|OPEN DE SQUASH
|RONDE DE QUALIFICATION PSA OPEN QUALIFICATION ROUND
|FINAL MATCH WRITE-UP BY MIKE REID
Ashour vs Palmer
Following an entertaining lightning round won by Montreal’s David Phillips, Egyptian Hisham Ashour, who has impressed the crowd all week with his array of attacks and unconventional shot selection, took on the highly accomplished Australian, David Palmer, to contest the final of the NBF Group Open. After the contentiousness last night, this match stood out not only for its high quality, but also for the good spirit and fairness both players displayed throughout the match.
Ashour came out firing for winners from the first serve, and was quick to reach 5-1. But in a big momentum swing, Palmer showed he too could put the ball away and Ashour began finding the tin. As quick as Ashour had moved ahead, Palmer had levelled 5-5. The Palmer comeback tapered Ashour’s confidence, and the next few rallies were riddled with errors as they advanced to 8-8. Seeing his chance, Palmer stepped up the pace and began forcing Ashour around the court. Two more tins by the Egyptian gave Palmer the first game ball, and although Ashour found a winning drop from deep on the backhand, Palmer used his pressure to take the first game 11-9.
In the second, Palmer continued where he left off, imposing his pace and playing the ball early, and took advantage of a still flat looking Ashour. But at 0-2 down, Ashour switched on, and as his movement improved, he began finding his marks at the front. However, Palmer’s short game was on too, so in the next few rallies the crowd witnessed spectacular attacking from both players as they punished each other to 4-4. Two mishit backhands gifted Ashour two strokes and a two point lead. Sensing his opportunity, Ashour began retrieving everything and patiently waited for his chance to attack. Unable to finish the rallies, Palmer started going too low, and Ashour’s hard work was rewarded with a 10-5 lead. A couple of winner’s by Palmer rattled Ashour, but luckily for him, somehow his shoelace came untied. As he took care of it, he refocused, and Palmers next serve was returned into the front nick, levelling the match at 1-1.
Both players returned in the third playing full court squash, and dazzled the crowd with their holds, flicks and gets. Although the rallies were evenly contested, Ashour emerged with a 4-1 lead. Gaining confidence with every rally, he now began to move the big Australian. Although Palmer got close to levelling at 3-5, Ashour went on to dominate the game 11-3, impressing the crowd with his deft touch and unpredictable holds.
Clearly fired up, Ashour signalled his intentions early in the fourth as he leapt on his forehand to crush a Palmer lob cross-court into the nick, and moved ahead 3-1. There seemed to be no stopping the Egyptian as Palmer increasingly struggled to cope with his deception. But at 9-2 down, Palmer changed tactics. No longer trying to break Ashour with pace and pressure, he began floating the ball around the court and gluing it to the walls. The pace change unsettled the Egyptian and Palmer narrowed the gap to 6-9. But an unlucky bounce caught Palmer off guard, and he sent his drive out of the court to give Ashour his first match ball. In the final rally, both players attacked and defended, and although his strings broke midway through, Palmer fought until an Ashour drop forced him to dive to the front only to see Ashour crush the ball to the back to claim his first 35K title.
|THURSDAY MATCH WRITE-UPS BY RUNA RETA
Laurens Anjema vs. Hisham Ashour
The first semi-final match featured the strong Dutchman facing off against the imaginative Egyptian. Ashour looked ready from point one, and started off the quicker of the two, going up 7-1 in a matter of minutes. Having a field day with LJ`s poor length that was coming off the side walls at mid-court, it was perfect striking range for the Egyptian to hit a mix of deceptive attacking shots, including a lethal two-wall boast that has been hurting his opponents all week. Ashour produced a number of errors, but at 10-5 up, there was no doubt he would take the first. And he did 11-7.
The #1 seed strapped on a headband in the second and showed that he was ready to dig in and get serious. Helped on by a number of errors from Ashour, LJ established better length and finally started hitting some winners of his own, taking a 6-2 lead. But Ashour countered with some scrappy gets to equalize at 6-all, which evoked an excited pump-fist from the Egyptian who looks leaner and quicker than ever. A big point at 8-7 ended in a tin by LJ on the backhand drop, and it looked like Ashour would go up 2-0, however, the Dutchman did well to keep his nerve and hit a number of tight winners that allowed him to equalize from 8-10 down, and take the second game 12-10.
Ashour came on with a renewed onslaught of shot-making in the third, trying to hit the nick at every given opportunity, and successfully going up 6-2. At 7-4, the Egyptian hit a ridiculous backhand volley-drop (shifting the face of the racquet to slice the ball down- apparently his signature shot) that even got himself clapping in self-amazement. Insanity continued with two more cross-court roll-out nicks, to which LJ could only look on helplessly. Ashour took the third 11-4.
Errors (the Egyptian`s Achilles heel) finally started to creep in, letting the Dutchman get up 8-4 in the fourth. But to his credit, the lower ranked Egyptian kept clawing his way back, evening out his errors with fantastic winners. The score was neck and neck from 7-9 onwards. At 10-all, LJ seemed to have decided that he too would try his luck at going for his shots, but against a player with a family name like Ashour, it was not a good gamble. The points went back and forth until the Egyptian hit dying length at 14-13 to set up match point. And in fitting style, the always entertaining Hisham Ashour took the match 15-13 with a (surprise, surprise) backhand drop kill to complete a huge upset, winning 3-1 in 61 minutes.
David Palmer vs. Alistair Walker
The second semi-final match pitted the imposing Australian David Palmer against the fit and steady Englishman Alistair Walker. Palmer, who had quite a scare from the speedy Scotsman in yesterday`s quarter-final, again seemed to be having some problems getting comfortable on the bouncy court today. Walker went up 8-3, playing a more attacking game than in previous rounds, and mixing up his shots well. Palmer was sent in the wrong direction on a number of occasions, making the crowd wonder whether his strapped up ankle was covering up a real problem. Walker stayed strong and closed out the first quickly 11-5.
