Qualifiers From Seven Countries Head For Grand Central Terminal
10 Jan 2008
Players from seven countries survived the qualifying finals of the Bear Stearns Tournament of Champions at the New York Athletic Club to earn places in the main draw of the established PSA Super Series squash event at Grand Central Terminal in New York.
Youth prevailed in one of the most hotly-contested matches as 19-year-old Khawaja Adil Maqbool staved off four match balls en-route to defeating 34-year-old Englishman Clive Leach (the assistant pro at the New York Athletic Club) in five games. On an unseasonably warm winter day which made the courts unusually hot, and facing an opponent with a home court advantage, the Dubai-based teenager kept his cool to eke out a 5-11, 11-8, 9-11, 11-8, 11-10 (3-1) victory in 66 minutes.
Leach, who had to start the fourth game with a conduct stroke against him for failing to return to the court on time, won the game to even the match at two-all. The veteran looked on course to make it into the main draw when he carved out a 10-7 lead in the deciding game - but his young opponent proved fearless and tied the score. Leach had one more match ball, but the Pakistani reeled off the next three points to earn his first trip to the glass court in Grand Central Terminal.
"He was getting to all my winners," commented Zambian Patrick Chifunda wryly after losing his 69-minute battle with former Trinity College player Bernardo Samper, who drew his Colombian countryman Miguel Angel Rodriguez in the main draw.
Mohd Ali Anwar Reda became the seventh Egyptian in the main draw when he survived the longest match of the day and defeated Badr Abdel Aziz of Sweden in five games after being on court for 74 minutes. In another five-game match, India's Ritwik Bhattacharya dashed the hopes of young American Gilly Lane and will play US-based seventh seed John White, of Scotland, on Friday evening.
The withdrawal of Egypt's world No1 Amr Shabana from the event (suffering with acute tendonitis in his wrist) has led to compatriot Ramy Ashour being elevated to top seed. The 20-year-old world No2 from Cairo is making his PSA Tour comeback after sustaining a foot injury in November. England's US Open champion Nick Matthew is also a last-minute casualty. The world No5 from Sheffield is undergoing treatment for a ligament tear in his right shoulder.
John Rooney (IRL) bt Scott Arnold (AUS) 11-9, 11-5, 11-4 (60m)
Amr Mansi (EGY) bt Joshua Greenfield (NZL) 11-4, 11-5, 11-5 (36m)
Bernardo Samper (COL) bt Patrick Chifunda (ZAM) 11-9, 11-8, 9-11, 11-10 (4-2) (69m)
Khawaja Adil Maqbool (PAK) bt Clive Leach (ENG) 5-11, 11-8, 9-11, 11-8, 11-10 (3-1) (66m)
Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) bt Ahmed Maged Hamza (EGY) 11-7, 11-2, 11-6 (44m)
Ritwik Bhattacharya (IND) bt Gilly Lane (USA) 5-11, 11-3, 11-7, 8-11, 11-5 (59m)
Regardt Schonborn (RSA) bt David Phillips (CAN) 5-11, 11-9, 11-10 (3-1), 11-7 (38m)
Mohd Ali Anwar Reda (EGY) bt Badr Abdel Aziz (SWE) 8-11, 9-11, 11-6, 11-5, 11-5 (74m)