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Australian Open: Alexander storms into main draw

Alan Thatcherhttps://squashmad.com
Founder of World Squash Day, Squash Mad and the new Squash 200 Partnership, building clubs of the future. Founder of the Kent Open and co-promoter of the St. James's Place Canary Wharf Classic. Author and Public Speaker.

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Zac Alexander

Alexander Storms Into Australian Open Main Draw

7 August 2011

RESULTS: PSA World Series CSR Viridian Australian Open, Canberra, Australia

Qualifying finals:
Alan Clyne (SCO) bt Rex Hedrick (AUS) 11-13, 11-9, 11-5, 11-5
Dick Lau (HKG) bt Alex Phillips (ENG) 11-3, 11-9, 11-4
Muhd Asyraf Azan (MAS) bt Aqeel Rehman (AUT) 11-7, 8-11, 11-6, 11-7
Max Lee (HKG) bt Kashif Shuja (NZL) 8-11, 8-11, 16-14, 11-5, 11-4
Ivan Yuen (MAS) bt Campbell Grayson (NZL) 12-10, 11-8, 9-11, 11-8
Zac Alexander (AUS) bt Chris Lloyd (NZL) 11-5, 11-4, 11-6
Matthew Karwalski (AUS) bt Wade Johnstone (AUS) 11-6, 11-7, 11-4
Martin Knight (NZL) bt Raphael Kandra (GER) 13-11, 11-8, 11-6

Australian Zac Alexander stormed into the main draw of the CSR Viridian Australian Open in Canberra today after an impressive win over New Zealander Chris Lloyd in the qualifying finals of the third PSA World Series squash event of the year.

The 22-year-old Queenslander completed his second straight games win in a row with an 11-5, 11-4, 11-6 win over Auckland-based Lloyd.

It is the second year in a row that Alexander has qualified for the Open: In 2010 he bowed out after giving classy EgyptianMohamed El Shorbagy an almighty fright.

This year he plays another Egyptian, world number three Karim Darwish, in what is sure to be a test of Alexander’s progression over the past 12 months.

“To qualify is always good – but to get through both matches three-love is obviously really good,” he said. “It’s important to be as fresh as you can be for the first round.”

Alexander, who won the Queensland Open in late July, said he was feeling better prepared than this time last year.

“I feel like I’ve done a good six weeks of work, I’m feeling pretty fit and obviously I took some confidence away from two weeks ago at the Queensland Open, so I’m feeling as good as I can be,” he said.

He is joined in the main draw by fellow Aussie Matthew Karwalski, a 25-year-old from New South Wales who beat fellow countryman Wade Johnstone 11-6, 11-7, 11-4.

Karwalski will play fellow qualifier Max Lee from Hong Kong in the first round after Lee beat former Australian Open finalistKashif Shuja, from New Zealand, 8-11, 8-11, 16-14, 11-5, 11-4.

Malaysia’s Ivan Yuen caused the biggest shock when he upset higher-ranked New Zealander Campbell Grayson in four tight games.

Yuen, the only player outside the world top 100 to qualify, always had his nose in front against an increasingly agitated Grayson, winning 12-10, 11-8, 9-11, 11-8 to reach the Australian Open main draw on his first attempt.

“It’s a very good win for me,” said Yuen, ranked 121 in the world to Grayson’s 59. “It means very good rankings points for me, which I need.

“This is my first time playing the Australian Open, so I am happy I’ve made the main draw,” added the 20-year-old, who will now play second-seed Egyptian Ramy Ashour.

“I am playing well this tournament. The last few tournaments I wasn’t playing well but yesterday and today I was much better.”

Yuen’s win made it two Malaysian qualifying wins, following Muhd Asyraf Azan‘s tough 11-7, 8-11, 11-6, 11-7 win over Austria’s Aqeel Rehman.

Top qualifying seed Alan Clyne had to survive a first game onslaught from rapidly-improving Australian Rex Hedrickbefore winning 11-13, 11-9, 11-5, 11-5.

Both players are renowned for their fitness and never say die attitude and this was in evidence in an enthralling encounter.

However, the Scotsman was able to lift his game when it counted to see off Hedrick and book his place in the first round.

“I lost to Campbell Grayson last year 3/2 so I was determined to get into the main draw this time,” said the 25-year-old from Edinburgh.

“On paper it looked a bit easier because my ranking’s gone up and I was seeded to get in this time but it was still a really tough match. Rex played really well, he came out really strong and it was high paced – I was glad to get through it.

“He didn’t let anything go, he was picking up everything, and it was really bouncy. Canberra’s supposed to be cold but on court it didn’t feel cold.

“The second I was a fair bit clear but then he came back. The first it was nip and tuck, I thought it was going to be an important one and if I got that one I thought I would be clear.

“After just missing that one the match was going to go either way and I was up against it but I just managed to keep the pace up and got it in the end.”

Dick Lau ended the challenge of Englishman Alex Phillips with a comfortable 11-3, 11-9, 11-4 win. Lau said the win came as a welcome relief after some poor recent form.

“I travelled to Egypt a few weeks ago and played really badly so my confidence wasn’t really high,” said the 25-year-old from Hong Kong. “I think yesterday’s match and today’s match have given me a little more confidence going into the first round tomorrow.

Max Lee has trained with him and played him in England and he told me he was a quick player and had quick hands, so I made sure I went for longer rallies, make sure he moved front and back.

“I like the weather here, not too hot so I don’t sweat that much, and the court is pretty dead – I like that.”

Martin Knight ensured it was not all doom and gloom for the Kiwis as he beat in form German Raphael Kandra 13-11, 11-8, 11-6.