Palmer was visibly upset with the referee right from the start of the second game, arguing every call at length instead of playing the game. Nevertheless, the Australian was able to start dominating play across the T, with Walker yelling out the right observation of his own loose cross-court shots being systematically picked off: ``it`s too easy!``. Despite far too many stoppages due to interference, Palmer was in control throughout, winning the second comfortably 11-5.
There was not much between the two players in the third. Walker re-established tight length but was made to work hard to get around the tree-like Palmer, who claimed it as his right not to have to move out the way of his opponent after striking his shots. After a nice hold on a straight drive by Walker at 6-7, Palmer reached down to his ankle wincing slightly. Two errors by Palmer put the Englishman up 9-7, and he didn`t look back, taking the game 11-8.
This match-up may have looked completely different if it had been played on a glass court, but on the warm conditions in the snowy city of Montreal, Palmer seemed unable to really hurt Walker, who was picking up most shots and taking advantage of his opportunities. The Englishman came out attacking in the fourth, taking a 3-0 lead, and taking some risk as he went for his shots. A long rally at 5-all sent both scrambling and Palmer eventually diving into the wall, banging his hand into the wall. He was okay, however, and play continued. Walker kept his nerve taking the edge again 7-5, but then hit two unnecessary errors to let the Australian back in 7-all. Again at 8-all, both players started going ballistic over calls that were being made, as the contact mounted and neither seemed able to play any shot. Palmer threatened to forfeit the match, Walker was given a conduct warning after again making the correct observation: ``this is just ridiculous!`` In short, it was not a pretty game, but somehow Palmer came out on top 11-8 after much diving, blocking, cursing and conduct warning. The ref had to have a pep talk with the two naughty children after the fourth, which I doubt had any calming effect on either of them
A bit more squash was played in the fifth, with Palmer collecting his game and hitting some nice winners, while Walker grew increasingly frustrated trying to go through to play his shots (unsuccessfully) and getting no-lets. Palmer took a string of points to take the lead, which was enough to put him through. A disconsolate Englishman walked off the court, having lost the game 11-6 and the match 3-2, in an anti-climactic finish to an explosive 92-minute battle.
So the veteran David Palmer lives to see another day, and will face the firing Egyptian Hisham Ashour in tomorrow's final.
|WEDNESDAY MATCH WRITE-UPS BY MIKE REID
Walker vs Grant
In the first quarterfinal between Adrian Grant and Alister Walker, it was clear from the early rallies that the match would be a long one. Both players started basic, establishing their length and finding their width but at 3-3, Walker stepped up the pace and began taking the ball earlier and looking to take it short. His aggression paid off as he pulled away to 6-3, but 3 unforced errors allowed Grant to level as he began to match Walker’s pace. A string of lets at 7-8, was followed by a quick run by Grant, and he was at 10-7. A Walker hold sent Grant the wrong way to make it 8-10, but in the next rally Walker’s dive was in vain as Grant put the next ball away and closed out the first game.
Walker came out flying in the second, and was quick to establish a 3-1 lead. But Grant did well to absorb the increased pressure from Walker, using his lob from the front and off-pace lengths to contain Walker’s attacks. But from 6-6, Walker managed to pull away, and at 10-7 found just the right width on his cross-court kill to evade Grant’s desperate lunge, levelling the match at 1-1.
Walker came out fast again in the third and thanks to some uncharacteristic errors by Grant, moved quickly to 4-0. As both players upped the pace, Grant’s counter attacks began to find their mark and he nearly levelled at 4-5. But a not-up call against Grant threw off his concentration, and Walker widened the gap to 8-4. Despite a couple of errors, some great attacks by Walker earned him a game ball at 10-6. Walker then launched a flurry of attacks, and although Grant retrieved what seemed like 3 winners, the fourth proved too much and Walker took the lead 2-1.
The first half of the fourth was plagued with strings of unforced errors by both players and lots of lets, as they fought for position and tried to take the ball increasingly early. With a few breaks for discussions with the refs, they slowly worked their way up to 8-8. Despite both players taking their turn attacking and defending, the next two rallies ended with Grant not being able to pull Walker’s backhand drives off the wall, earning Walker a match ball. Grant pulled one back thanks to a Walker tin, but in the next rally a loose drive that both players seemed to expect to play a let on was called a stroke, and to Grant’s frustration and the surprise of many in the crowd, the 90 minute match was over and Walker became the first to advance to tomorrow’s semi-finals.
Palmer vs Clyne
On paper, Scotsman Alan Clyne, one of two qualifiers to make it into the quarterfinals, seemed to be a long-shot against the highly accomplished Australian, David Palmer. Palmer came out hitting hard and taking the ball early, making Clyne do a lot of work in the early exchanges. This tactic seemed to be paying off as Palmer quickly established a 6-1 lead. But some great gets and a few quick counters caught Palmer by surprise and Clyne slowly narrowed the gap to 3-6 and then 6-9. Although Palmer continued to dictate the pace, Clyne didn’t seem to mind the pressure, and used his speed to force a couple of errors from the Palmer racket, and moved to 8-9. But Palmer showed his experience as he tightened up, and one straight drop that clung to the wall, followed by a forehand kill, locked up the game 11-8.
In the second, Clyne came out determined and raced ahead 4-1. Palmer tried to up the pace up and unsettle the Scottsman, but Clyne hung in. Palmer was clearly having difficulty lunging and changing direction on his braced ankle, and Clyne took every opportunity to counter attack the big Australian, and used quick flicks to break up his fluid movement. Clyne slowly moved up to 10-6, and after Palmer guessed wrong for the third successive point, Clyne had tied it up at 1-1.
Palmer, still struggling with his movement, continued where he left off, applying constant pressure and moving Clyne around the court. Nevertheless, Clyne continued to withstand it, and waited for his chance to quickly counter. Some great drops by Clyne, and a string of mistakes by Palmer, gave Clyne a 9-4 lead. In the next rally, a seemingly minor collision between the players on the T sent Palmer to the ground clutching his right ankle, but play resumed after only a few minutes. With Clyne serving for the game, Palmer tried to up the pace again but misread him at the front, and Clyne took the lead 2-1.
