Rosner wins Richmond battle of the Giants

PSA World Series Davenport North American Open, Round TWO:

(1) Ramy Ashour (Egypt) beat Cameron Pilley (Australia) 11-8, 11-6, 12-10 (42 mins)
Simon Rosner (Germany) beat (8) Omar Mosaad (Egypt) 4-11, 11-8, 11-8, 9-11, 11-9 (82 mins)
(5) Karim Darwish (Egypt) beat Hisham Ashour (Egypt) 7-11, 11-5, 9-11, 11-8, 11-2 (45 mins)
(3) James Willstrop (England) beat Miguel Angel Rodriguez (Colombia) 11-7, 11-7, 11-1 (39 mins)
(4) Gregory Gaultier (France) beat Adrian Grant (England) 11-4, 11-4, 11-6 (40 mins)
(7) Amr Shabana (Egypt) beat Karim Abdel Gawad (Egypt)  11-9, 9-11, 11-3, 11-8 (51 mins)
(6) Peter Barker (England) beat Olli Tuominen (Finland) 11-4, 11-6, 9-11, 11-4 (55 mins)
(2) Nick Matthew (England) beat Tarek Momen (Egypt) 11-7, 11-8, 11-6 (44 mins)

Rosner to meet Ramy after winning battle of the giants

Alan Thatcher reports, photos by Dan Bogosh

SP3354German ace Simon Rosner meets top seed Ramy Ashour in the quarter-finals of the Davenport North American Open after winning a battle of the giants against No.8 seed Omar Mosaad.

With Rosner 6ft 3in tall, and Egyptian Mosaad an inch taller, there was little room to spare on court at the Westwood Club in Richmond, Virginia. Rosner produced a performance of enormous physical commitment and tactical intelligence to deliver the first major upset of this PSA World Series tournament.

With two such tall athletes, there were frequent collisions in mid-court caused by access problems to the ball, mainly on the left-hand wall. Mosaad used his powerful frame to good effect with a solid opening game but Rosner hit back to take the next two.

As the seven-time German national champion attempted to close in on the fourth, Mosaad finished strongly to take the match into a fifth game.

Rosner started strongly and kept in front all the way, fending off a desperate late revival by the Egyptian to book his place in tomorrow’s quarter-finals. Rosner’s tactics worked soundly. His straight lines were accurate, his crosscourts forced a heavily-built opponent to twist and turn, and his drop shots were effective.

The blockages and clashes caused a tension throughout the match, but the frown disappeared and a huge smile crossed his face as a delighted Rosner finally clinched victory after 82 minutes.

He said: “I lost to Omar in Mexico in November, and that finished 11-9 in the fifth, so I knew what to expect today. He’s a big guy to get round and there were a lot of traffic jams in the middle of the court.

“It’s always a good feeling to beat a seeded player and reach the quarter-finals of a tournament like this.”

He faces a tough assignment against Ashour, who was in mesmerizing form as he beat Australian Cameron Pilley.

Ashour won the match in straight games but Pilley had the opportunity to win the third when he held game ball at 10-8, but the Egyptian maestro finished strongly to take the match. Ashour produced moments of breathtaking genius from various parts of the court, but Pilley was equally impressive with some incredible pick-ups and stunning winners.

In the end, he will reflect on a few tins too many at crucial times.

A delighted Ashour said: “Even though this is my job, you can’t think like that. You have to love the game, and respect every part of it. I love coming here to Richmond and playing in front of this great crowd.”

Ashour’s right leg was encased in a surgical stocking but it did not seem to impair his phenomenal movement.

He said: “It’s just a precaution. No single player is ever 100 per cent fit. We all have little niggles and have to deal with a lot of small injuries all the time. That’s just part of the game and you have to deal with it.”

Ramy’s brother Hisham lost one of two all-Egyptian battles, going down to number five seed Karim Darwish.

In the other, it was a case of the sorcerer and the apprentice as 33-year-old Amr Shabana overcame Karim Abdel Gawad, a talented opponent 12 years his junior.

Matthew, James Willstrop and Gregory Gaultier all won in straight games ,with Willstrop particularly dominant as he crushed Colombian Miguel Rodriguez 11-1 in the third game.

Number six seed Peter Barker overcame battling Finn Olli Tuominen to set up a quarter-final clash with England team-mate Matthew.

Matthew overcame Tarek Momen, who been kept on court for almost an hour and a half the previous evening by American Chris Gordon.

Matthew said: “Chris and I share the same coach, David Pearson, and I discussed tactics with him when he was drawn against tarek. But it’s one thing to offer advice and another to follow it yourself.

“The scoreline doesn’t do Tarek justice. It was a very hard-fought match and it’s not easy to get a three-love against such a good player.

“I was pleased for Chris last night. I told him not be content with just qualifying for the main draw and he took it on board. With so many important tournaments in the States it’s good to see a US player contributing so much and engaging the crowd as he did last night. It’s certainly good for the game.”

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(2) Matthew v (6) Barker (8.30pm)

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