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TODAY at the World Open Squash 2011                                                       facebooktwitter
Day ONE, Fri 28th, Men's Qualifying begins                                      More updates on the BLOG
Dutch Ditched on Day One in Rotterdam
Steve sums up day one

The World Open Squash 2011 started off at Victoria Squash in the Dutch City of Sport with a whimper as Italy's Stephane Galifi became the first winner of the day when his Iraqi opponent failed to show up, and ended with a big upset as Dutch-based Aussie Steve Finitsis beat qualifying second seed Mark Krajcsak of Hungary in front of an appreciative audience on Victoria's centre court.

"It's a good win for me and good for my confidence," said Finitsis, "I've been training hard but not playing many tournaments recently, maybe now it's time to bite the bullet and go for some big ones."

In between times it was primarily the expected players who triumphed, but on a day with 32 matches to be played there were bound to be a few upsets and they duly arrived.

Italy's Amr Swelim - who only got the nod that he was in the draw yesterday - beat Kashif Shuja, although the Kiwi wasn't at full fitness; England's Eddie Charlton won three close games to oust American Chris Gordon; and Raphael Kandra delighted the German camp with a fine win over Hong Kong's Leo Au.

"I thought I had a chance today, even if ranking wise, I was not meant to win this match," admitted Charlton. "Happy with a 3/0 win, especially as I didn’t play as well as I have been, so, keeping fresh for tomorrow."

Kandra was obviously pleased: "I played well, I was dominating the rallies, especially in the second game, and I could see he was not comfortable, he didn’t move as well as he normally does. I’ve been a pro for only a year, it takes time to get things in place, but I can feel that my game is getting better, week by week."

There wasn't much joy for the home fans who were out in force supporting the local players though, as all sixteen - ranging in age from 44 to 16 - failed to progress to tomorrow's qualifying finals.

National coach Lucas Buit was one of the first casualties, although he made Hong Kong's Dick Lau work hard for his three-game win; Stephen Cooke - originally English - took Germany's Jens Schoor the distance; and Sebastiaan Weenink almost finished the night off nicely, but after coming from two game down against Malaysia's Ivan Yuen his challenge tailed off in the fifth.

"It was a nice match, both first games were very close," admitted Buit, who can now concentrate on his coaching duties. "Still from 2/0 down, it was just too hard. I think I deserved one game but I can’t complain, at 44."

Men's Qualifying Finals start at noon on Saturday, along with the women's first qualifying round.

BUZZING AROUND
Framboise reports from Victoria

I must say when I saw the number of names for the qualifying, I started to have a cold sweat. Already, one world open is difficult to report on until the later stages when you want to be fair with every player, but when you have both men and women together… I know, not the first time I do one of those, Hong Kong and Manchester, but still, freaking frightening.

But the minute I walked in the Victoria Club, fear seemed to vanish. The club is just amazing, nice airy place, lots of room to circulate, easy to go to the Press room, fluid from one court to the next…

Just to see that buzz that floats all around, “old” faces, boys, girls, coaches, officials, my family, as I like to call it, my babies all chatting away to each other, hitting on different courts, and you have the feeling that you just have to let go, and enjoy the ride.

And that’s exactly what I’m going to do. Let go, and enjoy it.

FIRST FOUR: NO SURPRISES…

Started well for Italian/French Stéphane Galifi. His opponent was so scared of playing him, didn’t show up! Nice work if you can get it.

Then we had Kristian Frost versus Aqeel Rehman. A close match, with a bit of physical contact between them, and a great line from Kristian, after Aqeel fell on heavy contact 4 or 5 times “Do you have to keep on falling all the time???”. Euh….. Still Kristian’s speed and strength too good today for the Austrian.

Good start as well for Eric Galvez, just returning with the glow of the excellent performance of his team/country in the Home Pan-Am games. Gabor Marges – who I’m told was playing very well on the junior scene – gave a bit of a work out to the Mexican, but Eric just too relentless today.

And what to say about Lucas Buit, the local sweet heart, who gave a lot of trouble to Dick Lau. 8/8, 9/9 in the first, then 7/7; 9/8 in the second, walk in the park, at no time it was. Logic prevails, but a great match that was.

