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PSA: Coppinger meets Golan in London final

Borja Golan at full stretch to beat Chris Simpson. Picture by JORDAN MANSFIELD

Coppinger & Golan To Contest London Open Final

4 December 2011

RESULTS: PSA Challenger 15 Coronation London Open, London, England

[3] Borja Golan (ESP) bt Chris Simpson (ENG) 11-9, 11-6, 11-5 (42m)
[2] Stephen Coppinger (RSA) bt [4] Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) 11-8, 11-9, 11-7 (39m)

South African Stephen Coppinger and Spaniard Borja Golan will contest the final of the Coronation London Openafter prevailing in hard-fought straight-game semi-finals of the PSA World Tour Challenger 15 squash event at theCumberland Lawn Tennis Club in north-west London.

The opening match demonstrated a master class in retrieval as both second seed Coppinger and Karim Abdel Gawad, the No4 seed from Egypt, combined patient attacks to boost the spectacle of the $20,000 event on its fourth year in the English capital city.

Sheer consistency separated the pair throughout the match. The 27-year-old from Cape Town always had a tighter length and was let off the hook on numerous occasions as Gawad struck the tin more frequently.

This was again evident in the second game, as three of the last four points were errors from Gawad, resulting in the South African extending his lead to two games.

The whole match was played at a furious pace as the competitors looked to gain control of the middle. Neither managed to dominate completely, but Coppinger’s extra years on the tour against the 20-year-old proved to be an advantage and the world No35 closed out the match 11-8, 11-9, 11-7.

“For a 3/0 that was a really hard match,” said Coppinger after the 39-minute battle. “It felt like I was the one defending for most of it. He has some great shots on him and he builds the rallies really well. He was moving me all over the place.

“I just hope the guys in the other semi have a really long match now,” added the South African champion, now in the 13th Tour final of his career and looking for his third title of the year.

Steve Coppinger in action. Picture by JORDAN MANSFIELD
Chris Simpson looks determined. Picture by JORDAN MANSFIELD

In the other semi, Golan faced surprise opponent Chris Simpson, the unseeded Englishman who upset Pakistani favouriteAamir Atlas Khan in a 71-minute quarter-final.

The Spaniard started quickly and Simpson was forced to play catch-up for much of the first game. The initial rallies saw third seed Golan hitting a good length and looking in control of the tee, with much of Simpson’s play being recovery shots.

The Englishman was always just off the pace and Golan closed out the first game in 21 minutes. Simpson responded well in the second, attacking confidently and claiming some outrageous backhand volleydrops. At 6-4 up, he looked to have turned a corner after coming so close in the first game – but Golan was not about to lie down and let him have it.

The world No25 from Santiago put together a surging run that saw him take an impressive seven points in a row to claim the second game with Simpson unable to retaliate.

By now the Guernsey-born Englishman was visibly struggling to stay in the game. Golan continued his unanswerable streak with a further six points in the third game, and Simpson was clearly weighed down by his efforts in the quarter-finals. More errors came by his racket and Golan had only to keep up his consistency and ride the Englishman into the ground before claiming the match 11-9, 11-6, 11-5 after 42 minutes.

“My goal is to just keep improving my ranking,” said Golan, the former world No10 who is climbing back up the rankings after career-threatening knee surgery. “And I am achieving this slowly but surely at the moment.

“I played Chris about three months ago and won 3/0, but today was a completely different game,” added the 28-year-old Spaniard, now in the 34th PSA Tour title of his career. “He has improved a lot and it was a very tough three games. I’m glad it wasn’t longer. I tried to push him as much as possible after his 3/2 yesterday and thankfully he began to tire.”

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Simpson Boosts Home Hopes In London Open

3 December 2011

RESULTS: PSA Challenger 15 Coronation London Open, London, England

Chris Simpson (ENG) bt [1] Aamir Atlas Khan (PAK) 15-13, 7-11, 11-9, 9-11, 11-9 (71m)
[3] Borja Golan (ESP) bt Andrew Wagih Shoukry (EGY) 11-4, 11-6, 11-7
[4] Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) bt [Q] Eddie Charlton (ENG) 9-11, 11-8, 11-6, 13-15, 11-7 (76m)
[2] Stephen Coppinger (RSA) bt Mark Krajcsak (HUN) 11-9, 11-5, 11-5 (36m)

Chris Simpson kept English title hopes alive in the quarter-finals of the Coronation London Open after surviving a brutal five-game match to upset top seed Aamir Atlas Khan at the  squash event at the Cumberland Lawn Tennis Club in north-west London.