Many in the crowd were beginning to write Palmer off, and as the players moved to 3-3, it looked as though an upset was in the works. But midway, Palmer changed tactics and began playing Clyne predominantly in the back, limiting his chances to hurt him with the counters that had previously been so effective. Clyne struggled to respond, and Palmer took the game 11-3.
In the fifth, Palmer was clearly moving better, and again used his length and holds in an attempt to break the Scotsman’s resolve. And it seemed to work. But at 7-3, Clyne began to dig in, and some great gets kept forcing Palmer to play one extra shot. While Clyne began to find some winners of his own, Palmer began to miss, and the game levelled at 8-8. But again Palmer steadied, playing long patient rallies, and not taking any chances at the front. Eventually, one length and a straight drop were two tight for Clyne, and Palmer had his first match ball. In the next rally a short crosscourt caught the nick, and it was enough to end Clyne’s great run and move Palmer on to the semis.
|WEDNESDAY MATCH WRITE-UPS BY GENEVIEVE LESSARD
LJ Anjema vs Stephane Galifi
The third quarterfinal match was between LJ Anjema and Stephane Galifi. Stephane started a little slow in the first, maybe getting used to the glove he was wearing tonight, and LJ took a quick 4-0 lead after a tin and a few loose crosscourts that LJ put in the nick in the front. Galifi started tightening up and got LJ moving a bit more, coming back to 4-7. At 8-4,both players played a long rally, hitting good length and adding a few drops to move each other. A few strokes and no-lets brought the game to 10-5, and LJ won the first game 11-5 on a crosscourt into the tin by Galifi.
In the second game, LJ started out strong, using very tight shots and forcing Galifi to hit a few looser ones. LJ found the nick in the front three times, getting the score up to 4-1. Galifi started going short before LJ could, LJ reaching far for every shot, and equalled the score at 4-4, but two errors by Galifi gave LJ a lead again at 6-4. The next points saw about 10 or 15 lets, both players attacking without taking too many risks, and getting into each other’s way to the ball. Galifi made a few more unforced errors than LJ and lost that game 11-8.
In the third, points went to 2-2 after 4 unforced errors. The rallies were now pretty equal, both players using tight lengths, going short a few times, and playing some shots on the volley, but not enough to punish the other. At 6-5 for LJ, LJ hits a winner into the nick, and Galifi takes a little break and asks the ref what the call would have been if the ball popped up. This break didn’t really help him though, as he hits a tin and a ball out, now down 9-6. Galifi played the next rally by taking the ball early on every shot, and came back at 7-9. LJ hit a dead crosscourt nick off the serve to have 10-7 match ball. Galifi tins the next and LJ takes the match in 3.
Jan Koukal vs Hisham Ashour
In the last match of the match, we were expecting a lot of attacking by Ashour. In the first rallies, Hisham used many attacking boast to move Koukal, but mostly to keep him from guessing the next shot, which he has been doing very well in his previous matches. Ashour takes a 8-4 lead with a few winners and good holds. Jan replied with similar attacking shots that took Ashour by surprise, to equal the score at 8-8. Hisham took the first game 11-9 after moving Koukal three times to the front with almost-perfect drops.
In the second, Koukal took at quick 3-0 with a perfect kill and errors by Ashour. The rallies in the second remain very short, with a ball sent to the front at every 3 or 4 shots. Ashour takes the game 11-5 with better accuracy and a few errors by Koukal.
In the third, Ashour was again in control, making very few errors but many winners, and using his holds to get Koukal twisting the wrong way. Koukal was doing a good job of defending himself, but got a little anxious and went for winners as soon as he had a bit of an opening, many of them finding the tin. Ashour wins the match in 3, 11-3 in the third.
|TUESDAY MATCH WRITE-UPS BY MAXYM LECLAIR
Grant vs Hinds
The first match of the night saw two England representatives trying to gain a spot into the quarter-finals. Obviously Grant was favoured to win.
The first game saw both players trying to establish their lengths with some long rallies. At 5-5, the two collided on the T with both players clutching their ankle. Hinds needed a short break but was able to get back on court. Grant then gave up 3 game balls with 3 shots into the tin, giving the first game to Hinds.
In the second game, Adrian started strongly to take a quick 6-2 lead by controlling the T and making Hinds do most of the work. Too many errors from Hinds gave the game to the lefty 11-4.
The 3rd game was quite similar with Grant getting more and more confident. Hinds looked very tired while Grant ran everything down.
The beginning of the 4th game was also pretty quick with Grant taking a 7-3 lead. But he lost his focus on a close call and let Hinds back into the match. Grant’s errors opened the door and Hinds seemed to get fired up. Three more mistakes and Hinds took the fourth 11-7.
The 5th game was a repeat with Grant taking a quick lead to 7-2. But this time, he stayed ahead and took the match in 75 minutes.
Delierre vs Walker
La wildcard du tournoi et le favori de la foule, le Montréalais Shawn Delierre était à l’œuvre dans ce deuxième affrontement de la soirée. Il faisait face au champion de l’édition 2009, l’Anglais et top 20 mondial, Alister Walker.
Au début du premier jeu, les échanges furent chaudement disputés et surtout très longs. L’Anglais prit une avance de 7-4 mais Shawn n’avait pas dit son dernier mot. Quelques coups gagnants de sa part et des erreurs d’impatience d’Alister ont effacé le déficit, et Shawn a remporté la partie 11-9.
Tout au long de la deuxième partie les échanges étaient longs et épuisants pour les deux joueurs. Shawn faisait travailler l’Anglais avec ses nombreux « working boasts » et ce dernier ripostait avec de nombreuses volées. La fin de la partie était remplie de plusieurs « lets », mais deux « no-let » de suite ont permis à Alister de gagner cette deuxième partie.