We just arrived yesterday, after an excellent tournament back home, it was a good win for us, we played pretty well, and we had a lot of attention from the Press, TV, cameras, home crowd.

And now, it’s back to reality!!!!!!

Eric Galvez
I’m still very keen, although I guess I could play twice a week instead of playing only once! Would make a 50% improvement.

But in the first, when you are at 9/9, and you touch the man with the racquet before you even touch the ball, obvious stroke, and you get a let, your mind wanders, you lose a bit of concentration, and lose the game! I know, only one point, but it was at a crucial time.

Still, if I take that first, he can start wondering, what, I’m playing that old guy, and I’m losing!!??? And you never know, he can start doubting…

But it was a nice match, both first games were very close, still from 2/0 down, it was just too hard. I think I deserved one game but I can’t complain, at 44…

 

STEPHEN AND CHARLES, NOT FAR OFF….

Second session, well, no real upsets, but we came close!

First, Young Greg Marche was not comfortable at all against 19 years old Charles Sharpes who did impress me today. The English boy was accurate, played a very positive game, attacked relentlessly, backup with a great length, and put the Frenchman under tremendous pressure, and had he taken the 2nd, well, we could have a different outcome! Good match, boys, good match.

Then a tough, very tough game between German number 2 Jens Schoor against English born now Dutch Stephen Cooke.

Well, I guess Jens was not mentally ready for a big battle maybe? Maybe he thought – like I did – oh well, local player, not much trouble there. But omg, as the kids say, that Stephen can volley and counter attack! He really created a lot of trouble for the German, who started to make a lot of errors, finding himself down 2/1 and 7/4 in the 4th!

Jens finally won, the lack of fitness from the Dutch helping. “What happened in the 5th? I play once every two weeks, does that answer your question???” but Stephen must have been quite happy to close that one out.

Marwan against Rene Mijs, that was less of a battle, with the Egyptian domination the nearly retired Dutch, who I hadn’t seen for nearly two years! How do I know? Because his wife Julie was pregnant then, and look, surprise! Evi is now a year and a half… Is she cute or what???

And the last one, Matthew Karwalski vs French Fabien Verseille, brother of Stéphane Galifi. Those two like their attacking, don’t fancy rallying so much, and luuuve their tins!

Fabien, reserve for the Worlds, didn’t know up to last week he was actually now a qualifier, so, he was not that prepared for it, and he paid for it in the third. “I was happy with the way I strike the ball, but too short physically” he said…

Yes, I do like the tin. There’s an awful lot of the front wall, and I always managed to get the 7 inch tin!!!!

I started well, first game, stuck to my game plan, but in the 2nd, Fabien started to volley more, and he is very good at it, in particular on the backhand. In the 3rd, he was up 5/0, but I was lucky he run out of gas, and it still could have gone either way…



I sort of stopped, I have other priorities now, look at her!!!… I coach about 3 times a week, and study for a degree in Sport and Education that will allow me to work for secondary schools.

Today, I was doing most of the running, and for each point I won, I had to work far too hard! I would have liked to do more in the 3rd, I was up 7/2, but he was just too good…



It’s not that I was not in the match, but I was really tense, I was struggling to get used to the court, to his game, and really was not comfortable AT ALL! It basically took me two games to get used to the conditions, to see the ball early enough, find a bit of length, and then, I was able to attack in good conditions.

He is an excellent junior, he played very well the two first games, and thank God, he started struggling a bit physically at the end.



I’m really happy with my first two games, they both could have gone either way, I won the first one, and the second, I was up 9/8, and had a real big chance to get 2/0!

But he is such a good mover, he stepped up the pace and the way I play, it’s very hard for me to keep up for 5 games! I struggle a bit physically at the end, but I’m only 19, I guess it’s all a learning curve… Overall, very happy with my performance.

