By Geoff Robinson
Bloomfield Hills, Mich – After a big day for the Americans on Day One at The Motor City Open presented by the Suburban Collection, Day Two of qualifying went the way of the visitors. Abdullah Al Tamimi (Qatar), Ivan Yuen (Malaysia), Raphael Kandra (Germany) and Campbell Grayson (New Zealand) all emerged victorious and earned a spot in the Main Draw’s Round of 16 on Friday at the Birmingham Athletic Club.
It was Al Tamimi who had the toughest road to the Main Draw. After cruising through his first two games with Todd Harrity, Al Tamimi started to feel a sharp pain in his right shin. Harrity would pounce on his wounded opponent, picking up games three and four to set up a decisive fifth.
“The last couple of days my shins have really started hurting,” Al Tamimi said. “I needed a really good start because I knew as the match goes on that I’m going to start feeling it. He picked that up and started opening up the court.”
It was in the fifth, however, that Al Tamimi found a way to play through the pain and come up with an 11-7, 11-7, 5-11, 7-11, 11-6 win over the American.
“It’s not an injury that’s going to stop me,” Al Tamimi said. “It’s just pain. If you push 100 percent, even if it’s killing you, it’s not going to be a big injury.
I got my confidence back in the fifth and I’m really happy to qualify.”
Al Tamimi will square off with the MCO’s #4 seed, Omar Mosaad of Egypt, on Friday evening.
In the only other match to go beyond three games on Day Two, Yuen was able to stave off a strong effort from American Christopher Gordon.
Gordon powered his way to an 11-8 win in the first game, as Yuen seemed to be concentrating a little too much on the officiating at the outset.
“I’ve been through a lot with the referees,” Yuen said. “I told myself to forget it and just move forward.”
After Yuen got his head back in the match, he stopped hitting the tin and started controlling the pace of play, eventually tiring Gordon.
Up 7-6 in the fourth game, Yuen won three straight points before finishing Gordon off, 11-7, to move on through the qualifying rounds.
“I just had to fight every point and keep believing I could do it,” the 26-year-old MCO first-timer said. “I came all the way here from Maylaysia and I’m not ready to be done yet.”
For his efforts, Yuen earns a date with second-seeded Marwan ElShorbagy on Friday night.
On Court 2, Kandra fought tooth and nail with Australia’s Rex Hedrick in the opening game. Kandra earned five game balls, and Hedrick showed some spirit by fighting off the first four before finally falling, 11-9.
After expending that amount of energy to try and come back in the first game, Hedrick just wasn’t able to keep up with Kandra. The German cruised to 11-6 and 11-5 victories to keep his shot at the MCO crown alive.
In the night’s final match, the last American hope Chris Hanson just wasn’t able to keep up with Grayson. The two were tied at 4-4 in the opening game, but Grayson won seven of the final eight points and breezed through three games: 11-5, 11-8, 11-6.
Raphael Kandra (Germany) def Rex Hedrick (Australia) 11-9, 11-6, 11-5
Ivan Yuen (Malaysia) def Christopher Gordon (USA) 8-11, 11-8, 11-8, 11-7
Campbell Grayson (New Zealand) def Chris Hanson (USA) 11-5, 11-8, 1 1-6
Abdullah Mohamed Al Tamimi (Qatar) def Todd Harrity (USA) 11-7, 11-7, 5-11, 7-11, 11-6
FRIDAY’S MATCHES, MAIN DRAW FIRST ROUND
(1) Mohamed ElShorbagy (Egypt) vs. Cesar Salazar (Mexico)
(6) Borja Golan (Spain) vs. Stephen Coppinger (South Africa)
(7) Ryan Cuskelly (Australia) vs. Campbell Grayson (New Zealand)
(4) Omar Mosaad (Egypt) vs. Abdullah Mohamed Al Tamimi (Qatar)
(3) Ali Farag (Egypt) vs. Gregoire Marche (France)
(6) Miguel Angel Rodriguez (Columbia) vs. Zahed Mohamed (Egypt)
(8) Diego Elias (Peru) vs. Raphael Kandra (Germany)
(2) Marwan ElShorbagy (Egypt) vs. Ivan Yuen (Malaysia)