Qualifying Round One: Egyptian contingent breeze through as Farag flourishes in New York
By SATYA SESHADRI – Reporting from The Harvard Club Of New York City:
Harvard University senior Ali Farag pulled off a huge upset by toppling Australian Ryan Cuskelly in straight games in the first round of qualifying at the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions in New York.
The unranked 21-year-old, who has not competed on the PSA Tour since losing in the first qualifying round of the $115,000 event last year, capitalised on a below-par performance from the world number 33 to triumph 11-7, 11-7, 11-9 in 44 minutes at the Princeton Club.
The Egyptian will now face Cesar Salazar for a place in the main draw, after the Mexican overcame home favourite Samuel Kang 3-0.
Elsewhere, Egyptian Marwan Elshorbagy booked a safe passage through to the final round of qualifiers after cruising past Joe Chapman of the British Virgin Islands.
The world number 24, whose brother Mohamed is the third seed this week following Ramy Ashour’s withdrawal, showed few signs of rustiness following the Christmas break as he recorded a 11-6, 11-7, 11-6 victory in less than half an hour.
The 20-year-old said: “It was a good way to start the tournament, I love coming to New York and playing in the Tournament Of Champions. I played well today and did not let my opponent gain any momentum.
“My goal is to break into the top 20 before the summer starts so I am working hard. Hopefully I will play well tomorrow and make the main draw.”
The duo of Omar Abdel Meguid and Mohd Ali Anwar Reda joined their countryman in the next round after recording 3-0 scorelines over Adrian Leanza and Mohamed Abouelghar respectively, while Omar Abdel Aziz also boosted Egyptian representation but needed five games to blunt the challenge of England’s Eddie Charlton in a gruelling 74 minute encounter.
Elsewhere, Switzerland’s Nicolas Mueller lived up to his billing as one of the qualifying favourites as he thrashed American Bradbury Thompson in just 20 minutes. The world number 27 will now meet Leo Au of Hong Kong, who battled past Canadian veteran Shahier Razik in four tight games.
Au’s fellow compatriot and teammate Max Lee also advanced into the next round after defeating 37-year-old Englishman Bradley Ball in straight games.
Ball, who coaches at The Union Club Of New York, has recently taken a hiatus from the professional circuit but showed some of the form which took him to world number 23 in 2005 as he amassed a game ball in the second game.
However, Lee capitalised on some errant shots to eventually prevail in a second game tie-break, before eventually wrapping up an 11-1, 13-11, 11-9 victory.
In an all-Malaysian meeting, Mohd.Nafizwan Adnad prevailed at the expense of Muhd Asyrif Azan, while Chris Gordon also advanced after romping past fellow American Mike Lewis at the Harvard club (pictured above, right).
Meanwhile at the New York Athletic Club, there was heartache for American number one Julian Illingworth who succumbed to injury against Charles Sharpes after just two games.
The Englishman will now meet Frenchman Gregoire Marche in perhaps the pick of the matches in the qualifying finals, after the world number 30 ruthlessly despatched Canadian Dane Sharp 11-5, 11-6, 11-2 in 29 minutes.
Sharpes is joined in the next round by fellow compatriot Adrian Waller who defeated Faraz Khan, while there were also victories for New Zealand’s Campbell Grayson and Scotland’s Alan Clyne who beat Pakistani pair Yasir Ali Butt and Farhan Zaman respectively.
Round Two – Men’s Qualifying
Nicolas Mueller (SUI) v Leo Au (HKG)
Mohd Nafiizwan Adnan (MAS) v Alan Clyne (SCO)
Ali Farag (EGY) v Cesar Salazar (MEX)
Christopher Gordon (USA) v Omar Abdel Meguid (EGY)
Omar Abdel Aziz (EGY) v Marwan Elshorbagy (EGY)
Max Lee (HKG) v Mohd Ali Anwar Reda (EGY)
Campbell Grayson (NZL) v Adrian Waller (ENG)
Gregoire Marche (FRA) v Charles Sharpes (ENG)
Round One – Men’s Results:
Nicolas Mueller (SUI) 3-0 Bradbury Thompson (USA) 11-4, 11-4, 11-8 (20m)
Leo Au (HKG) 3-1 Shahier Razik (CAN) 11-6, 4-11, 11-5, 11-9 (74m)
Mohd Nafiizwan Adnan (MAS) 3-0 Muhd Asyraf Azan (MAS) 11-6, 11-3, 11-5 (34m)
Alan Clyne (SCO) 3-0 Farhan Zaman (PAK) 12-10, 11-5, 11-2 (33m)
Ali Farag (EGY) 3-0 Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) 11-7, 11-7, 11-9 (44m)
Cesar Salazar (MEX) 3-0 Samuel Kang (SIN) 11-9, 11-7, 11-7 (33m)
Christopher Gordon (USA) 3-0 Mike Lewis (USA) 11-3, 11-2, 11-5 (24m)
Omar Abdel Meguid (EGY) 3-0 Adrian Leanza (USA) 11-3, 11-8, 11-7 (24m)
Marwan Elshorbagy (EGY) 3-0 Joe Chapman (IVB) 11-6, 11-7, 11-6 (29m)
Omar Abdel Aziz (EGY) 3-2 Eddie Charlton (ENG) 9-11, 8-11, 11-8, 11-2, 11-4 (74m)
Mohd Ali Anwar Reda (EGY) 3-0 Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY) 11-8, 14-12, 11-3 (38m)
Max Lee (HKG) 3-0 Bradley Ball (ENG) 11-1, 13-11, 11-9 (31m)
Adrian Waller (ENG) 3-0 Faraz Khan (USA) 11-4, 11-7, 11-3 (28m)
Campbell Grayson (NZL) 3-0 Yasir Ali Butt (PAK) 11-9, 11-7, 11-8 (36m)
Charles Sharpes (ENG) 3-0 Julian Illingworth (USA) 11-2, 11-5 ret.
Gregoire Marche (FRA) 3-0 Dane Sharp (CAN) 11-5, 11-6, 11-2 (29m)
Pictures by Satya Seshadri