Lovely weather, Pity about the squash ...
Jan 24 , 2008, by Martin Bronstein for SquashTalk.com , Independent News; © 2008 SquashTalk LLC
Martin Bronstein reporting from Grand Central Terminal: Saturday Afternoon session
SHAFTS OF SUN AT GRAND CENTRAL
|Daryl Selby retires in the third game against Gregory Gaultier. Photo: ©2009 Debra Tessier|
It got a little colder today but the sun was still shining, sending shafts of white light through the cathedral-like windows of Vanderbilt Hall and reflecting on the near capacity crowd that came to see the second half of the first round.
But, sadly it was one of those days when the cogs of competition were just slightly off. It started with Ong Beng Hee beating England’s Jonathan Kemp in straight games. Now by all rights and the laws of probability, it should never have been a 3/0 result. Kemp led the final game 10-3 and lost 14-12, the sort of outcome that will spoil his memory of New York for a long time to come. Not that he would have beaten the Malaysian, who, despite a large despond some years ago has got his game back again and is once more in the top ten. But losing from 10-3, even against someone as accomplished as Ong Beng Hee is the stuff of nightmares.
SELBY SUCCUMBS TO FOOD POISONING
Daryl Selby is another player who will not have good memories of the 2009 TOC. He ate something that decided it did not like the environments of Selby’s stomach and staged a protest. For two games I thought Selby was atrocious – and then I was told about his stomach problems and all became clear. He retired in the third game but the question is why he decided to play at all. I understand he would have still got his points and paycheck had he not played. It was an embarrassing waste of court times.
So we had two matches with a total playing time of 50 minutes. The previous evening I had watched Basquet and Gonzales playing in the Australian Open tennis; their match went to five sets, something like
14-12 in the fifth set and last over 4 ½ hours. Is there something to be learnt there?
MOMEN ALMOST HAS HIS MOMENT
|Tarek Momen takes on David Palmer with all the aplomb of a seasoned pro.. Photo: ©2009 Debra Tessier|
There’s another Egyptian on his way: Tarek Momen is 20 years old and looks 14. But boy! Can he play. He took on David Palmer with all the aplomb of a seasoned pro. True his challenge was good for just two games but he showed enormous confidence and court sense. He kept his equilibrium at 10-6 down to force a tie break and lost it on an error on the final point, 12-10.
Momen is already ranked 29 in the world and he has top ten written all over him. He matched Palmer all over the court and even led 5-7 but Palmer has been there before and can keep the ball so tight that even Egyptian shotmaking magic can do very little with the ball. Palmer dived on the second rally, broke skin to force a blood break so that the tiny cut could be covered. It took eight minutes – you could do a heart transplant in that time. It was during the next five minutes that Momen dictated play and opened up the possibility of an upset.
But Palmer grafted, kept the ball tight and emerged the 11-8 winner in a game that took nearly twenty minutes, including medical treatment.
The final game was over in six minutes and 30 seconds – a sure sign of the young Egyptian’s fatigue. Nevertheless he has served notice and in a year from now will be a threat to anybody.
WALKER EXORCISES GOLAN
Alexander Walker beat Spain’s Borja Goland in four games which was an upset of sorts as Golan was seeded and Walker was not but they are just four places apart in the rankings – 18 and 14.
The games was marked by a lot of body contact, especially in the front left corner, and the sudden collapse of Borja, who, from winning the first game 11-9, disintegrated to winning just four points in the last two games.
|Alexander Walker beat Spain’s Borja Goland in four games which was an upset of sorts. Photo: ©2009 Debra Tessier|
I must admit that I was not overly taken with the
squash played by these two players who spend far too much time hitting
the ball down the left wall. They virtually reduce the court to 32
feet long by two fee wide.
But negative result is much pushing on the left wall. Now that is either a) that the outgoing striker is not clearing his shot, or b) the incoming striker is not coming in from the T.
They also both liked the backhand drop to the front left, which leads to more blocking/bumping. The result is a game that does not progress smoothly and rarely raises the excitement level among a stifled yawn.
Either the referees should award strokes for blocking or no lets.
The fact is that when Walker did “open up” the court (and I still don’t agree with that term to denote crosscourts) he reaped dividends. His backhand crosscourts from the front left were good and always put pressure on Golan, who, like Ramy Ashour, is so much more comfortable taking the back hand.
After winning the first 11-9 Golan found himself 4-7 down in the second and fought back to 9-10. On the next point, there was blocking and Walker was denied a stroke. Same situation after the restart and Golan got a stroke. The whole thing was becoming tiresome and the tie break ended after two errors from Goland, 14-12 to Walker.
Golan then fell apart and lost 11-1 in six minutes; he didn’t do much better in the fourth game, snatching at balls as well as outright misses giving Walker an easy 11-3 game and a 3/1 victory.
When I commented to Walker on the Golan collapse he thought – graciously perhaps - that his opponent had hurt himself and was unable to perform.
Walker will now play Gregory Gaultier, the man he beat in five games at the Canary Wharf Classic last year when the Frenchman go over confident. I don’ t think he will make the same mistake twice.
First round, bottom half of draw
 Ong Beng Hee (MAS) bt [Q] Jonathan Kemp (ENG) 11-8, 11-4, 14-12 (37mins)
 David Palmer (AUS) bt [Q] Tarek Momen (EGY) 12-10,11-8, 11-6.(43mins)
Alister Walker (ENG) bt  Borja Golan (ESP) 9-11, 14-12, 11-1, 11-3. (61mins)
 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt[Q] Daryl Selby (ENG)11-0,11-3, 6-1 ret. (19mins)
SATURDAY 6PM SESSION:
 Mohd Azlan Iskandar (MAS) v [Q] Mark Krajcsak (HUN)
 Wael El Hindi (EGY) v Hisham Mohd Ashour (EGY)
 Adrian Grant (ENG) v [Q] Omar Abdel Aziz (EGY)
 Karim Darwish (EGY) v Shahier Razik (CAN)
FIRST ROUND (top half)
 Amr Shabana (EGY) bt [Q] Renan Lavigne (FRA) 11-8, 11-7, 11-5 (31mins)
 Nick Matthew (ENG) W/O Stewart Boswell (AUS) injured
 James Willstrop (ENG) bt Olli Tuominen (FIN) 9-11, 11-7 , 11-7, 11-8.
[Q] Yasser El Halaby (EGY) bt  John White (SCO) 12-10, 4-11,12-10,8-11, 11-7 (68 mins)
 Ramy Ashour (EGY) bt Cameron Pilley (AUS) 9-11,11-8, 11-7, 11-5 (52mins)
 Laurens Jan Anjema (NED) bt [Q] Amr Swelim (EGY) 14-12, 11-7, 11-5. (40 mins)
 Thierry Lincou (FRA) bt Julian Illingworth (USA)11-4, 11-6, 11-6 (41mins)
 Peter Barker (ENG) bt Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL) 12-10, 11-4, 11-1 (35mins)
|All Photos: ©2009 Debra Tessier|
|All Photos: ©2009 Debra Tessier|
|All Photos: ©2009 Debra Tessier|