8:32 am
21 Jun 2024

Soares Makes Portuguese PSA History In Qatar

17 Oct 2021

Portugal's Rui Soares made history on day one of the 2021 Qatar QTerminals Classic when he became the first Portuguese player to win a match at a Platinum level event on the PSA World Tour.

The world No.68 took on Mexico's Arturo Salazar in his Qatar Classic debut, just two months after his first experience of a major tournament other than the PSA World Championship.

It was a back-and-forth encounter which saw both players take it in turns to rattle off points, but neither player truly enjoyed prolonged spells of superiority. Salazar, ranked 17 places above his opponent, went short often and did find some joy there but also found the tin regularly as Soares came back from 2/1 down to seal his place in the second round of a Platinum event for the first time.

Soares, who only entered the main draw on Thursday due to a withdrawal from England's Richie Fallows, will now take on New Zealand's world No.3 Paul Coll, the No.2 seed, in the second round.

"It's unbelievable to play this tournament in Qatar," said the Portuguese No.1.

"The organisation is unreal. I've heard a lot of good things, but it's great to be here to play this tournament. I was really nervous to start with, it's my first time on SQUASHTV, but I'm really happy to get that win.

"Once you start getting a couple of wins in a row you get more confidence and the wins start coming along one after the other. It's different coming to this kind of event after playing Challenger events, it's unbelievable.

"It's going to be a great experience for me to play him [Coll] on a glass court. I'm going to enjoy it the best I can and hopefully I won't be as nervous tomorrow. I'm really pleased to be in the second round and I'll just make the most of it."

Elsewhere, home hopes were dashed on the opening day at the Khalifa International Tennis & Squash Complex as Germany's Raphael Kandra and England's Declan James knocked the two Qatari players in the draw out of the Doha event.

With world No.35 Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi missing the event due to injury, the Qatari hopes lay on Syed Azlan Amjad and Abdulrahman Al-Malki, but neither were able to progress.

Amjad, the Qatari No.2, faced off against England's Declan James, with the world No.28 coming out on top in their first encounter on the PSA World Tour. The Englishman won 11-4, 11-5, 11-7 in 35 minutes to book his place in the last 32, where he will face Peru's Diego Elias.

"I've missed it so much not being able to play the last few events since the start of August for different reasons," said James in his post-match interview.

"I missed it so much, but it gave me a chance to go back and train for the last three months, work with my coach after the Manchester tournaments on what I needed to improve on. I've been watching these guys have been playing every week, so I'm glad to be back.

"It's always a great match against Diego. He's a fine player and world class and it's always played to a high level when we play and I'm just looking forward to getting a match of that quality. I'm desperate for these matches, to learn as much as I can. I'm here to push hard this week."

Germany's Raphael Kandra faced the other Qatari, defeating wildcard Abdulrahman Al-Malki in straight games to book his place in the second round. The German No.1 needed just 22 minutes to overcome the Qatari on home soil, winning 11-2, 11-7, 11-5.

"I'm very happy to reach the second round," said the German afterwards.

"Jetlag is getting tougher the older you get, but I had enough time between the US Open in Philadelphia to go back to Germany and then from Germany to here it's only a one hour time difference, so it's not a big deal. I'm just happy to be here competing again, the hospitality every year is fantastic and I'm lucky to play on a glass court from the first round. Tomorrow I will be back on the normal court but trying to stay in the tournament for as long as I can.

Kandra will now face India's Mahesh Mangaonkar in the last 32, after the Indian downed Scotland's Alan Clyne to secure his first ever match win at a Platinum level tournament.

Elsewhere on the opening day, there were a spate of five-game thrillers on the side courts, with the English pair of George Parker and Adrian Waller coming from two games down to defeat Spain's Bernat Jaume and England's Nathan Lake, respectively.