Le début de la troisième partie fut marqué par de nombreux échanges rapides ponctués de plusieurs décisions des arbitres. Deux « no-let » et un « stroke » contre Shawn donnent l’avance à Alister 6-2, mais avec deux amortis parfaits, Delierre revient à 4-6 et la foule se met de la partie avec des encouragements pour le Montréalais. Par la suite, Walker domine la plupart des échanges et remporte la partie 11-6.
La quatrième partie fut assez rapide avec l’Anglais qui prit une avance considérable de 10-3 pour ensuite échapper 2 balles de match, mais Shawn finit par s’envoyer la balle au corps pour s’avouer vaincu 11-5 et 3-1.
Ryan Cuskelly vs Alan Clyne
This match between two small and quick players promised a lot of excitement. The Scottish Alan Clyne already had 2 wins in this tournament. Would he be able to keep it up? The lefty from Australia, Ryan Cuskelly, is back in Montreal for a 2nd year in a row.
The first game saw both players hitting most of their shots to the back of the court with Clyne trying to open the court and Cuskelly answering with good volley drops. The score was pretty close for most of the game bringing both players to 10-10. Then a boast into the nick and a stroke on a disputed call gave the Scot the first game.
The second game started with both players trying to attack a bit more, but the rallies were still long. Cuskelly started to get frustrated with a few calls and earned a conduct warning by throwing the ball out of the court. Both players were still hitting the ball with power resulting with many balls coming back into the middle. Cuskelly added a bit of hold in the last few points and won the game 11-8.
The third game also started with long and intense rallies. Cuskelly was trying to attack more by taking the ball in but Clyne was able to get to every shot. He was also trying to change the pace of the game. Ryan seemed to get a bit frustrated with some of the calls by the refs. Ryan took an injury break at 11-10 for something pinched in the forearm. But Clyne ended the game with a beautiful drop shot in the front-right corner to win 12-10.
The fourth game saw Alan taking an early lead of 4-2 with some good counter-drops. Then Ryan got a cramp in his left hand and Clyne quickly won 11-2 to move to quarter-finals in an 89 minute match.
David Palmer vs Illingworth
The last encounter of the night saw the top US and the top Australian players battling out for a spot in the quarter-finals. Palmer just won his last tournament in Calgary. Would he be able to keep it up after 4 long matches at high altitude?
The first game saw long rallies to begin, both players putting the ball in well and Palmer using great kills on his forehand side but Illingworth having great answers with counter-drops. Palmer seemed to get a bit frustrated at the end of the game and Julian took the game 11-7.
In the second game Palmer tried to increase the pace by volleying more and hitting the ball with more power, especially on his forehand. He kept the ball tight on his back-hand to force Julian to hit looser balls. Tins, as well as loose shots from Julian, gave Palmer the second game 11-5.
The third game saw both players working really hard. At the beginning, Palmer was controlling the rallies by volleying almost everything and putting the ball into the front corners. Both players worked hard to retrieve great drops and kills at the front. But Palmer seemed to get the better of these rallies with tighter drop shots and took the game 11-7.
The fourth game saw Illingworth taking an early 4-1 lead and Palmer looked frustrated with some of the calls. But he came back quickly to even the score at 4-4. The following rallies saw both players doing gruesome work retrieving every shot deep in all corners. The end of the match saw more controversy with the calls, as a let was played following a nick in the back of the court, after Illingworth had won the rally. He then got awarded a conduct stroke to give Palmer a match ball. Palmer was able to capitalize and reaches the quarter finals.
|MONDAY MATCH WRITE-UPS BY MIKE REID
Phillips vs Galifi
The first match of the night saw one of the qualifiers and the MAA’s own, David Phillips, take on Italian, Stéphane Galifi. Phillips looked comfortable on his home court from the beginning, applying pressure with crisp length and straight kills. Galifi, on the other hand, seemed content absorbing Phillips’ pressure with some great gets and counter-attacks. There wasn’t much between them until Phillips pulled ahead 8-6 after Galifi slipped changing directions--he then received a conduct warning for slamming the wall in frustration. After a few short rallies ending in a stroke and two tinned drop attempts, Phillips had his first game ball at 10-7. But a couple of tough rallies and a Phillips tin at 9-10 allowed Galifi to level and push the first game into a tiebreak. A long rally culminated in Galifi diving in desperation to retrieve Phillips’ two-wall boast, only to see his lob get smashed down the wall to give Philllips another game ball. In the next rally Galifi dove again but this time Phillips missed his opening, and he put the ball into the tin, allowing Galifi to level again at 11-11. The next few rallies were intense and after a few lets, two winning backhand drops earned Galifi the game and he moved ahead 1-0.
In the second, Phillips appeared more tentative in his shot selection, choosing to rally more rather than impose his game as he had previously. Meanwhile, Galifi seemed energized from the last game and began to increasingly dictate the pace and move Philips around the court. Starting to find his range at the front, it wasn’t long before Galifi was ahead 7-2, and looked ready to close out the game. But Phillips slotted in a few winners to move to 7-10. Just as it seemed that Phillips might mount a comeback, Galifi smashed his next serve crosscourt into the front nick, taking a 2-0 lead.
The crowd got behind Phillips in the third, and this game saw the most attacking as each player enjoyed streaky periods until they levelled at 6-6. But after some great rallies, with both players attacking and retrieving at will, Galifi managed to pull away to 10-6. To the disappointment of the home crowd, it wasn’t long before Phillips found the tin on a straight kill, and Galifi emerged the winner 3-0 in 46 minutes.
Anjema vs Razik
Many predicted the second match between the tournament’s top seed Lauren Jan Anjema and Canadian #1 Shahier Razik would be a long one, and they weren’t disappointed. There wasn’t much between them in the first game as Anjema used his power and consistency to pressure Razik, who countered with his smooth movement and ability to close down the court. They went point for point, enduring long, gruelling rallies all the way to 10-10. But then, several lets upset the flow of the game, as neither player was willing to give up any space in the middle of the court. Eventually, Razik hit the top of the tin with a boast trying to move Anjema to the front, and in the next rally, Anjema’s crosscourt found the nick, ending the game in his favour 12-10.
