Monday, December 4, 2023

PSA LIVE:Karim shows a little nous on the Prairie


Karim Ali Fathi became the first Egyptian winner of the Prairie Auto Haus Saskatoon Boast Open in the 12-year history of the PSA World Tour squash event in Canada when he beat New Zealander Martin Knight in the final of thePSA Challenger 10 championship before a capacity crowd at the Saskatoon YMCA in Saskatoon.

“Ali Fathi certainly had the advantage in being able to hit more winners, especially numerous backhand drives into the nick,” reported tournament promoter Brad Birnie. “After taking the first game handily, the tide seemed to turn as Fathi made more mistakes with Knight taking the second.

“The crucial third game had Knight earning his way to game ball at 10-6. Ali Fathi came back from a seemingly hopeless situation and battled hard in winning the next six points to go to extras and finally winning 12-10. It took its toll, however, as both players were gassed!

“After a 16-minute break to have Ali Fathi treat and bandage a cut on his knee, both players looked energized for the fourth. With Knight serving at 5-6, the players alternated every point after that, with Ali Fathi claiming the title at 11-9 in the fourth. There was much rejoicing.”

The 102-minute title triumph marks the world No 41 from Cairo’s third PSA Tour title in two months – and the eighth of the 20-year-old’s brief career to date.

[1] Karim Ali Fathi (EGY) bt [2] Martin Knight (NZL) 11-4, 6-11, 12-10, 11-9 (102m)


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Top seeds Karim Ali Fathi and Martin Knight will contest the final of the Prairie Auto Haus Saskatoon Boast Openin Canada after scoring almost identical successes in the semi-finals of the PSA World Tour Challenger 10 squash event celebrating its 12th successive year at the Saskatoon YMCA in Saskatoon.

Favourite Ali Fathi will be trying to become the first Egyptian champion of the long-established event after seeing off Canadian hope Dane Sharp, the fourth seed from Toronto, 11-8, 11-9, 11-4 in 37 minutes.

“The first two games were closely contested with Ali Fathi having the edge with tighter length and fewer mistakes,” reported tournament promoter Brad Birnie. “As Sharp started to rally back to 9-8 in a crucial game two, Ali Fathi had the answers and won the last three points to go up 2/0.

“In the third, Ali Fathi was too good for Sharp – on this day, at least!”

20-year-old Ali Fathi is celebrating the 10th Tour final of his career – and his third this year.

Second seed Martin Knight ended former champion Eric Galvez‘s run when he beat the unseeded Mexican 11-8, 11-9, 11-5 in 44 minutes.

“Both Knight and Galvez have speed to burn as they appear to be two of the quickest players in the tournament,” Birnie continued. “Already known for his spectacular comeback against Andrew Schnell in the quarter-finals, Knight went down 5-0 in the first and 7-1 in game two.

“Galvez was up 8-6 in game one before Knight rattled off six straight points to take the early 1/0 lead in games. In game two, down 7-1, he won 11 of 13 points to end game two. The crowd is almost thinking that coming back from behind is intentional!”

World No 50 Knight will be attempting to keep the trophy in New Zealand hands after the 2012 triumph by his compatriotCampbell Grayson. The 29-year-old from Auckland is marking the 13th Tour final of his career – and his fifth in the past three months!

[1] Karim Ali Fathi (EGY) bt [4] Dane Sharp (CAN) 11-8, 11-9, 11-4 (37m)
[2] Martin Knight (NZL) bt Eric Galvez (MEX) 11-8, 11-9, 11-5 (44m)


All but one of the quarter-finals of the Prairie Auto Haus Saskatoon Boast Open will feature local interest after Canadian trio Dane SharpAndrew Schnell and Matthew Serediak (pictured above) came through the first round of the PSA World Tour Challenger 10 squash event  in Saskatoon.

Fourth seed Sharp led the domestic charge – but the 27-year-old from Toronto was stretched for exactly an hour before prevailing 11-8, 8-11, 15-13, 12-10 over Qatar junior star Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi, the 18-year-old world No 99 from Doha making his Tour debut in Canada.

“This much-anticipated matchup of the solid Sharp, a Saskatoon favourite, and the up-and-coming Tamimi had the crowd abuzz – and it did not disappoint,” reported tournament promoter Brad Birnie. “Making his first appearance at the Boast, Tamimi won the Sharp-partisan crowd over with his speed and quick smile as the two players exchanged the first two games.

“The next two were classics, the gritty Sharp winning the crucial third after saving three game-balls. Tamimi saved three match balls in the fourth, but an unforced tin on a cross-court drive ended it.”

Sharp progresses to face England’s Michael Harris  (pictured right)- who denied the crowd an all-Canadian quarter-final when he upset higher-ranked Michael McCue, from Toronto, 11-7, 11-3, 11-5.

Canadian Matthew Serediak, celebrating his eighth successive appearance in the event, made the last eight for the first time when he defeated compatriot David Letourneau 11-5, 11-5, 11-8.

“Matt just played better today,” conceded 24-year-old Letourneau, from Calgary.

Regina-born 29-year-old Serediak now faces the event’s toughest opponent, top seed Karim Ali Fathi. The 20-year-old Egyptian, making his Saskatoon debut, defeated qualifier Carlos Cornes Ribadas 11-4, 4-11, 11-7, 11-7 – but it took the world No 41 65 minutes to overcome the Spaniard ranked more than 120 places lower.

Calgary’s Andrew Schnell completes the Canadian trio in the last eight after beating Englishman Thomas Ford 11-4, 11-5, 11-2. Unseeded Schnell now faces second-seeded New Zealander Martin Knight, who survived a tough straight games battle with Australian Scott Arnold.

2006 champion Eric Galvez took a step closer towards a second appearance in the final after dismissing Justin Beard. But the unseeded Mexican, who beat Beard 3/0 just a week ago at the GoodLife Open, had a close shave this time when taken the full distance by the Australian, before coming through 11-4, 9-11, 11-5, 9-11, 11-6 after 71 minutes.

Quarter-final line-up:
[1] Karim Ali Fathi (EGY) v Matthew Serediak (CAN)
[4] Dane Sharp (CAN) v Michael Harris (ENG)
[3] Farhan Zaman (PAK) v Eric Galvez (MEX)
[2] Martin Knight (NZL) v Andrew Schnell (CAN)

1st round:
[1] Karim Ali Fathi (EGY) bt Carlos Cornes Ribadas (ESP) 11-4, 4-11, 11-7, 11-7 (65m)
Matthew Serediak (CAN) bt David Letourneau (CAN) 11-5, 11-5, 11-8 (35m)
Michael Harris (ENG) bt Michael McCue (CAN) 11-7, 11-3, 11-5 (31m)
[4] Dane Sharp (CAN) bt Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi (QAT) 11-8, 8-11, 15-13, 12-10 (60m)
[3] Farhan Zaman (PAK) bt Steven London (ENG) 11-6, 11-8, 11-5 (30m)
Eric Galvez (MEX) bt Justin Beard (AUS) 11-4, 9-11, 11-5, 9-11, 11-6 (71m)
Andrew Schnell (CAN) bt Thomas Ford (ENG) 11-4, 11-5, 11-2 (22m)
[2] Martin Knight (NZL) bt Scott Arnold (AUS) 11-5, 11-9, 11-7 (33m)



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