2009 champ Golan gets #2 seed El Shorbagy
Alan Clyne (right) in full stride against Lee. (Birmingham Athletic Club photo)
Bloomfield Hills, Mich. – The top seeds held their ground and advanced out of the qualifying round Thursday night at the 2011 Motor City Open presented by the Suburban Collection. Four familiar faces to Motor City fans will be heading into Friday’s first round Main Draw.
Each of the four — Mohammed Abbas (2004), Borja Golan (2009), Alan Clyne (2010), and Ryan Cuskelly (2007-present)—have competed previously at the Birmingham Athletic Club, with Golan having won the title in 2009. None of the four encountered much resistance Thursday, with Golan and Clyne each cruising 3-0 and Abbas and Cuskelly, 3-1.
Mohammed Abbas (right) proved too strong for hard-fighting Waller. (Birmingham Athletic Club photo)
Abbas, world #38 and one of five Egyptians in the Big Show, opened the day against England’s Adrian Waller. Coming off a first-round bye, the slim Egyptian needed little time reacquainting himself with the BAC’s bouncy court. He jumped out to a quick 6-2 lead in the first game and – despite a momentary third-game lapse – was in control throughout. Abbas closed it out in four: 3-1 (13-11, 11-7, 10-12, 11-6).
“The court in here is a little tough because it’s a little bouncy,” Abbas said afterwards. “So, I tried to make it tough, make him work a little inside, and I think I was doing all well until the I lost my focus. In the fourth I tried to keep him inside and it was okay.”
In a rematch of last year’s qualifying round, Scotland’s Clyne, world #53, outlasted Hong Kong’s Max Lee (#62) in three games: 3-1 (13-11, 12-10, 11-7). The games featured marathon rallies that worked against Lee, who struggled with his fitness. Lee squandered a crucial 10-4 advantage in Game Two.
“I was 10-4 up, it just made me crazy,” Lee said of the second game. “When I’m 8-4 up, I just really wanted to finish. He just started getting used to it and played fast, fast, fast and really picked it up. I just wanted to make one point. I can’t make it – just one point. Just keep making errors.”
Clyne (front) ups the pace with a blistering backhand. (Birmingham Athletic Club photo)
Clyne also spoke of his key Game Two comeback.
“Comebacks are quite hard in this new scoring because you’ve got one point and that’s it,” Clyne said. “Just after I got the first couple of points, I thought, ‘I really have a chance here, and if I get this it’ll really shift the momentum.’ That was pretty crucial.”
In the night’s final match, Spain’s Golan, world #31 and on the comeback trail from an ACL injury, defeated Christopher Gordon (world #74) of the United States: 3-0 (11-7, 11-3, 11-8. Looking to return to his 2009 MCO championship form, Golan enters Friday’s match against the #2-seed, Mohammed El Shorbagy, content with his improved performance.
“Of course I have different goals,” Golan said of the difference between 2009 and this year. “Two years ago I came in here to win the tournament, and this year, I just came to make the main draw.”
“I think today was much better than yesterday,” he continued. “Yesterday, I didn’t feel very comfortable. My shots weren’t tight enough. But I learned, and I put more pressure on Chris. He played very well, he’s a tough opponent, but I tried to play tighter, play good shots in the front, and so I’m happy.”
Aussie Ryan Cuskelly defeated Czech Jan Koukal in four games: 3-1 (10-12, 11-7, 12-10, 11-7).
Friday’s opening round competition begins at 5pm on court 3.
Thursday’s qualifying results:
- Mohammed Abbas def. Adrian Waller 3-1 (13-11, 11-7, 10-12, 11-6)
- Ryan Cuskelly def. Jan Koukal 3-1 (10-12, 11-7, 12-10, 11-7)
- Borja Golan def. Christopher Gordon 3-0 (11-7, 11-3, 11-8)
- Alan Clyne def. Max Lee 3-0 (13-11, 12-10, 11-7)
Friday’s first round Main Draw matches:
-  Laurens Jan Anjema v. Tom Richards, 5:00 PM
- Ryan Cuskelly v. Omar Mossad, 5:15
- Alan Clyne v. Julian Wellings, 6:00
- Jonathon Kemp v. Mohammed Abbas, 6:15
- Borja Golan v. Mohamed El Shorbagy , 7:00
- Ong Beng Hee v. Tarek Momen, 7:15
-  David Palmer v. Cameron Pilley, 8:00
- Mohammed Ali Anwar Reda v. Adrian Grant , 8:15