Qatar’s al-Tamimi sees off Marche for rare ma­jor win

‘I PLAYED THE THIRD GAME WITH NO SPON­SORS ON MY SHIRT. IT GETS IN YOUR HEAD SOME­TIMES’

Gulf Times - Gulf Times Sport - - FRONT PAGE - By Mikhil Bhat

Home hero Ab­dulla al-Tamimi brushed aside dis­trac­tions and an of­ten-resur­gent-of­ten-er­ratic world No 15 Gre­goire Marche of France to be­come the first Qatari to reach the sec­ond round of the PSA Men’s World Squash Cham­pi­onships with a his­toric 3-1 (11-6, 119, 7-11, 11-9) win at the Khal­ifa In­ter­na­tional Ten­nis and Squash Com­plex in Doha yes­ter­day.

Less than two hours ear­lier, top seed Mo­hamed ElShorbagy opened his cam­paign to re­gain the world ti­tle with a breezy 3-0 win at the same court.

In an un­ex­pected turn of events, a sec­ond Qatar player –Syed Azlan Am­jad – too made it to the sec­ond round.

Al-Tamimi had got­ten off to bril­liant start go­ing one game up against the French­man when the ref­eree asked the As­pire Academy grad­u­ate, who is ranked lower than Marche, to change his shirt, which looked sim­i­lar to that of his op­po­nent’s on tele­vi­sion.

While his team looked for an­other shirt, al-Tamimi con­tin­ued with his bril­liant form to go up 2-0.

Just be­fore the third game, alTamimi changed into a blue spon­sor-less shirt and the nervy match be­gan head­ing in the op­po­site di­rec­tion with Marche forc­ing er­rors and the 24-year-old Qatari drop­ping a few balls. Par­ti­san sup­port egged alTamimi on to bounce back, even as Marche dropped points by slip­ping on the glass court. How­ever, the French­man ran the Qatari close in his do-or­die game be­fore go­ing down 9-11.

Al-Tamimi will face French world No 28 Mathieu Castag­net, who beat Cana­dian Shawn DeLierre 3-0 (11-7, 11-8, 11-4), in the sec­ond round to­day.

“Ever since I be­gan, it was a dream to play on this court, and when I fi­nally did, there was yet an­other big­ger dream to win in a ma­jor event here. It has taken me around seven years to do that,” said al-Tamimi, who won his first ma­jor match at the home court yes­ter­day. “I lost a bit of con­cen­tra­tion. I was lead­ing 2-0 and he came back re­ally strong. I had a few is­sues with the shirt, be­cause he was a higher-ranked player, it was me who had to change the shirt. I played the third game with no spon­sors on my shirt. It gets in your head some­times. I was re­ally happy that I was able to re­gain my fo­cus and try and stay on top of him.

“He is ob­vi­ously a good player, he is one of the quick­est play­ers on the tour. So I had to be ready for a longer match and stay fo­cused. Even till the end he was pick­ing up a lot of balls.”

Al-Tamimi has had the com­pany of world No 2 ElShorbagy dur­ing train­ing for the past month or so and the young Qatari was only thank­ful for the time.

“We had a month of train­ing to­gether be­fore this tour­na­ment. That it­self gives you a lot of con­fi­dence, that pace of play, play­ing with the best player in the world. It was re­ally good, and I en­joy be­ing on court with him,” he said.

Though back at the court, right af­ter his win, while he thanked the au­di­ence and of­fi­cials for their sup­port dur­ing the match, in a light-hearted laugh­ter-in­duc­ing moment, he re­marked, “I am glad I am not play­ing an Egyp­tian. I think when I am play­ing an Egyp­tian, I don’t feel like I am play­ing at home some­times.”

ElShorbagy, who has reached two World Cham­pi­onships fi­nals in Doha – 2012 and 2014 – be­gan his cam­paign to lift his sec­ond world ti­tle with an easy 3-0 (11-8, 11-6, 11-6) win over French­man Vic­tor Crouin.

“I felt to­wards the end of the US Open (when he reached the fi­nal) I was feel­ing a bit flat men­tally and phys­i­cally, and it was nice to get a break, re­fresh again. I’m com­ing here feel­ing strong again,” the 28-year-old from Alexan­dria said.

Prais­ing Crouin, he said, “I’ve been watch­ing Vic­tor for a while, since the World Ju­niors. He didn’t win it but he im­pressed me the most. The way he moves on court, the way he plays, he looks hun­gry, he looks like he wants it, and that’s what I look for in ju­niors.”

In an un­ex­pected turn of events, a freak in­ci­dent on the court meant that Qatar’s Syed Azlan Am­jad too reached the sec­ond round, and will go up against Egyp­tian 12th seed Omar Mosaad to­mor­row.

