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15 Jul 2024

Colombian Rodriguez In Historic New York Breakthrough

20 Jan 2015

Miguel Angel Rodriguez, the 29-year-old world No.8 from Colombia, became the first ever South American squash player to reach the quarter-finals of a PSA World Series event after beating England's Peter Barker in a 120-minute epic at the J.P Morgan Tournament of Champions.

Two of the fittest and most fluid movers on tour, the duo served up a titanic battle of attrition at Grand Central Terminal in New York that was packed with lung-bursting rallies as they tried to break each other down. But it was Rodriguez, the highest-ranked South American player of all time, who managed to edge it, taking the match 11-6, 8-11, 11-13, 11-9, 11-7 and record his first ever win over the world No.6 from London.

"This is one of the best wins of my career so far because it is the first time I have beaten him and also the first time I've made it to the quarter-finals at one of the major events," said Rodriguez.

"I prepared very hard for the match and I'm delighted to win. I think I played very well - it was not an easy match because he is a very tough player."

After taking the opening game, which itself lasted 26 minutes, Rodriguez found himself 2/1 down after Barker closed out a gritty tie-breaker in the third. The Englishman appeared to have the ascendancy in the fourth game as he moved 9-7 ahead and within two points of the match.

But two consecutive errors gave the Colombian an opportunity and he pounced to keep the match alive and in the deciding game continued to set a relentless physical pace that 31-year-old Barker couldn't live with.

"I worked very hard on the physical side of the game last year, and I played a lot of events as well, so had a good rhythm and it has all paid off for me," said the Bogota star.

"I've started the year in the top ten and at my highest-ever ranking and I'm into the quarter-finals for the first time - so I already feel like this is definitely going to be my best year!"

In a mammoth day of Manhattan action there were also wins for German world No.10 Simon Rösner, French world No.2 Gregory Gaultier and England's world No.4 Nick Matthew - with Gaultier claiming the quickest win of the day with his 43-minute, 3/0 triumph over English qualifier Tom Richards.