Razik Survives in Five, USA’s Gordon out
By James Hawkins
Bloomfield Hills, Mich. — Having traveled hundreds of miles from all corners of the globe to Michigan’s Birmingham Athletic Club, some of the world’s best squash players began their quest Thursday for the title of the Motor City Open presented by the Suburban Collection. At stake: a share of the record $70,000 purse and a Rolex watch courtesy of Greenstone’s Jewelers.
Qualifying play began Thursday in the Midwest’s largest squash tourney, with 14 pros battling it out for four spots in the main draw to be begin Saturday. And with the MCO boasting one of the most competitive and talented fields in its 14-year history, it didn’t take long for the action to heat up.
A week after losing to world #33 Mohd Nafiizwan Adnan of Malaysia in a grueling, two-hour, five-game, first round of qualifying match at the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions in New York, world #48 Siddharth Suchde of India returned the favor by sweeping Adnan, 14-12, 11-4, 11-8.
“It was nice to get revenge,” Suchde said afterwards. “It could’ve gone either way last week and I was a bit fortunate to win the first game. That was a massive boost and it got easier after that.”
Suchde focused on improving his weaknesses in their last encounter. “Last time, I had some good leads and I blew it. I just wanted to try and focus toward the end of the games,” he continued. “I wanted to be as solid as possible, move the ball around as much as possible, and be very patient. Overall, I played well and this is definitely one of my better wins.”
In other matches, world #41 Abdullah Al Muzayen of Kuwait pulled off an amazing comeback in the first game of his match against world #43 Martin Knight of New Zealand. Trailing 3-10, Muzayen rallied with nine-straight points to shock Knight and take the first game, 12-10.
“I was surprised to score nine straight,” Muzayen said. “But I was happy I took the first game because it gave me confidence and I played better after.”
In Game 2, Muzayen used quickness and slick shooting to win 11-3 before prevailing a grueling Game 3: 17-15.
“Martin was trying to come back in the third game, but I’m happy my shots were working – and to reach the qualifying finals,” Muzayen added.
Also advancing to the qualifying finals are Aussie Ryan Cuskelly, Mathieu Castagnet of France, and Hong Kong’s Max Lee – all winning their matches in three-straight games. Frenchman Gregoire Marche dashed American hopes by ousting local favorite Christopher Gordon, the lone American in the tournament, 11-9, 11-5, 7-11, 11-7.
And in the longest match of the night, – lasting 80 minutes – 17-year pro squash veteran Shahier Razick of Canada staved off elimination by outlasting Aussie Zac Alexander: 11-7, 9-11, 10-12, 11-7, 11-3.
Qualifying finals will begin Friday at 6 pm.
Thursday’s first qualifying round results:
Gregoire Marche (FRA) def. Christopher Gordon (USA) 11-9, 11-5, 7-11, 11-7
Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) def. Yasir Ali Butt (PAK) 11-6, 11-6, 14-12
Shahier Razik (CAN) def. Zac Alexander (AUS) 11-7, 9-11, 10-12, 11-7, 11-3
Max Lee (HKG) def. Ibrahim Nyanzi (UGA) 11-3, 11-3, 11-7
Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) def. Shahjahan Khan (PAK) 11-2, 11-8, 11-8
Abdullah Al Muzayen (KUW) def. Martin Knight (NZL) 12-10, 11-3, 17-15
Siddharth Suchde (IND) def. Mohd Nafiizwan Adnan (MAS) 14-12, 11-4, 11-8
Marwan El Shorbagy (EGY) advances on a bye
Friday’s qualifying finals:
Marwan El Shorbagy vs. Gregoire Marche
Ryan Cuskelly vs. Shahier Razik
Max Lee vs. Mathieu Castagnet
Adbullah Al Muzayen vs. Siddharth Suchde