Superman Miguel Rodriguez dives around Grand Central to win epic battle against Peter Barker
By NATHAN CLARKE – Squash Mad PSA Correspondent
Agile Colombian Miguel Angel Rodriguez became the first South American squash player to reach the quarter-finals of a PSA World Series event after beating England’s Peter Barker in an epic confrontation lasting 120 minutes at the J.P Morgan Tournament of Champions.
Two of the fittest and most fluid movers on tour, the duo served up a titanic battle of attrition that was packed with lung-bursting rallies as they tried to break each other down.
In front of a packed crowd at New York’s iconic Grand Central Terminal venue, it was Rodriguez, the highest ranked South American player of all time, who managed to edge it, taking the match 11-6, 8-11, 11-13, 11-9, 11-7 to record his first victory over the World No.6.
“This is one of the best wins of my career so far because it is the first time I have beaten him and also the first time I’ve made it to the quarter-finals at one of the major events,” said Rodriguez, the 29-year-old world No.8.
“I prepared very hard for the match and I’m delighted to win. I think I played very well – it was not an easy match because he is a very tough player.”
After taking the opening game, which in itself lasted 26 minutes, Rodriguez found himself 2-1 down after Barker closed out a gritty tiebreaker in the third. The Englishman appeared to have the ascendency as he moved 9-7 ahead in the fourth game and within two points of the match.
But two consecutive errors by Barker gave the Colombian an opportunity and he pounced to keep the match alive. In the deciding game, he continued to set a relentless physical pace that 31-year-old Barker couldn’t live with.
“I worked very hard on the physical side of the game last year and I played a lot of events as well, so had a good rhythm and it has all paid off for me,” sad Rodriguez.
“I’ve started the year in the top 10 and at my highest ever ranking, and I’m into the quarter-finals for the first time so i already feel like this is definitely going to be my best year.”
In a mammoth day of action in Manhattan there were also wins for German World No.10 Simon Rösner, French World No.2 Gregory Gaultier and England’s World No.4 Nick Matthew, with Gaultier claiming the quickest win of the day with his 43-minute, 3-0 triumph over qualifier Tom Richards.
Matthew had to labour for 94 minutes to overcome the giant Mosaad, and Rosner took 75 minutes to conquer fellow European Castagnet.
J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions
Results: Second Round (Bottom half)
 Nick Matthew (ENG) bt Omar Mosaad (EGY) 3-1: 7-11, 15-13, 11-6, 13-11 [94m]
 Simon Rösner (GER) bt Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) 3-1: 11-13, 11-5, 11-5, 11-6 [75m]
Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL) bt  Peter Barker (ENG) 3-2: 11-6, 8-11, 11-13, 11-9, 11-7 [120m]
 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt [Q] Tom Richards (ENG) 3-0: 11-6, 11-5, 11-3 [43m]
Draw: Quarter-finals, Top Half (To be played Jan 20)
 Mohamed Elshorbagy (EGY) v  Borja Golan (ESP)
 Tarek Momen (EGY) v  Amr Shabana (EGY)
Pictures courtesy of PSA