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Pittsburgh Open 2014
29 Jan - 03-Feb, Pittsburgh, Usa, $25k

03-Feb, Final:

[2] Karim Abdel Gawad
3-1 [1] Alister Walker
           5/11, 11/7, 11/4, 13/11 (82m)

Gawad dethrones Walker in Pittsburgh final
Steven Baicker-McKee

The final match of the 2014 edition of the Pittsburgh Open was spectacular — perhaps the best match we have had in recent years. The crowd literally gasped and oohed and aahed repeatedly.

Karim Abdel Gawad came out a little tight in the first game, and gave top seed and defending champion Alister Walker 5-1 and 7-2 leads by hitting tins. Gawad seemed to relax, and the points got better, but Walker closed out the game comfortably.

In game 2, Gawad jumped out to an early 5-0 lead, but Walker worked his way back to 7 all by cutting everything off and sending Gawad to the back corners. At 7 all, both players seemed to really bear down, and the play was marked by a flurry of lets. Gawad managed to score the remaining points though, to capture game 2 11-7.

Buoyed by that success, Gawad came out firing in game 3, hitting nick after nick and went up 8-0. Walker wanted to regain some momentum, though, and resisted the temptation to give up on the game. The lead was too great, however, and Walker won game 3 11-4.

Game 4 was the real battle, as both players knew the championship was on the line. The game went back and forth, with neither player managing to get ahead by more than two points. Gawad got the first game (and match) ball at 10-9, but took a high backhand into the top of the tin. Walker then scored two straight to go up 11-10, but Gawad took a backhand short into the front left corner, and earned a no-let call.

The players then competed fiercely for court space, with a series of lets the result, but Gawad finally closed out the match 13-11 to add his name to Waker’s on the tournament trophy.

Pittsburgh Open 2014
29 Jan - 03-Feb, Pittsburgh, Usa, $25k
Round One
31 Jan
01 Feb
02 Feb
03 Feb
[1] Alister Walker (Bot)
11-0, 11-2, 11-4 (27m)
[Q] Vinicius Rodrigues (Bra)
[1] Alister Walker
11-9, 11-3, 15-13 (45m)
 Muhd Asyraf Azan
[1] Alister Walker

 11-6, 6-11, 11-7,
11-8 (69m)

[4] Olli Tuominen

[1] Alister Walker


5/11, 11/7, 11/4, 13/11 (82m)


[2] Karim Abdel Gawad

[7] Henrik Mustonen (Fin)
13-11, 6-11, 11-2, 6-11, 11-6 (44m)
Muhd Asyraf Azan (Mas)
[8] Cesar Salazar (Mex)
 11-4, 12-10, 11-9 (50m)
Chris Gordon (Usa)
[8] Cesar Salazar
8-11, 11-6, 11-4, 11-7 (42m)
[4] Olli Tuominen
[4] Olli Tuominen (Fin)
11-5, 9-11, 11-3, 11-5 (50m)
Joel Hinds (Eng)
[Q] Yasir Butt (Pak)
11-6, 11-8, 5-1 rtd
[3] Nicolas Mueller (Sui)
[3] Nicolas Mueller
11-9, 11-4, 11-7 (40m)
  [6] Nafiizwan Adnan
[3] Nicolas Mueller

 7-11, 9-11, 11-6, 8-11 (53 m)

[2] Karim Abdel Gawad

[LL] Baba Tunde Ajaqbe (Ngr)
11-5, 11-2, 11-8 (30m)
[6] Nafiizwan Adnan (Mas)
[Q] Farhan Zaman (Pak)
 9-11, 14-16, 11-5, 11-8, 11-4 (72m)
[5] Ryan Cuskelly (Aus)
[5] Ryan Cuskelly
11-9, 11-3, 11-9 (44m)
[2] Karim Abdel Gawad
[Q] Syed Ali Bokhari (Pak)
 8-11, 11-6, 11-6, 12-10 (48m)
[2] Karim Abdel Gawad (Egy)
30-Jan, Qualifying Finals:

Syed Ali Bokhari (Pak) 3-0 Adrian Leanza (Usa)                11/7, 11/5, 11/8 (27m)
Vinicius Rodrigues (Bra) 3-0 Joe Chapman (Bvi)               11/5, 11/9, 11/8 (38m)
Yasir Butt (Pak) 3-0 Fred Reid (Can)                                11/6, 11/8, 12/10 (30m)
Farhan Zaman (Pak) 3-0 Baba Tunde Ajagbe (Ngr)            11/4, 11/4, 11/9 (21m)

29-Jan, Qualifying Round One:

Syed Ali Bokhari (Pak) 3-0 Steve Baicker-McKee (Usa)      11/8, 11/5, 11/3 (18m)
Adrian Leanza (Usa) 3-0 David Linz (Usa)                         11/4, 11/2, 11/2 (18m)
Vinicius Rodrigues (Bra) 3-0 Tom Arbogast (Usa)              11/3, 11/3, 11/3 (20m)
Joe Chapman (Bvi) 3-0  George Satler (Usa)                    11/4, 11/4, 11/9 (21m)
Yasir Butt (Pak)       bye
Fred Reid (Can) 3-0 Alex Reynolds (Usa)                         11/5, 11/0, 11/7 (19m)
Baba Tunde Ajagbe (Ngr) 3-1 Le Roy Leong (Mas)  11/2, 11/5, 8/11, 13/11 (32m)
Farhan Zaman (Pak)      bye
02-Feb, Semis:
Top seeds in Pittsburgh final

Defending champion Alister Walker will contest the final of the 3 Rivers Capital Pittsburgh Open for the second time when he faces second-seeded Egyptian Karim Abdel Gawad in the climax of the the fifth tournament of the 2014 US Pro Squash Series at Rivers Club in Pittsburgh.