The second was more of the same, long rallies and lots of lets, with Anjema managing to hold a slight lead up to 10-7. However, a couple of unforced errors and then an Anjema slip on a Razik hold, allowed Razik to level at 10-10. But Razik’s comeback was short-lived as Anjema responded with a straight kill on his backhand, and then a serve into the nick to close out the game.
Anjema opened the third with another serve into the nick, and then the players returned to brutally moving each other around the court. Several lets later, the players drew level again at 5-5. But two strokes against Anjema left him frustrated, and Razik, quick to take advantage, moved ahead to 10-6. Anjema narrowed the gap to 8-10, but his next attempt at a kill clipped the tin and his lead was reduced to 1.
In the fourth, Anjema came out refocused and looked intent on finishing the match. Although Razik got close to levelling at 4-5, he seemed to unable to absorb the increased pressure Anjema had begun to apply. It wasn’t long before Anjema was up 10-4, and one loose ball at the front was all he needed as he cracked a crosscourt past Razik to finish the game 11-4, and closed out the match 3-1 in 90 minutes.
|MONDAY MATCH WRITE-UPS BY RUNA RETA
Nicolas Mueller vs. Hisham Ashour
The first game started a bit slowly, with both opponents trying to feel each other out and get used to the court conditions. There was not much between the two, as they exchanged short rallies that contained many more angles than we saw in the previous marathon between LJ and Razik. Mueller drew first blood, taking the game 11-7 due to a number of unforced errors from Ashour, who was likely coming onto the court a bit wary of his Swiss opponent, who had a fine run in Calgary last week.
Hisham came back much more assertively in the second, taking the ball early and making good use of a wide range of attacking boasts. The Swiss man was on his back foot as Ashour took a 5-1 lead and never relented. He took the game 11-3.
The Egyptian continued hitting with creative flair and brilliance, to which Mueller obliged with his own array of attacking shots and impressive counter-drops. The result was a bit of an erratic (but highly entertaining) game, with Ashour keeping an edge throughout, showing why he is the higher ranked player; he took the third 11-5.
The fourth was again a streaky affair, with almost as many shots going to the front of the court than to the back. Though Mueller valiantly tried to compete with Ashour on the ingenuity scale, he could not quite keep up, and 4 errors in the game cost him the match, as the Egyptian took the fourth 11-7 and the match 3-1.
Jan Koukal vs. Tarek Momen
This contest saw two diminutive players facing off against each other- both whizzing around the court, hitting at a fast past and going for their shots from the get-go; in fact, neither one looking interested in working the rallies any longer than they had to. Taking any half-opportunity to attack, the result was an up and down game of winners and errors, and a close affair in the first. At 10-all, the rallies lengthened out, and the pace varied as each displayed their varied arsenal of shots. Unfortunately, Momen was let down by an unwarranted no-let at 12-11 which gave the first game to Koukal.
The second was neck and neck until 6-all, when Koukal pulled away, thanks to some cutting kill shots, a few calls in his favour, and a number of unforced errors from Momen, who didn`t seem able to get ahead of his opponent. Koukal took the second 11-6.
The rallies extended in the third game, though there was a noticeable increase in physical contact, and many loose balls from which each could attack. At 5-all, Koukal made three critical unforced errors that were enough to allow Momen to pull away to 10-5. Three solid points from Koukal brought him to 8-10, but that was as far as he could get. The Egyptian took the third game 11-8.
Momen started the fourth with greater spring and confidence, but Koukal stayed with him to 5-all, with both players still looking fresh and energetic. However, four unnecessary errors from the Egyptian at 8-7, 9-7, 9-8, and 10-8 betrayed his youth and sealed his fate, as qualifier Koukal completed the upset, winning the fourth 11-8 in 65 minutes. He advances to the quarter-finals with this 3-1 win.
|2ND ROUND QUALIFYING MATCH WRITE-UPS BY GENEVIEVE LESSARD
Galvez vs Clyne
The first match of the day was between Alan Clyne and Eric Galvez. Galvez started the match in force, moving Clyne from corner to corner and dictating the rallies. Galvez was quick to volley, staying solidly on the T, and using great lengths and kills, and is up 3-1. The next rallies were very fast paced, Clyne starting to move Galvez to the front of the court with good drops. Galvez then hit two unforced errors, to have Clyne up at 5-4. Clyne continued his use of the front left corner and forced Galvez to hit two shots back to himself. He ended the game on two winners at the front, 11-5 to Clyne.
The beginning of the second game saw both players being more patient, extending the rallies and not going for anything risky. The second rally saw both players doing tremendous effort to get shots from the front, finishing with a perfect drop by Clyne to take a 2-0 lead. Galvez started going for winning kills on his forehand, hitting 1 winner and 1 error. He seemed to be running out of steam in the middle of the game, as Clyne was making him stretch and reach for every ball. Clyne won the 2nd 11-4 after 3 errors from Galvez.
The third was definitely the best game of the match for Galvez, who seemed to look stronger and calmer on court. Galvez took a 4-2 lead as he tightened his shots and went short before Clyne. Galvez extended his lead to 5-2 by putting Clyne under pressure. The next rallies saw both players hitting very few shots to the front, waiting for the opponent to make a mistake. Clyne started pushing Galvez to the front again, bringing the score to 6-6. Galvez then went up to 8-6 after an error from Clyne and a perfect drop. Galvez now seemed to be very tired, and tinned 3 drop shots. Clyne ended the match on a perfect cross court that Galvez couldn’t reach. Clyne will play against Ryan Cuskelly on Tuesday.
