• Motor City Open, Round 1: Parker, Singh come back in five; USA’s Brownell advances

    By Andrew Graham

    Birmingham, Michigan – The Sturbridge Capital Motor City Open revved up Wednesday with first round action at the Birmingham Athletic Club.

    The top eight seeds had byes and will be in action for the first time in Round 2 on Thursday evening. Seeds # 9 through #24 carried the night with plenty of competitive bouts including a win for American Tim Brownell and epic, five set comebacks from England’s George Parker and India’s Abhay Singh.

    Both opening matches went the distance. Colombian and World #56 Juan Camilo Vargas outlasted Japan’s Ryunosuke Tsukue (World # 59) in a back-and-forth, five-game bout. American Timothy Brownell, ranked # 41, overcame Malaysia’s Addeen Idrakie, ranked # 64. Neither match captivated the crowd quite like England’s George Parker and Spain’s Bernat Jaume on Court 2.

    England’s George Parker (right) topped India’s Abhay Singh in first round play at the MCO. (MCO photo)

    The five-gamer was a bit uncharacteristically animated, Parker said afterwards. Both players heavily lobbied for — and quickly grew tired of —decisions from the match official. Parker, #51 in the world, persevered over #58 Jaume after going down two games to one. Parker played two games of lights-out squash to stay alive, winning 22 points to Jaume’s nine.

    The secret behind the late-match turnaround? Listening to some advice from onlookers.

    “I had a few people speaking to me and telling me: ‘move the ball away from him. Make it more physical, open the court up,’” Parker said. “Which is normally the opposite of what I want to do. I probably play at too fast a pace and open it up too much, so I’ve been trying to get away from that and hit straighter lines. But that was the right tactic, because in the end it physically drained him. I put a good 15-20-minute spell into him and he sort of fell off a cliff. I just listened to the people that talk to me in between games.”

    As Parker worked back from a deficit, Mexico’s Cesar Salazar cruised on Court 3, dispatching Portugal’s Rui Soares, 3-1. Salazar, World #47, advances to Round 2, where he’ll have a massive challenge against top-seed Diego Elias, World #2 and winner of three-straight MCOs.

    Mexico’s Cesar Salazar (right) cruised over Portugal’s Rui Soares, 3-1. (MCO photo)

    Also cruising was Egypt’s Aly Hussein, World #61, who dispatched the US’s Shahjahan Khan, World #45, in straight games. An in-form Hussein could make a deep run in the tournament. Hussein was efficient, taking 33 points to Khan’s 14.

    The US’s Faraz Khan, World #54, came up short in a five-game loss to India’s Abhay Singh. Singh lost the first game and trailed two games to one before storming back. He extended the court, deploying deft drop shots drives into the back corners to keep Khan running. It was all part of a game plan that Singh admitted was not the easiest to stick to, going down 1-2.

    Faraz Khan (foreground) came up short in a five-game loss to India’s Abhay Singh/ (MCO photo)

    “The more important thing was to stick with it, even though I was 1-2 down,” Singh said after the match. “I think some of that started working, and he lost a bit of his steam towards the end.”

    Much like Salazar, Singh will have a big challenge on Thursday, facing the tournament’s second seed and World #3 Paul Coll of New Zealand.

    After benefiting from coaching in the stands, Parker paid that forward later in the evening, coaching fellow Brit and World #57 Simon Herbert to a win in one of the last matches of the day. Between games, Parker fed Herbert coaching points that helped him in a 3-1 triumph over Hungary’s Farkas Balazs.

    To round out the opening day of play, two big hitters battled on Court 3: France’s Lucas Serme and Egypt’s Ibrahim Elkabbani. Despite Serme taking an early one-game lead, Elkabbani’s mettle and physical ability proved too much.

    American Timothy Brownell (green shirt) overcame Malaysia’s Addeen Idrakie. (MCO photo)

    Round 1 (Wednesday) results

    Juan Camilo Vargas [COL] def. Ryunosuke Tsukue [JPN], 3-2 (10-12, 6-11, 11-9, 11-7, 11-5)

    Timothy Brownell [USA] def. Addeen Idrakie [MLY], 3-2 (11-9, 8-11, 15-13, 8-11, 11-5)

    George Parker [ENG] def. Bernat Jaume [ESP], 3-2 (6-11, 11-8, 10-12, 11-8, 11-1)

    Cesar Salazar [MEX] def. Rui Soares [POR], 3-1 (6-11, 13-11, 11-8, 11-8)

    Aly Hussein [EGY] def. Shahjahan Khan [USA], 3-0 (11-4, 11-5, 11-5)

    Abhay Singh [IND] def. Faraz Khan [USA], 3-2 (7-11, 11-4, 7-11, 11-6, 11-4)

    Simon Herbert [ENG] def. Farkas Balazs [HUN], 3-1 (11-7, 5-11, 11-2, 11-6)

    Ibrahim Elkabbani [EGY] def. Lucas Serme [FRA], 3-1 (9-11, 11-9, 11-6, 11-9)

    Portugal’s Rui Soares couldn’t put away Mexico’s Cesar Salazar. (MCO photo)

    Round 2 (Thursday) matches

    (4) Fares Dessouky [EGY]  vs. Juan Camilo Vargas [COL] (5 p.m.)

    (5) Mohamed ElSherbini [EGY] vs. Timothy Brownell [USA] (5 p.m.)

    (1) Diego Elias [PER] vs. Cesar Salazar [MEX] (6 p.m.)

    (6) Nicolas Mueller [SUI] vs. George Parker [ENG] (6 p.m.)

    (3) Miguel Rodriguez [COL] vs. TK (7 p.m.)

    (7) Adrian Waller [ENG] vs. Simon Herbert [ENG] (7 p.m.)

    (8) Mohamed Abouelghar [EGY] vs. Aly Hussein [EGY] (8 p.m.)

    (2) Paul Coll [NZL] vs. Abhay Singh [IND] (8 p.m.)


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