by Nolan Bianchi
The Motor City Open
Birmingham, MI – Coming all the way from England, Nathan Lake is getting comfortable in Detroit.
Lake, World #38 in the Professional Squash Association Tour rankings, last came to the Motor City Open Presented by Sturbridge Capital in 2020. He fell to eventual champion Diego Elias of Peru in the second round. After the 2021 Motor City Open was canceled due to the pandemic, he’s happy to be back.
“They do such a good job here that, every time I come back, I feel relaxed and I play my best squash,” Lake said after cruising past World #34 Shahjahan Khan of the US in three games, 11-2, 11-6, 11-6. Next up: a rematch with Elias, currently ranked World # 6, in Thursday’s Round of 16.
“This is the strongest Motor City Open that I’ve ever been involved in,” Lake added of the $75,000 tourney. “There’s no easy matches, so to win today was great. I felt good out there, felt good to get off in 40 minutes. Couldn’t ask for anything more, really.”
The 6’1” Englishman knows a thing or two about rematches. Wednesday’s opening round at the MCO was his third match with Khan in four weeks (he won them all), which might mean an extra dose of perspective heading into his match with Elias.
But pressure? There won’t be much of that — even if there should be.
“There probably should be a bit of pressure, but I’m trying not to think about it that way,” Lake said. “It’s massive to do well here. Tournaments are few and far between because of COVID, so it feels like tournaments count for double.”
World #75 Cesar Salazar of Mexico also has had a Motor City Open ended by Elias – in 2019. His opening-round upset of French World #33 Lucas Serme is especially meaningful because of time lost that he’s trying to get back.
Salazar tumbled down the world rankings after testing positive for COVID just days before the 2021 World Championships.
“It’s a little motivation for me,” Salazar said. “I lost all my ranking. Now I am 75 or 80 or something like that, but I think it doesn’t matter. I’m just trying to be focused in my game, to be training, to be ready to play in more tournaments. The ranking will come back.”
After swiftly going up 2-0 against Serme, Salazar had some trouble putting him away. Serme took a 7-5 lead in the third game before Salazar charged back to end the match: 11-9, 11-5, 11-9.
“The third game was close because he was improving, but he made some big mistakes in the last points. For me, it was great,” Salazar said. “I just tried to be focused in my game. Lucas is a very dangerous player because of his fitness, so I tried to play intelligently, changing the pace.”
Of course, Salazar is playing for a little more than that. With a $75,000 purse and Longines watch from Greenstone’s Jewelers at stake, the 2022 MCO features one of the deepest fields since its inception in 1999.
Eight of the world’s Top 20 squash pros and 19 of the Top 40 are entered, which continues Thursday at 5 PM.
World #23 Omar Mosaad of Egypt, a fan-favorite at the Motor City Open, nearly had his dreams of finally winning his first MCO ended by Malaysia’s Ivan Yuen.
Yuen took the first two games – 11-9, 12-10 – before Mosaad roared back, rattling off three straight games: 11-5, 11-6, 11-5.
Cesar Salazar (Mexico) def. Lucas Serme (France), 11-9, 11-5, 11-9|
Borja Golan (Spain) def. Todd Harrity (USA), 11-6, 11-7, 11-6
George Parker (England) def. Arturo Salazar (Mexico), 11-7, 11-5, 11-2
Nathan Lake (England) def. Shahjahan Kahn (USA), 11-2, 11-6, 11-6
Adrian Waller (England) def. Dimitri Steinmann (Switzerland), 11-5, 11-3, 8-11, 8-11, 11-3
Omar Mosaad (Egypt) def. Ivan Yuen (Malaysia), 9-11, 10-12, 11-5, 11-6, 11-5
Nicolas Mueller (Switzerland) def. Greg Lobban (Scotland), 11-5, 11-8, 11-4
Sebastian Bonmalais (France) def. Patrick Rooney (England), 11-9, 17-5, 11-5
Thursday’s Round of 16
1) Paul Coll (New Zealand) vs. Cesar Salazar (Mexico), 5 p.m., Court 3
8) Eain Yow Ng (MAS) vs. Borja Golan (Spain), 5 p.m., Court 2|
6) Karim Abdel Gawad (Egypt) vs. George Parker (England), 6 p.m., Court 2
3) Diego Elias (Peru) vs. Nathan Lake (England), 6 p.m., Court 3
4) Marwan ElShorbagy (Egypt) vs. Adrian Waller (England), 7 p.m., Court 3
5) Fares Dessouky (Egypt) vs. Omar Mosaad (Egypt), 7 p.m., Court 2
7) Mazen Hesham (Egypt) vs. Nicolas Mueller (Switzerland), 8 p.m., Court 3
2) Tarek Momen (Egypt) vs. Sebastian Bonmalais (France), 8 p.m., Court 2
Second Round: Thursday, Jan. 27, 5 p.m.-9 p.m.
Quarter Finals: Friday, Jan. 28, 6 p.m.-9 p.m.
Semi-Finals: Saturday, Jan. 29, 5 p.m.-8 p.m.
Finals: Sunday, Jan. 30, 4 p.m.-6 p.m.
Birmingham Athletic Club
4033 W. Maple Road, Bloomfield Hills, MI
FOR TICKETS AND INFORMATION CONTACT: Julian Wellings, MCO Squash Director, 248.646.5050, firstname.lastname@example.org