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Kuwait Cup: Top seeds power through

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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Nic Mueller gets the chop from Ramy Ashour. Picture by STEVE CUBBINS courtesy of www.squashsite.co.uk

PSA $190k World Series Platinum, Kuwait PSA Cup – Fri 9th March, Day TWO:

From STEVE CUBBINS
With eight round one winners up against eight rested seeds, today’s second round of the Kuwait PSA Cup in Kuwait City’s Qadsia Club had the feel of an opening round of the main draw, and as in so many of those days it was the seeded players who all prevailed, although some had it easier than others …
Round Two, Top Half:

[15] Laurens Jan Anjema (Ned) 3-0 Karim Ali Fathi (Egy) 11/6, 11/5, 11/1 (36m)
[8] Peter Barker (Eng) 3-0 Karim Abdel Gawad (Egy) 11/8, 11/3, 11/8 (46m)
[10] Borja Golan (Esp) 3-2 Saurav Ghosal (Ind) 6/11, 8/11, 12/10, 11/6, 11/8 (105m)
[9] Omar Mosaad (Egy) 3-0 Jonathan Kemp  (Eng) 11/6, 11/9, 11/9 (28m)
[7] Amr Shabana (Egy) 3-0 Olli Tuominen (Fin) 11/8, 11/8, 11/5 (35m)
[1] Ramy Ashour (Egy) 3-1 Nicolas Mueller (Sui) 11/7, 8/11, 11/5, 11/2 (47m)
[4] Gregory Gaultier (Fra) 3-0 Abdullah Al Mezayen (Kuw) 11/9, 11/5, 11/6 (36m)
[16] Simon Rosner (Ger) 3-0 Leo Au (Hkg) 11/5, 11/5, 11/3 (27m)

No joy for the “qualifiers” as seeds progress in round two

First up was Dutchman LJ Anjema, looking for his first PSA win of the year. In his own words the fifteenth seed “took the match by the throat” from the outset, and made life difficult for young Karim Ali Fathi. After a tough opening, Anjema accelerated to an 11/6, 11/5, 11/1 victory.

“Yes, I guess I took him by the throat a bit, but I didn’t have the choice, because if I didn’t, he would have!” said Anjema. “I tried to keep the pace up, and use my experience on the glass court. It’s good to finally get a win, my first one in 2013.”

Peter Barker took a little longer to dispatch another young Egyptian, as Karim Abdel Gawad made the English left-hander work all the way for his 11/8, 11/3, 11/8 win. Never begind, the sixth seed was happy enough with his performance:

“I’m very happy with the first two games, and also to have taken it 3/0. But I guess my eagerness to win 3/0 made me play not that well in the third,” admitted Barker. “I played him in Qatar, won 3/1, and it was a hard match, so I expected the same here, and it was.”

Borja Golan took a lot longer to make his way past Saurav Ghosal. The tenth seeded Spaniard came from two games down to beat the speedy Indian in a marathon 105-minute match that featured many changes of momentum – the final one in which Golan took seven points in a row from 8-4 down in the fifth proving decisive.

“I so wanted to win that,” admitted Golan, who hadn’t played on a glass court since last December. ““It was more a mental thing in the end, at 8-4 down I just pushed and he seemed to drop a little and I took advantage. “I just need matches now, so I hope I can continue to improve each round.”

Borja Golan battles past Saurav Ghosal

Taking a shade over a quarter of the time of the previous match, Egypt’s Omar Mosaad completed the afternoon session with a 28-minute 11/6, 11/9, 11/9 win over Englishman Jon Kemp. Mosaad, the ninth seed, took quick leads in each of the games and although Kemp recovered well, especially in the second and third games, he’d left it too late.

“The last time we played it was very very hard, so I watched his match yesterday and established a game plan, which worked fine for the first two games. But also I was lucky in those two games, as he made a lot of unforced errors, which he didn’t do in the third so I went back to a more basic game and was more patient.”

Two more Egyptians progressed as the evening session started. Amr Shabana and Ramy Ashour had, until the sequence was broken last year, had competed in four Kuwait finals in a row, and both made it through to the third round against tricky opponents.

Shabana was run close in the first two games by Finn Olli Tuominen, like Shabana 33 years of age. The four-time world champion pulled clear from the middle of the third to complete an 11/8, 11/8, 11/5 win.

“It’s always difficult to play Olli, we started playing like 20, 21 years ago,” shared Shabana. “I thought I was in control more or less, but he started to come back, and when he gets a sniff at it, he becomes very dangerous. Now, I’m in the next round, and we’ll see how it goes.”

Ashour, unbeaten since last May and looking to win a seventh major event in a row, looked in good enough fettle for the most past against Nicolas Mueller, losing the third with a few too many unforced errors but accelerating away to win 11/7, 8/11, 11/5, 11/2.

“It’s fun to play both Nicki and Simon [Rosner], finally I get to play players from my generation, instead of playing people 10 years older than me, and I’m enjoying it!” said Ashour. “You’re always aware that you can lose, and the first round is as dangerous/difficult as the quarters or the final. There is no easy match. Never.”

Third seeded Frenchman Gregory Gaultier wasted little time in ending the run of Kuwait’s Abdullah Al Mezayen, maintaining a tight grip on the match as he won 11/9, 11/5, 11/6 in 36 minutes.

“Tonight it was far away from easy,” said Gaultier, “Abdullah gave it his best, but he had a massive win yesterday, and it took a lot out of him. I could see him struggling to move in the second, but he still came back strong in the third.”

The last match of the day was a real ‘little and large’ affair as Simon Rosner, of of the tallest players on the tour, faced Leo Au, one of the smallest. The German sixteenth seed made his physical advantage tell immediately, and there was no letup for the Hong Kong player as Rosner continued to dominate, running out the 11/5, 11/5, 11/3 winner in under half an hour.

“He seemed a bit tired from yesterday’s tough match,” said Rosner, “but I played some good pressure squash and tried to move him around as much as I could and I managed to do that quite well.”

Rosner, after a rest day as the bottom half of the draw is played out, next meets Ramy Ashour. “It’s funny, I didn’t play Ramy at all in PSA, and now it will be three times in three months! He’s in ridiculous form, so I’m looking forward to that match which will be, like always, entertaining, fun and fair.”

Full reports, quotes and photos available on the official tournament site: www.kuwaitpsacup.com

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