Pilley wins shoot-out as Ashour sails on in Canberra

Andrew Dent reports

Big-hitting Cameron Pilley booked a place in the HI-TEC Australian Open quarter-finals when he beat fellow Australian Zac Alexander in a thrilling second round match in Canberra on Thursday.

Pilley was forced to call on all his experience to see off Alexander, who attacked at every chance he got to take the game right up to his older rival.

Despite having his nose in front for much of the contest, Pilley was never able to relax as he battled to an 11-6, 9-11, 11-9, 7-11, 11-3 victory and a quarter-final against Egyptian Omar Abdel Aziz.

The two Australians thrilled the crowd with their brilliant attacking play, with the match at times turning into a virtual shoot-out as the pair blazed away hitting winners from all over the court.

However, Pilley’s greater experience told in the fifth as he took advantage of some errors from Alexander to skip away with the match.

“I put on a few points at the end and ran away with it, but it wasn’t as easy as that,” Pilley said. “I started well and played really well with good length to the back of the court, but as soon as I dropped short after that, because he had nothing to lose he just went for it.

“In the fifth game I got back to doing what I did in the first, and it was only in the fifth game that he started making errors when I put a bit more pressure on him.

“But it was a bit of a shoot-out.”

Aziz reached the quarter-finals with a tough 11-3, 11-9, 7-11, 11-6 win over eighth seeded Malaysian Nafiizwan Adnan.

The two players were evenly matched throughout with Aziz managing to win the points at crucial times.

He said coming from a long way down to win the second game was a key moment in the match.

“When I was down 9-5 I told myself that if I could stay in there and win the game then I was 75 per cent on the way to winning the match,” he said “So I pushed really hard at that point.”

Defending champion Ramy Ashour stayed on track for a possible semi-final with Pilley when he cruised past Englishman Olivier Pett 11-7, 11-5, 11-7.

Pett tried hard but couldn’t’ cope with the skills of the Egyptian maestro, who took just 26 minutes to reach the final eight. Ashour said he was pleased with his form this early in the tournament:

“Sometimes you are a bit shaky at the start of the week, but I am getting more confident as I go along.”

Ashour will take on Swiss number one Nicolas Mueller in the quarters after the sixth seed recovered from a poor start to beat Hong Kong’s Leo Au 4-11, 11-4, 11-2, 11-2.

Men’s Round Two (top half):

[1] Ramy Ashour (Egy) bt Olivier Pett (Eng)  11/7, 11/5, 11/7 (26m)
[6] Nicolas Mueller (Sui) bt Leo Au (Hkg)  4/11, 11/4, 11/2, 11/2 (34m)
Omar Abdel Aziz (Egy) bt  [8] Nafiizwan Adnan (Mas)  11/3, 11/9, 7/11, 11/6 (63m)
[3] Cameron Pilley (Aus) bt Zac Alexander (Aus) 11/6, 9/11, 11/9, 7/11, 11/3 (62m)

Full SquashSite Coverage |  OzOpenSquash.com

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