The Best: Lee takes out Darwish…The Worst: Mosaad and Gawad clock up 70 lets in farce match
Qualifier Max Lee sprung a massive surprise by beating former world number one Karim Darwish on the opening day of the Canary Wharf Classic.
Lee produced a stunning performance and held his nerve at crucial moments of the match to win in straight games.The scoreline of 11-8, 13-11, 19-17 showed how close this contest was.
Darwish survived five match balls in the third game before the world No.33 clinched an astonishing victory.
Earlier, Lee had hinted at the shocks to come as he built a big lead in the opening game and closed it out 11-8.
Darwish led 5-2 and 5-4 in the second but Lee responded with a surge of points to lead 9-5.
Lee held game ball at 10-8 but Darwish then recovered his momentum to twice draw level before showed coolness under intense pressure to win it 13-11.
Darwish was always looking to fire in quick winners, frequently slotting nicks off the serve, but Lee was fast and mobile around the front of the court as he hunted down every ball.
Darwish led 7-3 and 8-5 in the third game and you wondered if the game was at a turning point, but Lee constructed another solid period of pressure play to reach match ball at 10-9.
The following rallies drew gasps and screams from a packed crowd at the East Wintergarden as the lead seesawed between each player, but Lee displayed astonishing maturity to win 19-17.
Afterwards he revealed: “That was awesome. Bu there is no secret to this success. I have learned from losing.
“For the past five tournaments i have lost on the second day of qualifying so it’s hard to believe I have come through qualifying and beaten the great Karim Darwish here at Canary Wharf.”
He added: “I had nothing to lose so I had no fear to play him,” said Lee. “I have played him since I was 22 and he has beat me quite a few times.
“He is one of the best players in the world but I have learnt from every match against him and I’ve watched his recent matches to find some areas where I could attack.
“I just tried to get to the ball early and try and be positive. It can be a fear to attack against the top players but it’s an awesome feeling to win and I’m very happy.”
Looking ahead to the next round, he added: “Miguel and I train together so we know each other very well,” he said.
“We are similar players and I think we have some of the same strong points so I have to get focused and prepared but I’m ready for it.”
In total contrast to the opening matches, Omar Mosaad hustled his way past fellow Egyptian Karim Abdel Gawad in an ugly match that set some kind of record and bordered on the farcical.
Mosaad triumphed 11-6, 5-11, 14-12, 11-9 and it seemed that every rally ended in a dispute with the referees.The match lasted 71 minutes and contained 70 decisions.
The 6ft 4in Mosaad received a conduct warning after barging into his much shorter opponent’s back, and central referee John Massarella was involved in a running dialogue with both players.
The new PSA Referees Director Lee Drew said his mobile phone was red hot with TV viewers texting and Tweeting their comments. Twitter was red-hot as fans, and fellow PSA players including Mohamed ElShorbagy, Nicolas Muller, Simon Rosner and Cameron Pilley, all poured scorn on the proceedings.
Gawad, the PSA Young Player Of The Year, made a tactical decision to hit hard, low drives in an attempt to force his opponent to bend, twist and turn.
However, it takes a brave man to try to outhit a giant opponent whose nickname is The Hammer Of Thor.
Unfortunately, the hard-hitting rallies frequently resulted in drives landing around the service box and causing access problems as each player found his path to the ball being blocked.
Mosaad said: “Everything looks great about this tournament. It’s a wonderful crowd, and a big crowd, nice hotel. Everything is perfect. Now I’m looking forward to playing Nick Matthew.”
The tournament had got under way in spectacular style with an enthralling battle between Colombia’s No.8 seed Miguel Angel Rodriguez and Londoner Adrian Grant.
Rodriguez, pictured above signing autographs for young fans from Essex, finally clinched it 11-7, 5-11, 11-5, 7-11, 11-8 in 87 minutes of fast and furious combat.
After a slow start, Grant worked his way into the match with some phenomenal retrieving and imaginative strokeplay at the front of the court to counter the high-paced attack of the nippy Colombian.
Rodriguez may be enjoying the reputation of the Superman of Squash because of his frequent dives around the court, but his agility was more than matched by Grant in one spellbinding rally as he won the second game.
When the match reached a fifth game, Rodriguez built a 5-2 lead before Grant hit back strongly. At 7-7 it was anybody’s match, but Rodriguez finished strongly to earn his place in the quarter-finals.
“I have been working hard with my coach David Palmer in Orlando, especially on movement and fitness, and recently doing more work on tactics.
“It is great to be in the quarter-finals in such a special tournament.”
World champion Nick Matthew overcame stubborn resistance from Scottish No.1 Alan Clyne before winning in straight games, but he acknowledged that he was made to work hard for his victory.
Matthew won 11-6, 11-7, 11-5 in 39 minutes and then said: “Alan is a fighter, and showed that especially at the end of the second and third games.
“He really forces you to work hard for every point.”
Matthew shows no signs of any easing up in his powerful style, and seemed to be enjoying the work-out with some rapid changes of direction at the front of the court.
After clinching victory, Matthew admitted how proud he was of his Duffield team-mate Laura Massaro after her triumph in the Women’s World Championship in Malaysia and invited the packed audience to join him in a round of applause.
He said: “That was a tremendous achievement, especially after she had so many tough matches on the way to the final, saving match balls and then having to adjust her thinking when she reached the final and instead of facing the top seed Nicol David she found herself as the favourite against Nour El Sherbini.
“Again, she handled that pressure very well to become world champion. We share the same coach and I hope her achievement will inspire more girls to take up this great sport.”
With a nod to his Scottish opponent, Matthew said how much he was looking forward to the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in the summer.
He said: “It is massively important for the Commonwealth Games to provide a great shop window for squash and we hope that the visiting IOC officials are in the front row. Maybe we should ask them to pay for their tickets.”
Round One Results
(8) Miguel Angel Rodriguez (Col) bt Adrian Grant (Eng) 11-7, 5-11, 11-5, 7-11, 11-8 (87 min)
(Q) Max Lee (HK) bt (4) Karim Darwish (Egy) 11-8, 13-11, 19-17 (48 min)
(1) Nick Matthew (Eng) bt Alan Clyne (Sco) 11-6, 11-7, 11-5 (39 min)
(7)Omar Mosaad (EGY) bt Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) 3-1: 11-6, 5-11, 14-12, 11-9 [70 mins]
First Round Draw, Bottom Half
 Peter Barker (ENG) v Saurav Ghosal (IND)
[Q] Mohd Ali Anwar Reda (EGY) v  Simon Rosner (GER)
 Daryl Selby (ENG) v [Q] Jonathan Kemp (ENG)
[Q] Adrian Waller (ENG) v  James Willstrop (ENG)
Pictures by Patrick Lauson and Steve Line (www.squashpics.com)