Czech mate as Koukal stops Corren in Canberra

Andrew Dent reports

Czech number one Jan Koukal ended Mike Corren’s bid for an unlikely second round berth at the HI-TEC Australian Open with a ruthless 11-5, 11-2, 11-4 first round win in Canberra on Monday, as Omar Mosaad showed that Ramy Ashour wasn’t the only Egyptian in with a chance of winning the title.

The 38-year-old Corren provided the good news story of the qualifying tournament when he beat players almost 20 years his junior to book his spot in the main draw.

But the world number 50 from Prague was in no mood for sentiment as he took advantage of Corren’s difficulties in adapting to the glass to wrap up the match in straight games.

Koukal dominated Corren with his speed around the court, his well-disguised drop shots regularly leaving the Australian stranded at the back.

“I felt heavy and he was bouncing around as light as a feather,” Corren said. “It’s been ages since I played on a glass court, it’s so different and my regular go to shots weren’t working at all.”

Koukal said he sensed early that Corren was off his game: “On this court you have to move well and I though Mike was struggling a little bit after the couple of matches he played in qualifying,” he said.

“I was up for it after two months of training and wanted to make sure I had a good beginning to each game to show him I was really up for it and it would be hard for him to come back. My movement is my strength and I used it to my benefit.”

In the last match of the night, Mosaad used his size and strength to see off a gallant Max Lee 11-2, 12-10, 11-4. After blitzing the first game, Mosaad had to push hard all the way to finally subdue Lee in 37 minutes in an ominous display.

Ryan Cuskelly became the first Australian through to the second round when he beat Malaysia’s Asyraf Azan 11-5, 11-9, 11-8 in an occasionally fractious encounter.

“I’ve known him since we were juniors so I knew what to expect,” Cuskelly said afterwards. “I was a bit rusty, I haven’t played for two months and it’s been a while since I played on a glass court.”

Earlier there was disappointment for the Australians when qualifier Justin Beard was bundled out by New Zealand’s Martin Knight.

Beard started nervously but came back into the match when he took the third game, only for Knight to assert control again and win 11-5, 11-9, 9-11, 11-4 to set up a second round clash with seventh seeded Scotsman Alan Clyne.

“It’s always a nervous one, the first hit-out on the glass, but I felt quite good starting off,” Knight said. “But then he recovered quite well and started to play some good squash in the next few games and I got a bit negative in the second and third games.

“After the first I probably tried to do a little too much and then tried to do not enough, I sort of got caught halfway between. If I do any of those shenanigans against Alan I’m going to be in a lot of trouble.”

Clyne earlier beat Siddarth Suchde from India 11-7, 11-5, 11-8 in a confidence-boosting opener to the tournament in which he was always in control.

“I’m trying to hopefully get through a few rounds so to spend as short a time on there as possible is what you want,” Clyne said. “I’m pleased it was three-love and I felt quite good out there. At the start of the game I wasn’t too sure of myself but once I got going and got the first game under my belt I felt more comfortable.

“The second game I was good from the start and then I slackened off a bit at the end of the third but overall I was happy.”

Third seeded Englishman Tom Richards survived a heavy collision with the side wall during his 11-7, 11-7 14-12 win over Malaysia’s Kamran Khan.

At 9-9 in the third, Richards was wrong-footed and dived into the wall, resulting in a three-minute injury break. But when he returned he was able to save game ball and eventually win a tense match in extra points.

“The tour is so strong now that there are really no easy matches at big tournaments,” he said. “I skipped the Olympics and spent some time in Malaysia so I could get my body used to the time zone.”

In other matches, Egyptian Amr Khaled Khalifa downed New Zealand qualifier Evan Williams 12-10, 11-5, 11-8 and Malaysia’s Ong Beng Hee beat fellow countryman Ivan Yuen 12-10, 11-8, 11-7.

Men’s Round One, bottom half:

[3] Tom Richards (Eng) bt Kamran Khan (Mad) 11-7, 11-7, 14-12 (59m)
Ryan Cuskelly (Aus) bt Muhd Asyraf Azan (Mas) 11-5, 11-9, 11-8 (50m)
[7] Alan Clyne (Sco) bt Siddarth Suchde (Ind) 11-7, 11-5, 11-8 (41m)
Martin Knight (Nzl) bt Justin Beard (Aus) 11-5, 11-9, 9-11, 11-4 (49m)
Amr Khaled Khalifa (Egy) bt Evan Williams (Nzl) 12-10, 11-5, 11-8 (33m)
[8] Ong Beng Hee (Mas) bt Ivan Yuen (Mas) 12-10, 11-8, 11-7 (47m)
Jan Koukal (Cze) bt Mike Corren (Aus) 11-5, 11-2 11-4 (27m)
[2] Omar Mosaad (Egy) bt Max Lee (Hkg) 11-2, 12-10, 11-4 (37m)

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