All four seeds secured their places in the quarter-finals of the NetSuite Open Squash Championship after negotiating first round encounters in the PSA World Tour International 70 event spread across four venues in San Francisco, USA.
It was at the Olympic Club that top seed Ramy Ashour marked his first appearance on the PSA World Tour since notching up his eighth title in a row at the British Open in May. The 25-year-old from Cairo duly extended his unbeaten run to 42 matches after saving four game balls in the first game to beat Scottish qualifier Alan Clyne 15-13, 11-3, 11-1 in 34 minutes.
“Ramy was slow at the start and looked vulnerable but, down 6-10, changed the gearing and awed the audience,” explained tournament promoter John Nimick. “Clyne was tough in game one after Ramy came back to tie 10-10, but Ramy was outstanding thereafter for the packed crowd at the Olympic Club.”
Clyne, the world No33 from Edinburgh, later admitted to his Twitter followers: “From being 10-5 up in the first it went a bit downhill tonight.”
Ashour moves on to face Tom Richards for a place in the semi-finals. Richards produced his best win since returning to Tour action after a hamstring injury when he beat fellow Englishman Adrian Grant 11-9, 11-8, 11-13, 12-10 in 74 minutes.
The Surrey-based world No22 (pictured above, left, with Grant) is ranked higher than Grant – but the victory was his first over the Londoner since 2008.
Defending champion Gregory Gaultier brushed aside fellow Frenchman Mathieu Castagnet 11-7, 11-4, 11-6 in the pair’s first ever meeting on the Tour. The world No2 arrived in San Francisco fresh from victory in last week’s Abierto Mexicano de Raquetas in Mexico.
Second seed Gaultier will now face Simon Rosner, the other winner from the Bay Club. The German number one took over an hour to subdue Swiss star Nicolas Mueller, winning 14-12, 11-4, 11-7 in 64 minutes.
“Really happy with my performance – beating my good mate @MuellerNicolas 3:0 in a 70 min tough battle,” tweeted Rosner later. “Playing G. Gaultier on Sunday”.
James Willstrop, the third seed from England, was taken to four games at Stanford University before overcoming Colombian star Miguel Angel Rodriguez 11-4, 11-9, 3-11, 11-3 in 70 minutes. It was the Englishman’s third win in a row over Rodriguez, but the first in which the highest-ranked South American of all-time has taken a game.
The earlier match at Stanford saw top-ranked Dutchman Laurens Jan Anjema defeat Finnish qualifier Henrik Mustonen 11-7, 11-3, 11-7.
“Really happy to win today in San Fran!” said Anjema on Twitter. “Playing tomorrow night on this beautiful glass court on the Embarcadero. Excited but not too!”
It was at the University Club that England team-mates Peter Barker and Daryl Selby earned the opportunity to play each other for a place in the last four. Third seed Barker dashed home hopes when he defeated eight-time US champion Julian Illingworth 11-4, 11-6, 11-5.
Selby, in his first match since time out with a knee injury, battled for 51 minutes to quash compatriot Adrian Waller, a qualifier, 11-6, 11-6, 11-6.
“Really happy to have won tonight, and even better to get off in 3 against Adrian who had been playing well,” tweeted Selby.
Quarter-final action will be staged on an all-glass squash court erected on the South Lawn at Justin Herman Plaza on the San Francisco waterfront.
NetSuite Open image courtesy of Ma Patapoff
 Ramy Ashour (EGY) bt [Q] Alan Clyne (SCO) 15-13, 11-3, 11-1 (34m)
Tom Richards (ENG) bt Adrian Grant (ENG) 11-9, 11-8, 11-13, 12-10 (74m)
Laurens Jan Anjema (NED) bt [Q] Henrik Mustonen (FIN) 11-7, 11-3, 11-7 (45m)
 James Willstrop (ENG) bt Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL) 11-4, 11-9, 3-11, 11-3 (70m)
 Peter Barker (ENG) bt [WC] Julian Illingworth (USA) 11-4, 11-6, 11-5 (41m)
Daryl Selby (ENG) bt [Q] Adrian Waller (ENG) 11-6, 11-6, 11-6 (51m)
Simon Rosner (GER) bt Nicolas Mueller (SUI) 14-12, 11-4, 11-7 (64m)
 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt [Q] Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) 11-7, 11-4, 11-6 (49m)
 Ramy Ashour (EGY) v Tom Richards (ENG)
 James Willstrop (ENG) v Laurens Jan Anjema (NED)
 Peter Barker (ENG) v Daryl Selby (ENG)
 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) v Simon Rosner (GER)
Article and image courtesy of the Professional Squash Association