Friday, July 19, 2024

Another astonishing giant-killing in Qatar as Miguel Rodriguez topples top seed Ali Farag

Colombian conquers world champion as top two seeds are dumped out in Doha

Miguel Rodriguez turned in a vintage performance to produce another huge shock in the QTerminals Qatar Classic as he produced a stunning victory over world No.1 and current world champion Ali Farag in the third round.

Yesterday No.2 seed Paul Coll was eliminated by home hero Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi. Today it was the turn of one of squash’s great entertainers, 36-year-old Rodriguez, to enjoy the spotlight as he fought back from 2-1 down to overcome Egypt’s top seed.

Farag, who enjoyed a 10-1 head-to-head record against world No.17 Rodriguez, will have known not to take anything for granted after watching Coll crash out at the hands of world No.44 Al Tamimi.

However, he found himself a game down after a fantastic start from Rodriguez. The Colombian was excellent all over the court as he saved a game ball at 11-10 before taking it 13-11.

The inevitable Farag response came in game two as the Egyptian, playing his first match since the World Tour Finals in June after a walkover victory yesterday, quickly levelled with an 11-5 win and then moved into the lead with an 11-6 victory in the third.

Now, though, it was the Colombian’s turn to respond. The former World No.4 flew into a 9-1 lead in game four as he looked to level the score with his brilliant combinations at the front of the court. Farag, who had lacked a little discipline at the beginning of the game, began to pull things back and narrowed the gap to 9-6, before the Colombian eventually took the game 11-8.

Although Farag built a 5-2 lead in the fifth game, more mistakes came from his racket as Rodriguez harried and chased, covering every inch of the court and finding his targets repeatedly.

As Rodriguez began to pull away another shock result appeared to be on the horizon. With two match balls at 10-8, the Colombian was able to convert at the first time of asking thanks to a brilliant recovery under pressure and then a remarkable shot that died instantly on the side wall.

After collapsing to the floor in disbelief and being congratulated by Farag, Rodriguez said: “What I achieved today is amazing for me. I’ve had a difficult week [and] my head is not the best, but apart from that, I played without any pressure.

“The more I stay competitive, my body responds better. I know I don’t have too much time to continue on the tour but it’s amazing to be here again.”

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Rodriguez’s reward is a quarter-final clash with Mohamed ElShorbagy after the world No.5, now representing England, overcame Egypt’s Youssef Soliman in straight games.

Soliman, who came into the match at his highest ever World Ranking of 12, won plaudits for his impressive win at the inaugural CIB Zed Squash Open just days ago.

Former World No.1 ElShorbagy, however, made short work of the Egyptian, better utilising the court conditions in an ultimately comfortable 11-5, 11-8, 11-5 win in just 38 minutes.

Joining Rodriguez and ElShorbagy in the quarter-final will be No.8 seed Marwan ElShorbagy, Mohamed’s brother, and World No.3 Mostafa Asal.

ElShorbagy, who has reached the quarter-finals three times before, played out an entertaining match against the USA’s World No.30 Shahjahan Khan.

Khan, who played one of the best matches of his career, was excellent throughout and deservedly took a one game lead with an 11-8 win.

ElShorbagy, though, was able to counter, finding his mark at the front with increasing frequency to move into the lead with an 11-7 and 11-9 wins.

Khan came back well to save three match balls and then level the tie with a 14-12 win in the fourth game, before World No.9 ElShorbagy brought an entertaining 80-minute match to an end with an 11-7 win in the fifth game.

Asal, meanwhile, overcame Egyptian compatriot Fares Dessouky 11-9, 11-6, 11-7 in a fiery encounter as he looked to carry the momentum of last season – in which he won his last two major tournaments of the year – into his first event of the new season.

Round three of the QTerminals Qatar Classic at the Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex concludes tomorrow (Wednesday, September 7) from 15:00 (GMT+3), with the quarter-finals taking place on Thursday.

Play begins at 15:00 local time (GMT+3), with live streaming available on SQUASHTV.

2022 QTerminals Qatar Classic, Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex, Doha, Qatar.

Round Three (top half):
Miguel Rodriguez (COL) bt [1] Ali Farag (EGY) 3-2: 13-11, 5-11, 6-11, 11-8, 11-8 (72m)
[5] Mohamed ElShorbagy (ENG) bt Youssef Soliman (EGY) 3-0: 11-5, 11-8, 11-5 (37m)
[8] Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) bt Shahjahan Khan (USA) 3-2: 8-11, 11-7, 11-9, 12-14, 11-7 (80m)
[3] Mostafa Asal (EGY) bt Fares Dessouky (EGY) 3-0: 11-9, 11-6, 11-7 (55m)

Round Three (bottom half, September 7):
[4] Diego Elias (PER) v Dimitri Steinmann (SUI)
Yahya Elnawasany (EGY) v [6] Tarek Momen (EGY)
Victor Crouin (FRA) v Patrick Rooney (ENG)
George Parker (ENG) v Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi (QAT)

Pictures courtesy of PSA World Tour


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