Late night in Toluca

Late night for qualifying finals

It was a late night in Mexico as the last of the four men’s qualifying finals took to court after midnight.

Finland’s Olli Tuominen beat Frenchman Grégoire Marche in the first match, but marathon wins for Chris Simpson and Marwan El Shorbagy meant that Saurav Ghosal completed the main draw lineup well into Friday.

It was a Mexican clean sweep in the women’s qualifying finals, but the main draw placement and the first round have been delayed by a day to allow players time to hopefully get over their travel troubles.

Arthur Curran reports

Just two ladies matches in the final qualifying round here at the Squash Club in Zinacantapec, both matches being all-Mexican affairs.

Graciela Lopez Perez (MEX) beat Maria Fernandez Rivera (MEX) 11/7, 11/2, 11/5. 12 mins.

First up was Graciela Lopez, much more experienced than her young opponent Maria Fernanda Rivera, and that experience was very much on show as she cruise through to take the match 3 – 0 in just 12 minutes.

Diana Elisa Garcia (MEX) beat Karina Heredia (MEX) 11/6, 11/2, 11/13, 11/6. 26 mins.

Up next were two rather experienced Mexican ladies, but Diana showed the more experience and composure to take the first two games 11/6 and 11/2, and then took a 5/2 and a 7/4 lead into the third. Karina then started to fight back strongly and pulled her way into the game to get to 8/10 match ball against, but she managed to save that and level up, got her first game ball at 11/10, Diana saved that one but then Karina served out to take the game 13/11 and stay in the match. Unfortunately Karina could not keep up with her opponent as Diana moved stealthily forward to take the fourth game 11/6 and the match 3 – 1.

We then all moved down into Toluca Centre to the Glass Court for the last matches in the qualifying rounds. Starting at 6.00 pm local time the matches just flowed one into another and it was well past midnight before everybody got away from the freezing courtside at the end of the day.

Olli Tuominen (FIN) beat Gregoire Marche (FRA) 11/7, 6/11, 11/4, 11/9. 53 mins.

Olli started this first game getting on top at 7/4, but then was stopped by a blood injury break to attend to Greg’s right thumb which he had caught on the floor, and it was 12 minutes before play was restarted. Olli managed to stay on top after the break to take the game 11/7. Olli took an early lead of 5/1 in the second, but then in only two hands, allowing Olli only one more point Greg soared through the points to take the game 11/6. The third game was mainly one way traffic as Olli came through to take the game 11/4, despite a brave fight by Greg. Olli took an early lead again the in the fourth at 6/2, but Greg was not giving up and slowly moved the score up to 9/9, however then Olli served out to take the game 11/9and the match 3 – 1. Olli now plays Nicolas Mueller in the main draw.

Chris Simpson (ENG) beat Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) 13/11, 9/11, 11/6, 10/12, 12/10. 88 mins.

Most people in the crowd expected this match to be a very close, tight battle, which is what it turned out to be. Chris took the early initiative to lead 5/2 and 7/4, but Ryan pulled out to lead 8/7, Chris took Back the lead at 9/8, Ryan got game ball at 10/9, Chris levelled at 10/10 and again at 11/11, then served out to take the game 13/11. Despite Chris taking an early lead again at 5/2, Ryan put in some excellent play to slowly move into the lead at 9/7 then took the game 11/9. Chris came back fighting strongly to take an early lead again at 4/2 and then kept ahead of Ryan to take the game 11/6.  In the fourth Chris again took an early lead of 6/4 but Ryan was not be outdone and got slowly back into the match to level at 9/9 and get game ball at 10/9. Although Chris saved the one point he could not stop Ryan taking the next two to win the game12/10 and take the match into a decider. Both players were really giving their all in this match and started to get a little upset at some contentious refereeing decisions. Chris took the lead 4/2, Ryan then stormed through to lead 8/4, nearly there, but Chris came back to level at 9/9 and got the first match ball at 10/9, Ryan levelled at 10/10 but was rather angry at the no let call which gave Chris the game 12/10 and the match 3 – 2 after an enormous 88 minutes of great squash. Chris now meets Simon Rosner in the main  draw.

Montserrat Castellanos (MEX) beat Ivonne Diaz (MEX) 2/11, 11/4, 11/6, 12/10. 30mins.

Next up was what we hoped to be a more sedate match between two young Mexican ladies. Young Montse seemed completely overwhelmed in the first game as the older Ivonne took the game comfortably in just two hands at 11/2. However Montse then started playing some beautiful shots into the back corners leaving her opponent stranded, and went on to take the second game comfortably at 11/4 – what a great comeback. Montse then continued that comeback as from 4/6 down she soared through the next hand to take the game 11/6. Montse started well again in the fourth to lead 6/2, however Ivonne showed a great fighting spirit to take the lead at 8/7, Montse got match ball at 10/8, Ivonne levelled but could not stop Montse from serving out to take the game 12/10 and the match 3 – 0. A great comeback after the first game.

Marwan El Shorbagy (EGY) beat Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) 8/11, 11/8, 11/9, 4/11, 11/6. 68 mins.

With the night getting much later than the schedule and the weather getting much colder we were now in for another marathon. Mathieu got the edge in the first game but Marwan took the edge in the second with the first going to Mathieu 11/8, and the second to Marwan with the same score. Very close game in the third with both players fighting eagerly to get the upper hand, and Mathieu  may have thought he had it at 9/8 but Marwan served out to take it 11/9. Marwan seemed a little out of sorts in the fourth as after leading 4/2 Mathieu stormed back to take the game 11/4 and the match into a decider. Mathieu took an early lead 5/2 in the final game but Marwan was not giving up as he fought back to lead 9/5, then finished off the game well at 11/6 to take the match 3 – 0. Marwan now plays Peter Barker in the main draw.

Karla Urrutia (MEX) beat Hollie Naughton (CAN) 11/7, 12/10, 11/8. 23 mins.

And so we came to the final women’s match which saw the only non –Mexican player in the qualifiers. This was a good tight match all the way through with Hollie showing a great fighting spirit, despite the quite large rooting for Mexico’s next upcoming princess of squash Karla, still only a junior but now second only to the lovely Samantha Teran in Mexican Women’s squash. Karla had the lead all the way through the first game and took it 11/7. The second game was even tighter as Hollie got to a lead of 7/6, Karla took the initiative to get to game ball at 10/7, Hollie levelled at 10/10 but then was not strong enough to stop Karla taking the game 12/10. Karla took the early lead in the third as she went to 7/4 and although Hollie fought back hard, including saving two match balls, she could not stop Karla finishing off at 11/8 to take the match 3 – 0.

Suarav Ghosal (IND) beat Omar Abdel Aziz (EGY) 11/5, 11/2, 11/7. 37 mins.

As this final match started at approaching midnight on a freezing evening the crowd was hoping for a rather quicker finish than some of the other matches and thankfully for most people, excepting possibly Omar, Suarav certainly made sure of a quick match as he soared through the first two matches in his usual smooth unflustered style to take them 11/5 and 11/2. Although Omar put a little pressure on in the third it was still not enough to stop Saurav taking the game 11/7 and the match 3 – 0. Saurav now plays Gregory Gaultier in the main draw.

Well that was the end of the second day’s play in the qualifiers, and after a long hard day out in the freezing cold we were all able to get back to our hotels at well gone midnight.

Tomorrow brings only the first round matches in the Men’s Tournament, as the Women’s tournament has been put back to a Friday morning start.

Arthur Curran

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