Knight vs Hinds
In the beginning of the match between Martin Knight and Joel Hinds, the ball was pretty bouncy and both players were looking to find their length. Hinds took a lead 5-2 by putting a lot of pressure on Knight using low kills from the backhand side. Knight was then able to bring the score to 6-6 by hitting perfect drops on loose shots from Hinds. The next rallies were played mostly in the back, each player hitting tight lengths and trying to twist the other when they had the opportunity; Martin was able to use a loose shot and hit a winning drop to take the lead 8-7. Hinds seemed to be losing his length, between loose and either too short or too long, not able to capitalize on Martin’s loose shots. Martin had game ball at 10-7, but returned 3 sets of loose shots that put him under pressure and brought Hinds back to 10-10. Hinds took the first game 12-10 on a controversial no-let after Hinds hit Knight.
In the second game, Hinds was more in control of the game, being aggressive to the front and adding in a lot of drops on the backhand side, while Knight was unable to punish Hinds on his loose shots. A lucky front wall nick gave Hinds a 7-3 lead. Knight then started using the front court again, and able to come back to 5-8. He tightened up his game and became more patient, controlling the rallies and twisting Hinds, and was able to come back to 8-9. Hinds came back with kills and attacking shots to win the second game 11-9.
The third saw Hinds frustrated by a few calls and losing a bit of concentration. Knight took a quick lead to 5-2. Knight played some great cross court drops from the front that took Hinds by surprise, and was up 7-5. In the second part of the game, we had a great display of fitness by Knight as he was put under a lot of pressure by Hinds on the backhand side, moving him front and back, but Knight fought through and won the game on a perfect crosscourt nick 11-7.
In the beginning of the 4th, Knight clearly seemed more confident in his shots and was dictating the rallies. Hinds looked a bit tired and frustrated with some calls, and was quickly down 4-0. Two errors by Knight and a perfect drop by Hinds saw Hinds back in the game at 3-5. Knight then took a lead at 8-4, after making some incredible retrieving, Hinds looking like he doesn’t know what shots to play to win the rallies. Knight had a 4 point lead at 10-6 after a few errors by Hinds, but Hinds seemed to regain focus, and caught Knight offguard on a few shots to get back to 8-10. Hinds brought the score equal at 10-10 with some great rallies on the backhand side, and got a first match ball when Knight hit a boast into the tin. Knight was able to save on, but then lost two points on very tight shots by Hinds, who won the match 3-1. Hinds will play Adrian Grant tomorrow.
Phillips vs Schnell
Le match entre David Philips et Andrew Schnell a fait un gros contraste avec le match précédent de Knight versus Hinds, comme les échanges étaient beaucoup plus rapides, les deux joueurs cherchant les coups gagnants. Dans la 1e partie, Phillips cherche à attaquer tous les coups décollés du mur d’Andrew, surtout avec des ‘kills’ sur le coup droit. Andrew réussi à rester dans les échanges, mais sans vraiment faire mal à David, qui a une avance de 6-5. David gagne les prochains échanges avec des coups retenus, ne laissant pas la chance à Andrew de deviner où ira la balle. Il gagne la 1e 11-8.
Dans la 2e, David commence en force en faisant arrêter Andrew et l’obligeant à deviner avec des bons coups retenus, il gagne 3-0. David perd un peu de patience et donne des points à Schnell avec des coups dans la ‘tin’ et des mauvais choix, Schnell prend l’avance 5-4. David essaie encore de forcer le jeu au lieu d’être patient et Andrew prend de la confiance dans son jeu en avant, Schnell gagne la 2e 11-9.
Dans la 3e, David redevient patient et fait des coups moins risqués à l’avant du terrain, il prend l’avance 2-0. Les deux joueurs font ensuite une série de coups gagnants et d’erreurs, et essaient d’attaquer à l’avant du terrain dès qu’ils ont la chance. Phillips prends une bonne avance de 8-4 alors qu’Andrew mets des coups dans la tin et se retrouve sur la défensive, donnant des balles dans le centre du terrain à Phillips qui utilisent ces opportunités et gagne la partie 11-4.
Dans la 4e partie, Schnell prend le contrôle dès le début avec une série de coups gagnants à l’avant et du jeu très près du mur sur le revers, il prend l’avance 6-2. Phillips se concentre et veut vraiment gagner cette 4e partie, il utilise des coups qui ne sont pas dans son répertoire habituel et surprend Schnell en ramener le pointage à 6-7. Phillips utilise ce regain d’énergie, et Schnell visiblement nerveux fait quelques erreurs de suite. Phillips capitalise avec des coups gagnants dans les coins arrières, et la partie se termine sur une erreur de Schnell, Phillips gagnant donc 3-1. Il jouera contre Stéphane Galifi demain.
Jan Koukal vs Zac Alexander
The match started with the ball flying everywhere, Zac hitting very powerful shots but that would either catch the wall or come back into the middle, while Jan was looking to hit more of a classic game with straight shots and better length. Zac got a few winners and some errors by Jan, he took the lead 7-5. The game seems the two players moving sideways but without much movement to the front or back corners as the ball is flying, and the score is now equal at 10-10. Zac then starts using the 4 corners a bit better, but Koukal ends a long rally on a nick on the sidewall to take the first 13-11.
The second saw Alexander lowering the pace, getting better length and trying to place the ball better, but Koukal is still dominating the T and wins 11-7. In the third game, Alexander is now in charge of the rallies, and adds many great drops mostly on the backhand side, forcing Koukal to do a lot of retrieving and getting impatient and making some errors, Alexander wins the third 11-4.
