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Thursday, April 15, 2021

PSA: Walker meets Anjema in Hong Kong final

Alan Thatcherhttps://squashmad.com
Founder of World Squash Day, Squash Mad and the new Squash 200 Partnership, building clubs of the future. Founder of the Kent Open and co-promoter of the St. James's Place Canary Wharf Classic. Author and Public Speaker.

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Alister Walker in action
Alister Walker in action

Hong Kong Football Club PSA International 25

Semi-finals (Day Five)

Report and Pictures by: Bill Cox/The Epoch Times

With seeds 3 and 4 Olli Tuominen (FIN) and Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) knocked out in last night’s Quarter Finals the way seemed open for Laurens Jan Anjema and Alister Walker to have relatively easy semi-finals passages to the final. Opponents, Mahd Nafizwan Adnan (MAS) and qualifier Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY) had both had hard five game matches in the Quarter Finals and it was expected the top seeds to win in style.

Up to this stage in the tournament Qualifier Abouelghar had produced a breathtaking display of excellent tight squash mixed in with the usual Egyptian shot making flair to win four matches in four days. His run to the Semi-final culminating in the close 60 minute, 5-game match against fellow countryman and number 3 seed Gamal in the Quarters.

Walker on the other hand had only played two matches and although last night’s match against Hong Kong number 1, Max Lee is shown as an 85 minute game it was split with a lengthy injury break in the second game. With Walker losing the first two games he had to dig deep to bring the match back onto level terms, but once that was achieved he took the last game 11-2.

Semi-final Matches

Mohd Nafiizwan Adnan (MAS) v Laurens Jan Anjema (NRL) 6.30pm (Court 7)

Before the match Adnan said he felt confident but explained he prefers slightly colder courts when the ball does not bounce as much.

It was a straight forward match for Anjema the number two seed, He looks in good shape and the Netherlands player always looked in control of the match. Both players played a good range of shots to move each other around the court but it was too many unforced errors that were the downfall of Adnan.

LJ Anjema in action
LJ Anjema in action

With 4 unforced errors in the first game, six unforced errors in the second game and another four in the third; it was too much against the consistent shot making of Anjema.

After the match Laurens explained that he is playing well and he has tried to make himself a much more three-dimensional player than he used to be and has worked hard at that.

He won the first game 11-5 in 12 minutes. The second game took 14 minutes and in the third Anjema was well in control winning in just 6 minutes. The match took 37 minutes in total with Anjema winning 11-5, 11-8, 11-3.

Alister Walker (BOT) v Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY) 8.30pm (Court 7)

In the second semi-final Alister Walker won in three straight games to move forward to meet Laurens Jan Anjema in tomorrow afternoon’s final, but it was not all plain sailing. In fact it was a match of high standard with an impressive range of shot-making and both players had to dig deep at times.

The youngster came on court looking confident and played a full range of shots stretching the experienced number one seed on many occasions. The first game in particular which lasted 13 minutes was very close and the youngster was ahead a couple of times.

After the match Walker said: “Yes it was tough. The kid is very talented and has got a lot of shots and there is no rhythm, so you are always on your toes. I just managed trying to keep it tight and close the court down. Every game was tight but fortunately it worked.

Walker conceded that the first game in particular was tight “yes he was ahead for parts of it, I had to stick with the plan and not panic.

Walker initially came back from 4-6 down to go ahead 7-6 in the lead before an error from Walker leveled the score at 7-7. Abouelgar won the next three points to go 9-7 up including a long back hand wall sequence of rallies ending with Mohamed hitting a cross-court nick winner to make it 7-8. However, Walker then won the next 4 points helped by two unforced errors, to seal the game.

In the second game Walker roared ahead to 3-1 and then 6-2 and then 10-4 before Abouelghar put together a string of winners to make it 10-10. But Walker dug in and won a spectacular rally to make it 11-10 before closing out the game at 12-10.

Abouelghar changed his tactics a little at the start of the third by slowing the rallies and playing some high crosscourt shots. But by this time the number one seed had done the hard work and five unforced errors allowed Walker to close out the game in 8 minutes. Walker won 11-9, 12-10, 11-6 in 37 minutes.

Walker agreed that his opponent made a few too many errors at crucial times

“Yes, at his age I think he has a little bit more learning to build the rallies but when he gets that right ……..”

He is obviously a very good prospect. At 19 years old he looks the part moves well and plays some great squash.

Final

The scene is now set for a thrilling final tomorrow afternoon between the top two seeds in the tournament Alistair Walker (BOT) and Laurens Jan Anjema (NRL) . These two have played each other since junior days and the matches are always close. Both players seem in good physical condition and Anjema has had relatively easy games on the way to the final.

Taking about his previous matches against Amjema, Alister Walker explained: “Yes, we have played a lot since juniors. We are about the same age. I would imagine it is pretty much 50-50 on our results over the years”

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