Win over Mazen Hesham gives English ace a place in US Open quarter-finals
By Squash Mad Reporter
Adrian Waller has powered his way into the quarter-finals of the Delaware Investments US Open Championships in Philadelphia.
After recording his “best win ever” over Spain’s world No. 7 Borja Golan in his first-round match Saturday, 24-year-old Londoner Waller will continue what is now his best U.S. Open run in his sixth tournament appearance.
Unlike his difficult five-game opening match, Waller appeared to be on his way to a swift victory against twenty-year-old Egyptian Mazen Hesham, winning the first two games 11-6, 11-4 in just 20 minutes. Hesham, world No. 37 and who also advanced in a five-game first-round match, bounced back in the third with an entertaining string of winners from all areas of the court forcing a fourth game 11-7.
Hesham continued to press in the fourth with more winning nicks. At 7-all, Waller mishit two unforced errors handing Hesham a 9-7 lead. From there, Waller took advantage of some loose shots by Hesham moving the Egyptian into all areas of the court—as he had in the first two games—to finish four straight points and seal the match.
“It was pretty powerful for my confidence because of Borja’s ranking, so I came on with the same confidence today,” explained Waller, “but he [Mazen] came back really, really strong and I had to adapt my game a bit and just hung on at the end there really. He gave me a few chances to win it, and luckily I took them one after the other.”
Waller admitted the difficulty of playing against Hesham’s unorthodox attacking style: “It not easy. He goes on runs and maybe hits one or two errors, but you’ve just got to weather the good points when you realize he’s playing well. You’ve got to make sure that you make it as hard as possible for someone who can finish rallies like that.”
Waller and Elshorbagy are both 6ft 3in tall, and the left-handed Londoner will be keen to give a good account of himself as he approaches the biggest match of his career.
World No.2 Elshorbagy (right) was involved in a dramatic encounter with Australian No.1 Cameron Pilley, winning 13-11, 11-9, 11-6 in 53 minutes of power hitting and tactical dexterity that had the crowd mesmerised.
Much of the play was extremely physical, which is to be expected with two hard-hitting players, but the match officials were frequently involved to sort out traffic snarl-ups with space at a premium.
Two tough qualifying matches and a great performance in round one finally caught up with Hong Kong’s Leo Au as he ran up against sixth-seeded German Simon Rösner, determined not to endure another marathon himself.
Dominant in the first two games, Rösner was able to push his smaller opponent around the court, picking off errant loose shots that his pressure forced.
Au kept battling though, and held his own up to 8-all in the third before Rösner gave it one final push to reach the quarterfinals.
“When you play a tough five-setter like I did against Mathieu [Castagnet], it can be good because it gets you into the tournament, ” explained Rösner, “and after a rest day I felt pretty good on there today.
“If I end up playing Greg [Gaultier], I’ve lost to him 100 times so I think it’s about time I got past him!”
When asked if he had any particular plans should he face his French nemesis, Rösner replied “I’m not telling you!”
Pictures courtesy of Steve Cubbins , US Open and PSA