Friday, January 27, 2023

Cesar Salazar motors on in Detroit

Mexican maestro motors past Marche to set up main draw match with Borja Golan
By JAMES HAWKINS – Squash Mad Reporter in Detroit


Bloomfield Hills, Mich. — In his inaugural appearance at The Motor City Open presented by The Suburban Collection, Mexico’s Cesar Salazar continues to impress. The Mexican World #39 provided the lone upset of the qualifying finals Friday at the Birmingham Athletic Club.

One day after cruising through Ireland’s Arthur Gaskin in four games, Salazar followed up by breezing past World #28 Gregoire Marche of France in straight games – 11-5, 11-9, 11-7 – to earn a spot in Saturday’s main draw.

Joining Salazar will be Scotland’s Alan Clyne, Finland’s Olli Tuominen and India’s Saurav Ghosal, who snatched the other three qualifier spots up for grabs.

Salazar won Game One after storming out to a 9-2 lead, but Marche bounced back in Game Two by taking an early 6-2 advantage. Salazar picked up his aggressive play and evened the score at 9-all before closing the game with the next three points. The pattern repeated itself in Game Three as Marche maintained an early edge at 7-5 before Salazar broke his spirits with a flurry of six consecutive points to seal the match.

“In second and third games, I changed a little. I started to play very quickly with more drop shots, volley drops, boasts,” Salazar said. “I think in the last game he lost control and his confidence, and I think that was important.”

Clyne stamped his ticket in convincing fashion by sweeping India’s Mahesh Mangaonkar 11-9, 11-7, 11-7. The win was a bit sweeter considering Mangaonkar beat Clyne in the Loch Ness Challenger tournament this past summer when he was the top seed.

Mangaonkar got out to an early lead in the first two games, but Clyne (World #38) stretched the 20-year-old World #47 all over the court with a heavy dose of deep rails, lobs and cross court shots to the back corners.

“He actually beat me at my home club in June when I was expected to win, so I was out for revenge,” Clyne said. “I was trying to put the ball in the back. Then when I got the loose ball I wanted to get on it quick, punish him and it seemed to work. I could feel him getting a bit more tired as the match went on.”

Olli Tuominen (right) keeps it tight on the backhand against Ali Farag
Olli Tuominen (right) keeps it tight on the backhand against Ali Farag

Tuominen (World #29) had his sights set on a sweep after taking the first two games against World #88 Ali Farag, but dropped the third game in a tiebreaker and fell behind 7-0 in Game Four. In the end, the 2007 MCO champ was able to regroup and stave off the upset-minded Egyptian in five games: 11-8, 11-8, 10-12, 3-11, 11-7.

“I was a bit disappointed to lose (Game Three) because I had a good push coming from behind and catching up. But the next game got a really bad start in the fourth, so decided it’s not going to happen,” Tuominen said. “I managed to pull my game together in the fifth…I wanted to play as tight as I can and try to attack quickly when he goes to the front and counter drop him.”

Like Tuominen, Ghosal (World #23) had to dig deep and grind out a win over fan favorite Ryan Cuskelly: 13-11, 6-11, 12-10, 11-6.

In Game One Ghosal led 9-5 but tinned his next three shots to let his opponent back in the game. At 10-all Cuskelly (World #44) was able to fight off another game ball before Ghosal used a nifty backhand drop shot to win it. Ghosal continued to tin shots early in the second game but seemed to find his stroke when he needed it most, rallying from an 8-10 deficit with four straight points to take Game Three.

“Ryan’s got a lethal forehand, chops it very well and he’s really skillful in middle of the court,” Ghosal said. “I knew I had to keep the pressure and keep coming at him. The more I did that, the more spaces I’d be able to open on the court.”

Motor City Open, Detroit. Friday’s qualifying finals results:

– Alan Clyne (SCO) def. Mahesh Mangaonkar (IND) 11-9, 11-7, 11-7 (62m)
– Olli Tuominen (FIN) def. Ali Farag (EGY) 11-8, 11-8, 10-12, 3-11, 11-7 (71m)
– Cesar Salazar (MEX) def. Gregoire Marche (FRA) 11-5, 11-9, 11-7 (44m)
– Saurav Ghosal (IND) def. Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) 13-11, 6-11, 12-10, 11-6 (71m)

Saturday’s first round matches:
– [1] Mohamed Elshorbagy (EGY) vs Cameron Pilley (AUS)
– [6] Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL) vs [Q] Saurav Ghosal (IND)
– [8] Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) vs [Q] Alan Clyne (SCO)
– [4] Borja Golan (ESP) vs [Q] Cesar Salazar (MEX)
– [3] Peter Barker (ENG) vs Nicolas Mueller (SUI)
– [7] Marwan Elshorbagy (EGY) vs Stephen Coppinger (RSA)
– [5] Omar Mosaad (EGY) vs [Q] Olli Tuominen (FIN)
– [2] Amr Shabana (EGY) vs Max Lee (HKG)



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