STOP AND START

Two matches had a few “circulation” problems it seemed. First one, Campbell Grayson against André Haschker, I didn’t see much but it was really a tough game, lots of hard contact between the players, and the refs trying to keep the match going, with some strong statements – as in stroke when I would thought it was only let, and no let when I would have gone for a least a let, to try and keep order on the court. “I didn’t enjoy that match at all, too many contacts, I was struggling to have access to the ball, a lot of discussions with the ref, not a pleasant match to be honest” said the New Zealander at the end…

The second one, a not too confident Lewis Walters versus a full of beans Yann Perrin. It was a match of two halves, with Yann completely dominating in the first game and an half, then switching off a bit mentally – that’s a first – and Lewis taking a bit more confidence. Close match that Yann will be happy not to see go in 5…

I was up, playing well, in the first game, and up the 5/1 in the 2nd. I then slammed a crosscourt, everybody saw it good, him as well, but I knew it was good, so, I gave the point back, and from the moment on, made a few errors, a few contacts on the backhand, lost accuracy, lost my length, lost my way really!!!

I managed to get out of it, by being more patient, hit the ball higher (when you hit it mid front wall, it just doesn’t get to the back), and I was more solid probably at the end of each game, played a bit more positive and took a bit more risks…



I find him hard to read, in particular at the start of the match, it’s hard to get into a rhythm against him. Then I settled down a bit, but there were a few lets, a few discussions with the refs, difficult to keep the rhythm up really.

I didn’t have the best of start of the season, not that high in confidence right now. I know I’m getting better match after match, that I had a good summer training, and even that last match was not too bad, but I need a win to get the confidence back.

 

AUSTRALIA VS AUSTRALIA

We had France v France with Mathieu Castagnet having to play his training partner Joan Lezaud, then we had Australians Wade Johnstone and Neeraj Aggarwal playing against each other.

To be honest, Wade was dominating his compatriot, and although the rallies were disputed, the result in my mind could go only one way…

The body is fine now, no trouble with the hamstring, only trouble is to try and match work and training – I coach in Baltimore, the Baltimore Meadow Mill Athletic Club. I try and train as much as I can, but I have nobody to play with really, so I end up doing a lot of sprint courts, not as much fun!!!!

Raj and I come from the same part of Australia, Perth, and I actually saw him the first time he started playing squash. I have the utmost respect for what he is trying to achieve, for the enormous work he is putting in.



I started playing squash at 15, in Perth, then moved to Melbourne to train with Roger Flynn, stayed a few years there, then came to Amsterdam and have been there for the past 2 years now, working with Michael Fiteni. We are playing with Piedro, Khasif, Cameron sometimes… it’s great!

I would like to travel more and get more experience, but I had a lot of savings when I came to Amsterdam, and it has vanished!!! So, I can’t travel as much as I would like, but I hope that this year, I’ll be able to get a bit more tournaments…

In the first game, I was attacking a lot, and I could see that he was not moving too fast to the front, he is very tall, so it’s not easy for him!

In the second, I guess he got a bit tired, I saw that he was attacking a bit too early, which allowed me to control the ball, and picked up the pace, making him work a lot.

In the last game, he lost a bit of concentration, probably because he was a bit tired…

A QUICK QUARTET

No reports on the first four matches of the evening session, quotes only as all the matches finished by the time I arrived!!!!

It was a perfect first match, he is a good player, we had a good match. Joe came to train with us in London, so I knew what to expect.

I haven’t spent too much time on court as I injured my ankle in Qatar, and only played once on Tuesday. But although it’s never good to get an injury, it actually made me a heck of a good, because I’m coming back hungry, and I’m looking forward to playing the rest of the tournament.

(against Joe Chapman)

The speed is just, I mean, I do train, but definitely not at that level! For the few first rallies, we were going up and down the wall, so that was fine, and then, it looked like he said to himself, right, let’s start playing squash now! And for the rest of the two games and a half, I just kept on running and chasing the ball…

I played the Junior World event, and I thought that was the best thing that I ever done, but now, this one? It’s like a dream come true, and to be honest, I don’t think I’ll ever play another competition after that one, it was just too good.

Now, I’m going to work for a year to be able to pay for my Sport Management studies next year…

(against Max Lee)

When you get into a major tournament like that, you try and do your best to conserve your energy for the next round, so today I’m happy I managed to do that, and it seems like I’m going to play Robbie tomorrow, that’s going to be a nice match.

