Qualifiers join the big guns but Joe Lee misses out after losing marathon with Reda
By ALAN THATCHER at Wimbledon Rackets and Fitness Club
Adrian Waller’s reward for a bruising win over his training partner Charles Sharpes in the qualifying finals was a place in the main draw of the Canary Wharf Classic against reigning champion and four-time winner James Willstrop (above).
The 11th edition of this PSA International 50 event is a sell-out at the imposing East Wintergarden venue, and highlights the intense rivalry between the game’s two powerhouse nations, England and Egypt.
Waller’s battle with fellow Londoner Sharpes attracted a packed gallery to the Wimbledon Rackets and Fitness Club. But despite the support of his home crowd Sharpes was overpowered by the world No.29 from Enfield, who won 11-5, 5-11, 11-3, 11-6.
Waller (right) said: “It can be difficult playing people who you know very well.
“You have to put that stuff out of your mind and concentrate on the match, and hope that after a few minutes you forget about it.
“It wasn’t a great performance, but it was enough to get through. I know I’ll need to improve in the first round.”
While Waller has a healthy respect for Willstrop’s reputation, he won’t be overawed by the fact that the No.2 seed is 6ft 4in tall. Waller is just an inch shorter.
He is joined in the main draw by another Englishman, the talented veteran Jonathan Kemp, who meets world No.10 Daryl Selby, from Essex.
Kemp, the 33-year-old from Ipswich, is still playing outstanding squash at the age of 33, as he demonstrated in removing fourth qualifying seed Leo Au from Hong Kong.
Kemp struggled to find his rhythm at the start of the match and surrendered the opening game 14-12, but then got into his stride and produced a fluent display to win the next three games 11-8, 11-9, 11-5 in 44 minutes.
He revealed a change in tactics after yesterday’s flurry of reverse angles against Zahed Mohamed. Today he favoured soft, straight drops that clung to the sidewalls and forced Au into errors.
He also hit some immaculate length shots to work his tiny opponent around the work.
Kemp, ranked 47 in the world (seven places behind his opponent) said: “I was trying to work out about 15 different ways to beat him and then realised that he was getting tired, so I might as well just keep the rallies going.
“I tried one reverse angle early on and he covered that rather quickly so I’ll save those for another day.”
The hopes of another Englishman reaching the first round were dashed when Joe Lee, from Surrey, lost 13-11 in the fifth to his St George’s Hill PSL team-mate Ali Anwar Reda, who hit back from two games down to win that controversial fifth-game cliffhanger.
The match lasted 88 minutes and produced an astonishing scoreline in which both players won a game 11-1. Lee took the opening game in quick fashion as Reda started slowly, and the Egyptian drew level with a similarly one-sided fourth game as Lee lost his concentration having earlier led by two games and 5-3 in the third.
Lee was furious at being denied a let when Reda fell over in the middle of the court (right). The three officials unanimously called “No Let” to give Reda match ball.
He put a drop shot into the tin to allow Lee back into the match and this time the tall Surrey player seemed to have regained his composure to lead 11-10.
However, he failed to close it out and the Egyptian won two points to hold match ball for a second time.
The exchanges were brutal and Lee had Reda running all over the court in what proved to be the final rally of the match. With Reda at the back of the court, Lee put a backhand drop shot into the tin.
He was still seething after the match about the “No Let” call at 9-9, but in a calmer moment of reflection he might mull over the chances he wasted to reach the main draw.
Reda’s reward is a battle with German number one Simon Rosner on Tuesday.
Hong Kong’s Max Lee claimed a place in the top half of the draw against former world No1 Karim Darwish after a quick victory over Egyptian Mohamed Abouelghar, winning 11-7, 11-9, 11-6 in just 33 minutes.
Lee (right) has made an enormous improvement to his front court game and a mixture of straight drops and sliced crosscourts punished any loose balls from his opponent.
Abouelghar competed solidly until the mid-point of each game. He was level at 7-7 in the first, led 7-6 in the second and was 5-4 ahead in the third, but Lee finished strongly each time.
World champion Nick Matthew, who has won the event three times, is the top seed this week. He faces Scottish number one Alan Clyne in the opening round.
Canary Wharf Classic Qualifying finals, Wimbledon Rackets Club.
Adrian Waller (Eng) bt Charles Sharpes (Eng) 11-5, 5-11, 11-3, 11-6 (50 min)
Ali Anwar Reda (Egypt) bt Joe Lee 1-11, 11-13, 11-8, 11-1, 13-11 (88min)
Jonathan Kemp (Eng) bt Leo Au (HK) 12-14, 11-8, 11-9, 11-5 (44 min)
Max Lee (HK) bt Mohamed Abouelghar (Egy) 11-7, 11-9, 11-6 (33 min)
Pictures by Patrick Lauson