10:48 pm
25 May 2024

Kiwi Hope KO'd As Baillargeon Makes NZ Open L16

8 Nov 2022

Canada's David Baillargeon ended the hopes of home player Lwamba Chileshe as the men's Robertson Lodges New Zealand Open and the women's Barfoot & Thompson New Zealand Open got underway today at the Trustpower Baypark Arena in the New Zealand city of Tauranga.

Chileshe was the only Kiwi in action today - his compatriot Kaitlyn Watts received a walkover due to an injury to Scotland's Lisa Aitken - but the world No.97 fell victim to a clinical performance from world No.69 Baillargeon, who completed an 11-7, 11-4, 8-11, 11-1 victory to reach the second round of a PSA World Tour Silver event for the first time.

"I took my foot off the pedal in the third," said Baillargeon, who will take on No.4 seed Miguel Rodriguez in the next round.

"I was up 4-1 or 4-2 and then I relaxed and he got the lead and kept it until the end. You can't do that at this level, I've got to learn from that.

"I'm looking forward to playing Miguel, I'll do a cool down and stretch tonight, then I'll be back at it tomorrow. It will be the first time I've played him and it should be a good battle. It's going to be my sixth match in seven days on this court. I like it, sometimes it goes my way, sometimes it doesn't, so hopefully it will go my way tomorrow."

Elsewhere, Scotland's Greg Lobban has also booked his spot in the last 16 courtesy of an 11-6, 11-7, 11-6 victory over world No.81 Rex Hedrick, the Australian who was playing his first PSA event outside of his home country since September 2019.

Lobban will now face world No.31 Adrian Waller, just two weeks after beating the Englishman in the semi-finals of the Australian Open.

"Rex is a great player," said Lobban. "He's a former top 50 and you know you have to beat Rex, he is never going to beat himself.

"You know what standard he is going to bring, and I needed to make sure I was up for that match because I know he has been getting into the habit of winning these Challenger 5s and 10s in Australia and New Zealand. He is a hard man to beat and I am glad to get through today."

There were also wins for the likes of USA's Timothy Brownell - who beat fellow American Christopher Gordon to set up a second round clash with home favourite and top seed Paul Coll - and England's Charlie Lee, who dispatched Malaysia's Addeen Idrakie to ensure he will compete with No.2 seed Mohamed ElShorbagy in the next round.

In the women's event, 18-year-old Egyptian Malak Khafagy scored the biggest upset of the day as she conjured up a surprise victory over England's world No.26 Jasmine Hutton over at the Devoy Squash & Fitness Centre, which is hosting some of the matches across the first two days of the event.

At 70 minutes, the match was the longest fixture of day one and went deep into a fifth-game tie-break. Both women saved multiple match balls, and it was world No.93 Khafagy who held her nerve to claim the biggest win of her career.

"I was so nervous, I didn't imagine I could win but I am so happy to get the win," Khafagy said.

"I have had a tough time with tie-breaks and being 10-8 up, it is my fear. I am so glad I won the last game. She is so good. I am so over the moon right now. I don't know what to say, I was shaking after the match, I am so happy."

Khafagy will go up against No.7 seed Hollie Naughton for a place in the quarter-finals. Back at the Trustpower Arena, Australia's Jessica Turnbull earned a second round berth after coming back from a game down to beat 9/16 seed Salma Eltayeb.

Turnbull's reward is a fixture against top seed and world No.5 Joelle King. The pair met in the Nations Cup last week, and Turnbull is looking forward to testing herself against the crowd favourite once again.

"Playing Joelle last week was a great experience, she's a world-class player and I love the way she plays," Turnbull said.

"She's another tall girl, so it's lovely to see and learn from someone like her. Unfortunately, I didn't pick up too much that would help me beat her, but I'm so excited to get on court with her again and to make the second round of my first ever Silver event."