2015 Men's World Championship Bellevue - Day THREE
 
Fram & Matthew starting at PRO Sports, Steve at Meydenbauer
 

Karim Ali Fathi (Egy) 3-1 [11] Peter Barker (Eng)    8-11, 11-7, 11-4, 12-10

FATHI'S BEST WIN

"That's the best win of my career," admitted Karim Ali Fathi after coming from a game down to knock out 11th seed Peter Barker.

The young Egyptian led most of the first before Barker rallied to take the lead, but Fathi took the next two game and came from 7-10 down in the fourth to create the upset.

"I'm not as happy as I could be, Peter's obviously been struggling with his movement and no-one likes to win like that, but I'll take it," said Fathi.

Omar Abdel Meguid (Egy) 3-0 Olli Tuominen (Fin) 11-3, 13-11, 11-8 (29m)

UP AND DOWNÖ

It was not one match that will stay in the history book. And yet, quite significantÖ The first game, quickly over, 7m, but in the first two games, far too many decisions, blocking, too many discussions, difficult for the refs to keep consistent and exactitude in their callsÖ Basically, what we do not want to see, reminded me the other match they played, it was the last time I was in HK, 2013, Olli took that on, 3/0Ö

And suddenly as by magic, the third was fluid, and great movement, and lovely rallies, and great shots. Even if the last call, a no let, seems a bit harshÖ

The third is the squash we want to see. Please.

"At the start, I wanted to play long rallies to try and tire him, but all my length just went in, and I didnít make any unforced errors in the first game, so it was over pretty quickly.

In the second, I played a couple of good length, but then my shots were or too high, or hitting the tin. I gave it a big push because I didnít want to lose that 2nd, it would have been a big difference to be 1/1 instead of 2/0Ö

I just want to play the best I can, but I had a couple of bad results lately, so Iím just happy to come through todayÖ"

Gaultier through in three

After a moment's reflection before the all-French match, third seed Gregory Gaultier, four times a world champs finalist, moved into round two with a straight game win over young compatriot Lucas Serme.

"It's a tough moment for Paris, for France, for the whole world," said Gaultier.

"I've been thinking about this a lot, and I'll be doing my best to make my country, my people proud."

Campbell Grayson (Nzl) 3-1 [Q] Carlos Cornes (Esp) 11-3, 11-6, 11-8 (39m)

Both players were happy playing a similar game -- medium paced, volleying short whenever possible -- so it was going to be a matter of who executed better. Grayson made fewer errors, and that was enough to keep him in the driver's seat for most of the match.

Cornes tried emulating his friend and mentor Borja Golan -- engaging the refs with a shout of "Come on, guys!" -- and he smelled a chance in the third at 5-6, but a tin and a tough no-let put Grayson back in command.

ďIím happy with my performance - I just wanted to be solid and make it tough for him. It was maybe a little scrappy at the end because I got a little tense, but Iím happy I got off in 3.

ďI knew heíd be a feisty character as a couple of the kiwi guys told me about him so I knew what to expect and tried not to get sucked into his style of game and Iím pleased I managed that.

I found my length early and was moving well. The court was a little dead, so it rewarded good shots. I tried to keep him stuck in the back, moved him around, and volleyed whenever I could. He was volleying effectively, so I did everything I could to keep the ball off his racquet.
This is the first time I've made it to the second round of the Worlds, so I'm happy about that. Looking forward to a rest day and then getting on the glass court.

ďBeing in second round and playing well here is really important for me. I feel like Iíve been stuck at the same ranking for a long time and matches like this at big tournament are huge. I need these experiences for my confidence and my ranking so Iíll be giving it everything."

Ali Farag (Egy) 3-0 Kristian Frost 11-6, 11-6, 11-3 (34m)

"I  was very nervous, very very very nervous, itís not a question of an opponent, itís a question of playing my first ever World Champs, and realising how BIG this tournament is for me. I never felt comfortable today. Now that the nerves are gone, maybe Iím going to enjoying it a bit moreÖ

"Last time was in India last year, I was 2/0 down and I won 3/2. And I learned a few things from that match. I know how strong he is around the middle, and on the forehand side, so I tried and take that away from him. I also tried to be more effective than last time. I have a tendency to just move my opponents around instead of killing the ball, so today, I just tried and played with more intend. And that made the difference.

