Friday, September 22, 2023

World Open: Old warriors battle on

Alan Clyne and David Palmer. Picture by STEVE CUBBINS courtesy of SquashSite

Palmer & Lincou survive …

From STEVE CUBBINS in Rotterdam

Playing probably his last world open, two-time champion David Palmer took an hour and a half in the opening match of the day to fend off the challenge of Scotland’s Alan Clyne. After taking a two-game lead Palmer found himself at 8-all in the fifth before finally clinching the match, much to the relief of himself and his watching family.

“It was always going to be tough, we played last week in Qatar on the glass court, it was always going to be to my advantage, while here, it’s warm, on a bouncy traditional court, it was always to be to his advantage,” said a relieved Palmer.

“I knew that in the fifth, if I could stay reasonably close at the end, I had the shots and the experience to close it out.”

That was just one of three Aussie victories to start the day, as Ryan Cuskelly beat Joey Barrington and Stewart Boswell beat Nafiizwan Adnan, both in straight games.

If the first match on the show court wasn’t close enough, Thierry Lincou, like Palmer a former world champ who has spent the last ten years in the top ten and may well be playing his last world open, found himself 5-0 down in the fifth to Canada’s Shawn Delierre. The Frenchman recovered to 7-all but had to save two match balls on his way to a 15/13 in the fifth win after 98 minutes.

I really saw myself going home today,” said Lincou, the 2004 champion. “He just played great squash on there, and if you lack a bit of intensity – like I did today – against tricky players like him they make you visit the four corners… end result, a permanent discomfort on there!”

The rest of the morning session was all Egyptian as Omar Mosaad beat qualifier Omar Abdel Meguid in just under and hour, and Wael El Hindi and third seed Karim Darwish both registered quick wins.

.There was much less drama in the evening session – Mohamed El Shorbagy beat Jon Kemp 3/1 in a 36-minute shootout, Simon Rosner eased past Clinton Leeuw after taking a tight first game, and defending champion Nick Matthew did the same after being 8/5 down in the first against qualifier Stéphane Galifi.

“I felt really threatened in the first game really,” admitted Matthew. “I only got to practice on court this morning as the qualifiers were playing on it for the two past days, so I did struggle a little at the start. After Qatar, I worked on my movement intensity, which means to higher the pace, I move faster instead of just hitting faster. And that’s what I did. Now I’m used to the court, it will get better next time.”

Matthew’s conqueror in Qatar Tarek Momen beat Tom Richards 3/1, reversing last month’s result in Philadelphia, and he now meets Matthew again on Tuesday.

Steve Coppinger made sure there would be South African interest – and another noisy gallery of springbok supporters – in round two as he beat Chris Simpson in straight games, and now meets another Englishman in seventh seedPeter Barker who eased past Aussie Aaron Frankcomb who was struggling for fitness.

The day was rounded off with a fourth Australian win as Cameron Pilley blasted his way past qualifier Raphael Kandra, and a third English winner as Chris Ryder came from a game down to beat Finn Olli Tuominen.

Women’s qualifying hots up …

After a first day of three-nil victories all round, the women’s qualifying competition was anything but dull today …

The men’s matches started with disappointment for the Scots, but there was better news in the women’s qualifying as Lisa Aitken beat seeded Canadian Alexandra Norman 3/0 to progress to a final against Ireland’s Aisling Blake.Gaby Huber and Olga Ertlova also progressed in straight games, but then the drama started in the women’s matches.

England’s Lauren Selby also upset the seedings, coming from 2-1 down in a bruising encounter to beat Lucie Fialova 11/9 in the fifth after 91 minutes, the Czech finishing the match sprawled on the floor after hitting the ball back into the middle for an obvious stroke with Selby moving in to prove she could play the ball.

“It’s just down to focus and determination when you get stuck in a match like that,” said a relieved Lauren. “I can’t say I enjoyed it, but I managed to keep my head at the crucial stages at the end.”

Egypt’s Nour El Sherbini also finished her match on two strokes, and how she needed them after England’s Sarah Jane-Perry recovered from 2-0 down to reach 10-9 match ball in the fifth only to have her string break at that crucial moment.

“I gave her too much respect in the first two,” admitted Perry, “and I hit too many tins too! After that it was much better, but match ball wasn’t a good time for my strings to go, and after that I hit the corner of the front wall twice in a row for strokes. Next time, next time …”

Maud Duplomb, who lost a nailbiting qualifying final in Qatar last week, added to the upsets as she beat Italy’s Manuela Manetta in four, while Kylie Lindsay‘s straight-game win over Leonie Holt was tough, but thankfully lacking the drama of the preceding matches.

There was mixed success for the all-conquering Egyptians as the evening session got under way, with a comfortable wen for Heba El Torky, a less straightforward one for 15-year-old Yathreb Adel over Canada’s PanAm Games heroine Sam Cornett, and a straight-games defeat for Salma Hany at the hands of England’s Vicky Lust.

Germany’s Sina Wall and Welsh tigress Tesni Evans had never met before, despite “seeing each other at countless junior events”. Wall twice took the lead, but Evans fought back, established a lead in the decider and took the match against a tiring German number one in just under an hour.

“Too long,” said Tesni, not exactly a picture of freshness herself, “I knew it was going to be tough and it’s never easy when you’re always behind, but I’m really pleased to be able to come back and win that.”

The last Dutch interest in the qualifying competitions came to an end when Siyoli Waters came from a game down to beat Milou Van Der Heijden before a partisan home crowd.

