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PSA: Golan takes London title

Borja Golan kisses the trophy after winning the final at the Cumberland Club. Picture by JORDAN MANSFIELD

4 December 2011

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

[3] Borja Golan (ESP) bt [2] Stephen Coppinger (RSA) 8-11, 13-11, 11-9, 4-11, 11-3 (73m)

Spain’s Borja Golan marked his 25th PSA World Tour title success tonight after surviving a marathon five-gameCoronation London Squash Open final at the Cumberland Lawn Tennis Club in north-west London.

The No3 seed from Santiago beat second-seeded South African Stephen Coppinger 8-11, 13-11, 11-9, 4-11, 11-3 in 73 minutes to become third in the list of current Tour players with the most titles – behind Egypt’s four-time world champion Amr Shabana, but ahead of England’s world number one Nick Matthew and Egypt’s Ramy Ashour!

A sell out crowd had gathered to watch the finale of the PSA World Tour Challenger 15 event, with both players giving it 100% from the very start.

It was the Spaniard who sprang into the early lead, with some tight lengths and impeccable lunges to hold a five-point advantage on his opponent. But Coppinger dug his heels in and stormed through an incredible eight points in a row to claim the first game.

Golan refocused in the second game, went toe to toe with Coppinger as both players demonstrated a determined refusal to let the ball die. Neither player could forge the kind of lead seen in the first game and stayed within a point of each other. The South African edged ahead at 6-4 with some precision drop-shots, but the Spanish No1 tightened his game to force errors out of Coppinger to draw level at nine-all.

Coppinger desperately hunted the winning shot at 10-9, diving across the floor on two occasions in one rally – reaching the first but missing the second by centimetres – to force a tiebreak. Golan went on to close out the game to draw level.

Golan has Coppinger at full stretch. Picture by JORDAN MANSFIELD

Numerous brutal rallies followed as every ball was fired tight into the corners and both players were forced to hit tighter and tighter shots to prevent the other from taking advantage. As a result, the error count began to rise but to neither player’s detriment as the scores remained close throughout the third. The Spaniard crept ahead however at 7-5 and managed to stay ahead of the world no35 and see out the game.

Coppinger’s night wasn’t over yet though. From 4-2 up, he reduced Golan to snatching at shots and keeping him deep in the back. His only points from then were two spectacular, but desperate, volley-drop kills. The South African saw out the game as Golan admitted defeat towards the end of the fourth game, conserving his energy for the inevitable decider.

It turned out to be a wise tactic by Golan, as he seemed refreshed coming back on court for the final game of the match. He took an emphatic 6-0 lead as Coppinger seemed to have grown sluggish during the break. By then it was too far for the South African to come back from and Golan closed out the match to claim his historic title success.

“When you play a final like this, the score is not important,” said Golan later. “Steve is playing really well at the moment, and since I’ve been back from injury I can’t remember playing such a hard match. So to win today I really had to play out my skin!

“Playing here in London has been great. The court is really nice to play on and the people here, the spectators, they are really kind. I played Englishman Chris Simpson in the semi and they still clap both players and are just pleased to see to great squash. The crowd has been very respectful and it’s really nice to experience.

“It’s a great thing for me to follow (Australian) Stewart Boswell on the trophy. To me he was a great example of a player. He retired two weeks ago and I really hope I can still be playing at this level at his age.”

Tania Bailey won the women’s final, beating  Farah Abdel Meguid of Egypt 9-11, 13-11, 11-8, 11-2.

A delighted Tania Bailey kisses her trophy. Picture by JORDAN MANSFIELD

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