In the fourth, Koukal came back more focused and added some great deception. Alexander looked a little frustrated with some of the calls and being unable to finish the rallies, and added a few erros to get a 8-2 lead for Koukal. Alexander sure wasn’t going to let that one go, and came back with 4 winners, wrong footing Koukal and overpowering him on some shots. Koukal was able to keep his cool and moved Alexander along the front left and back right diagonal, take a lead at 9-6. Zac tried to fight back with power, but was unable to capitalize on it, Koukal just able to put his racquet on every shot and return the shots without too much effort. Koukal was then able to hurt Zac on a boast after a loose shot, and won the match 3-1, 11-8 in the 4th. He plays Tarek Momen tomorrow.
|1ST QUALIFYING MATCH WRITE-UPS BY MIKE REID
Joel Hinds vs Eric Dingle
The match started quite basic with both players trying to find their length and get a feel for the court. Hinds moved to a quick 3-1 lead and his increasing comfort on the court became apparent as he started to stretch Dingle, twisting him, and often sending him the wrong way with his holds. Hinds went on to take the first with relative ease 11-3. The rest of the match followed much of the same pattern. Dingle hanged in for patches with some impressive gets and few great kills, but Hinds’ length and holds proved too much for Dingle, and he took the final 2 games decisively 11-5 and 11-7. With only 26 minutes on court, Hinds should be fresh for tomorrow’s qualifying finals.
Martin Knight vs Gilly Lane
The second qualifying match pitted the #4 against #6 qualifier and on paper, promised lots of excitement. The first game began with long rallies and was played at a much faster pace than the previous match. But both players were clearly struggling to adjust to the court as the balls were loose, and the length was over-hit, resulting in much of the play taking place in the middle of the court. A couple of straight kills gave Lane an early 3-1 lead. As Knight closed the gap, both players started to find their range and began to move each other around the court. They advanced point for point with Knight winning a monster rally to level at 9-9. Lane went for the nick off the serve, but found the tin instead. The final rally was anticlimactic as an unthreatening crosscourt by Knight floated into the sidewall nick and rolled out at Lane’s feet.
In the second, a clearly irritated Lane produced a string of unforced errors, which combined with some winners by Knight, to move Knight ahead quickly to 9-0. Lane seemed to refocus momentarily and pegged back two points, but another unforced error and a crosscourt flick that sent Lane the wrong way, gave Knight the second 11-2. The final game produced the best squash of the match as both player began to play more structured rallies and calculatedly moved each other around the court. As the quality of the squash increased, so did the tension, resulting in both players appealing for far more lets than in the previous games. However, Knight held the lead throughout the game, and although Lane got close to levelling at 5-7, some tight squash from Knight, mixed with a couple more unforced errors from Lane, gave Knight the game 11-5 and the match 3-0 in 45 minutes.
Scott Arnold vs Alan Clyne
The third match of the day saw Australian Scot Arnold take on the Scotsman Alan Clyne. There wasn’t much between the two during the early part of the first game, but Clyne established a two-point lead thanks mainly to a couple of fortunate/unfortunate bounces. From that point on, Arnold began dictating the rallies, moving the Scotsman around the court and moved ahead 7-5. However, the Scot didn’t seem to mind being shown the four corners of the court, and as he continued to return everything thrown at him, Arnold appeared to become increasingly frustrated. With a few tight lengths and an irretrievable drop, Clyne moved ahead to 9-7. But a drop that stuck to the left wall and a forehand kill, allowed Arnold to level. After a long tense rally, Arnold’s mid-court boast clipped the tin, and then Clyne didn’t waste much time as he put in a winning drop on the first opening, and took the game 11-9.
Arnold came out firing in the second and established a quick lead with some great kills and accurate backhand volley drops. Some good retrieving from Clyne again frustrated Arnold, who made a few unforced errors to bring Clyne to 5-7. But Arnold steadied, started to hit his targets at the back of the court again and went up to 10-5. A couple of great counters, combined with two unforced errors from Arnold brought Clyne to 9-10. But Arnold managed to bear down, and he intercepted Clyne’s crosscourt from the front left and hammered it to dying length just past Clyne’s reach, and levelled the match at 1-1.
The third game took off at fast pace, with both players showing confidence going short. Arnold pulled away midway with a couple of impressive kills and took a 5-3 lead. Clyne seemed to lose his way a bit, losing his width and length. Arnold took full advantage punishing Clyne at the front, as he moved ahead 9-5. Some great retrieving from Clyne seemed to contribute to a couple of unforced errors from Arnold, and Clyne closed the gap to 7-9. A tight forehand drop gave Arnold his first game ball, but he lobbed out to give Clyne another chance. A great rally with an array of attacks and gets from both players ended in an outrageous down call from the ref, who immediately apologised and asked the players to replay the point. Both expressed their frustration with this untimely error, but after little discussion decided to get on with it. A tight drop in the front left forced Clyne to lob out, and Arnold took the game 11-8 and he moved ahead 2-1.
Both players started the fourth attacking at every opportunity and quickly moved to 4-4. But a string of errors from Arnold’s racket handed Clyne a rather eventless fourth game 11-5.
In the fifth both players demonstrated their determination to win, as each played patient and careful squash. Arnold eventually moved ahead 4-2 with some punishing lengths off Clyne’s loose crosscourts. The next few rallies were brutal as neither player was willing to give an inch and retrieved everything thrown at them. Never more than a point between them, they slowly moved up to 8-8, with most points coming from unforced errors. The next rally was massive with Arnold moving the resilient Clyne around the court until he finally got a loose ball in the front right. But his drop caught the top of the tin and Clyne moved ahead 9-8. Nevertheless, Arnold bounced back, crushing a forehand volley into the nick, levelling again at 9-9. Another long rally, but Clyne’s counter-drop was beyond Arnold’s reach, giving Clyne his first match ball. Clyne hit a loose crosscourt that Arnold lined up for a straight kill, but to Clyne’s relief, he clipped the tin and put an end to the 84 minute encounter.
Andrew Mcdougal vs Eric Galvez
Both Mcdougal and Galvez started out at a fast pace, but Galvez found his length earlier as Mcdougal seemed to struggle with his timing. After a series of lets, both seemed content to play basic squash and took turns mixing winning drops with unforced errors as Galvez built a 9-7 lead. A loose ball from Galvez down the backhand wall won Mcdougal a stroke and he moved to 8-9. But two Galvez holds fooled Mcdougal and he finished the game 11-8.
