Top seeds through to the semis in Macau
By Alex Wan – Squash Mad Asian Bureau Editor
The top four seeds of both the men and women’s safely made it through to the semi-finals of the 2016 Macau Squash Open and will be rewarded with a go at the all-glass court erected right next to the Macau Tower.
In the men’s, top seed Marwan Elshorbagy took four games to overcome Alan Clyne. After taking the first game with 4 points to spare 11-7, the second proved to be a much tougher challenge. For part of the game, Elshorbagy had to play catch up. Clyne got to 9-8 but then lost 3 straight points, including a harsh no let at 9-9.
Clyne found his shots coming in the third and hit many winners in the third, taking the lead from 3-3 and never looking back, finishing off the game with a low backhand crosscourt that had so much cut on it, you could hear the strings singing.
In the fourth, the world number 7 accelerated the pace and this got him rewarded with many more opportunities to go short. He did so effectively, especially in the front left corner, to which many times, Clyne was denied a let, which naturally left him unhappy.
The fourth was quick, Elshorbagy racing to a 6-1, 7-3 and then 11-4 to book his place on the glass court by the Macau Tower tomorrow.
“Much better from me today. I’m especially happy with how I started and I had a good lead in each game. I lost a little concentration in the second game but I managed to come back to close it. In the third, Alan just played especially well and I feel he was trying to speed up the game. In the fourth I just told myself to be less passive. I’m happy to get through and looking forward to that glass court tomorrow,” Marwan Elshorbagy said after his match.
Defending champion Max Lee exacted his revenge on Malaysian Ivan Yuen, whom he lost to in his own backyard at the HKFC International back in May this year. In a match spanning over 53 minutes, there were moments of brilliances from both players. The match was also no short of drama with Yuen diving all over the court, to the point he needed an injury break.
Having taken out Lee’s compatriot Leo Au the day before, Lee was wary that Yuen was playing some good squash. Overall, Yuen did play some good squash – when his concentration was there and not on many occasions, when he wasn’t questioning the referees’ decisions.
Apart from the second game which Yuen won, all the other games went in similar fashion. It would all be competitive, point for point to a certain stage, and then Lee would string a series of points to open up a huge gap and in the case of the first game, close it out with a single hand.
“As I said yesterday, it’s never easy with Ivan. His forehand volley cross court nicks is like 100% success rate. He just tries for winners from everywhere, so I just had to play a patient game and pick up whatever he threw at me. I’m looking forward to another match. I’ll be playing Marwan, he’s a top ten player so I don’t have any expectations.”
After Ivan Yuen had lost, there was still hope that Nafiizwan Adnan would once again turn the tables to gate crash the semis (Adnan beat Omar Mosaad in the quarters last year). He did start very well indeed against 4th seed Daryl Selby, taking the first game 11-7 with a masterful display of dictating the pace. He then went to 10-8 in the second and things looked promising for the Malaysian. A no let got Selby within a point to force the tie break, after which Adnan slams a forehand into the tin, which he was intended for the nick. A huge “come on” came from Selby who then saved yet another game point before taking it 13-11.
By this stage of the match, there has already been a number of questionable decisions from the referee which both the players have questioned, especially on the consistency of decisions. This trend continues in the following two games, both which Selby won 11-7 and 11-8, which sends him into the semis.
“I was trying not to have a bad start but I did again. It’s a tough court to play well in. It’s just one of those days I had to grind it out both mentally and physically. I was struggling with pretty much everything today and Nafiizwan hit some good winners in the first. I’m happy to win of course and looking forward to the glass court tomorrow, somewhere I’m a lot more comfortable in. I’m seeded to get into the semis so anything beyond this is a bonus, said the world number 19.
Selby’s opponent tomorrow will be Saurav Ghosal, who beat best friend and roommate Harinder Pal Singh Sandhu in the last match of the day, which was also unsurprisingly marred by many interactions with the referees.
As both the players know each other so well, it was bound to be a close one and the first game was evident of that, with Ghosal just doing enough at the end to squeeze through 11-9. The second game saw Ghosal open up a gap, which he will not lose and at 10-6, the ball bounced off the left wall so wide it came to the middle, to which Singh Sandhu stopped as a safety precaution, only to be shockingly denied a let. Mind you, the ball was nearly waist high.
Ghosal seem to have lost some concentration in the third as he allowed his opponent to dictate the rallies and fizzled out very quickly 3-11. He came back strongly in the fourth, opening up a 2-point lead at 3-1 and never falling behind again, winning it 11-8 and the match in over 64 minutes.