I feel good, how can you not feel good when you are playing for the World Open, it’s a great tournament, a great environment, I just won, what could be better!!!!

(against Guido Ploem)

He picks up everything, it’s a all other level that what we are normally playing at in the junior scene! Like Tom, I’m going to assess my level at the end of this year, and decide to go for full time or not…

Joel plays at a completely different pace that we juniors are used to (I’m 18), it’s such a great experience. This is my last year as a junior, and I’ll see at the end of it how I feel, if I think I’ve got the potential to go on the professional circuit. I think I may well have, but I want to finish this year to make sure…

(Playing Joel Hinds)

KASHIF NOT AT HIS BEST

Kashif Shuja injured himself in Valencia a few weeks ago, and although he is getting better, he was still not 100% movement wise – especially the lounging bit – but more I guess a bit of lack of fitness due to the recovery time off court.

The first game was crucial, and what a battle it was too! 5/5, 6/6, 7/7, 8/8, 9/9, 10/10, with the Italian/Egyptian Amr Swelim clinching it only just. That hard work paid off in the third, with the New Zealander struggling a bit in the energy department. Still, a very disputed and fair match between two gentlemen…

Yes, I injured myself a few weeks ago, but once you get on court, you are fine, and it doesn’t take anything away from Amr’s performance, he outplayed me really….

 

I heard he was a bit injured, and I could see he was not moving as well as he can…

I was not very confident in the first game, I just got the PSA call that I was playing yesterday, so I was not really prepared to play a game today! So I just tried and make the rallies last, I was not going for too much, as I had no confidence in my shots.

But I’m happy to play tomorrow and to win that first match. Let’s see what happens tomorrow…

 

EDDIE DOMINATES

I arrived at the end of the first game, and I could see how red Chris was, and I know he is blond, that we get red very quickly, but I have seen him enough to know he was struggling a bit physically. I truly enjoyed the rallies I’ve seen, it was played at a very high pace, lots of volleying, very entertaining match between two players that didn’t want to lose…

Eddie played really well, he didn’t give me any cheap point. And I was a bit flat, jaded physically, not having that extra energy when I needed to. Well, we had the US open, Salvador, Brazil, just flown from the Pan Am games, very busy. Not complaining, I far prefer having too much to do, it’s nice to be very busy!

Now, I’m going to have to find a way to freshen up mentally…



I thought I had a chance today, even if ranking wise, I was not meant to win this match. I don’t think I played as well as I’ve been playing recently, but at the  three -quartersof the first game, I saw that he was breathing quite heavily, which is always a good sign.

So happy with a 3/0 win, especially as I didn’t play as well as I have been, so, keeping fresh for tomorrow…

KANDRA IMPRESSIVE, BALBO RELIEVED

I played well, I was dominating the rallies, especially in the second game, and I could see he was not comfortable, he didn’t move as well as he normally does. He is such a economical player, he is so good in his movement. And he also a great shot player and today, he did find some great shots, but not as many as he normally does. I was happy with my short game too…

I’ve been working very hard at my fitness, and as anybody that watches me on a court can see, I’m not too much of a technical player, my strength is more about picking up shots around the court and running around. I can hit the ball well, but I’m not what you would call a shot maker.

I’ve been a pro for only a year, it takes time to get things in place, but I can feel that my game is getting better, week by week…



I’m relieved. For a month now, I was a trouble in the abs area, and it really prevented me from playing well. I was playing on a leg and a half, and I played enough – and lost enough – to lose any kind of confidence I may have had in my game.

So, a game like today, where I should normally win easily, well, I get on court, I’m tense, nervous, never comfortable.

Now I need to find a way to get my marks again, I have the strange feeling I’ve played two matches those past weeks! So, no timing of the ball, not knowing what to do with it when it gets to my racquet, no pace…

Still, bleeping relieved…

VOTED MOST RIDICULOUS SQUASH OF THE DAY…

If I had to vote for the fastest, most ridiculous squash at the front, I would definitely crowd that match between Reiko Peter and Henrik Mustonen.

I mean, those two can hit a winner, can’t they. And volley. And hit winners, and volley till death of the ball…

You can’t help thinking of Nick Mueller when you watch young Reiko. Same built, same nationality, same great talent with the racquet, and sorry to say, some brainless blond moment too… Blesssssss.