Am­jad was trail­ing Spain’s Iker Pa­jares Bern­abeu 1-2 (8-11, 12-10, 4-11), when in the fourth game, be­tween points, Bern­abeu smacked the ball to­wards the front wall only to re­alise that his op­po­nent was in the line of fire. The ball had brought down Am­jad af­ter hit­ting him where it hurts the most phys­i­cally, and the Team Qatar player was forced to take a med­i­cal time­out.

The Qatar player was un­able to con­tinue, and since Bern­abeu had ac­ci­den­tally con­trib­uted to the sit­u­a­tion, the rules meant that the Spa­niard had to for­feit.

Also in sec­ond round is last year’s fi­nal­ist and sec­ond seed Tarek Momen of Egypt, who beat Ger­many’s Raphael Kan­dra 3-1 (12-10, 10-12, 11-7, 11-4).

SE­LECTED RE­SULTS

[WC] Syed Azlan Am­jad (QAT) bt Iker Pa­jares Bern­abeu (ESP) 3-2: 8-11, 12-10, 4-11, 2-0 rtd (60m)

Ni­co­las Mueller (SUI) bt Aqeel Rehman (AUT) 3-0: 11-6, 11-9, 11-7 (33m)

[9] Mar­wan ElShorbagy (EGY) bt Ar­turo Salazar (MEX) 3-0: 11-4, 11-3, 11-7 (22m)

Leo Au (HKG) bt Todd Har­rity (USA) 3-0: 16-14, 11-7, 11-3 (36m)

Alan Clyne (SCO) bt Ryo­sei Kobayashi (JPN) 3-1: 12-10, 11-5, 7-11, 11-9 (52m)

[7] Mo­hamed Abouel­ghar (EGY) bt Tayyab As­lam (PAK) 3-0: 11-5, 11-4, 11-7 (25m)

Mostafa Asal (EGY) bt Campbell Grayson (NZL) 3-0: 12-10, 11-5, 11-5 (42m)

[14] Za­hed Salem (EGY) bt Tsz Fung Yip (HKG) 3-1: 11-7, 3-11, 11-3, 11-6 (33m)

[12] Omar Mosaad (EGY) bt Bap­tiste Ma­sotti (FRA) 3-1: 8-11, 11-9, 11-2, 11-8 (54m)

[2] Tarek Momen (EGY) bt Raphael Kan­dra (GER) 3-1: 12-10, 10-12, 11-7, 11-4 (52m)

Ab­dulla al-Tamimi (QAT) bt [15] Gre­goire Marche (FRA) 3-1: 11-6, 11-9, 7-11, 11-9 (50m)

[1] Mo­hamed ElShorbagy (EGY) bt Vic­tor Crouin (FRA) 3-0: 11-8, 11-6, 11-7 (33m)

[4] Paul Coll (NZL) bt [WC] Ha­mad al-Amri (QAT) 3-0: 11-4, 11-4, 11-3 (20m)

[3] Karim Ab­del Gawad (EGY) bt [L] Au­guste Dus­sourd (FRA) 3-0: 11-4, 11-8, 13-11 (28m)

[6] Diego Elias (PER) bt Ivan Yuen (MAS) 3-0: 11-8, 11-9, 14-12 (45m)

[5] Simon Rös­ner (GER) bt Ben Cole­man

(ENG) 3-1: 12-10, 4-11, 11-2, 11-2 (54m)

James Will­strop (ENG) bt Ge­orge Parker

(ENG) 3-0: 11-4, 11-5, 12-10 (45m)

Ce­sar Salazar (MEX) bt Nathan Lake (ENG) 3-0: 14-12, 11-6, 11-6 (38m)

Ed­mon Lopez (ESP) bt [L] Kris­tian Frost (DEN) 3-0: 11-9, 11-4, 11-6 (42m)

De­clan James (ENG) bt Vikram Mal­ho­tra (IND) 3-2: 8-11, 1-11, 11-5, 11-3, 11-6 (51m)

Greg Lob­ban (SCO) bt Max Lee (HKG) 3-1: 11-6, 11-6, 8-11, 11-8 (56m)

[13] Fares Des­souky (EGY) bt Eain Yow Ng (MAS) 3-1: 11-6, 9-11, 11-8, 11-5 (58m)

Youssef Ibrahim (EGY) bt Daryl Selby (ENG) 3-2: 11-5, 10-12, 11-5, 11-13, 11-9 (107m)

Qatar’s Ab­dulla al-Tamimi cel­e­brates his win over Gre­goire Marche of France in the first round of the PSA World Squash Cham­pi­onship yes­ter­day.

Mo­hamed ElShorbagy of Egypt (right) in ac­tion against Vic­tor Crouin.

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