• 10th Qatar Classic Squash Championship  • 04-12 Nov 2010 • Doha •  




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TODAY at the Qatar Classic 2010
Sat 6th, Day TWO                                      Fram reports ... Steve in Italics
Men's Qualifying Finals:

Tom Richards (Eng) bt Alan Clyne (Sco)
                   11/1, 12/10, 5/11, 11/9 (47m)               plays Walker
Nicolas Mueller (Sui) bt Yann Perrin (Fra)
                   11/6, 11/6, 11/2 (26m)                         plays Shabana
Simon Rosner (Ger) bt Max Lee (Hkg)
                   11/8, 12/10, 5/11, 3/11, 11/7 (71m)       plays Barker
Steve Coppinger (Rsa) bt Campbell Grayson (Nzl)
                   11/1, 11/2, 11/3 (29m)                         plays Willstrop
Borja Golan (Esp) bt Aaron Frankcomb (Aus)
                    11/13, 11/5, 11/5, 2/11, 11/5 (98m)        plays Pilley
Henrik Mustonen (Fin) bt Andrew Wagih (Egy)
                     11/7, 10/12, 14/12, 11/8 (57m)           plays Darwish
Karim Abdel Gawad (Egy) bt Martin Knight (Nzl)
                    15/13, 11/5, 11/8 (44m)                       plays Gaultier
Omar Abdel Aziz (Egy) bt Julien Balbo (Fra)
                    11/6, 9/11, 12/10, 11/9 (70m)               plays Boswell

Tom Richards (Eng) bt Alan Clyne (Sco)
                   11/1, 12/10, 5/11, 11/9 (47m)

Not that easy for Tom

Tom Richards certainly started favourite for this match, but you woldn't have found many takes for an 11/1 first game against ace-retriever and fit-as-a-fiddle Scotsman Alan Clyne.

To be fair, that 7-minute game had much more to do with the Scot - Richards was steady, no more, while Clyne made nine errors, mainly unforced, but Richards did finish the game with two good winners.

From the start of the second Clyne was much more Clyne-like, retrieving as he does, and cutting our the errors. Richards son got the message that he was in for the sort of scrap he'd been expecting.

The Scot had game ball in the second, couldn't take it, but pulled clear early in the third to reduce the deficit. The fourth was nip and tuck, never more than a point in it up to 9-all, before Richards finished it by picking off a crosscourt drop, then volleying into the nick as Clyne dived headlong, in vain.

"I was surprised at the start, but it was pretty bouncy early on, then it deadened up and so did my head!

"I relaxed, started to try to win it too easily and that helped him back into it, then it became a qualifying grind ...

"I don't feel like I played like myself there, but the difference between winning and losing in these qualifying finals is so great, you just have to do what's needed.

"A win's a win, and I'm very happy to qualify."

"I just couldn't get my head together in the first, it took me a while to get into it and I just gifted him a game which you just can't afford to do against someone like Tom.

"I got my game together after that and we had some really tough rallies. I had game ball in the second and the fourth could have gone either way, but these are the matches I need to start winning ..."

Borja Golan (Esp) bt Aaron Frankcomb (Aus)
                    11/13, 11/5, 11/5, 2/11, 11/5 (98m)


Borja, coming back from a few months of injury break after surgery on his knee, was edgy today, from the word go.

Frustrated every time he would make a simple error, chatting with his opponent, with the refs, angry with himself, the man has been putting so much pressure on himself…

His first time up the rankings, he didn’t know what to expect, he didn’t know where his game and talent would take him.

But now, he knows. He knows he is worth top 10. And he is so hungry to get back up there.

Aaron played superb squash on the other hand. His backhand drives were close to perfection every time, and his combination, backhand crosscourt lob plus backhand drop shot put Borja under extreme pressure the whole match, even if Borja’s counterdropping and hard hitting eventually got the better of the Australian.

One important thing to be noted. Even trailing 8/3, 9/4 in games, Aaron fought for every rally, for every shot, as if it was a match ball. And that is something I did admire today, along with his determination and mixing shots and pace…

A very long match, 98m, but an excellent one, not boring for a minute.