“Milou made it hard for me, but I also made it difficult for myself,” admitted the South African, “I made a few errors trying to create something out of nothing and lost some good leads.

“You put more pressure on yourself to win when it’s a big event like this, so I’m just aiming to play good squash in my next match and not worry about the score, the opponent or the crowd.”

That next opponent will be Kanzy El Dafrawy who boosted the already impressive Egyptian tally with a 3/1 win over yesterday’s quickest winner Birgit Coufal, although Kanzy needed to refocus after dropping the third game 11/0, which she did to take the fourth 13/11.

The final pair of matches saw two of the more experienced World Open campaigners set up a meeting in the qualifying final. Latasha Khan, making her 12th appearance in the event, came from a game down to beat Coline Aumard while Lauren Briggs, in her seventh World Open, ended the hopes of Sally Skaarenburg. They’ve both been as high as 18 in the world, but one of them will miss out tomorrow …

Monday sees the conclusion of the men’s first round, bottom half, and the women’s qualifying finals.

Men’s Round ONE (top half, in playing order)

[8] David Palmer (Aus) bt Alan Clyne (Sco)        11/7, 11/6, 6/11, 4/11, 11/8 (90m)
Ryan Cuskelly (Aus) bt Joey Barrington (Eng)           11/5, 11/7, 11/5 (48m)
[10] Thierry Lincou (Fra) bt [Q] Shawn Delierre (Can)           13/11, 4/11, 11/3, 4/11, 15/13 (98m)
Stewart Boswell (Aus) bt Nafiizwan Adnan (Mas)            11/3, 11/6, 11/4 (46m)
Borja Golan (Esp) bt Julian Illingworth (Usa)            11/3, 11/6, 9/11, 11/3 (59m)
[14] Omar Mosaad (Egy) bt [Q] Omar A Meguid (Egy)        14/12, 12/10, 9/11, 11/9 (59m)
[3] Karim Darwish (Egy) bt [Q] Henrik Mustonen (Fin)             11/4, 11/1, 11/2 (21m)
Wael El Hindi (Egy) bt Arturo Salazar (Mex)                6/11, 11/7, 11/3, 11/1 (35m)

[9] Mohamed El Shorbagy (Egy) bt Jonathan Kemp (Eng)       12/10, 11/8, 7/11, 11/6 (36m)
Simon Rosner (Ger) bt [Q] Clinton Leeuw (Rsa)      12/10, 11/6, 11/3 (40m)
[1] Nick Matthew (Eng) bt [Q] Stephane Galifi (Ita)       11/8, 11/1, 11/3 (35m)
Tarek Momen (Egy) bt Tom Richards (Eng)       11/9, 8/11, 11/1, 11/5 (53m)
[7] Peter Barker (Eng) bt Aaron Frankcomb (Aus)        11/4, 11/1, 11/4 (17m)
Steve Coppinger (Rsa) bt Chris Simpson (Eng)         11/1, 12/10, 11/8 (46m)
[16] Cameron Pilley (Aus) bt [Q] Raphael Kandra (Ger)         11/2, 11/3, 11/8 (32m)
Chris Ryder (Eng) bt Olli Tuominen (Fin)          8/11, 11/4, 11/4, 11/4 (55m)

Women’s Qualifying Round Two

Aisling Blake (Irl) bt Stephanie Edmison (Can)               11/8, 11/6, 11/3 (30m)
Lisa Aitken (Sco) bt Alexandra Norman (Can)               11/6, 11/5, 4/11, 11/5 (44m)
Gaby Huber (Sui) bt Imelda Salazar (Mex)               11/0, 11/2, 11/6 (22m)
Olga Ertlova (Cze) bt Zephanie Curgenven (Eng)                11/4, 11/4, 11/4 (25m)
Maud Duplomb (Fra) bt Manuela Manetta (Ita)                 12/10, 11/7, 4/11, 11/7 (45m)
Lauren Selby (Eng) bt Lucie Fialova (Cze)                  11/12, 11/13, 9/11, 11/9, 11/9 (91m)
Nour El Sherbini (Egy) bt Sarah-Jane Perry (Eng)                11/7, 11/5, 10/12, 7/11, 12/10 (59m)
Kylie Lindsay (Nzl) bt Leonie Holt (Eng)               11/6, 11/6, 11/9 (27m)

Yathreb Adel (Egy) bt Samantha Cornett (Can)              11/6, 8/11, 12/10, 11/8 (46m)
Victoria Lust (Eng) bt Salma Hany (Egy)              11/1, 11/5, 12/10 (30m)
Tesni Evans (Wal) bt Sina Wall (Ger)               9/11, 11/4, 9/11, 11/4, 11/7 (54m)
Heba El Torky (Egy) bt Thaisa Serafini (Bra)              11/9, 11/6, 11/9 (18m)
Siyoli Waters (Rsa) bt Milou Van Der Heijden (Ned)              4/11, 11/4, 12/10, 11/8 (42m)
Kanzy El Dafrawy (Egy) bt Birgit Coufal (Aut)             11/8, 11/9, 0/11, 13/11 (42m)
Lauren Briggs (Eng) bt Sally Skaarenborg (Den)             11/7, 11/4, 11/2 (20m)
Latasha Khan (Usa) bt Coline Aumard (Fra)              9/11, 11/4, 11/6, 11/4 (38m)

Event website:

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