Rising England star Tom Richards (pic) played some of the best squash of his career to beat Egyptian firebrand Hisham Ashour 9-11, 15-13, 11-8, 11-7 in 56 minutes in the 1st round of the North American Open in Richmond. The 24-year-old now aims to produce a similar performance against Hisham’s younger brother Ramy Ashour, the former world champion who is the No2 seed. It was a similar story in the following match as Ramy overcame Swiss underdog Nicolas Mueller, the world No36 from Zurich, in four games (12-14, 11-5, 11-5, 12-10) of extravagant shot-making and breathtaking retrieving. Former world No1 Gregory Gaultier made an impressive return to the PSA Tour after an injury suffered in last year’s World Open kept him off court for eight weeks. The Frenchman overcame battling Australian Aaron Frankcomb in straight games 11-4, 11-6, 11-4. 5 more matches of the 1st round (bottom half of draw):  James Willstrop (ENG) bt [Q] Yann Perrin (FRA) 12-10, 11-6, 11-8 (37m); [Q] Martin Knight (NZL) bt [Q] Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) 11-7, 2-11, 11-7, 11-7 (55m); [Q] Mohd Nafiizwan Adnan (MAS) bt [Q] Stephane Galifi (ITA) 6-11, 11-8, 11-5, 6-11, 13-11 (93m);  Peter Barker (ENG) bt Omar Abdel Aziz (EGY) 11-2, 11-6, 11-4 (29m); Olli Tuominen (FIN) bt Mohammed Abbas (EGY) 11-8, 10-12, 11-2, 11-9 (43m).
Richards won the shoots-out versus Ashour in Richmond!