Ali Farag

"Today, I got a lesson. I owe him $50."

Kristian Frost

Nicolas Mueller (Sui) 3-1 Harinder Pal Sandhu (Ind) 11-5, 2-11, 11-4, 11-9 (55m)

What a lovely match that was, how refreshing, so few decisions, so fast pace, and there is not one spider web anywhere the four corners really, I can tell you that!!! Itís all gone, itís all dusted, visited and cleaned!!!!

First game, lovely squash from the Swiss, but in the second, it was like ďI didnít know how to play squash at allĒ he said at the end. He was right there. Loose comes to mind, shots in the middle of the court, soft-ish, completely out of synch bless him. And that was probably a lot to do with Hariís superbly accurate, fast, inventive and varied squash out there!

Third, pride time for the Swiss, but still, 11 minutes of game for a 11/4, that tells you how hard they still had to workÖ

The fourth, absolutely superb squash from both, intense rallies, running, hitting, retrieving, not much between them to be honest, 1/1, 2/2, 3/3, 5/5, 6/6, 7/7. Hari seems to find a gap, 9/7, but Nicki grinding it back with several COME ON in German Ė donít ask me, no idea how you spell it. At 9/9, a little incident, Hari thinks a ball at the front is not up, refs undecided, just a little loss of concentration, and itís over after two great rallies, 11/9Ö Happy the Swiss was.

Hari was disappointed of course, but the work he is doing with Dave Palmer Ė who was here today and Iím speaking to him tomorrow morning, so watch this space Ė is working. His game has improved immensely. Itís just a bit of tuning and fine lines, and maybe just a bit of luck tooÖ

He played well, he played amazingly well actually.

First of all, let me tell you how HAPPY I am to win an PSA match!!! Itís my first win since February, and it feels bleeping good, not only to win, but also to move freely on my two legs, that didnít happen since February either!!

In the first I played immaculate squash, but in the second, it was a combination of him playing superbly, and me just chipping the ball up and down the court, without any kind of intention or presence! Glad I had Reiko to help me out, and give me good advice, that was good to have him in my corner.

The 4th, it just about grinding at the end, and Iím glad I managed to close a game out finally. Squash hasnít been that fun lately, so Iím just so glad I won, but he really played amazingÖ

[5] Miguel Rodriguez (Col) 3-0 [wc] Julian Illingworth (Usa) 11-7, 11-4 , 11-5

Rodriguez ends Julian's home tournament

"I was semi-retired before this, maybe I'll be fully retired now," quipped Julian Illingworth after the Seattle-based wildcard had lost out in three entertaining games to Colombian fifth seed Miguel Rodriguez.

"It was an amazing opportunity to play in a big event like this at home, especially against someone like Miguel who is a really exciting player, but he's difficult to play against!"

Rodriguez, who had the crowd ooh-ing and aah-ing as he does with some of his movement and shotmaking, was pleased to be through: "I was in Colombia yesterday playing in the Nationals, so 'm very happy to win in three today and I'm looking forward to a rest day before the next round.

Asked about his recent success, Rodriguez pinned it down to "Persistence, Discipline and Focus. It's been a good year for me, I've got two tournaments left so I hope I can do well in those and I'd love to be number one soon."
 

Tom Richards (Eng) 3-1 [Q] Laurens Jan Anjema (Ned) 12-10, 3-11, 11-8, 12-10

The court sounded like a firing range (in stark contrast to Willstrop and Coleman playing next door). Both were pounding hard length, without a lob in sight for most of the match. LJ was extremely focused and Tom a quarter-step slow in the second -- it looked like Anjema might seize control, but the game turned out to be an anomaly. Richards cut down on his errors, while Anjema found the tin at a few crucial moments, including a ball he called down on himself at 10-10 in the fourth.

I knew it was going to be a very tough match. He was probably one of the toughest possible qualifiers to draw. I have a lot of respect for him.