Mcdougal came back refocused and stepped up the pace, and a string of errors from Galvez saw Mcdougal establish a quick 5-2 lead. Mcdougal’s steadiness seemed to frustrate Galvez as fell off the pace a bit, and Mcdougal moved to 8-4. But a couple of cross-court winners brought Galvez back to 6-8. The next rally was long as both players patiently exchanged lengths and straight drops trying to create an opening. Following a series of drops and counter drops, Mcdougal was able to get on one quick, and he crushed a crosscourt out of Galvez’ reach. Two more quick unforced errors seem to give Mcdougal the game, but the referee told them to replay the last point because they weren’t sure if the last ball was down. Nevertheless, Galvez’ counter attempt found the tin, and the match was tied at 1-1.
The third game got off to slow start as the early rallies were repeatedly replayed due to collisions at the front and in the mid-court. But Galvez’ increasingly aggressive play started to pay off, and he reeled off a string of winners to go up 7-3. Mcdougal hung in and made some great gets and counters to narrow the gap to 7-8, but another winner put Galvez up to 9-7. Then a Mcdougal mishit left him yelling in frustration and gave Galvez his first game ball. A no let moved Mcdougal to 8-10, and in the next rally he picked 3 balls out of the nick before he received a no let, and was forced to concede the game 11-8.
Galvez came out in the fourth looking more confident, pressuring Mcdougal with good, tight length and taking the ball short at every opportunity. The pressure appeared to take its toll on Mcdougal, and he wasn’t able to stop Galvez’ run to 10-2. A great counter gave Mcdougal another chance, but Galvez’ next drop-shot was too tight, and he closed out the game 11-3, and the match 3-1 in 68 minutes.
|1ST QUALIFYING MATCH WRITE-UPS BY RUNA RETA
Rafael Alarcon vs. Andrew Schnell
Though his Canadian compatriot couldn`t pull off an upset in the previous match, it was a good day for the ginger-haired Andrew Schnell, who beat Rafael Alarcon 3-1.
The first game started with both players firing away, trying to settle down on the bouncy court. The experienced Alarcon maintained a slight edge over young Canadian Andrew Schnell, closing out the first game 11-9, with not much between the two players. The fast and fit Canadian upped the tempo noticeably in the second game, which started to have its effect on the Brazilian mid-way through. The Canadian rattled off 5 points in a row to take the game 11-6. It was more of the same in the third, with Schnell taking the ball early and hitting a series of winners off of impressive dying length. Alarcon had no answer, and Schnell took the game in full control, 11-3. An Injury break was taken from Schnell in between games for bleeding, which threatened to pull him out of his groove, but he managed to keep close to Alarcon in the 4th, though not dictating with the same pace and authority as before. It was clear that the match`s outcome would depend on Schnell, as Alarcon was doing more or less of the same throughout. In the end, the Canadian did well to keep his composure after a streaky period of unforced errors mixed with all-out winners (including a successful cross-court nick attempt at 10-all). Schnell completed the upset by taking the match 12-10; an impressive performance for the up-and-coming Canadian, on his first year of the PSA tour.
David Phillips vs. Maxime Blouin
Two locals were facing off against one another, the in-form Phillips against the youthful Quebecois Maxim Blouin. Though Blouin is much improved, Phillips was comfortable throughout, dictating the pace with crisp shots and cutting winners; he took the first 11-3. In the second, a number of errors from Blouin added to his frustration and only made things easier for Phillips, who won the second 11-2, and 11-4 in the third, to take the match 3-0.
Maxym Leclair vs. Zac Alexander
Left-handed local Maxym Leclair had the odds stacked against him, as he was facing the confident Australian Zac Alexander, but the Canadian made the most of the opportunity by staying in the rallies, and surprising his opponent with a few early winners. But a cracking cross-court roller from the Australian at 8-4 reminded Leclair and the audience who was boss. He took the next 3 points to win the first comfortably 11-4. Alexander seemed like in a rush to get off court, and set a blistering pace in the second, to which Leclair could simply not contend; the second ended quickly, 11-1. Leclair was finally able to engage his opponent in some longer rallies in the third, getting to 4 points, partly due to some impatient errors by Alexander (who was still rushing and couldn`t seem bothered to even wait for the score to be called). The Australian ended the match on 3 dead nicks, taking the game 11-4, and the match 3-0.
Jan Koukal vs. Chris Gordon
The final match of the day promised to be a competitive one between the American Chris Gordon and Czech Jan Koukal who was encouraged by a very important friend in the stands this afternoon- Montreal Canadian`s star hockey player Thomas Plekanec. Despite the long rallies, Koukal took the first comfortably 11-3, mostly due to 5 unforced errors by Gordon. The lanky American returned in the second resolved to dig in and cut down the errors; he took the lead 5-3, and aided by poor length from the Czech, managed to stay ahead. But two errors allowed Koukal to equalize, and it was neck and neck from 7-all onwards. Two no-lets awarded against Koukal was enough to throw him off his concentration and help Gordon take the second 12-10. Gordon was looking the more assertive and positive of the two in the third, as Koukal`s head started to bow a bit, and a number of errors hurt him; Gordon took the third quickly, 11-7. Gordon raced out to a 5-1 lead in the fourth, playing patiently and hitting tight length, while Koukal didn`t seem willing to do anything other than follow Gordon`s straight-forward play, and hope for his opponent to crack. Gordon produced 4 errors in the second half of the game that didn`t help his cause, and allowed the rather flustered Czech to take the fourth 12-10. Koukal awoke somewhat from his slumber, and started hitting with more authority in the fifth, mixing in some boasts and straight drops from the back to take an 8-3 lead. Gordon clawed his way back with some great pick-ups, reaching 9-10, and then hitting a leaping forehand smash that levelled the game at 10-all. Though the American looked like he wanted it more and was ready to take the match, he ended with an error, and a stroke call against him that led to the angry flinging of the racquet, and a very lucky and narrow win for Koukal.