Saturday, April 13, 2024

LIVE PSA: LJ nails title in Minnesota

FLYING  Dutchman Laurens Jan Anjema celebrated the 12th PSA World Tour title triumph of his career when he upset top seed Alister Walker in the final of the Indian Summer Tournament Benefiting Beyond Walls, the inaugural PSA International 25 squash event at the Commodore Squash Club in St Paul, Minnesota, USA.

Third seed Anjema reached the final after masterminding an upset in the semi-finals, where he defeated England’s No2 seed Tom Richards after fighting back from a game down.

Botswana’s world No15 Walker, however, despatched his semi-final opponent star Nicolas Mueller, the No4 seed from Switzerland, in straight games.

Before a packed Commodore crowd, world No18 Anjema made up for two recent Tour defeats by Walker by beating his higher-ranked opponent 11-4, 9-11, 11-9, 11-6 in 67 minutes.

“My plan going in was to really make him beat me,” said the jubilant eight-time Dutch champion later. “I was not going to try and do special shots and make mistakes, I planned to play steady and be hard to beat.

“The third game was close; I was lucky to win the third. It was make-or-break, and really crucial. Either way going into the fourth you’re going to be up and tired or down and tired – so it’s better to be up 2-1 at that point.

“The match had a really high pace and the level of play was quite high.”

PSA CEO Alex Gough agreed that the event climax had been a tough encounter: “The deciding factor was tactics,” said the former world No5. “LJ decided to play an incredibly fast pace. Ali’s mistake was going with him. It was just tough, completely tough.”

Later, the 30-year-old Anjema, from The Hague, revealed to his Twitter followers: “Tournament victories are rare in an athlete’s life so gonna cherish this moment deeply. Thanks to the people of Minneapolis/St Pauls for being a cool new stop on tour.”

[3] Laurens Jan Anjema (NED) bt [1] Alister Walker (BOT) 11-4, 9-11, 11-9, 11-6 (67m)

Indian Summer image courtesy of Tomy O’Brien

Semi Final Reports

In what was an upset according to the seedings, but not according to the latest PSA world rankings, Dutchman Laurens Jan Anjema beat second-seeded Englishman Tom Richards to reach the final of the Indian Summer Benefiting Beyond Walls, the inaugural PSA World Tour International 25 squash event at the Commodore Squash Club in St Paul, Minnesota, USA.

But to justify his higher-ranking, world No18 Anjema had to fight back from a game down to overcome Richards, now ranked 22 in the world, 9-11, 11-2, 11-6, 11-7 in 63 minutes.

“Even though I lost the first game, the tone was set from the beginning of the match,” explained the eight-time Dutch champion (pictured below, right, with Richards) after the win which takes him into his 31st Tour final.

“We had long rallies in the beginning, and it was always going to be brutal. After the first game, I cut out the errors, but they were still long rallies, and it was always going to be tough physically.”

Anjema will now face top seed Alister Walker for the title.

“Alister and I played earlier this year at the World Teams and in Hong Kong,” Anjema continued. “I lost in HK and won in the World Teams, so it should be an interesting match.”

Walker, the world No15 from Botswana, is enjoying one of the best spells of his career and now has his sights on a third PSA Tour title this year.

The US-based 31-year-old took out Swiss star Nicolas Mueller, beating the No4 seed 12-10, 11-9, 11-5 in 46 minutes.

“I managed to win big points,” said Walker. “I nicked game ball in the first, and the second game was really close as well. Nicolas could have easily won one of the first two, but it’s always tough to come back when you’re down two.

“I was hard and steady in the third, so the 3/0 score probably flatters me a bit, but I’m happy,” added the former world No12 who is now in the 15th Tour final of his career.

In his view of the up-coming final, Walker said: “LJ and I have had some tough matches in the past. He probably has a winning record over me. If I play like I did today, I think I could have a good chance.”

In fact, Walker and Anjema’s career Tour head-to-head record is 5-3 in the Dutchman’s favour – but Walker was successful in the pair’s two most recent encounters.

Indian Summer image courtesy of Tomy O’Brien

[1] Alister Walker (BOT) bt [4] Nicolas Mueller (SUI) 12-10, 11-9, 11-5 (46m)
[3] Laurens Jan Anjema (NED) bt [2] Tom Richards (ENG) 9-11, 11-2, 11-6, 11-7 (63m)

Quarter Final Reports

ENGLAND’S Tom Richards, the No2 seed who is battling back to top form after serious hamstring injury, was stretched for 71 minutes before overcoming fellow countryman Eddie Charlton to reach tonight’s semi-final of the Indian Summer Benefiting Beyond Walls event in St Paul, Minnesota.

Underdog Charlton twice led in the match – but Richards (pictured above left), a former world No12 currently at 22, dug deep to win 6-11, 11-2, 9-11, 11-9, 11-3.

He will now take on third seed Laurens Jan Anjema (pictured above right), the eight-time Dutch champion from The Hague.  Anjema denied the event domestic interest in the last four by beating US champion Christopher Gordon 11-8, 11-6, 11-5 in 44 minutes.

Fourth seed Nicolas Mueller enjoyed the quickest victory, taking only 24 minutes to stop Malaysian Muhd Asyraf Azan 11-1, 11-3, 11-7.

The Swiss number one now has top seed Alister Walker in his sights. The world No15 from Botswana defeated fellow African Shaun le Roux, the world No53 from Cape Town, 11-4, 7-11, 11-7, 11-6.

[1] Alister Walker (BOT) bt Shaun le Roux (RSA) 11-4, 7-11, 11-7, 11-6 (51m)
[4] Nicolas Mueller (SUI) bt Muhd Asyraf Azan (MAS) 11-1, 11-3, 11-7 (24m)
[3] Laurens Jan Anjema (NED) bt Christopher Gordon (USA) 11-8, 11-6, 11-5 (44m)
[2] Tom Richards (ENG) bt Eddie Charlton (ENG) 6-11, 11-2, 9-11, 11-9, 11-3 (71m)

1st round:

[1] Alister Walker (BOT) bt Campbell Grayson (NZL) 13-11, 11-8, 11-9 (50m)
Shaun le Roux (RSA) bt [Q] Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY) 11-7, 11-9, 10-12, 11-7
Muhd Asyraf Azan (MAS) bt [Q] Charles Sharpes (ENG) 11-8, 12-14, 8-11, 11-8, 17-15
Nicolas Mueller (SUI) bt Adrian Grant (ENG)  11-4, 8-11, 11-9, 11-7
[3] Laurens Jan Anjema (NED) bt [Q] Farhan Zaman (PAK) 9-11, 7-11, 11-8, 11-6, 11-3 (64m)
Christopher Gordon (USA) bt Julian Illingworth (USA) 9-11, 11-13, 11-6, 11-3, 14-12 (95m)
Eddie Charlton (ENG) bt [Q] Lewis Walters (ENG) 11-9, 8-11, 11-9, 3-11, 11-6
[2] Tom Richards (ENG) bt [WC] Adrian Leanza (USA) 11-4, 11-0, 11-4 (26m)

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