Round 1: Top seed Anjema falls
Grant survives scare; Other seeds advance
Bloomfield Hills, Mich. – David (Tom, actually) slew Goliath in the opening round of the 2011 Motor City Open presented by the Suburban Collection.
For the first time in the tournament’s 12 years, the top seed was ousted in Round One, as world #9 Laurens Jan Anjema fell in consecutive games to England’s World #30, Tom Richards. And though the other seeds advanced according to form, it wasn’t without more drama.
Mohamed El Shorbagy (#2), David Palmer (3), and Adrian Grant (4), all advanced – but Grant was stretched to the limit against Egyptian Mohd Ali Anwar Reda in an epic 5-gamer that lasted over 2 hours. And in an opening round match-up that might have spelled trouble for the 2000 MCO champ, Aussie Palmer looked impressive in holding off countryman – and World #15 – Cameron Pilley. Unseeded Jonathon Kemp, Alan Clyne, Omar Mosaad, and Tarek Momen all advanced as well.
Richards, in his first appearance at the MCO, stunned the crowd at the Birmingham Athletic Club with the ease in which he handled Anjema. The Englishman kept the tall Dutchman on the defensive throughout, scoring a quick 3-0 (11-7, 11-6, 11-7) victory. It was Richard’s first win over Anjema in four matches.
“I’ve been moving well and hitting it real well, not making too many errors,” Richards said of his recent form which has him playing the best squash of his young career. “I’m an attacking player – so if I’m not making errors, hopefully I’m making them work hard. I haven’t beaten him before, but I knew, with the way I’ve been playing, I had a good chance.”
Richards next opponent will be Omar Mosaad. The 6’ 3”, 198-pound Egyptian looked in good form Friday, defeating Aussie Ryan Cuskelly 3-0 (14-12, 11-7, 11-7). Mosaad and Richards have met only once previously, with Mosaad the victor at the 2010 KIG Open.
In other matches of note, Alan Clyne advanced to the quarters for the second straight year after defeating BAC Club pro and crowd-favorite Julian Wellings in three games, 3-0 (11-6, 11-7, 11-8). Despite the loss, Wellings – at 38, the tourney’s oldest entrant – played light on his feet and with superb shot placement. He had the sold-out crowd cheering loudly throughout.
Two-seed El Shorbagy, just 20 years-old and already World #9, eliminated 2009 MCO champion Borja Golan 3-1 (11-8, 11-8, 2-11, 11-7). The defeat is a temporary pothole on Golan’s road back from seven months on the disabled list due to a torn ACL. The pair put on an exhibition of marathon rallies which, in previous years, might have resulted in El Shorbagy losing his patience.
But a more seasoned, mature El Shorbagy maintained a slow pace and held back on forcing kill shots until he was 100 percent sure he had one.
“The first two games I just slowed down the pace, and it was working very well today,” El Shorbagy said after his win against the speedy Spaniard. “The third game I completely lost my concentration, found myself down five-love, so I just let the game go. I played my best in the fourth, and I think he played his best. I was just trying to get everything back, be patient, and to just dig in, dig in, dig in.”
The tournament continues Saturday afternoon with the quarterfinals set to begin at 3 pm.
- Tom Richards d. Laurens Jan Anjema 11-7, 11-6, 11-7
- Omar Mosaad d. Ryan Cuskelly 14-12, 11-7, 11-7
- Alan Clyne d. Julian Wellings 11-6, 11-7, 11-8
- Johnathon Kemp d. Mohammed Abbas 11-5, 11-6, WD
- Mohamed El Shorbagy d. Borja Golan 11-8, 11-8, 2-11, 11-7
- Tarek Momen d. Chris Ryder 12-10, 12-10, 12-10
- David Palmer d. Cameron Pilley 11-9, 11-9, 11-7
- Adrian Grant d. Mohd. Ali Anwar Reda 10-12, 11-5, 11-4, 10-12, 11-4
- Tom Richards v. Omar Mosaad
-  Adrian Grant v. Jonathon Kemp
-  David Palmer v. Alan Clyne
-  Mohamed El Shorbagy v. Tarek Momen