TOC Round of 16 (Second round) New York
Jan 24, 2010, by Ron Beck © 2010 SquashTalk.com , Independent News; SquashTalk LLC
FAVORITES ALL ADVANCE ON SUNDAY
The draw for Sunday at the TOC didn't leave much to the imagination -- the 1 through 8 seeds all advanced. Most, with relative ease. Though not so for Amr Shabana, who was lucky to get past the charged up Alister Walker. The match of the day was Simon Rosner and Wael El Hindi.
Why no surprises today?
Because this event did not attract many of the "second ten" in the rankings. The following are missing from this event: Peter Barker (7), Thierry Lincou (9), Daryl Selby (13), LJ Anjema (14), Mohamed El Shorbagy (15), Mohd Iskandar (17), Cam Pilley (18), Aamir Khan (19), Ong Beng Hee (20), Jonathan Kemp (21) .... So the top eight in today's action were largely paired against a third tier of opponents. Reda is 33rd, Rosner 37th, Rodriguez 27th, Mueller 45th, Waller 76h.
The quarters will be an entirely different story - with every matchup a tossup.
EL HINDI ON A STROKE
lSimon Rosner showed a lot of desire today. Wael El Hindi showed a lot of heart. Simon Rosner wasn't going to give an inch today and threw every offensive weapon he could muster at the equally attack-happy El Hindi. The ball covered every inch of the court many time each game in this contest.
El Hindi wanted to move Rosner up front; Rosner wanted to move El Hindi up front. It was a brutal battle. And Rosner saw that a few weapons he had gave El Hindi particular trouble. The best gambit for Rosner was the game along the backhand wall. Rosner won many of those points. Also useful for him was the high lob, which he used to excellent effect as a defense against El Hindi's brutal attacks to the front backhand corner.
And when Rosner blasted on of his explosive volley nicks into the corner to end the second game at 12-10; Rosner had a two game lead and El Hindi would be excused if he quietly packed it in at that point ... in fact we have seen El Hindi do just that in the past... but not this time.
Wael El Hindi came out battling in the third. The experience and wily El Hindi pulled out all his weapons for the remainder of the contest. His unconventional placements - wild shots across the middle of the court, inviting boasts just begging the opponent to try the drop. And of course, El Hindi began to use his body to augment his position. And increasingly, as El Hindi worked at a very high rate, he eked out every minute of rest time he could.
Rosner took and ample lead in the third, starting out at 4-1, but somehow, suddenly El Hindi had put together a string of masterfully played points. Many points, many lets and many walks around court later, El Hindi had the third and he had life.
Rosner looked shellshocked in the fourth, and El Hindi had evened things out.
The fifth was an epic battle. Both players not giving an inch. Terrific, if not tactically perfect, points. Fighting for every inch, battling in the corners.
Suddenly, at the midpoint of the fifth, with the score 5-4 in El Hindi's favor, he put together one of those devastating runs of winning shots he is capable of, and El Hindi was there at match point.
But Rosner hadn't given in. He was fighting back inch by inch. Until he played an ill advised corner shot into himself, at the center of the court. El Hindi was waiting. It was stroke and match to El Hindi. And at least the audience had had one terrific contest, one good reason for having spent the afternoon and evening at Grand Central this chilly Sunday. El Hindi lives to fight another day --- against Nick Matthew.
MATTHEW THUMPS REDA
|Stewart Boswell is forced to retire after two games. photo © 2010 SquashTalk.|
Today's opener was a match through 5-all in the first game. Reda (world #33) was going for conservative play, which went right to the strength of Willstrop (world #7), who merely needed to use his excellent length and short game to move Reda relentlessly to a point where the game Egyptian began to make errors as he tired.
SHABANA SURVIVES MOTIVATED WALKER
If Amr Shabana thought he was going to get a routine win today over Alistair Walker, he was quickly woken up after a slow start gave Walker both confidence, the lead and the first game.
For a player of Walker's steadiness, self confidence and mobility, it is a dangerous thing to give him the sniff of a possible win. That's what happened as Shabana was sloppy with his length in the first game.
It seemed that Shabana had taken things back in hand in the second game, as he increased the pace and constantly wrong footed Walker. But things went badly wrong for Shabana in game three, as the still confident Walker came out on fire. This left Shabana to refocus in game four.
And, what any higher ranked players wants to avoid is the game five which is "anyone's game" It was in this case. And the world #2 just barely eked his way into the quarterfinals. A great performance for Adrian Walker.
PALMER, WILLSTROP and GAULTIER RACE INTO QUARTERS
Shabana's scenario didn't appeal to Palmer, Willstrop or Gaultier who each raced into the quarterfinals with dominating performances.
RESULTS, 2010 Tournament of Champions, Round of 16 [Main Draw]
 Karim Darwish (EGY) bt  Hisham Mohd Ashour (EGY) 11-8 11-9 11-8 (38m)
 David Palmer (AUS)bt [Q] Adrian Waller (ENG) 11-4 11-4 11-4 (29m)
 Amr Shabana (EGY) bt  Alister Walker (ENG) 6-11 11-5 2-11 11-2 12-10 (65m)
 James Willstrop (ENG) bt Mohd Ali Anwar Reda (EGY) 11-5 11-6 11-6 (40m)
 Wael El Hindi (EGY) bt Simon Rosner (GER) 10-12 10-12 11-9 11-7 11-6
 Nick Matthew (ENG) bt  Stewart Boswell (AUS) 11-5 11-5 retired
 Ramy Ashour (EGY) bt [Q] Nicolas Mueller (SUI) 11-5 11-7 11-7 (25m)
 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt  Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL) 11-8 11-5 11-6