew I had a tough task at hand,” said Farag.
“I keep telling Nour [El Tayeb, Farag’s wife] that I haven’t lost before the quarter-finals since El Gouna in 2017, so I didn’t want to break that record here. That was the first goal of the tournament and now that is done, it is time to focus on the quarters.”
Farag continues his tournament against defending champion Fares Dessouky next after Dessouky got the better of former World No.3 Omar Mosaad.
World No.2 Mohamed ElShorbagy is also through to the quarter-finals as he made it 10 wins in a row over Indian No.1 Saurav Ghosal. The 30-year-old, who is appearing at his first tournament in Egypt since June 2019, won 12-10, 11-9, 11-2 to ensure he will play training partner Joel Makin in the next round.
“Saurav always plays well against me, even though our head-to-head is crazy in my favour,” ElShorbagy said.
“I think the last time I lost to him was in 2008, which is a crazy record to have against someone of his calibre. The last two matches we had we went to a tie-break in the fifth and then a tie-break in the third, so I knew I had to dig in deep in the first two games and win those big crucial points, which I did, and I am thankful for that.”
New Zealand’s Paul Coll was also in action as he got the better of 38-year-old Frenchman Gregory Gaultier. The World No.4 dropped the third game during an otherwise solid performance which saw him contain the former World No.1 and hit his targets well.
Coll will take on World No.6 Marwan ElShorbagy in the next round after he defeated fellow Egyptian Youssef Ibrahim.
“That was one of the highlights of my career,” Coll said.
“I look up to Gaultier a lot and that moment at the end when he just gave me a pat on the head there, that was huge for me. I loved every second out there. I went and trained with him early in my career, he taught me a lot and he taught me some more lessons today.”
Third Round:  Ali Farag (EGY) bt Mostafa Asal (EGY) 3-1: 6-11, 11-3, 11-2, 11-8 (60m);  Fares Dessouky (EGY) bt Omar Mosaad (EGY) 3-0: 11-2, 11-9, 11-6 (36m); Zahed Salem (EGY) bt Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) 3-1: 6-11, 11-6, 11-7, 11-6 (59m);  Tarek Momen (EGY) bt Gregoire Marche (FRA) 3-1: 11-9, 8-11, 11-6, 11-9 (56m);  Paul Coll (NZL) bt Gregory Gaultier (FRA) 3-1: 11-3, 11-7, 7-11, 11-4 (69m);  Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) bt Youssef Ibrahim (EGY) 3-0: 12-10, 11-7, 11-4 (47m);  Joel Makin (WAL) bt Mazen Hesham (EGY) 3-0: 11-7, 12-10, 11-5 (42m);  Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) bt Saurav Ghosal (IND) 3-0: 12-10, 11-9, 11-2 (49m)
Quarter-Finals:  Ali Farag (EGY) v  Fares Dessouky (EGY); Zahed Salem (EGY) v  Tarek Momen (EGY);  Paul Coll (NZL) v  Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY);  Joel Makin (WAL) v  Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY)
The third round of the CIB PSA @BlackBallSquash Open gave us the opportunity to take some epic photos ?— PSA World Tour (@PSAWorldTour) March 22, 2021
Take a look at the best of our gallery from the men's event here ⬇️https://t.co/nchzwuFnZK #BlackBallOpen pic.twitter.com/nNJEg2L1jY