Friday First Round will feature two former world Number Ones: Darwish, Lincou
Qualifier Alan Clyne (SCO) defeated favored Jan Koukal (CZE) to advance to Friday’s MCO First Round. (Birmingham Athletic Club photo)
Birmingham, Mich. – The main draw is set for the 2010 Motor City Open, presented by Suburban Volvo, as qualifying concluded Thursday night with four players advancing into Friday’s opening round. With an upset and epic five-setter, the four matches provided a glimpse of the excitement, skill and speed that will be on display this weekend at the Birmingham Athletic Club. Michigan’s premier squash venue, the BAC is hosting the MCO for the 11th year, featuring a record $40,000 purse plus Rolex watch from Greenstone Jewelers.
Aussie Ryan Cuskelly, Pakistan’s Yasir Butt, Scott Arnold of Australia, and Scot Alan Clyne all posted victories.
The evening’s best bout featured Arnold (world #64) against Colombia’s Bernardo Samper (world #65). The pair occasionally train together in New York, and they seemed to anticipate one another’s every move in a match that became a five-game marathon. Arnold survived 4-11, 11-7, 14-12, 8-11, 11-6.
“When I go in there, I’ve got a good idea of what he’s going to do, he’s got a good idea of what I’m going to do,” Arnold said afterwards. “It’s just a mental battle more than anything, trying to stay focused on what I’ve got to do.”
Samper jumped on top early, winning Game One by controlling the pace and forcing Arnold into rushed decisions. But then Arnold composed himself, slowed the pace, and began to take control.
“I think when I got on top in the fifth, I slowed myself down a little bit,” Arnold said. “As opposed to a couple times when I got behind, I got caught up in just belting the ball about the court without thinking what I was doing.”
In the night’s final match, Scotland’s Clyne (world #68) served up the only upset against Jan Koukal (world #60) of the Czech Republic, 11-4, 10-12, 14-12, 11-5. Clyne began the match in top form, hitting his shots and taking control early.
A tired Koukal switched shirts – but not his fortunes – for Game Four. (Birmingham Athletic Club photo)
“I knew he likes to play a slow pace, whereas I prefer to play at a higher pace,” Clyne said after his win. “So I was trying to push as much as possible and make the rallies tough. My shots at the front were working, straight from the off.”
Tied at one game apiece, the third frame proved the most critical. Clyne led 10-6 until a determined Koukal forced his way back with five straight points to tie. However, Clyne steadied the ship and prevailed, 14-12. Koukal’s comeback took its toll physically, and he had little left in the fourth.
“I think that was a really crucial one,” Clyne said of Game Three. “I think it took a lot out of him, and it took a lot out of me as well. But it was a good one to win; it was like a bit of a momentum, and it carried on into the fourth.”
Cuskelly (world #54) defeated England’s Adrian Waller (world #75) in straight sets, 11-6, 13-11, 11-7. The Aussie countered Waller’s size with speed and a good short game.
“He’s a big guy,” Cuskelly said later. “I just tried to move around the court a lot, move him short a bit more than I normally do. I think that worked out in the end, he got quite tired. I tried to keep the pressure on him, not give him a sniff.”
Yasir Butt (world #55) advanced over another Aussie, Matthew Karwalski (world #74), in straight sets, 11-5, 11-6, 13-11. Butt was concerned a long match might favor his very fit opponent, but his skillful play won the day.
“I played very well today,” Butt said. “Matthew’s an Australian, and Australian guys are already fit and really good, and most Pakistani guys rely on their skill and that’s what I did today.”
The main draw begins Friday at 5:00 PM with the following matches:
- (1) Karim Darwish v. Alan Clyne (Q)
- (6) Mohd. Ali Anwar Reda v. Mark Krajcsak
- (4) Olli Tuominen v. Julian Wellings (BAC pro)
- (7) Omar Abdel Aziz v. Yasir Butt (Q)
- (5) Julian Illingworth v. Chris Ryder.
- (3) Mohd Azlan Iskandar v. Campbell Grayson
- (8) Aaron Frankcomb v. Ryan Cuskelly (Q)
- (2) Thierry Lincou v. Scott Arnold (Q)