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Willstrop leads English sextet into Wimbledon quarters

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James Willstrop and Robbie Downer
James Willstrop and Robbie Downer

Seeds tumble in first round
By MATT WAGG

 

Six Englishmen, one Australian and one Egyptian are through to the quarter-finals of the inaugural Squash Squared Open at the Wimbledon Club.

Former world number one James Willstrop is the top seed in this PSA M25 tournament, and will be hoping to have overcome the chest infection that slowed him down at Canary Wharf last week as he prepares for next week’s Allam British Open.

Willstrop meets Surrey’s Joe Lee in the last eight after beating Hampshire’s Robbie Downer in straight games after a tough opener. Downer fought bravely and came close to sneaking the first game before Willstrop clinched it 13-11.

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Three qualifiers have reached the quarter-final stage after removing three of the top eight seeds. Australia’s Matthew Hopkin beat South Africa’s No.4 seed Shaun Le Roux 3-2, George Parker beat No.5 seed Ben Coleman in another brutal five-setter, and Josh Masters overcame No.8 seed Henrik Mustonen (Finland) in straight games.

No.6 seed Lee removed Germany’s Jens Schoor 3-1, winning the final two games 11-2. No.7 seed Charles beat Tayyab Islam of Pakistan in straight games and No.2 seed Omar Meguid ended all Pakistani interest in the competition by beating Farhan Zaman, also in straight games.

Squash Mad Correspondent MATT WAGG files from the Wimbledon Club:
An inaugural PSA event in SW19, The Wimbledon Club Squash Squared Open 2016 first round featured a wealth of home talent, with five English seeds comprising the eight. Former world number one James Willstrop tops the draw, although one would expect him to have one eye fixed firmly on next week’s British Open world series event in Hull.

Round one saw him pitted against wildcard entrant Robert Downer, the world number 123, who started the game undaunted by the profile of his opponent.

Downer attacked the front corners without fear and demonstrated resolute retrieval skills in the opening game, in which he battled to a surprising game-ball position.

Willstrop’s patient and methodical approach won out however, and his intensity grew throughout the following games, as Dower was gradually edged out of the content.

The second game score finished 11-8 with the wildcard still holding his own throughout much of the contest and taking his chances well. Quality told in the end, however, and with Downer’s court movement starting to flag, Willstrop closed out an entertaining headline spectacle in three games.

Earlier in the day, qualifier George Parker overcame number five seed Ben Coleman in a contentious five-game affair. The contention was less aimed at on-court controversy, but rather with both players venting their frustration on the need for frequent decisions at the referee.

Parker led after the opening game, and then came back from two games behind to force a fifth game from his higher ranked opponent. A number of times the match official warned the pair about their repeated dissention to his decisions, but his reluctance to take the step in issuing conduct penalties resulted in increasingly fractious exchanges from both players, often over fairly innocuous rulings.

In the end though it was the qualifier, Parker, who kept his head to close out a rather one-sided final game, as Coleman lost out 11-4, and both players will be hoping the incident won’t linger in the memories of on-looking England Squash coaches.

On the other court, number eight seed Henrik Mustonen also lost out to a qualifier, 20-year-old Joshua Masters in straight games, whilst by contrast, third seed Declan James made quick work of his qualifying opponent Youssef Soliman of Egypt.

Second seed Omar Abdel Meguid of Egypt made quick work of his opponent Farhan Zaman of Pakistan, whilst Joe Lee dispatched German Jens Schoor to put five home-soil players into the quarter-finals. Their cohort was later added to by Charles Sharpes who dispatched Tayyab Aslam of Pakistan.

The final surprise result of the evening came from Australian Matt Hopkin, who having beaten Peter Creed in the final qualifying round, went on to win a Southern Hemisphere clash against Shaun Le Roux of South Africa.