Weíve had some brutal matches in the past but we havenít played for a few years and we both know that about each other. We were willing to match strength against strength, and it really came down to fine margins. so I just tried to be disciplined and wait for the right opportunities.

It was mentally quite draining. Physically I feel good but mentally I had to stay strong in that match. I tried to keep mentally quiet. I opened up too much in the second, but otherwise I was able to remain disciplined and wait for opportunities -- even if it didn't always look like it!

My natural game is to open the court up and I knew if I did that Iíd lose so I knew I had to really work hard to avoid doing that and I feel quite drained now after.

[6] Simon Rosner (Ger) 3-0 [Q] Tsz Fung Yip (Hkg) 11-8, 11-8, 11-5 (35m)

Rosner relaxes in the end

German sixth seed Simon Rosner got his World Champs campaign off to a solid start with a straight-games win over qualifier Tsz Fung Yip. The Hong Kong's Tsz Fun Yip found Rosner's power a little too much to cope with, although it wasn't until the latter stages of the first two games that the big German managed to pull clear.

"I was a bit edgy at the start, having not played him before so I didn't know what to expect," said Rosner, "but I started to feel more and more comfortable as the match went on."

The third game, with Rosner in control from the start, backed up that view of proceedings.

James Willstrop (Eng) 3-0 [Q] Ben Colman (Eng) 11-9, 11-3, 11-6 (38m)

CAT AND MOUSE

Not sure Ben will like to be compare to a mouse, bless me, I could be in trouble here, but James played a superb match today, controlling his squash like very few people know how.

First game was pretty close, truly, and Ben moved extremely fast and well, retrieving everything that James was throwing at him, and thatís a lot. Hard work, truly hard work for Ben. Very few errors from either of them, and close all the way, it was great squash although Ben made sure the centre ref was aware he was not happy with most of his decisionsÖ At 9/9, itís anybodyís game, a superb rally, full blast, extremely fast pace, but itís two winners for the former world number 1, a straight kill and a backhand drop shot, 11/9

The third is a James masterclass. After a few errors from Gentleman James, we are at 3/3. A massive, absolutely massive rally, where Ben gives everything he has, and borrows the rest, to finally finish on the left side, on the floor, absolutely vanquished. Mentally, physically, James managed somehow to break the young talented and spirited contender who wonít score another point in the game, paying the enormous work he had to produce in the first gameÖ

The third is closer, and all credit to Ben, he comes back from 3/1 down, 3/3, 4/4. But the Cat & Mouse game continues from Jamesís racquet, and Ben just cannot put enough pressure on his opponent to prevent him from adjusting his winners both at the front and at the back. 11/6, in 38m. Stunning performance from James against a very dangerous player indeed.

Itís good to put together good spells. Itís good to dominate any player, it doesnít happen often, itís difficult to put 6, 7 points together, and when it happens like it happened from 3/3 in the 2nd game, itís some positive when you can produce something like that.

I cannot allow myself to be complaisant nowadays, Iím not the player I was at the moment, and I have to produce a lot of work to get back where I was, I have done that a few times recently, and I just cannot do that. So I know that I can lose to any player on PSL, at home, it can happen, and at fortiori here where the level of the player is so strong. And I think itís healthy to know that you can lose to anybody on your dayÖ

Fares Dessouki (Egy) 3-0 Nasir Iqbal (Pak) 11-7, 11-3, 11-7 (27m)

WHEN THE PARIS EVENTS HIT SEATTLE

Basically, poor Nasir couldnít really compete today. He arrived at 3.30, his 12.00 match having been postpones until 4. Went on court, did his best, butÖ what do you expect when you spent two days and a half travelling and no sleep, and no luggageÖ

I was stuck in Paris, my flight got cancelled. I left Pakistan on the 13th in the morning, and I only arrive an hour ago, with no bag, my bag is still in Paris, I had to borrow shoes, racquet and clothes.

I did my best, but I didnít manage to sleep for two nights and didnít eat any kind of healthy food, so against Fares, it was just not good enoughÖ

Nasir Iqbal

[Q] Todd Harrity (Usa) 3-2 Alan Clyne (Sco) 11-8, 2-11, 11-6, 6-11, 11-3 (63m)

Todd keeps U.S. flag flying

It felt like this was Harrity's match to win or lose. You knew what you were getting with Clyne: a lot of consistent, conservative length. He was conservative at the front of the court too, feathering drops three or four inches above the tin and challenging Harrity to do something with them. More often than not he was up to the challenge.