The unseeded Guernsey-born 24-year-old found a game plan and stuck to it well to claw his way back into the game after a slow start. A cat and mouse scenario ensued at 10-all, but it was the underdog who came out on top, thanks to some dominant forehand lengths and impeccably tight drops.

Khan’s threat level rose and fell throughout the match – the Pakistani attempting spectacular cross-court winners, yet more often playing through spells that were very much attritional-focussed. A more dominant phase saw the 21-year-old from Peshawar cause Simpson some serious problems as he claimed the second game.

But Simpson worked well and came to hold three game balls in the third. With a maturity resembling England’s very top players, he patiently waited for his opportunity to close out the game and not panic as his opponent chipped away at the deficit, before coolly dispatching another inch-perfect drop.

In another dominant spell in the fourth game, the Pakistani No1 tried another tack – forcing Simpson to the front more often and avoiding his strong forehand side in favour of the backhand wall. This period saw him level the match at two-all to set up a tense decider.

Simpson sprang to a four-point lead early on in the fifth, but the gap was quickly closed. The players remained within a point of each other until nine-all when the referee called Khan’s retrieval a double bounce, to conflicting reactions from both the crowd and players.

Simpson again kept a methodical head throughout the final rally and finished off the match-ball on the first attempt to win 15-13, 7-11, 11-9, 9-11, 11-9 after 71 minutes.

“I’m over the moon with that win,” said a beaming Simpson. “That’s probably the best result I’ve had in a good few years.

“I didn’t have the best of starts, but I managed to play into my game plan and stuck with it throughout,” added the Harrogate-based world No51. “That was especially important in the last game when I started to get a bit edgy. I knew my drops had to be tight against Aamir, he’s so quick around the court.

“I just need to get some sleep now and I’m looking forward to facing Borja tomorrow.”

Borja Golan, the No3 seed from Spain, beat 21-year-old Egyptian Andrew Wagih Shoukry 11-4, 11-6, 11-7 in an entertaining, fast-paced, match.

“I’d never played Andrew before,” said the Spaniard, a former world No10. “But I know he’s a very up-and-coming Egyptian player. He’s a very dangerous player if I left the ball loose so it was important for me to concentrate tonight. It was an intense match – not your typical 3/0 win – and I’m glad to make it off in court in three.”

There will be Egyptian interest in the other semi-final where fourth seed Karim Abdel Gawad takes on Stephen Coppinger, the No2 seed from South Africa.

Gawad, the 20-year-old world No44 from Cairo, faced the competition’s last surviving qualifier Eddie Charlton, the Englishman who scalped Robbie Temple in round one. The match went the full distance, the Egyptian recovering from the loss of the first game to win 9-11, 11-8, 11-6, 13-15, 11-7 after 76 minutes.

“He’s a very talented Englishman,” Gawad said after the match. “There are few players like him, he does the basics well and retrieves extremely well so I expected a tough game when I saw him last night against Robbie.

“I’m still feeling good, despite the five games. I didn’t play today like I would have liked. There was a lot of pressure on me and I think I played more defensive than I normally like to play. But that’s a credit to Eddie, he was always in front of me and didn’t let me attack.”

Coppinger had only played Mark Krajcsak once before – the Hungarian claiming a 3/1 victory against the Durban-born 27-year-old in 2008.

The second meeting was a hard-hitting affair with Coppinger, now ranked more than 40 places higher, looking to push up on the tee and deny his opponent time. Neither players were flawless in their finishing, with Krajcsak often counteracting his own efforts by regularly hitting the tin. Errors aside, the first game and much of the second were closely fought affairs, though Coppinger more often than not ended up on the positive end of the rallies.

Krajcsak’s movement seemed less enthusiastic as the second game progressed and two outright winners from the South African, followed by a Krajcsak tin allowed Coppinger to close out an 11-9, 11-5, 11-5 win in 36 minutes.

“I’m pretty happy with the match tonight,” said the top-ranked South African. “I’m happy to be through to the next game. I know from experience that it’ll be a tough battle against Karim, and he’ll be a big obstacle in my way of getting anything from this event. But one match at a time!”

