Tom Richards of England stopped the talented Hisham Mohd. Ashour of Egypt in his tracks with a 14-12, 12-10, 11-6 victory in the first round of the $165,000 Punj Lloyd PSA Masters squash tournament at the Siri Fort Sports Complex here on Monday.

On a day when fourth-seeded Gregory Gaultier of France proved too strong for local wild card Siddharth Suchde, conceding a mere 11 points in all, Richards's clinical display against Hisham stood out.

It was Hisham, No. 1 seed Ramy Ashour's brother, who was able to put his attractive game on display, much to the delight of the sparse gathering, but was unable to close out the first game despite having three game points.

A victim of his own brilliance, as he kept going for spectacular shots, Hisham lacked the temperament to bide his time in tough rallies, and eventually slumped into a flurry of errors.

“Am very happy to win. He can hit anything. You can never feel in control of the match at any time. I was lucky to win the first two games in tie-breaks. He likes to play fast. I also like it, but had to slow down and play accurately,'' said Richards, quite thrilled with his execution.

Richards will be playing another Egyptian, the second-seeded Karim Darwish, in the next round and said he had improved quite a lot from the last time he had played him two years ago and felt capable of beating the top guys.

Gaultier too good

Meanwhile, though he had played him as a qualifier in Qatar recently, there was little Siddharth Suchde could do to upset Gaultier's rhythm. The Frenchman was solid and gave little away, forcing the wiry Indian to work for his points.

“It was the last tournament of the season and I gave everything I had. You are always a step slow against a player of his class. You only get to meet such players once in a while,” said Suchde.

Gaultier praised the Indian lad for his perseverance, and conceded that the pace must have been a little too hot for him.

The results (first round):

Karim Darwish (Egy) bt Ryan Cuskelly (Aus) 12-10, 11-5, 11-4; Tom Richards (Eng) bt Hisham Mohd. Ashour (Egy) 14-12, 12-10, 11-6; Borja Golan (Esp) bt Adrian Grant (Eng) 12-10, 11-6, 11-4; Mohamed El Shorbagy (Egy) bt Stephen Coppinger (RSA) 11-7, 13-15, 11-6, 11-5; Laurens Jan Anjema (Ned) bt Mohd. Ali Anwar Reda (Egy) 11-7, 11-6, 11-9; Gregory Gaultier (Fra) bt Siddharth Suchde 11-4, 11-1, 11-6; Mohd. Azlan Iskandar (Mas) bt Ong Beng Hee (Mas) 11-6, 11-9, 11-8.

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