Monday, April 15, 2024

World Open: Mighty Cesar shocks Grant

Salazar beats Grant. Picture by STEVE CUBBINS courtesy of Squashsite

Day Four at Victoria: Salazar shocks Grant

From STEVE CUBBINS in Rotterdam
After three days of 32 matches we were down to a mere 24 today, as the men’s first round concluded and the women’s main draw was completed.

James Willstrop and Aisling Blake were the first winners of the day, and just as Shahier Razik joined them with two more matches under way, off went the power and the lights (and the internet).

“I’m happy the job is done,” said the Irishwoman, “that’s always the first aim and I’ve had two good matches and managed to get off both times in three. Happy to be in the main draw, let’s just see who I get now.” [she actually got, for the umpteenth time, training partner Natalie Grinham]

Two courts were still playable, so Daryl Selby and Gaby Huber completed their victories on those, and then the club was rebooted so that we could pretend that hour never happened.

“It wasn’t ideal going to a different court,” said the Swiss, “but it was the same for us both. All the games were tough but I managed to play well enough to win and I’m really pleased to qualify in my first World Open.

Resuming on three courts, Marwan El Shorbagy joined his brother in round two as a less than 100% Farhan Mehboob retired after the second game, and Hisham AshourKarim Abdel Gawad and Amr Shabana all weighed in with comfortable enough wins to make it a good afternoon for Egypt.

“I don’t know what happened last time [in Qatar], so today I just tried to control the T and play squash the way it’s supposed to be played and hope for the best,” said four-time champion Shabana.

Lauren Selby was in no mood to offer Maud Duplomb birthday gifts, and after yesterday’s scare Nour El Sherbini – it’s her birthday tomorrow – looked in decent form as she beat Kylie Lindsay to a place in the main draw, the Kiwi glad to get a few points in the third after going 10-0 down.

“It was a bit easier than yesterday,” said Selby. “Once I’d got the stiffness out of my legs I played so much better and I was much more comfortable on court. Now I just need to sort out my washing and my flights!”

A happier Kiwi was Martin Knight, who came from two games down to beat Jan Koukal in easily the longest match of the session, taking the last three games 11/8, 11/8, 11/8 in just over an hour and a half.

The evening session started with two up and down five game upsets as Mexican qualifier Cesar Salazar got the better of Adrian Grant in 68 minutes, while it took over an hour for young Egyptian Yathreb Adel to beat Victoria Lust in another hard-fought encounter.

“What to say about the 5th??,” said a delighted Salazar, “tt was a flip of a coin. I changed my tactic again, and speeded up the pace as much as I could. We had some very hard rallies at 5/5, 6/5, and from that point on, I didn’t feel tired at all, the legs weren’t painful anymore, I felt strong, both mentally and physically.

“This is the best day of my life,” concluded the Mexican.

There was mixed success against Frenchmen for the hosts on the showcourt as Qatar Classic champion Gregory Gaultier dismissed wildcard spot winner Dylan Bennett in straight games, while LJ Anjema looked on course to do the same to Greg Marche before the qualifier came back to take the second and give the packed crowd some tense moments before their favourite finally won 13/11 in the fourth after 84 minutes.

“No I was not surprised by Greg’s performance,” said a relieved Dutchman. “I haven’t had the chance to see him play a lot of matches recently, but still, I’ve looked at his results, he is a very good player, he trains with Greg, so I didn’t underestimated him for a second and although I was ready for him, still, I was in trouble.

“Now, forget the fact that I’m the tournament, that I just won, just the fact that everyone who is anyone in squash is here, every coach, every official, every squash guru is here, in Rotterdam, in Netherlands, is the greatest feeling ever…”

Meanwhile drama on court 8 as Italy’s Davide Bianchetti, a game behind and at 12-all in the second against India’s Saurav Ghosal, argued sufficiently to get a conduct game awarded against him. Bianchetti continued to argue during the interval, persevered with his comments to the referee as they were about to start the third, when the referee’s patience ran out and the match was awarded against him.

Shortly after Cesar’s best ever win came the same result for Wales’ Tesni Evans who temporarily halted the Egyptian advance with a 3/1 win over Heba El Torky.