"I didn’t enjoy it today. I need to put pressure on myself, because that’s the only way I’ll go up, but sometimes, if pressure can be a positive thing, it can also be a negative one…

"Aaron was so tight on the backhand today, I couldn’t attack at all from there.

"And if you look at the first game, that lasted probably 30m, I didn’t play one drop shot. And that’s the difference between winning 11/6 or losing 11/9!!!

"Aaron played the good tactic I think today, he was very tight indeed. And I’m so happy to get through, you know, at 2/2, everything can happen."

"I was playing not too bad up to 6/6 in the first two, but physically, I was not strong enough. A bit of yesterday’s heavy legs, obviously, but also, I should be able to back up two matches one after the other.

"Mind you, I did got into the match to win it, not to play extras! But every time Nico is leading, he is so dangerous, very solid and gets his shots in pretty well. Still, when I lead 6/1 in the 2nd, and I lose 11/6, there is something that is not right! I can’t afford to do that at that level of game.

"But it’s with tournaments of that calibre that one improves, and I’m aware I’ve got some work to do. Some heavy work to do. I wish Nico all the best for the tournament, whereas for me, on my bike!!!"

Nicolas Mueller (Sui) bt Yann Perrin (Fra)
                   11/6, 11/6, 11/2 (26m)


It was a bit of a shock for my system when I came from a 98m match (Borja/Aaron) to next door, where after two games, only 21m were on the clock! (and for me, when I arrived seconds after the end of the match, hence no photos!)

Nicolas was as fast as it comes today, and the Frenchman, well, a bit short physically, that led him to try and finish the rallies far too early, finding the tin far too many times to threaten the Swiss…

The shorter the rallies, the better, if you win them, that’s what I say!!!!!!

In the 2nd, I was down 6/1, I managed to speed up the pace, and make it hard physically…I was aware Yann had a heavy match yesterday, and I took pretty good advantage of that, by playing at a high pace. I did some hard training in KW last week, and the fact I lost had at least that advantage.

Yann and I are pretty good friends, so it’s a shame I have to play him to qualify…

This is the second time I get into a big one, a platinum one, last week in KW was my first one, and this is very rewarding. I’ll see what the draw brings tomorrow…

Henrik Mustonen (Fin) bt Andrew Wagih (Egy)
                     11/7, 10/12, 14/12, 11/8
Karim Abdel Gawad (Egy) bt Martin Knight (Nzl)
                    15/13, 11/5, 11/8 (44m)

Youngsters to the fore

Two youngsters made it through to the main draw, only one of them Egyptian though.

Birthday Boy Henrik Mustonen followed up his fine performance from yesterday with a win over Andrew Wagih, with the Egyptian seeming to suffer most from yesterday's travails.

This is the biggest tournament I've ever played in, so to qualify is really really nice.

"I knew he had a hard game yesterday, but mine wasn't exactly easy, so I couldn't try to take advantage of that, I just went out to play my own game, I tried to play carefully and not go short too early.

"He got ahead in the fourth, he makes some good shots from weird positions, but I managed to get a few points in a row to stop it going to five.

"It will be a good experience for me to play on the glass court, I don't get to play the top guys very often - and it will be good for my coach to be able to see me play!"

Karim Abdel Gawad - who beat Wagih in last month's El Gouna qualifying finals - survived three close games against Martin Knight to continue a fine run of form.

"I'm very happy to reach the main draw, especially as I was injured for seven days after El Gouna, and yesterday was the first time I picked up a racket again!

"I wasn't expecting much from this tournament, but now I'm looking forward to seeing who I play in the main draw.

" I just want to do my best and play well tomorrow, but a day off would be nice!

"He likes to go for his shots…

"I was up 10/6 in the first, lost it 15/13…. I had a bit of a lead, I was moving well, and he played like 3 winners, and I made an error… There was not a lot into it, but when you are at 10/10, you tighten up, become tentative.

"In the second, I didn’t think too much of the loss of the first one, but as I lost it 11/5, I guess it affected me without me realising it! He must have played 10 winners in that game, wherever I would put it, if it was a bit loose or short, well, that was it really.

"In the third, a bit of a similar story than the first one, moving well, probably getting a second wind, up 6/2, then 8/4, but he plays 4 or 5 winners, and from 8/4 up I found myself 11/8 down….

