The World Open Squash 2011 started off at Victoria Squash in the Dutch City of Sport with a whimper as Italy’s Stephane Galifi became the first winner of the day when his Iraqi opponent failed to show up, and ended with a big upset as Dutch-based Aussie Steve Finitsis beat qualifying second seed Mark Krajcsak of Hungary in front of an appreciative audience on Victoria’s centre court.
“It’s a good win for me and good for my confidence,” said Finitsis, “I’ve been training hard but not playing many tournaments recently, maybe now it’s time to bite the bullet and go for some big ones.”
In between times it was primarily the expected players who triumphed, but on a day with 32 matches to be played there were bound to be a few upsets and they duly arrived.
Italy’s Amr Swelim – who only got the nod that he was in the draw yesterday – beat Kashif Shuja, although the Kiwi wasn’t at full fitness; England’s Eddie Charlton won three close games to oust American Chris Gordon; and Raphael Kandradelighted the German camp with a fine win over Hong Kong’s Leo Au.
“I thought I had a chance today, even if ranking wise, I was not meant to win this match,” admitted Charlton. “Happy with a 3/0 win, especially as I didn’t play as well as I have been, so, keeping fresh for tomorrow.”
Kandra was obviously pleased: “I played well, I was dominating the rallies, especially in the second game, and I could see he was not comfortable, he didn’t move as well as he normally does. I’ve been a pro for only a year, it takes time to get things in place, but I can feel that my game is getting better, week by week.”
There wasn’t much joy for the home fans who were out in force supporting the local players though, as all sixteen – ranging in age from 44 to 16 – failed to progress to tomorrow’s qualifying finals.
National coach Lucas Buit was one of the first casualties, although he made Hong Kong’s Dick Lau work hard for his three-game win;Stephen Cooke – originally English – took Germany’s Jens Schoor the distance; and Sebastiaan Weenink almost finished the night off nicely, but after coming from two game down against Malaysia’s Ivan Yuen his challenge tailed off in the fifth.
“It was a nice match, both first games were very close,” admitted Buit, who can now concentrate on his coaching duties. “Still from 2/0 down, it was just too hard. I think I deserved one game but I can’t complain, at 44.”
Men’s Qualifying Finals start at noon on Saturday, along with the women’s first qualifying round.