“It’s definitely my best ever win,” said a delighted Evans, “and it’s a good tournament to do it in – I’m in the main draw of the World Open, how good is that ?? I don’t care who I get, I don’t think I’ll beat anyone, I just hope it’s an early enough match for my flight home tomorrow!” [good news Tesni, it’s 12 noon against Samantha Teran]

Kanzy El Dafrawy made it a hat-trick of Egyptian qualifiers as she beat Siyoli Waters in straight games to the delight of her new-found Dutch fans, and American veteran Latasha Khan grabbed the last spot with a relatively comfortable win over England’s Lauren Briggs.

Second seed Ramy Ashour struggled to see off Kiwi qualifier Campbell Grayson in their first two games, but eased through the third to set up a meeting with Switzerland’s Nicolas Mueller, Shabana’s conqueror in Qatar who claimed another Egyptian scalp in beating Ali Anwar Reda in four games.

Alister Walker also won in three in a rumbustious encounter with an unhappy Omar Abdel Aziz, leaving the last place in the second round to be decided by Azlan Iskandar who won his all-Malaysian encounter between and Ong Beng Hee in 76 minutes.



Full reports, quotes, photos on TODAY at the World Open:

Men’s Round ONE (bottom half)

[4] James Willstrop (Eng) bt Max Lee (Hkg)            11/8, 11/6, 11/7 (33m)

Shahier Razik (Can) bt [Q] Joe Lee (Eng)           11/5, 11/9, 6/11, 11/6 (65m)

[Q] Marwan El Shorbagy (Egy) btFarhan Mehboob (Pak)          11/6, 11/8 (rtd) 28m)

[11] Daryl Selby (Eng) bt [Q]Adrian Waller (Eng)          11/2, 13/11, 11/7 (48m)

[15] Hisham Ashour (Egy) bt Zac Alexander (Aus)         11/6, 13/11, 11/6 (36m)

Martin Knight (Nzl) bt Jan Koukal (Cze)         3/11, 4/11, 11/8, 11/8, 11/8 (94m)

[5] Amr Shabana (Egy) v [Q] Eric Galvez (Mex)          11/8, 11/6, 11/6 (32m)

Karim Abdel Gawad (Egy) bt Aamir Atlas Khan (Pak)           12/10, 11/9, 11/5 (34m)

[6] Gregory Gaultier (Fra) bv Dylan Bennett (Ned)        11/4, 11/3, 11/6 (29m)

[Q] Cesar Salazar (Mex) bt Adrian Grant (Eng)         8/11, 11/3, 11/5, 8/11, 11/5 (68m)

Saurav Ghosal (Ind) bt [Q] Davide Bianchetti (Ita)         11/5, 14/12* DISQ (35m)

[12] Laurens Jan Anjema (Ned) bt [Q] Greg Marche (Fra)      11/4, 10/12, 11/7, 13/11 (84m)

[13] Azlan Iskandar (Mas) v Ong Beng Hee (Mas)  11/3, 11/7, 3/11, 11/5 (76m)

Alister Walker (Bot) bt Omar Abdel Aziz (Egy)            11/5, 11/8, 11/8 (50m)

Nicolas Mueller (Sui) bt Ali Anwar Reda (Egy)           11/5, 11/9, 4/11, 11/3 (49m)

[2] Ramy Ashour (Egy) bt [Q] Campbell Grayson (Nzl)            11/9, 14/12, 11/5 (40m)

* conduct game at 12-all, followed by conduct match at start of third

Women’s Qualifying Finals

Aisling Blake (Irl) bt Lisa Aitken (Sco)          11/5, 11/7, 11/7 (37m)

Gaby Huber (Sui) bt Olga Ertlova (Cze)       11/7, 11/5, 6/11, 11/5 (51m)

Lauren Selby (Eng) bt Maud Duplomb (Fra)       11/3, 12/10, 11/3 (31m)

Nour El Sherbini (Egy) bt Kylie Lindsay (Nzl)      11/7, 11/9, 11/4 (29m)

Yathreb Adel (Egy) bt Victoria Lust (Eng)         11/8, 1/11, 11/6, 6/11, 11/5 (65m)

Tesni Evans (Wal) bt Heba El Torky (Egy)         11/9, 4/11, 11/9, 11/8 (44m)

Kanzy El Dafrawy (Egy) bt Siyoli Waters (Rsa)         11/6, 11/4, 11/9 (33m)

Latasha Khan (Usa bt Lauren Briggs (Eng)          11/3, 11/3, 11/6 (37m)

The Draw: Sherbini v Urguhart, Khan v Low, Blane v N.Grinham, Selby v R.Grinham, Evans v Teran, Kanzy v Kawy, Adel v Massaro, Huber v King

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