The World No.19 from Botswana survived a tough test against veteran Olli Tuominen, the 34-year-old former World No.13 from Finland. Honours were shared after the first two games before Walker overcame a brief lead by the fourth-seeded Finn in the third to open a 2/1 lead.

It was nip and tuck in the fourth until eight-all - when top seed Walker ran off three points in a row to clinch his victory after 69 minutes.

"Playing Olli is always tough both physically and mentally," said US-based Walker afterwards. "Today I managed to get a very good win because Olli has been playing very well lately having followed his scores.

"He is very experienced, ever hungry and a highly-ranked player," added the 31-year-old on the eve of his 16th PSA final.

Gawad, the 22-year-old second seed is the latest Egyptian to burst into the world top 20 - and demonstrated his prowess in an 11-7, 11-8, 6-11, 11-8 four game victory over third seed Nicolas Mueller, the Swiss number one ranked 28 in the world.

"Niki and I played like twice in the juniors and once in PSA and I was expecting a very tough battle - and here it was!" said the World No.17 from Cairo later.

"Niki is so talented - I had to keep my eyes open and focus on each of his shots and try to put the ball in the corners," continued Gawad, now in the 12th PSA final of his career. "I'm very happy to win today and looking forward to playing the finals tomorrow."

01-Feb, Quarters:
Top seeds through to Pittsburgh semis
Steve Baicker-McKee reports

The top seeds all advanced in the quarter finals of the 3 Rivers Capital Three Rivers Open in Pittsburgh.

In the opening match Alister Walker dispatched of Muhd Azan Asyraf in three games. The pace was frantic, as Azan attacked relentlessly, and Walker showcased his court coverage.

Down two nothing, Azan came out firing in game three, and hit four nicks in a row to go up 4-0. Walker weathered the storm, and came back to close out the match.

The second match started off looking like an upset as Cesar Salazar won the first 6 points.

Olli Tuominen’s movement improved and he pulled within 2 points at 6-8, but Salazar closed out the game. Tuominen rebounded strongly, and played almost error free squash after the first game.

Errors started to creep into Salazar’s game, and Tuominen won the next three comfortably.

"Tuominen has been coming to the Pittsburgh Open for many years,” tournament director Duilio Costa noted, “and it is great to see him still playing so well and advancing to the semifinals."

The third match of the day was a contrast in style from the first two, with Nicolas Mueller and Nafiizwan Adnan playing mostly length, with occasional flurries of attacking.

Mueller’s long reach and accurate length proved too much for Adnan, with Mueller wining in three.

The final match pitted Karim Gawad against Ryan Cuskelly. The number two seed showed why he is climbing in the world rankings, but Cuskelly also put on a show of shot making and retrieval.

In the end, Gawad’s shot-making proved the difference, and he advanced in three.

Draw & Results

31-Jan, Round One:
Round One in Pittsburgh

Unseeded Muhd Asyraf Azan doubled Malaysian interest in the quarter-finals of the 3 Rivers Capital Pittsburgh Open when he upset seventh seed Henrik Mustonen at Rivers Club.

The 27-year-old from Kuala Lumpur, ranked 35 in the world, defeated Finland's World No.36 Mustonen in 44 minutes - and will now take on top seed Alister Walker for a place in the semis.

In the quickest match of the day, Botswana's US-based Walker - ranked 19 in the world - despatched Brazilian qualifier Vinicius Rodrigues in just 27 minutes.

Fifth seed Ryan Cuskelly looked like another upset victim after the first two games against qualifier Farhan Zaman. "I came out a little slow, and he was attacking from the start," said the Australian. "I didn't feel too sharp, so I tried to focus on getting my shots tighter and my length better, and he started to make a lot of mistakes."

Left-hander Cuskelly recovered to beat the Pakistani after 72 minutes and will now line up against second seed Karim Abdel Gawad.

The Egyptian also survived a first round battle against a qualifier from Pakistan - beating Syed Ali Bokhari.

"I had not played him before and he came out shooting from the start," said the World No.16 from Cairo. "At first, I was shooting with him. Then, when he won the first game, I decided to be more patient and pick my spots."

Tournament director Steve Baicker-McKee was delighted with the opening day of the event: "We had a tremendous first day of the main draw. The standing room only crowd was treated to some high level squash, with most of the seeded players advancing. We are looking forward to some great quarter finals tomorrow."

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