World No.1 Ali Farag kicked off his title defense at the Qatar Classic Squash Championship with a straight-game victory as home favorite Abdulla Al Tamimi crashed out in the second round of PSA Platinum event at Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex, yesterday.
Reigning world champion Tarek Momen, the third-seeded Egyptian, also joined compatriot Farag in today’s last-16 stage after a commanding victory over countryman Youssef Soliman.
Farag, who regained his top spot in November’s world rankings, looked well-composed as he began his campaign against England’s Richie Fallows, who defeated Pakistan’s Tayyab Aslam in the first round.
He faced resistance in the first two games from the Englishman with scores going neck and neck but the second-seeded Egyptian remained clinical to take 2-0 lead. The 28-year-old completely dominated the third game to seal an emphatic 11-9, 11-8, 11-3 victory in 28 minutes.
“This is a unique court in a good way in that it takes the ball in very easily, so any bad shot and you’re penalised immediately,” Farag said yesterday after his win.
“All credit to Richie he played really well. In the first two I couldn’t really find my range and in the third I was happy I was able to find the corners I was intending to,” he added.
The World No.1 will now take on Malaysia’s Eain Yow Ng, who defeated England’s Declan James earlier yesterday.
“Another guy I’ve never played before up next. What a promising talent he is, World Junior champion and has been knocking on the door for a while now,” Farag said of the Malaysian star.
Peru’s Diego Elias plays a backhand shot against Qatar's Abdulla Al Tamimi.
Errors, injury end Al Tamimi’s run
Al Tamimi headed into yesterday’s match with a 3-0 advantage over Peru’s World No.7 Diego Elias in their previous head-to-head meetings, but the top Qatari player made many errors before injury eventually ended his dream of lifting the title as Elias won the match 11-9, 11-4, 11-8 in 43 minutes.
The World No.30 Qatari could have easily won the first game had he not struck tins on eight occasions as Elias took the lead.
Al Tamimi doubled the deficit after repeating more mistakes in the second game before coming with an improved show in the third.
However, Al Tamimi suffered from hamstring strain when Elias was leading 9-8, just to return to complete the match after a three-minute treatment, with Peruvian winning the remaining two points comfortably. “We’ve played (together) all of our lives,” said the World No.7 after the match.
“I think the first time we played I was 14 and he was 16. We played a couple of times in juniors and he beat me there also. It’s the first time I’ve beat him here. He (Al Tamimi) is really hard to play, he has so many different shots from the front and I never know what he’s going to do. It’s really hard for me, we’re really good friends too, so I’m really sad for what happened and I hope he has a quick recovery,” Elias added.
The Peru star will meet Colombia’s World No.9 Miguel Rodriguez, who outclassed America’s Shahjahan Khan 11-3, 11-3, 11-6 for a place in the quarter-finals.
World champion Tarek Momen in action against Youssef Soliman, yesterday.
Willstrop faces Momen in third round
Momen, who clinched the world title in Doha last year, had a slow start yesterday but later on he gained rhythm to oust talented Soliman 13-11, 9-11, 11-1, 11-5 in 56 minutes. Soliman, a World No. 28, gave his best of the match in second game but an experienced Momen proved too good for him in the next two games as he booked the third round clash with former World No.1 James Willstrop.
“James (Willstrop), as everyone knows is a former World No.1 and his skills are just incredible and out of this world. I always enjoy watching him and he is still competing at a really high level,” said Momen after his win.
“He’s more than capable of toppling any top player on a good day, so I have to be careful and be on my toes. I know tomorrow won’t be an easy match but I’m going to enjoy it against a really good player,” he said.
Earlier, England’s Willstrop defeated Scotsman Greg Lobban 11-7, 13-15, 11-7, 11-7 to march into the last 16 stage.
It took Willstrop – the current World No. 18 – 59 minutes to dispatch Lobban, who produced a good fight back after dropping the first game. The World No.22 saved two game balls in the second and leveled the match with some good lengths. But Willstrop, a regular visitor in Doha with 17 appearances in Qatar Classic, denied Lobban further success to keep hopes alive of his first title in the event since 2005.
“I feel alright and quite fit. We’ve been training all week and it’s just exciting to be on the court now,” said Willstrop.
“It’s a bit of a sad situation right now everywhere but we’re enormously grateful and we’re pleased. I’m in a good frame of mind and feeling good,” he said.
In what was expected to be a thriller, Welshman Joel Makin – World No. 10 - eased past Egypt’s World No.11 Mohamed Abouelghar in straight games with a 11-7, 11-3, 11-6 score-line in only 33 minutes.
Makin will meet Frenchman Lucas Serme in the last 16.
Serme made a brilliant fightback against Englishman Tom Richards, marking a 9-11, 11-9, 11-9, 11-6 win to advance.