At an age of 38, James Willstrop still has the ability to tame his much younger counterparts on the PSA World Tour circuit.
The former World No.1 Englishman proved that once again with a quickfire victory over 28-year-old Faraz Khan of America on the opening day of the Qatar QTerminals Classic.
Willstrop, who won the title in Doha in 2005, was playing in one of yesterday’s late matches on the first day at the Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex, wrapping up a comfortable 11-1, 11-4, 11-3 victory in only 18 minutes.
“I’ve been here about 500 times,” Willstrop said after the one-sided match.
“I don’t take anyone lightly and I prepared really well. I hope it’s a sign of respect because if I let go for a couple of seconds then things can quickly change,” said the Englishman, who defeated Marwan ElShorbagy and Mohamed Abouelghar at the US Open earlier this month.
Willstrop, however, faces an uphill task in the second round where he will meet Egypt’s third seed Tarek Momen - the US Open finalist.
“I’ll have to be quick and move well on here, and for a big galoot like me that’s not always easy,” Willstrop said.
Germany's Raphael Kandra (right) and Qatar's Abdulrahman Al Malki in action during their first round match.
“He’s going to take me in short, he always does. If I play at the level like I was in the US Open, I’m in with a shout. I just need to take each game, moment and rally as it comes with him because he is too good.”
While the Englishman recorded an easy win, it wasn’t the story in all matches on the exciting opening day.
India’s Ramit Tandon pulled off a thrilling 3-2 win over Scotsman Greg Lobban to advance to the second round, setting up a clash against England’s Patrick Rooney.
The World No.46 took a 2-0 lead and overcame a great fightback from the World No.32 for an 11-9, 11-7, 9-11, 12-14, 11-8 win in 60 minutes.
Rooney – a World No.42 – dispatched Tsz Fung Yip, beating the Hong Kong player 11-3, 9-11, 11-6, 5-11, 11-9 in 46 minutes.
Also yesterday, World No.68 Rui Soares made history, becoming the first Portuguese player to win a match with a 3-2 (7-11, 11-6, 4-11, 11-6, 11-6) win against Mexico’s Cezar Salazar in 39 minutes.
“It’s unbelievable to play this tournament in Qatar,” Soares said.
“The organisation is unreal. I’ve heard a lot of good things, but it’s great to be here to play this tournament,” he added.
Another Indian player, Mahesh Mangaonkar registered his first win at a PSA World Tour Platinum event after defeating Scotland’s Alan Clyne.
The World No.55 advanced to the second round after a 3-1: 11-7, 11-6, 3-11, 11-2 win in 48 minutes. He faces seventh seed Mostafa Asal of Egypt today.
England's Declan James and Syed Azlan Amjad (left) of Qatar in action.
Qatar’s interest in home event ended early in absence of injured Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi – a World No.35 – with both wild card entrants Abdulrahman Al Malki and Syed Azlan Amjad falling at first hurdles.
Germany’s Raphael Kandra defeated Al Malki 11-2, 11-7, 11-5 in 22m while Englishman Declan James sent Amjad packing with a 11-4, 11-5, 11-7 victory in 35 minutes.