Henrik weathered the storm rather well, blustering a few mad shots himself. Joke apart, a lovely match to watch, and I’m pretty sure I’ll come to talk with M. Peter again soon…

I really like this type of game, and although we are playing very fast, although he is double my size, we move very well around the court, making it a very pleasant match indeed. The fact that I played a match on the glass court helped me here, as the court is very dead. It will be even a deadlier court tomorrow…

We know each other rather well, we’ve been playing throughout the juniors, he is 21 and I’m still 20, but I’ll get older next week….

It wasn’t my best game I guess, my shots were not that perfect, but I guess it was a good preparation for hopefully my next matches. Shots were not perfect, I was moving ok, hitting was ok…

Henrik Mustonen

First of all, I really wish to thank the WSF for giving their spot, it is such a great opportunity for me to get experience, and to play for my country. Such an honour for me.

I was very motivated, and I expected him to run a lot and pick up everything. And he did! I played some really good shots that I didn’t expect to see coming back, but he retrieved them.

I guess I missed a bit of patience, I could have waited a bit more to play my shots, but then again, I know I had to get in front of him if I wanted to win the match, and it’s so difficult to get past him…

Reiko Peter

AND FINALLY

An upset, and an escape in the last two matches of the day, Steve Finitsis beating qualifying second seed Mark Krajcsak and Ivan Yuen stopping Sebastiaan Weenink's comeback just in time ...

Although he is a local, I would never not expect him to be good, he is a player, and on the court, anything can happen. That’s why I take each match at a time, and give my opponent all the due respect.

It was a very good match. I started well, but after leading 2/0, I may have relaxed a bit, and he started controlling the ball much batter, and imposed his game to me. I fell in the trap in the 3rd and 4th.

It’s only in the 5th that I was able to step up the pace, imposing my game, being more positive, I attacked more, controlled the rallies better, which allowed me to play more winners…

"I knew Mark hadn't been playing at his best in recent tournaments, so I set out to try to be as steady as I could, I'm used to this court, I've played well on it before so that was going to be an advantage for me, and he made more errors than me in the end.

It's a good win for me, and good for my confidence.

"I've been training hard and playing in Leagues, although I haven't played that many tournaments recently, it's tough to get to  lot of them financially. Maybe it's time to bite the bullet and go for some of the big ones now ...



Men's Qualifying Round One,
Victoria Club


Stephane Galifi (ITA) bt Rasool Hashim Abdullah (IRQ)
             w/o
Dick Lau (HKG) bt Lucas Buit (NED)
               11/9, 11/8, 11/8 (48m)
Eric Galvez (MEX) bt Gabor Marges (NED)
              11/7, 11/4, 11/1 (23m)
Kristian Frost (DEN) bt Aqeel Rehman (AUT)
              12/10, 11/4, 11/7 (39m)

Marwan El Shorbagy (EGY) bt Rene Mijs (NED)
              11/5, 11/5, 11/8 (29m)
Gregoire Marche (FRA) bt Charles Sharpes (ENG)
               5/11, 11/9, 11/6, 11/3 (51m)
Matthew Karwalski (AUS) bt Fabien Verseille (FRA)
              11/6, 7/11, 13/11, 11/4 (45m)
Jens Schoor (GER) bt Stephen Cooke (NED)
              10/12, 11/3, 11/8, 4/11, 11/7 (57m)

Zac Alexander (AUS) bt Piedro Schweertman (NED)
                11/9, 10/12, 11/6, 11/8 (55m)
Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) bt Joan Lezaud (FRA)
               11/4, 11/1, 11/1 (30m)
Siddharth Suchde (IND) bt Sander van Tour (NED)
               11/2, 11/5, 11/3 (19m)
Shawn Delierre (CAN) bt Michael Ernst (NED)
                11/3, 11/5, 11/8 (25m)

