British Open: Elshorbagy keeps triple bid on track in thriller

Mohamed Elshorbagy was 6-3 down in the final game and slipping to defeat against Fares Dessouky before somehow clawing and screaming his way back to win 11-8, 10-12, 11-7, 8-11, 11-8.

Mohamed Elshorbagy's thrilling comeback ensured he avoided becoming the first champion to depart in the first round since 2006.   -  AP

Mohamed Elshorbagy cried out for divine intervention as his bid to become the first man in two decades to win the British Open three times in a row almost imploded on Tuesday in the first round.

Egypt's World No. 1 was 6-3 down in the final game and slipping to defeat against Fares Dessouky before somehow clawing and screaming his way back to win 11-8, 10-12, 11-7, 8-11, 11-8 in a bad-tempered clash which saw Elshorbagy label his unseeded compatriot "a drama queen".

The tension was further ramped up by a 10-minute hold-up near the end of the fourth game while Dessouky was having a bleeding knee seen to, and by the end the outbursts from both men were almost continuous.

"I was shouting Allah -- something, I can't translate it," said Elshorbagy.

"I thought it had gone (in the last game). With the season I have had I thought it would not go my way.

"But I thought I don't want to go this way, I don't want to go with this body language. I was fighting myself more than I was fighting my opponent."

Dessouky, on a hot streak that has propelled him to a career-high World No. 11, was the more creative player but it was Elshorbagy's disguised forehand drop shot which began the recovery in the final game, followed by a lovely backhand volley drop shot.

Dessouky was now making errors, contributing to the dramatic turn-around.

He will though feel he was unlucky not to be given a let at 9-8 down when his view appeared obstructed and the ball passed between his legs.

Elshorbagy won it with a backhand drive to a perfectly tight line and celebrated loudly.

He was, he explained later, "showing that this is a new me... trying to get things out of myself".

He also appeared to disavow his comment early in the match that Dessouky was "a drama queen" for what he perceived as over-acting after a collision.

"I don't call it dirty or clean, I have to deal with it. You don't call it names," he said.

Elshorbagy's thrilling comeback ensured he avoided becoming the first champion to depart in the first round since Australia's Anthony Ricketts in 2006.

It may also be the match which regenerates his dismal title-less year.

"The fifth game is one which I will always remember," he said.

The women's champion, Nour El Sherbini, produced a commanding performance with a 11-5, 11-7, 11-3 win over Line Hansen of Denmark.

She next plays Annie Au, the 10th seed from Hong Kong who came back from two games down to survive against Coline Aumard of France.