Annie wins battle of Hong Kong and left handers
Annie Au won the highly anticipated battle of the top Hong Kong ladies with a clinical performance that Joey Chan simply had no answer to. Using her signature lobs and drops, she sent Chan scurrying all over the court and her anticipation of what Chan was going to do next was spot on today.
In all the games, Au took big leads, including the third game which she lost 10-12, despite leading 6-1. Chan was simply dictated from the word go and there was not much she could do today. Simply clinical stuff from the world number 13.
Au will play Emily Whitlock tomorrow in the semi-finals after the 22 year old from Macclesfield beat Aussie Donna Urquhart in straight games. It’s certainly a match the Aussie lefty would love to forget as she led 5-1 in all three games, but never converted.
Credit to Whitlock for her discipline on court as she stuck to her usual simple game and not be drawn into trying something radical despite being behind. Her perseverance earned her a place tomorrow on the glass court after an 11-9, 11-8, 11-9 in 34 minutes.
“I was behind in all three games. I didn’t panic and I thought if I caught up and so long I imposed my game plan, we’d have a game. It wasn’t a bad start from me, just that she had a good start.
I’ve been here three times. The first time I had to play qualifying and got into the main draw, last year I was in the quarters and I’m now in the semis. So I have good memories here, I’m always improving,” said Emily on her Macau history.
In the upper half of the draw, Joelle King overcame a one game deficit to beat roommate Line Hansen in four. The 27 year old from New Zealand was surprised in the opening game by a very sharp Hansen, who dictated the rallies from start to finish of the game. As Ivan Yuen (who was next to me) would say, “Line is killing it.”
King came back in the second with a lot more precision in her shots and earned an 11-5 game. In the third, King broke away to 5-2 before the Dane took 4 points in a row to take the lead 6-5. She then blew this away when she lost 4 quick points from 7-7 to give King the overall lead.
It was rather similar in the next, as Hansen lost some easy points from 5-5 much to her frustration, which she shouts out at 5-9. The 4-point gap was now too far for Hansen to chase and after 48 minutes, King was into the semi-finals.
Despite the loss, Hansen took it all in her stride and was all smiles, “I thought it was a good match. I really enjoyed myself out there. I knew it was going to be tough and I thought I had my chances, but I missed those opportunities with some bad decisions.”
Joelle King, meanwhile, paid tribute to her friend, “I thought Line played very well. It’s probably the best she’s played against me. I struggled to see the ball in the first and couldn’t judge the timing so well. It’s never easy playing my roommate, and we’re more than that, we’re friends. We just got to forget that for the moment and get things done. I’m looking forward to the glass courts tomorrow.”
Joelle King will next face Malaysia’s Delia Arnold who took out hard hitting Egyptian teenager Mayar Hany in straight games. Arnold started off really well with some inch perfect finishing that Hany had no answer to. From the start, Arnold was hitting the ball low and caught Hany on many occasions, allowing her a 5-1 lead. Hany did some catching up and at 7-9, Arnold next returned 2 consecutive serves into the tin. She recomposed herself, and was able to close out 11-9 for the lead.
She continued her momentum in the next two games, which was enough to see her through into the semis, her best results in the Macau Open.
The Malaysian said afterwards, “I came well prepared for today. Playing an up and coming young Egyptian, it’s always dangerous. There has been a few upsets here as well, so I was wary of that. I watched some of her videos yesterday and did some analysis coming into the match. I started off a little tensed but it got more comfortable along the way. I’ve played in Macau for a few times already and this is my best performance already, so I’m happy.”
Results (Quarter Finals):
Marwan Elshorbagy (Egy) bt Alan Clyne (Sco) 6-11, 12-10, 11-6, 11-7 (58m)
Max Lee (Hkg) bt Ivan Yuen (Mas) 11-6, 8-11, 11-5, 11-6 (53m)
Daryl Selby (Eng) bt Nafiizwan Adnan (Mas) 7-11, 13-11, 11-7, 11-8 (71m)
Saurav Ghosal (Ind) bt Harinder Pal Singh Sandhu (Ind) 11-9, 11-6, 3-11, 11-8 (64m)
Joelle King (Nzl) bt Line Hansen (Den) 8-11, 11-5, 11-7, 11-7 (48m)
Delia Arnold (Mas) bt Mayar Hany (Egy) 11-9, 11-6, 11-8 (29m)
Emily Whitlock (Eng) bt Donna Urquhart (Aus) 11-9. 11-8, 11-9 (34m)
Annie Au (Hkg) bt Joey Chan (Hkg) 11-5, 11-8, 10-12, 11-5 (40m)
Pictures by Macau Squash Association