Wade Johnstone (AUS) bt Neeraj Aggarwal (AUS)
                11/7, 11/7, 11/6 (24m)
Campbell Grayson (NZL) bt Andre Haschker (GER)
                12/14, 11/8, 11/8, 11/6 (75m)
Cesar Salazar (MEX) bt Mazen Gamal (EGY)
                 11/5, 11/4, 11/6 (27m)
Yann Perrin (FRA) bt Lewis Walters (ENG)
                 11/4, 9/11, 12/10, 11/7 (58m)

Max Lee (HKG) bt Tomas de Paauw (NED)
                  11/2, 11/3, 11/2 (18m)
Joel Hinds (ENG) bt Tom Lucas (NED)
                   11/2, 11/5, 11/2 (17m)
Robbie Temple (ENG) bt Joe Chapman (IVB)
                  11/5, 11/6, 11/3 (27m)
Clinton Leeuw (RSA) bt Guido Ploem (NED)
                  11/5, 11/5, 11/4 (17m)

Davide Bianchetti (ITA) bt Kim Are Killingberg (NOR)
                  11/2, 11/3, 11/4 (23m)
Amr Swelim (ITA) bt Kashif Shuja (NZL)
                   12/10, 11/5, 11/5 (32m)
Eddie Charlton (ENG) bt Christopher Gordon (USA)
                   11/8, 11/9, 11/7 (47m)
Joe Lee (ENG) bt Roshan Bharos (NED)
                   11/3, 11/2, 11/1 (22m)

Adrian Waller (ENG) bt Rick Penders (NED)
                  11/6, 13/15, 11/2, 11/5 (39m)
Shaun le Roux (RSA) bt Marc ter Sluis (NED)
                  w/o
Raphael Kandra (GER) bt Leo Au (HKG)
                  11/8, 11/6, 11/7 (32m)
Julien Balbo (FRA) bt Frank Hartkoren (NED)
                  11/6, 11/5, 11/2 (31m)

Henrik Mustonen (FIN) bt Reiko Peter (SUI)
                   12/10, 11/7, 11/5 (26m)
Ivan Yuen (MAS) bt Sebastian Weenink (NED)
                  11/6, 11/9, 7/11, 11/13, 11/4 (63m)
Omar Abdel Meguid (EGY) bt Bart Ravelli (NED)
                  11/7, 11/4, 11/7 (36m)
Steve Finitsis (AUS) bt Mark Krajcsak (HUN)
                8/11, 11/8, 11/7, 11/6 (51m)

More updates on the BLOG

André Delhoste on the French ...

En Francais - coverage in French

Greg Marche

Grégoire makes a bad start against the young Sharpes. He seems too tense, and has trouble reading his opponent's shots, therefore he is always a bit late onto the balls. Furthermore, Grégoire cannot find a proper length and has to play mostly from the back of the court.

The second game looks the same as the first one, but Grégoire fights more and doesn't hit as many tins than in the first game and clinches it 11/9.

The next 2 games will be easier for Grégoire who relaxes a bit more. Sharpes seems to getbtired and commit errors which he didn't in the first 2 games. Grégoire is now in control of the pace and takes the lead on the scoreboard until the end.

Joan/Mathieu

For his first appearance in the world open, Joan is unlucky to play his training partner Mathieu. Mathieu is eager to regain confidence after his recent loss in Valencia PSA open, and imposes an impressive pace in the match from start to finish. He puts a lot of weight in his hits and takes the ball as early as he can. Joan seems unable to find solution to break Matieu's rythm and concedes the match 3/0.

Yann/Lewis

Yann makes a good start, he dominates the T and punishes Walters with forehand kills. In the second game the ball gets slower and slower, and Yann cannot find his lenghs anymore. Walters gets in front of him, Yann hits way too many tins and concedes the second game.

In the next 2 games, Yann hits the ball higher on the front wall and regains some length. He can dominate the T and volley more, concluding most rallies with straight volley drops from both sides.

Julien Balbo

Julien is the last french to come onto the court against the young dutch Hartkoren. Despite a few problems to find his game in the first set, Julien finds no significant problems to put his opponent out of position.

The dutch seems a bit slow to pivot espacially to the right back corner. Furthermore, he is late on Julien's dropshots who will score a lot of points at the front of the court.
 


Egyptian assembly ...


Mexican standoff ...


Refs see the funny side ...


Swelim sweeps past a ghostly Shuja ...

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