Tom Richards
(Eng) 3-1  Nafiizwan Adnan (Mas)
9/11, 11/3, 11/8, 11/6 (66m)
Wan nervous, Tom hungry
A bit of a surprise that match was for me. I’m sure that Wan
will be a bit disappointed. No, not in his loss, but in the
way it happened. “I don’t go for silly shots anymore Fram, I
changed my game, I make sure that I make every rally hard”
he told me yesterday when I congratulated him about his
Famous last words .
At 4/6 for Tom, all Tom’s points were from errors from Wan.
Five unforced errors in the first game, 6 in the second, 6
in the third, only 2 finally in the 4th….
Today, from the warm-up, I could see the Malaysian tense. He
kept putting the ball in the tin as they exchanged their
shots, then at the start of the match, Wan asked the
photographer to move out of the backwall – I never saw him
do that, the photographer was not doing anything
particularly wrong. All those little elements were leading
me to think that our Malaysian was not as comfortable as he
was up to now.
Like I said earlier, he made 4 errors early in the game, but
still managed to keep his nose in front somehow, 5/2, 6/3,
7/4. Tom was right on his hills, 6/7, 7/8, 8/9! A superb
deep drive sets up his first game ball 10/8, closing it down
11/9 with a bit of controversy on the last point, Tom having
seen a shot at the front clipping the tin – a let was played
as the ref was unsighted – and thinking that one of the
Malaysian’s shots was double bounced.
Nevertheless, Tom came back very focused, and speeded up the
pace, again with a few errors from the Malaysian at the
start of the second, 4/1, 10/2, 11/3.
The third is a bit the same at the start, Tom comfy 4/1, but
this time, Wan is back in the game quickly, 4/4, 5/5. Five
points in a row for Tom, 9/5. Wan claws back but falls
short, 11/8, despite some lovely backhand flicks, Beng Hee’s
Excellent start for Wan in the 4th, 2/0, only to see Tom
scoring the next 6 points, 6/3. We have great rallies,
superb squash, but Tom is confident, and it shows, he goes
for superb shots that Wan can’t retrieve all… 7/4, 11/6,
game England, in front of a delighted but extremely fair
My game plan was to make it tough in the
first game, so when I lost it, it was not the end of the
world. I think I tried so much to make it tough, I forgot to
play squash! So between the first and the second game I told
myself, look, play squash, don’t make any errors, but be
positive. And that really helped.
At the start of the second, I really tried to make it as
hard for him as I could, thinking that maybe he would feel
it, and I think eventually he did.
It was anybody’s game in the 4th, until the last ball…
Wan is such a fair player, we get on very well, he is a
strong player, and it was always going to be a tough one.
It’s a bit of a release, knowing that I can play several
matches in a row, as you know I haven’t done that for a
while. I was pretty nervous getting into the match, so it’s
really a big moment for me to realise I can still beat top
I’ve been coming here since I’m 8 years old, I love the
club, I know Stacey and the people here, I love playing on
the courts. I missed it last year, but when I saw it on the
calendar, I was happy to be able to play.
No preference for tomorrow, I just hope they kill each other
out there, 2h 120m game, 3/2. We are all of the same age
group, we’ve been playing each other for years and years, so
whoever I’m going to play, it’s going to be incredibly
 Alan Clyne (Sco) 3-0  Saurav
11/3, 12/10, 11/9 (60m)
I may be completely wrong, but I feel that Alan benefited
greatly from his match against Jaymie Haycocks yesterday. In
that match, he was much too passive at times, and Jaymie
really pushed him hard. Today, it was like Alan learned the
lesson and was positive and attacking from the word go.
And for sure, he took the Indian by surprise, who seemed to
really dominate his two previous opponents Olli and Joe –
although Joe’s match was far from easy!
So, after the opening shock, 11/3 in no time, Saurav
regrouped beautifully, taking control of the rallies, but
both of them working a heck of a lot on each and single
point. 3/0, 6/1, 7/3, surely we were going for a 1/1. But
with again some amazing backhand boasting long drop shots,
Alan clawed back to 8/8, 9/9. 10/9, Saurav, but a sublime
backhand boast gets the tie-break. At 10/10 and 11/11,
Saurav gets awarded 2 lets that for him were definite
strokes. He tins both of them, and as he exits, goes “That
were 2 strokes” to the ref…. 12/10 Alan.
The third is starting, and the battle is on. Not a point
between them up to 6/6. Suddenly a big push from the Indian,
playing some ridiculous amazing astonishing winners, 9/6.
But Alan believes he can do it. And supported by girlfriend
Olivia Blatchford (I thought that Basma Shorbagy was intense
until Liv sat next to me), Alan somehow, with calm, composed
yet intense attacking squash, scores the next 5 points,
11/9, to reach the final.
Alan v Tom, that’s not what the bookies predicted I bet, but
it’s going to be a cracker.
I think I played well today, I was sharp, I
had to be with the way he retrieves absolutely everything.
You know that against Saurav, if you only go up and down the
wall, you are going to make a lot of work! And my short game
was pretty on point, that proved to make the difference.
At 9/9 in the 3rd, the rally seemed to go forever [110
strokes] and I don’t know how it was for the spectators, but
it looked from our end like it would never end!!!!
I was not expected to win this one, he is top seed, so it’s
a sweet feeling.
Of course I remembered my victory against him in Qatar, it
was the first time I did beat him after 6 defeats. I
actually watched the match today to have a feel about what
worked then, but it’s completely different conditions, glass
court, very cold. But what I got out of it was the
confidence, when you pass that barrier, especially after 6
defeat. Hard to mentally believe you can beat somebody after
7 defeats in a row…
Tom, always great to play against him, he likes to play at a
fast pace, and volleying, so do I. So it’s going to be a
I’m very disappointed. I am practicing well, I am playing
well, and I haven’t done it justice fully this event,
although beating Olli and Joe, especially 3/0, was not easy,
so I must have been doing something right.
My game is not flowing as I would like it to be.
Today, Alan played very well, he was physically and mentally
tuned in, and didn’t give me much to work on. I’m happy with
the fact I still tried a few different things, that I didn’t
panic and that I stuck in.
I could have won the second, and I could have won the 3rd.
In the second, he gets a nick serve at 7/8, then on match
ball he frames it… But it means that he played very well, to
create that little bit of luck…
One positive thing, I think I played better than I did in
Qatar, I learned from that match, but for some reason, it
was not enough today.
Oh well, now I’ve got to regroup to play on Sunday to try
and qualify for the British Open.