He won a brutal rally at 4-4 in the third that was decisive in his winning that game, and he then jumped out to a lead in the fourth, but Clyne reeled him in. In the fifth Harrity built another early lead, but this time he was able to maintain it, winning a pair of tense drop exchanges at the end to take the match.

Weíve played a few times and Iíve never beaten him. Close match but I think the pressure was on him and he was feeling it and I was happy I managed to stay relaxed at the key stages

I was taking it one match at a time and I was happy to get through qualifying. There was no expectation on me and I felt relaxed and free and I was pleased with how I played with staying in rallies and not trying to go for shots to easy.

Weíve not had a top US player or a big force on tour so Iím just plugging away and trying to improve all the time and hopefully that person can be me.

I really wanted just to stay close to him, and I felt like when things were close he was tight and I was loose. He puts on a lot of pressure at the back of the court. He's so strong, it's like playing a machine. I knew I wasn't going to beat him physically. I had to win by being clever.

This is my biggest win so far. It feels great.

[16] Saurav Ghosal (Ind) 3-1 Ryan Cuskelly (Aus) 7-11, 11-8, 11-7 , 11-3 (62m)

Saurav Tames RyanÖ

A very good crowd today for the first day on the glass court, and a big support from the Indian I have to say. And they were truly pleased with their championís performance today. Ryan WR 20, his best ever ranking, had a superb first game, nickrolled a few to be fair, but from that point on, Saurav, WR 17, seemed to find a way to grind the Australianís resistance.

He managed to play as he said himself following ďthe James Willstrop School of ThoughtsĒ which is as I explained earlier, you transform your opponent in a mouse, and you stroll him around the four corners. You have got to be ready to run a heck of a lot to do so, but if you manage, you are getting the dividends at the end of the match.

And thatís exactly what happened. I feel that the last two weeks maybe finally took their toll on Ryanís leg in that 4th, he just kept going on fumes, up to the last points and truly deserves the applauds he got at the end. But today was Sauravís day.

Ryan just had two unbelievable weeks, winning a 35K in Halifax, then reaching the semis in Qatar, he is playing incredibly well, he is full of confidence, and it showed in the first game. Iím sure the crowd enjoyed it, I certainly did notÖ

But I stuck to what I wanted to do Ė he is so skilful with a racquet in particular in the mid section of the court, so I just kept sending him to the four corners Ė and worked the ball to the front and to the back. I had to play extremely well today to beat him, and as he is playing top 10 I feel at the moment, I take a lot of satisfaction from that victory today.

He is one of the toughest first round I could have had, I guess Ramy/Mazen is very hard as well, for both of them. But itís out of our control, so we just try and keep our head down, and just deal with the cards we are given on the day.

We sometimes donít appreciate enough how great it is to have the support of people, and of course squash is our livelihood, itís money, but there is nothing more rewarding than playing in front of a loving crowd, for people that can identify with you in a way. Itís a big privilege we sometimes take for granted, itís very humbling, and I hope I can feel and live for a few more years to come.

[13] Max Lee (Hkg) 3-0 Greg Lobban (Sco) 11-7, 11-8, 11-5 (50m)

We have played three tournaments in a row first round, US, Qatar and here; First time, he beat me 3/2, in Qatar, it was very important I won, that gave me a lot of confidence.

My country is a very small country, and I am very proud to represent it here in one of the major tournaments of the Tour. They are a lot of kids coming up at the moment, and hopefully, thanks to players like Leo, Yip and myself, they have a target. I remember that when I was young, I used to look at the players who came to play the Hong Kong Open, and I was there, laying on the floor, and watching them play, hoping one day to be one of them.

There is a bit of Jetlagg from HK, 6pm itís 10am, itís ok, Iím used to train at that time, so my body is ok. In the third, I got a bit distracted, there were a lot of stoppages, lets, cleaning the court, video reviews, I lost a bit of focus..