"Looking back, wining the first was quite important.. It seems that it happening a lot to me recently, I can’t seem to be able to win games, let alone matches…"

"In the first two games, I made a lot of errors, mostly because I’m not used to such a fast pace. Then, I concentrated on my length, and in the 4th game, I think he lost concentration, so I gladly took it.

"I knew he would come back with a vengeance in the 5th, so I tried to take a good start, 6/2. At that point, I had a little drop of energy, and he changed his game, volleying more. At 6/6, we both slowed down the pace quite a lot, and went for a lot of up and down the wall… He played really well in the end, and made me make a lot of errors…"

Simon Rosner (Ger) bt Max Lee (Hkg)
                   11/8, 12/10, 5/11, 3/11, 11/7 (71m)


I was impressed by Max today, who never gave up, found some lovely squash, and who probably was a bit better technically than Simon. But the German, after a complete physical and mental meltdown in the 3rd and 4th, and up to 6/2 in the decider, got his second mental wind, if you see what I mean. It was like he gave it a last push, forcing himself to hit harder, faster, and vary the pace and angle very well.

Max, tired by that point, and maybe thinking he had a bit of lead, probably relaxed half a second, and that was enough for Simon to rush into that opening.

A few errors from Max, some gutsy rallies from Simon, and a winner in 71+ that can be proud of his digging in today…

"I don’t know why I was so tense, so nervous today. I had no confidence in my shots. I managed somehow to take the first two, and after that, I never felt I was in either the 3rd or the 4th.

"Max is tough, he didn’t give me anything today. Last time we played, I won 3/1, that was in London, but I can tell you he has definitely improved since that!!!!

"But I can say I’ve never been so proud of my mental strength today, being 2/0 up to be caught up 2/2, and being 6/2 down in the 5th, and coming back to take the match. I owe it to the work I’m doing with my coach Wael back home. Before, I would have let it go, I would have given up. But not today. Not anymore. Thanks Wael!"

Steve Coppinger (Rsa) bt Campbell Grayson (Nzl)
                   11/1, 11/2, 11/3 (29m)


1, 2, 3 in 29m. What can you say on such a one-sided match? Steve was playing out of his skin, and Campbell, well, didn’t seem on the match at all.

He really started playing his normal game at 8/0 in the third, needless to say a bit too late…

"Needless to say I’m very happy with my game, I didn’t do much wrong there.

"I've seen him play much better that he did today, and I didn’t want to think he was injured or something. I’m not sure why he didn’t play at his best.

"Everything is going well so far…"

Omar Abdel Aziz (Egy) bt Julien Balbo (Fra)
                    11/6, 9/11, 12/10, 11/9 (70m)


Gosh I so like watching Omar play. He is such an awkward duck, bless him, in the Egyptian clan. He moved in weird steps, as if he was limping a bit, but actually goes very far, and very fast!!! He is extremely patient, can rally up and down till the camels come home, and will still find a winner at the right time. And he is so passionate about his game, every ball is a matter of life or death…

Julien was playing very well today in patches, drives nicely in place, good volleying at the front, but slightly short physically. And it showed a bit in the third, where in my mind, he lost the match.

He was up comfortably 10/6, with Omar a bit out of breath, making a few errors. But the French relaxed that much, and the Egyptian just seized the moment, and went for it, scoring six points in a row to seal the Frenchman’s fate.

Overcoming the disappointment, Ju, down 1/5 and 2/6, gradually came back within reach 7/8. A few lets at that crucial time of the match, I counted four, but it’s Julien who clips the tin. And although he’ll save a match ball, the Egyptian claims a well deserved victory today.

"I’m feeling better. At all level. Mentally. Physically. It’s all balanced.

"Julien was up for it today, he seemed that he needed to win more than I did…

"He got tired in the second, but still managed to play well, with great experience. He played in the back, and then, when he was tired, he would attack, like on a return of serve, thing he doesn’t do normally! Every time I could hear him breathing a bit heavily, I was on my toes, as I knew he was going to attack!

"I’m better, still, I’m not at the max of my fitness, I was really out of breath when I finished that match. And I think Julien was really unlucky tonight…"

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