Colombian ace takes 98 minutes to stop Alan Clyne
By SEAN REUTHE
Colombian No.1 Miguel Angel Rodriguez came through a banana-skin fixture against Scotland’s Alan Clyne in round one of the inaugural 2016 SquashColombia Open to reach the quarter-final stage in Cartagena and keep up local hopes of having a home winner.
The lead changed hands multiple times throughout a frenetic 98-minute encounter.
After seeing Clyne fight back from a 2-1 deficit to draw level, Rodriguez recovered brilliantly and eventually prevailed with an 8-11, 13-11, 11-7, 8-11, 11-2 victory.
“It was a very intense match in difficult conditions due to the humidity,” said Rodriguez.
“All credit to Alan, who played very well and he gave it his best tonight. I’m pleased to win my first round here as a local player. I’ve got a day off tomorrow and I will battle in the next round.”
World No.1 Mohamed Elshorbagy is also through to the next round after he vanquished the other home hope, 19-year-old wildcard Andres Herrera, in straight games.
The Egyptian has won two of his last three PSA World Tour events and came into his encounter with Herrera full of confidence as a barrage of attacking shots down the forehand side quickly enabled the 25-year-old to surge into the lead.
Bogota-born Herrera, who is ranked 261 places behind Elshorbagy in the world rankings, put in a strong display that belied his status as the tournament’s wildcard, but the Egyptian dictated the tempo throughout to ease through 11-6, 11-8, 11-5.
“I felt good on court today. It’s such an amazing venue,” said Elshorbagy.
“There are so many great players playing this tournament. It’s a little bit humid and the conditions are hot so it’s a little bit tricky. All of the top players are used to playing different kind of conditions and it’s something that we all have to deal with. Hopefully I will be able to play at my best this week and I will see how far I can go in this tournament.”
Elshorbagy’s brother, Marwan, overcame Spanish No.1 Borja Golan in a brutal 93-minute clash to reach the next stage.
After taking the opening two games by the narrowest of margins, Elshorbagy looked to be set for safe passage into the next round before a tenacious Golan fought back to level proceedings. However, Elshorbagy refocused and overturned a strong lead from Golan in the fifth to wrap up a narrow 11-9, 13-11, 7-11, 2-11, 11-8 victory and move through to the last eight where he will meet Rodriguez.
“It was tough for both of us out there,” said Marwan. “The most important part of that was the mental part. I had to be mentally very strong today. We both lost out concentration in some crucial points but I think, overall, that we both gave it everything.”
The day’s other fixture saw England’s Tom Richards dispatch World No.16 Ryan Cuskelly in an impressive 3-0 dismantling. Richards, who has been undermined by injuries during the past year, looked strong throughout as he dealt with the conditions and his seventh-seeded opponent.
Next up for Richards is a tough quarter-final encounter against Mohamed Elshorbagy, where he will be looking to end his five-match losing streak against the 25-year-old Egyptian.
$115,000 Men’s PSA Squash Colombia Open 2016, Plaza de la Aduana, Cartagena, Colombia
Results: First Round (Top Half).
 Mohamed Elshorbagy (EGY) bt [WC] Andres Herrera (COL) 3-0: 11-6, 11-8, 11-5 (31m)
Tom Richards (ENG) bt  Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) 3-0: 11-9, 11-4, 11-8 (52m)
 Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) bt Borja Golan (ESP) 3-2: 11-9, 13-11, 7-11, 2-11, 11-8 (93m)
 Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL) bt [Q] Alan Clyne (SCO) 3-2: 8-11, 13-11, 11-7, 8-11, 11-2 (98m)
First Round (Bottom Half)
 Tarek Momen (EGY) v [Q] Cesar Salazar (MEX)
Stephen Coppinger (RSA) v  Cameron Pilley (AUS)
 Saurav Ghosal (IND) v [Q] Diego Elias (PER)
[Q] Zahed Mohamed (EGY) v  Omar Mosaad (EGY)
Pictures courtesy of PSA