By ALAN THATCHER (Squash Mad Editor)
England’s Patrick Rooney fought back after losing the first game to beat Colombia’s Miguel Rodriguez in the first round of the Grasshopper Cup in Zurich. He now faces No.2 seed Paul Coll of New Zealand in the second round on Thursday.
With a best-of-three scoring format in the early rounds, Rooney lost the opening game on a tiebreak but played superbly to win 12-14, 11-3, 11-7 in 48 minutes to win a golden opportunity against Coll.
The first game of Rooney’s clash with the ‘Colombian Cannonball’ could have gone either way, but it went the way of Rodriguez, who took it 14-12 after 20 minutes. Rooney fought back to dominate the second game and played smart squash to clinch victory in the third.
He said: “It is a different kind of win. He is the kind of player that on paper, I would do badly against. That was a big win for me, to get over that hurdle, of playing a physical animal.
“It’s something I have worked on a lot and it is starting to pay off and I can use my squash against these players who are fit. I can keep that up and sustain the pressure to tire them out, so I was really happy with that!
“It is strange, best-of-three is technically shorter, but we seem to be having long matches! It brings out the quality in us. That first game was tough, but I glanced over at him and it looked like he was feeling it. He showed a weakness in the second game, but I kept telling myself to put in those big rallies and it worked out!”
The opening rounds of this PSA World Tour Gold level tournament are taking place at the Squash Arena in Uster and Swiss heroes Nicolas Mueller and Dimitri Steinmann delighted the home crowd by winning against France’s Sebastien Bonmalais and German No.1 Raphael Kandra.
Mueller now meets top seed Ali Farag while Steinmann faces another Egyptian superstar, Tarek Momen.
Wild card Steinmann lost the first game 11-1 but was motivated by the crowd’s noisy response when he won the first point of the second game.
Steinmann said: “The crowd was amazing! Raphy played an almost perfect first game, and then when I won the first point of the second game, the crowd gave me a huge cheer and I knew I was going to be alright.”
Mueller won 11-6, 11-7 in just 21 minutes and said: “It doesn’t get much better than this! Being Swiss and playing in front of your home crowd, with my family and friends here.
“It is big for Uster as well! We all enjoy playing in front of this crowd, so we thank you for making it possible!”
Looking ahead to his clash with Farag, he added: “It is a match like any other. I will just go out there and fight, I will do what I can! Obviously he is World No.1 for a reason. He is a good player, and in good form!”
Farag, as revealed in an earlier Squash Mad exclusive, received urgent medical advice after retiring from the U.S. Open final with a knee injury on Saturday but was cleared to compete in Zurich.
France’s Lucas Serme, who was concussed by a wayward shot from Mostafa Asal in the second round of the U.S. Open, returned to action yesterday but was beaten by fellow Frenchman Baptiste Masotti, who won 12-10, 11-5. Masotti meets U.S. Open champion Diego Elias (Peru) in the second round.
British players George Parker (England) and Greg Lobban (Scotland) both went out in the first round. Parker lost a physical battle against Omar Mosaad in two games, while Lobban was at one game all against Gregoire Marche after two tiebreak games, only for the Frenchman to win the third 11-2.
Wales’ No.6 seed Joel Makin meets Eain Yow Ng after the Malaysian beat Spanish veteran Borja Golan.
Welsh internationals Tesni Evans and Emily Whitlock both enjoyed confident victories on the opening day. Evans beat Cristina Gomez of Spain and Whitlock overcame Emilia Soini of Finland. Both were on and off court in less than 20 minutes.
Whitlock meets No.4 seed Rown Elaraby of Egypt while Evans tackles England’s No.3 seed Sarah-Jane Perry on Thursday.
England’s Commonwealth Games champion Georgina Kennedy returns to action in Zurich after illness and injury with a second round tie against South Africa’s Alexandra Fuller, who beat Marie Stephan of France.
Top seed Nour El Sherbini plays Cindy Merlo of Switzerland while No.2 seed Hania El Hammamy meets Enora Villard of France.
2022 Grasshopper Cup, Zurich, Switzerland.
Men’s First Round:
Nicolas Mueller (SUI) bt Sebastien Bonmalais (FRA) 2-0: 11-6, 11-7 (21m)
Youssef Soliman (EGY) bt Auguste Dussourd (FRA) 2-0: 9-0 rtd (9m)
Eain Yow Ng (MAS) bt Borja Golan (ESP) 2-0: 11-9, 11-5 (38m)
Baptiste Masotti (FRA) bt Lucas Serme (FRA) 2-0: 12-10, 11-5 (32m)
Gregoire Marche (FRA) bt Greg Lobban (SCO) 2-1: 11-13, 12-10, 11-2 (49m)
[WC] Dimitri Steinmann (SUI) bt Raphael Kandra (GER) 2-1: 1-11, 11-9, 11-4 (45m)
Omar Mosaad (EGY) bt George Parker (ENG) 2-0: 11-2, 11-7 (29m)
Patrick Rooney (ENG) bt Miguel Rodriguez (COL) 2-1: 12-14, 11-3, 11-7 (48m)
Men’s Second Round (Top Half, Wednesday, October 19):
 Ali Farag (EGY) v Nicolas Mueller (SUI)
Youssef Soliman (EGY) v  Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY)
 Joel Makin (WAL) v Eain Yow Ng (MAS)
Baptiste Masotti (FRA) v  Diego Elias (PER)
Men’s Second Round (Bottom Half, Thursday, October 20):
 Mostafa Asal (EGY) v Gregoire Marche (FRA)
[WC] Dimitri Steinmann (SUI) v  Tarek Momen (EGY)
 Fares Dessouky (EGY) v Omar Mosaad (EGY)
Patrick Rooney (ENG) v  Paul Coll (NZL)
Women’s First Round:
Cindy Merlo (SUI) bt Anna Serme (CZE) 2-0: 11-7, 11-2 (14m)
Tinne Gilis (BEL) bt [WC] Nadia Pfister (SUI) 2-0: 11-9, 11-5 (17m)
Melissa Alves (FRA) bt Nour Aboulmakarim (EGY) 2-0: 11-8, 11-2 (17m)
Emily Whitlock (WAL) bt Emilia Soini (FIN) 2-0: 11-8, 11-1 (19m)
Tesni Evans (WAL) bt Cristina Gomez (ESP) 2-0: 11-5, 11-6 (18m)
Nadine Shahin (EGY) bt Julianne Courtice (ENG) 2-0: 11-7, 11-3 (16m)
Alexandra Fuller (RSA) bt Marie Stephan (FRA) 2-0: 11-8, 11-6 (20m)
Enora Villard (FRA) bt Hollie Naughton (CAN) 2-0: 11-6, 11-5 (17m)
Women’s Second Round (Top Half, Wednesday, October 19):
 Nour El Sherbini (EGY) v Cindy Merlo (SUI)
Tinne Gilis (BEL) v  Olivia Fiechter (USA)
 Nour El Tayeb (EGY) v Melissa Alves (FRA)
Emily Whitlock (WAL) v  Rowan Elaraby (EGY)
Women’s Second Round (Bottom Half, Thursday, October 20):
 Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) v Tesni Evans (WAL)
Nadine Shahin (EGY) v  Salma Hany (EGY)
 Georgina Kennedy (ENG) v Alexandra Fuller (RSA)
Enora Villard (FRA) v  Hania El Hammamy (EGY)
Pictures courtesy of PSA World Tour