With his eye in from his earlier qualifying forays, Hopkin stormed the opening game, finding the nick on practically every other point, while Le Roux struggled to get going. A longer second game swung moment in his favour however, but despite seemingly flagging as the second and third games wore on, Hopkins battled on to force a deciding game.

Another minor refereeing incident marred a strange performance from Le Roux, who refused to confirm to the official whether or not his drop shot had hit the tin.

The referee maintained that he was blindsided and was allowed to rely on the integrity of the player to come to a decision, but Le Roux’s insistence on a decision ended in confusion as a point was awarded for the drop, that then turned out to be down as Le Roux conceded the point.

Le Roux’s movement slowed drastically following that point, sparking discussion in the crowd as to whether or not the player was carrying an injury.

The final two points of the contest ended with the number four seed deliberately hitting the tin, thus confirming a third qualifier reaching the quarter finals.

Squash Squared Wimbledon Club Open, The Wimbledon Club, London, England

Quarter-finals:
[1] James Willstrop (ENG) v [6] Joe Lee (ENG)
[3] Declan James (ENG) v [Q] George Parker (ENG)
[Q] Matthew Hopkin (AUS) v [Q] Joshua Masters (ENG)
[2] Omar Abdel Meguid (EGY) v [7] Charles Sharpes (ENG)

1st round:
[1] James Willstrop (ENG) bt [WC] Robert Downer (ENG) 13-11, 11-8, 11-5
[6] Joe Lee (ENG) bt Jens Schoor (GER) 11-7, 8-11, 11-2, 11-2
[Q] George Parker (ENG) bt [5] Ben Coleman (ENG) 11-8, 6-11, 10-12, 11-9, 11-4
[3] Declan James (ENG) bt [Q] Youssef Soliman (EGY) 11-5, 11-3, 11-8
[Q] Matthew Hopkin (AUS) bt [4] Shaun le Roux (RSA) 11-2, 9-11, 4-11, 11-8, 11-5
[Q] Joshua Masters (ENG) bt [8] Henrik Mustonen (FIN) 11-8, 11-6, 11-8
[7] Charles Sharpes (ENG) bt Tayyab Aslam (PAK) 13-11, 11-9, 11-9
[2] Omar Abdel Meguid (EGY) bt Farhan Zaman (PAK) 11-4, 11-8, 11-6

Qualifying finals:
Matthew Hopkin (AUS) bt Peter Creed (WAL) 5-11, 9-11, 12-10, 11-3, 11-9 (40m)
Joshua Masters (ENG) bt Jan van den Herrewegen (BEL) 11-6, 11-6, 11-4 (30m)
George Parker (ENG) bt Carlos Cornes Ribadas (ESP) 11-7, 11-6, 11-3 (40m)
Youssef Soliman (EGY) bt Richie Fallows (ENG) 10-12, 11-5, 11-5, 4-11, 11-9

1st qualifying round:
Peter Creed (WAL) bt Mark Fuller (ENG) 12-10, 11-8, 11-7 (53m)
Matthew Hopkin (AUS) bt Lyell Fuller (ENG) 11-6, 9-11, 7-11, 12-10, 11-9 (54m)
Jan van den Herrewegen (BEL) bt Joel Makin (WAL) 14-12, 11-8, 8-5 ret.
Joshua Masters (ENG) bt Evan Williams (NZL) 6-11, 7-11, 11-6, 12-10, 11-4 (53m)
George Parker (ENG) bt Lewis Walters (JAM) 9-11, 11-3, 11-6, 11-5 (55m)
Carlos Cornes Ribadas (ESP) bt Ben Ford (ENG) 11-4, 11-9, 12-10 (45m)
Youssef Soliman (EGY) bt Chris Fuller (ENG) 7-11, 11-6, 11-8, 11-9 (64m)
Richie Fallows (ENG) bt Ashley Davies (ENG) 11-5, 11-4, 11-8 (43m)

Pictures by PATRICK LAUSON (www.patricklausonphotography.co.uk)

 

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