Friday, March 1, 2024

PSA: Simpson meets Ali Fathi in Kent Open final

Chris Simpson collides with Kristian Frost in mid-court. Picture by KIM ROBERTS

PSA WorldTour (Satellite 10) SE Leisure Kent Open semi-final: (1) Chris Simpson (Eng) bt (4) Kristian Frost (Den) 12-10, 11-8, 11-7 (74 mins)

Karim Ali Fathi (Egypt) beat (2) Henrik Mustonen (Finland) 11-2, 11-4, 11-2 (41 mins)

Top seed Chris Simpson powered past Kristian Frost Olesen to reach the final of the SE Leisure Kent Open at The Mote.

The 25-year-old Channel Islander, based in Harrogate, had too many answers at the front of the court after the ball spent most the time at the back.

Both players favoured drove solidly but Simpson’s drop shots were more effective when openings arose at the front.

The first game was massive physical battle. Simpson led 5-1 before Frost enjoyed a solid spell of dominance that took him to 8-6. Frost was first to game ball at 10-9 but Simpson won the next three points to close out the game 12-10.

Frost again held the upper hand in the second game, leading 7-5, and then 8-6, but once again Simpson finished strongly with five points in a row to win 11-8.

In the third game Simpson advanced from 3-3 to 7-3 as Frost began to look tired. The tall Dane was forced to undergo massive court coverage as Simpson worked him long and short. Ultimately, Simpson’s straight drops proved the decisive factor. He closed out the game in a professional manner to win 11-7 and book his place in the final after a fiercely-contested 74-minute encounter.

Simpson said: “I was happy with how I played today. It was a very tough match as Kristian is such a strong athlete. The ball wasn’t dying at all at the front, so Itried to get control of him and work him harder than he worked me.

“By the third game I could see that this tactic had worked and he was starting to tire. Very happy to win.”

Simpson faces in-form Egyptian Karim Ali Fathi, who overpowered No.2 seed Henrik Mustonen in sensational fashion.

Fathi has followed his triumph in Wales last week by producing three outstanding performances this week in Maidstone.

He chopped Mustonen 11-2, 11-4, 11-2 in a brutal demolition job that exposed the Finn’s lack of tournament practice.

Fathi said: “The only time I have played Chris was in the final of the Andy Gill Memorial Trophy in Rochdale in September. He won 11-9, 11-9, 11-9 and I was 9-7 up in all three games.

“That was before I met Phil Whitlock and I would like to think I can do better against Chris in the final. This is a good tournament for me. I was surprised that Henrik wasn’t pushing up the court more because normally he is so dangerous in the front left corner. But that area was working well for me today. My game seems to suit this court.”

It was a tribute to Mustonen’s determination that the match lasted 41 minutes but he was clearly struggling with his movement throughout the match.

He said: “I was feeling a bit tired today and my movement was obviously affected. It was very hot on court and it was difficult to put the ball away. I haven’t been playing much since March and I guess that showed today. I was defending most of the time and wasn’t able to get forward to play it short. I needed to attack more but was too far off the pace.”

Kristian Frost said: “I thought I played the right game to win but somehow I managed to lose. I didn’t do well on the big points in the first and second games, when I was leading 8-6 and 7-5. I didn’t feel confident going short because the ball is very bouncy.

“He got me moving more and that made me a big difference. Chris played his style of squash, had a good tactical plan and he stuck to it for the whole match, moving me all over the court in the process.

“It has been a really good tournament. I like the way the players have been treated and the whole set-up and organisation. All the club members and tournament team have made the players very welcome and looked after us very well. It feels like a much bigger tournament.”


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