Semi-final line-up:
Chris Simpson (ENG) v [3] Borja Golan (ESP)
[2] Stephen Coppinger (RSA) v [4] Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY)

Charlton Takes Out Temple In London Upset

2 December 2011

RESULTS: PSA Challenger 15 Coronation London Open, London, England

1st round:
[1] Aamir Atlas Khan (PAK) bt Campbell Grayson (NZL) 11-7, 11-4, 9-11, 12-10
Chris Simpson (ENG) bt [Q] Steven Finitsis (AUS) 11-9, 14-12, 3-11, 11-1 (75m)
Andrew Wagih Shoukry (EGY) bt [Q] Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY) 12-10, 11-9, 11-9 (45m)
[3] Borja Golan (ESP) bt Joe Lee (ENG) 11-9, 11-6, 11-6
[4] Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) bt [Q] Fabien Verseille (FRA) 11-7, 11-9, 11-5 (42m)
[Q] Eddie Charlton (ENG) bt Robbie Temple (ENG) 6-11, 12-10, 11-7, 11-5
Mark Krajcsak (HUN) bt Reuben Phillips (ENG) 11-5, 11-4, 11-2
[2] Stephen Coppinger (RSA) bt Davide Bianchetti (ITA) 11-4, 9-11, 11-4, 13-11

English qualifier Eddie Charlton produced the only upset on the opening day of main draw action in the Coronation London Open when he ousted fellow countryman Robbie Temple to reach the quarter-finals of the PSA World Tour Challenger 15 squash event in its fourth year at the Cumberland Lawn Tennis Club in London.

Temple, ranked 37 world ranking places above his opponent, started the match well – and a shaky start from Charlton eased him into a first game lead. But 23-year-old Charlton, from Nottingham, steadied his resolve and played a consistent game to fight back and take the next three to claim a surprise 6-11, 12-10, 11-7, 11-5 win.

“I played Robbie in the qualifiers here last year and won 3/0, so it’s good to get another win against him,” said the world No99. “He’s a useful player, and he did well in the first. I just had to try and nullify his shots and limit what he could do on the ball.”

Charlton will now face young Egyptian Karim Abdel Gawad, the 20-year-old No4 seed who saw off French qualifierFabien Verseille 11-7, 11-9, 11-5 in 42 minutes.

Chris Simpson leads home interest in the capital event. The Guernsey-born world No51 took on Steven Finitsis. The Australian qualifier started well, hitting powerful lengths that Simpson struggled to combat.

At 5-0 down in the first game, the Englishman found some consistency and hit back to set up a two-game lead. A lapse in concentration allowed Finitsis back into the match in the third game and he duly took the opportunity to reduce the deficit. But Simpson returned to the court refocused to finish off the match 11-9, 14-12, 3-11, 11-1 after 75 minutes.

Harrogate-based Simpson will now line up against Aamir Atlas Khan, the top seed from Pakistan. The 21-year-old from Peshawar combined powerful attacking shots and explosive movement to limit New Zealand opponent Campbell Grayson‘s early opportunities to score points.

Khan took the first two games – but, despite the mountain to climb, the Kiwi refused to give up and a after a lapse in concentration from the favourite, leapt in to claim the third game.

Clearly buoyed by the third game, Grayson was on fire from then on with Khan struggling to finish off a rally. Numerous back-wall boasts from the New Zealand international kept the rallies going and his retrieval at the front was just as good.

But Khan dug deep to salvage the match from game-ball down in the fourth, ultimately winning 11-7, 11-4, 9-11, 12-10.

Borja Golan, the third seed from Spain making his debut in the event, took on London-born Joe Lee, a quarter-finalist in the 2010 event. The former world No10 from Santiago made short of work his English opponent, winning 11-9, 11-6, 11-6.

“It’s not always easy to play very well in the first round,” said the Spaniard. “But I’m pleased with the win today, as Joe is a good player and he’s always improving.”

A striking all-Egyptian clash saw 21-year-old Andrew Wagih Shoukry take on 18-year-old qualifier Mohamed Abouelghar, the world junior championship runner-up. Both players favoured an aggressive and attacking tactic, and both outright winners and tins were in ample supply.

Shoukry was always the more consistent of the pair, however, and had to dig deep in the third game, coming from four points behind to close out the match 12-10, 11-9, 11-9.

Quarter-final line-up:
[1] Aamir Atlas Khan (PAK) v Chris Simpson (ENG)
[3] Borja Golan (ESP) v Andrew Wagih Shoukry (EGY)
[4] Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) v [Q] Eddie Charlton (ENG)
[2] Stephen Coppinger (RSA) v Mark Krajcsak (HUN)




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