He is so strong, he picks up everything and his backhand counter drop is just very good. Overall, Iím happy with my game, I kept my length Ė that the one thing I focus on, I cannot think about 5 or 6 things at the same time!

I trained hard all summer, Iím really happy with the way I played I just hope I can keep playing well for the rest of this tournament which is one of my most important goals this year.

[9] Mathieu Castagnet (Fra) 3-0 [Q] Peter Creed (Wal) 11-3, 11-5, 11-3 (32m)

I just enjoy watching Peter Creed so much. He is full of energy, full of life, such a fair player and fun to watch. He moves fast, he moves well, and finds some great angles/dives.

But today, on the glasscourt, he was not as comfortable he can be on a traditional court. He was as fast as he normally is, but just a bit too late on the ball to be able to put Mathieu under pressure on a consistent basis. Still, he did at times, and that offered us some lovely rallies indeed!
Itís typically that kind of match where the score doesnít tell the whole story, just the 11/3 games were 8m, that means they had to produce some work out thereÖ

A fair battle, Mathieu managing to overpower the MiniWelshRunner, holding the ball well, and putting a lot of power in his crosscourtsÖ

Iím really happy to take that match, there is a bit of a time difference in France, 8 hours, so back home itís now 5am, and itís important to prepare the body and manage the preparation well.

He is such a good player, but he is maybe not that used to play on the glass court, or on such a event, in such a setting, with a big crowd. I wasnít a good player on the glass court, I have learned to get used to it. So maybe he lacked a bit of accuracy at time, that really helped me control the rallies.
 
I have only be top 10 for three months, and that was big for me I was not expecting or expected to reach such a target and now that Iím there, you have all those hungry young players that want to push me out of the top 10. But Iím here to stayÖ.

Beating me on this one will take some work because Iím going to fight with everything I have. I am beyond sadness, I have a broken heart, all the sadness in the world for what just happened in my country.

I am so privileged, I am aware of it, I have a nice life, a nice job, my girlfriend Iím really happy with and close to, and there are so many people that are in extreme distress at the moment. I am here to represent my country the best I can, thatís all I can do, but thatís something I can do.

[1] Mohamed Elshorbagy (Egy) v Alfredo Avila (Mex) 11-4, 11-9, 11-7 (31m)

This is the second time I played Mohamed, the first time was in Mexico last year, and he beat me like today, 3/0. But Iím really happy with the way I played today, I have been working on changing my game, because I was just playing loooong games, and I didnít like that.

So I am now playing a much more aggressive squash, I attack more. OK, maybe it was a bit too hard to do that against him, I lacked patience at times, I attacked too much, and the wrong shot. But Iím still happy with the way I played, and he played great squash!

You know, itís true I have lost two world champs finals, and it was heartbreaking for me. Yes, losing last year was tough but everything has made me the player I am today. I struggled a little bit after last year but I was able to come back with a Tournament of Champions win and the British Open. It was a test of character and to get back here the year after is tough and there are bad memories but Iím trying to put that behind me now and hopefully I will be able to play well this week.

I have won pretty much everything and I have only this one left to win, and Iím only 24-years-old so itís not too bad!!! If I donít get it this year I still have so many years to come but of course I really want to win this oneÖ.

Itís the first time ever that the World Championship is in the United States. Itís great, the tournament has been set up perfectly for the players and Iím really looking forward to playing well here this week in Seattle for sure.

Winning in Qatar last week was a confidence boost. I felt great today. I thought Alfredo played very well and we kept pushing each other hard. It was a good first round, itís good to have a rest day tomorrow and get ready for another late match the day after.

The first time I ever went to the World Championship was in 2006, Shabana was World No.1 and I was just 15-years-old. He has always been a hero for everyone. I remember when I was 17, just before the World Juniors I went to Cairo to train there and he has given me so much advice. Iím very glad to have him here in Seattle and hopefully he will be a great help this week.

Of course it is an advantage having Shabana in my corner. He has so much experience, although he doesnít have much experience of losing finals at the World Champs!!!! He played four World finals and lost only one game in those finals so itís not too badÖ

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