Home favourite Ali Farag comfortably beat France’s Lucas Serme today to book his place in the last-16 of the Professional Squash Association (PSA) Black Ball Open in Egypt’s capital Cairo.
The second seed and world number two eased to an 11-8, 11-4, 11-4 win at the Black Ball Sporting Club, which is playing host to the PSA World Tour Platinum series event.
Farag has enjoyed a formidable first half of the season, claiming both the Oracle NetSuite Open and Qatar Classic titles, and reaching the final of the Hong Kong Open just two weeks ago.
The 26-year-old showed no signs of slowing down today and has set-up an encounter with fellow Egyptian Mostafa Asal, the world number 52, who caused the biggest upset of the day when he defeated world number 19 Declan James of England 15-13, 4-11, 3-11, 12-10, 11-8.
"It’s a pleasure to play in front of an Egyptian crowd," Farag said.
"To be staying at home, sleeping in your own bed and having a normal day all while playing a tournament.
"My parents have been helping me a lot since I started playing squash and so to play in front of them is great and I hope I can keep progressing through the tournament."
Among the other leading names through to the last-16 is world number three Simon Rösner of Germany after he registered an 11-9, 11-5, 11-7 victory over Scotland’s Alan Clyne.
His next scheduled opponent is France’s Gregoire Marche, who profited from a late retirement from Hong Kong’s Leo Au having come from two games down to lead their match 7-11, 7-11, 12-10, 11-3, 9-3.
The fifth game saw Au struggle to cope with the squash that Marche was producing and was eventually forced to retire as he went down with cramp and was unable to continue.
Sixth seed Paul Coll of New Zealand also progressed today, defeating the United States’ Todd Harrity 11-6, 11-4, 11-3.
Standing between him and a place in the quarter-finals is England’s world number 40 Chris Simpson, who claimed a huge 11-7, 5-11, 11-8, 9-11, 11-9 win over Egypt’s world number 26 Zahed Salem.
The one other last-16 tie decided today pits Egypt’s Omar Mosaad against India's Saurav Ghosal.
Mosaad played some of his best squash to take out Colombia’s Miguel Ángel Rodríguez in an epic five-game battle, securing an 11-6, 2-11, 11-6, 8-11, 11-8 win.
Ghosal, meanwhile, overcame Egypt's Karim Ali Fathi 11-3, 11-1, 13-11.
Action in Cairo is due to continue tomorrow with all eight last-16 ties.