Injured Selby forced to pull out
By SEAN REUTHE
Scotland’s Alan Clyne achieved one of the best results in his career by beating Colombia’s Miguel Angel Rodriguez in the first round of the 2017 UCS Swedish Open in Linköping. Sadly, an ankle injury forced England’s Daryl Selby to withdraw from the tournament.
All but one of the top eight seeds on the opening day of action made it to the quarter-finals unscathed, with former World No.4 Rodriguez being the only seed to miss out.
Clyne, the World No.34, was without a win in his last three PSA World Tour events, but recovered from a game down to win 6-11, 11-9, 11-6, 11-3 in just under an hour of play, ending a six-match losing streak against World No.13 Rodriguez to move into the last eight of the Swedish Open for the first time.
“Miguel was playing well at the start and he wasn’t letting me off with any loose balls,” said Clyne.
“Gradually, we had some really tough rallies in the second. That was a really important game and I was glad I managed to sneak that. After that, I came out pretty well and I was happy with the way I managed to finish it off against a player like Miguel.
“We’ve had some close matches before. I watched the last match we played, which was in Colombia and was 3-2, and I felt like I had a really good chance to win that. I felt like I knew how to win, I just had to execute it and thankfully I did that.”
Defending champion Karim Abdel Gawad got his 2017 campaign off to a winning start after he swept past Malaysia’s Nafiizwan Adnan in straight games.
Gawad, the current World Champion who is looking for a fourth successive PSA World Tour title, came up against a resilient Adnan in the opening game as both players traded points on the penultimate match of the evening, with Gawad eventually taking it for the loss of eight points.
It was all one-way traffic in the second as Gawad dropped just four points en route to doubling his lead. Adnan battled back in the third, with some consistent play seeing him wrack up a series of points against the ‘Baby Faced Assassin’, but Gawad held him off to take it 11-9 and move into the last eight, where he will face Australian No.1 Cameron Pilley.
“I enjoy playing here so much, it’s one of the best courts and best atmospheres,” said World No.2 Gawad said.
“It’s amazing to play here. I enjoy my squash so much on this court and in front of this crowd.
“I watched Nafiizwan play over the past few tournaments, and he has beaten some very tough players. He is one of the top players, so he’s very tough to play and I am glad to get through to the quarters with a 3-0 win.”
Australia’s Cameron Pilley secured a safe passage through to the quarter-finals thanks to a 3-0 win over Welsh qualifier Joel Makin.
The tall World No.17 dominated the centre of the court throughout and was clinical as he capitalised on any loose shots from Makin to build on early leads in games one and two to go 2-0 up. Makin started the better of the two in the third game and he dug in and began to build up a series of points, only to see Pilley shut up shop and see out the win by an 11-6, 11-6, 11-8 margin.
“It was tough out there, Joel picks up a lot of balls that you feel would win the rally two or three times,” Pilley said.
“I had to play some quality straight hitting to keep him from using his speed and using the angles, and I was able to do that for most of the match. He got stuck in there in the third, started to play some really good squash, so I had to knuckle down and try to close it out in three.”
World No.3 Gregory Gaultier put any worries about his fitness to bed as he opened up his Swedish Open campaign with a comprehensive 3-0 win over qualifier Joe Lee setting up a quarter-final clash with Egypt’s Tarek Momen.
Gaultier struggled with a glute injury in the latter stages of last month’s Tournament of Champions, but was exquisite as he dismantled Lee, playing a free-flowing style that saw him at his very best as he countered and controlled the court, picking out winner after winner with effortless ease.
“Today I was moving well, I didn’t come here last year and I was gutted because I had an injury that kept me away for a long time,” said the Frenchman who has won this title twice.
“I started mentally fresh again this year. I’m very motivated here, I played well in New York and I’m in a good mood, so I am hoping to play well.”
Gaultier’s compatriot, Mathieu Castagnet, made his return from a three-month injury lay-off with a 3-1 win over tournament wildcard Rasmus Hult, and he will meet Clyne in the last eight.
England’s Daryl Selby and German No.1 Simon Rösner were the other winners on day one after they beat Omar Abdel Meguid and Adrian Waller, respectively, and they will face off for a place in the last four.
The first match of the day was a dramatic one. Selby took an early lead and won the first game against the Egyptian Omar Abdel Meguid, who fought back to win the second. Selby then won an easy third game but twisted his ankle in the fourth and had to take a 15-minute break for recovery. He then got back out on the court, and won the fourth game and the match quickly after returning to the action.
Asked about how the ankle felt, Selby answered: “I rolled my ankle twice in this match, and I actually rolled it during the weekend as well, so I’m not having any luck with ankles at the moment. Hopefully it will be Ok in 24 hours’ time.”
Sadly, there was no improvement overnight and World No.14 Selby was forced to withdraw, giving Rösner a walkover into the semi-finals.
“I’m gutted to have to withdraw before my quarter-final match with Simon,” said Selby. “Sorry to all spectators and organisers.”
As a result, Rösner will take on either World No.3 Gregory Gaultier or World No.8 Tarek Momen for a place in the final.
2017 UCS Swedish Open, Linköping, Sweden:
 Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) bt Nafiizwan Adnan (MAS) 3-0: 11-8, 11-4, 11-9 (32m)
 Cameron Pilley (AUS) bt [Q] Joel Makin (WAL) 3-0: 11-6, 11-6, 11-8 (57m)
Alan Clyne (SCO) bt  Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL) 3-1: 6-11, 11-9, 11-6, 11-3 (59m)
 Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) bt [WC] Rasmus Hult (SWE) 3-1: 9-11, 11-8, 11-7, 11-4 (52m)
 Simon Rösner (GER) bt [Q] Adrian Waller (ENG) 3-1: 11-8, 11-7, 9-11, 11-5 (56m)
 Daryl Selby (ENG) bt Omar Abdel Meguid (EGY) 3-1: 13-11, 5-11, 11-2, 11-8 (70m)
 Tarek Momen (EGY) bt [Q] Declan James (ENG) 3-0: 11-9, 11-5, 11-9 (39m)
 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt [Q] Joe Lee (ENG) 3-0: 11-4, 11-3, 11-3 (34m)
Draw – Quarter-Finals: To be Played February 3rd
 Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) v  Cameron Pilley (AUS)
Alan Clyne (SCO) v  Mathieu Castagnet (FRA)
 Simon Rösner (GER) v  Daryl Selby (ENG)
 Tarek Momen (EGY) v  Gregory Gaultier (FRA)
Pictures by STEVE LINE (www.squashpics.com) and MIKAEL DUNDER