Updated 1st round draw:
[1] Nick Matthew (ENG) v Stephen Coppinger (RSA)
Ong Beng Hee (MAS) v [Q] Martin Knight (NZL)
Nicolas Mueller (SUI) v Julian Illingworth (USA)
[7] Thierry Lincou (FRA) v Laurens Jan Anjema (NED)
[8] Mohd Azlan Iskandar (MAS) v David Palmer (AUS)
Tom Richards (ENG) v Ryan Cuskelly (AUS)
[Q] Max Lee (HKG) v [Q] Matthew Karwalski (AUS)
[3] Karim Darwish (EGY) v [Q] Zac Alexander (AUS)
[4] James Willstrop (ENG) v Chris Ryder (ENG)
[Q] Alan Clyne (SCO) v [Q] Muhd Asyraf Azan (MAS)
Adrian Grant (ENG) v Simon Rosner (GER)
[5] Gregory Gaultier (FRA) v Cameron Pilley (AUS)
[6] Peter Barker (ENG) v Aaron Frankcomb (AUS)
Mohd Nafiizwan Adnan (MAS) v [Q] Dick Lau (HKG)
Stewart Boswell (AUS) v Saurav Ghosal (IND)
[2] Ramy Ashour (EGY) v [Q] Ivan Yuen (MAS)

 

Phillips causes only real surprise

Englishman Alex Phillips caused the only real surprise when he ousted the higher ranked Australian Jamie McErvale from the first round of qualifying for the Australian Open in Canberra on Saturday.

The 23-year-old from the Isle of Wight started well then had to hold off a determined comeback from McErvale to win in five games 13-11, 11-7, 1-11, 4-11, 11-4.

Phillips said that four weeks of tournament play in Australia in the lead-up to the Open had helped him to against McErvale.

“I’ve done four other tournaments and played lots of squash,” he said.

“It’s exactly what I needed to prepare for matches like this – keeping my concentration for the whole match rather than just one or two games.

“I was lucky to get the first I think, but he came back at me. I stopped doing my game plan and he came back in the third and fourth.

“I made sure in the fifth that I got better length and actually controlled the match rather than hitting it too hard and running around like a headless chicken.”

Phillips now takes on Dick Lau of Hong Kong, an impressive 11-8, 11-3, 11-1 winner over Japan’s Ben Takamizawa Harris.

“I’ve got nothing to lose tomorrow,” Phillips said. “I’ve got a day to prepare for it, so I’ll just give it all I’ve got.”

Melbourne’s Rex Hedrick registered the first win of the 2011 tournament when he beat New Zealander James Skiffington 11-2, 11-1, 11-1.

He now takes on Alan Clyne after the Scotsman was handed a first round bye.

“It was a really good way to start, just getting that first win and giving yourself the chance to qualify for the main draw,” Hedrick said.

“I’ve played James before and I’ve seen him play a lot – it was a match I should have won so it’s good to get the first one out of the way.

“I started solidly and stayed on top of him.

“It’s a very tough match tomorrow against Alan Clyne. He’s ranked 40 in the world and he’s a really good player so I’ll have to be on the ball from the start.”

New Zealand’s Kashif Shuja had mixed feelings after seeing off local Canberra hope and former tour player Tim Manning 11-6, 11-8, 11-8.

“I’ve known Tim for 18 years – we used to train a lot when we were both in Sydney,” Shuja said.

“I catch up with him whenever I come back to Canberra, and it’s good to see him still playing. It’s good for local squash, and he’s still playing pretty good.

“He’s just a little bit off the pace because he doesn’t play full time anymore.”

Joining Shuja in the qualifying finals were fellow Kiwis Campbell Grayson and Chris Lloyd.

Grayson plays Malaysia’s Ivan Yuen while Lloyd faces Queensland’s Zac Alexander, an impressive 11-5, 11-3, 11-9 winner over fellow Aussie Josh Cardwell.

Qualifying results

Alan Clyne (SCO) bye

Rex Hedrick (AUS) bt James Skiffington (NZL) 11-2, 11-1, 11-1

Dick Lau (HKG) bt Ben Takamizawa Harris (JPN) 11-8, 11-3, 11-1

Alex Phillips (ENG) bt Jamie McErvale (AUS) 13-11, 11-7, 1-11, 4-11, 11-4

Asyraf Azan (MAS) bt Luke Sims (AUS) 11-5, 11-4, 11-2

Aqeel Rehman (AUT) bt Roman Svec (CZE) 11-8, 11-8, 11-3

Kashif Shuja (NZL) bt Tim Manning (AUS) 11-6, 11-8, 11-8

Max Lee (HKG) bt Bradley Hindle (MLT) 8-11, 6-11, 11-8, 11-4, 11-2

Campbell Grayson (NZL) bt Joseph Watts (NZL) 11-1, 11-6, 11-4

Ivan Yuen (MAS) bt Kamran Khan (MAS) 11-8, 8-11, 11-9, 11-4

Zac Alexander (AUS) bt Josh Cardwell (AUS) 11-5, 11-3, 11-9

Chris Lloyd (NZL) bt Joshua Southwell-Nobbs (AUS) 11-7, 11-3, 11-6

Matthew Karwalski (AUS) bt Scott Arnold (AUS) 11-8, 13-11, 8-11, 8-11, 11-9

Wade Johnstone (AUS) bt Justin Beard (AUS) 11-9, 10-12, 11-3. 11-7

Raphael Kandra (GER) bt Ondrej Ertl (CZE) 13-11, 11-7, 11-2

Martin Knight (NZL) bye

 

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