Top seeds crash out in marathon qualifying finals
Day two of the Delaware Investments US Open Squash Championships saw the conclusion of the men's qualifying competition, with two matches in each of four Philadelphia Clubs.
At Drexel University Nicolas Mueller had to withstand a fast-paced attack from India's Siddarth Suchde, who took the game to the young Swiss from the outset, taking the first game 11/7 and opening up a good lead in the second. Unfazed, Mueller fought back to take the second and third games 11/8, 11/5, but in the fourth Suchde again attacked at pace and led 7/4.
His strategy was high risk though, and several clips of the tin brought Mueller back into the game, and from 9-all two more errors brought relief to the Swiss and disappointment to the Indian.
"It was a tough first two games," said Mueller. "He played well to go 1-0 and 5/2 up, but I was just too loose. I managed to get some quick points to get back into it, and started to control it better in the third. The last was point for point, he hit a few winners but fortunately he hit more tins.
"I'm happy to be in the main draw - I don't mind who I get, you have to beat everyone to win the tournament!"
Further disappointment followed for the Indian camp as top seed Saurav Ghosal found Ryan Cuskelly just too steady and too determined as the Australian battled his way to an 80-minute upset win. The first two games were shared, then Cuskelly took a crucial lead after saving a game ball in the third game.
Ghosal's renowned speed around court was much in evidence, but Cuskelly was controlling the rallies well, and more often than not it was the Indian who was going for the risky shot to try to finish the rallies.
Midway through the fourth the effort seemed to be telling on Cuskelly as, for the first time, he looked fatigued and from 4-all he fell 8/4 behind with Ghosal seeming to be taking charge. But the left-handed Aussie found some extra reserves to level at 9-all and force two final errors from the Indian racket.
"I wouldn't have minded a shorter match," added the winner, "but I have to be happy with taking out the top qualifying seed to make the main draw.
"The work I've been doing with Rodney is starting to pay off now, I'm able to play the type of game I want to play, keeping it tight, forcing the loose ball out of them and attacking when the opportunity comes. I felt my game was struggling, but he's really given me a boost.
Cuskelly's reward is a meeting with fellow Aussie David Palmer, the eighth seed, while Mueller drew Englishman Jon Kemp.
Over at Merion Cricket Club Chris Ryder and Shawn Delierre enjoyed straight game victories, as did Simon Rosner at the Germantown Cricket Club, where Tarek Momen took 71 minutes for his five-game win over Robbie Temple.
The Racquet Club of Philadelphia saw two brutal matches, as Scotland's Alan Clyne beat qualifying second seed Ong Beng Hee in four games and 84 minutes, the longest match of the two day qualifying competition. Zac Alexander, the last-minute entrant who upset Steve Coppinger last night, continued his run with a 3/1 victory over world junior champion Marwan El Shorbagy in exactly an hour.
Alexander drew the short straw ah he came out of the hat of qualifiers first, to be slotted against top seed, world champion and world number one Nick Matthew.
Men's Qualifying Finals:
Nicolas Mueller (Sui) bt Siddarth Suchde (Ind) 7/11, 11/8, 11/5, 11/9 (58m)
Ryan Cuskelly (Aus) bt Saurav Ghosal (Ind) 11/7, 6/11, 13/11, 11/9 (80m)
Merion Cricket Club
Chris Ryder (Eng) bt Martin Knight (Nzl) 11/3, 11/7, 11/5 (56m)
Shawn Delierre (Can) bt Julien Balbo (Fra) 11/5, 11/7, 11/6 (45m)
Germantown Cricket Club
Tarek Momen (Egy) bt Robbie Temple (Eng) 11/4, 9/11, 11/3, 8/11, 11/7 (71m)
Simon Rosner (Ger) bt Joey Barrington (Eng) 11/4, 11/8, 11/4 (41m)
Racquet Club of Philadelphia
Alan Clyne (Sco) bt Ong Beng Hee (Mas) 10/12, 11/8, 12/10, 11/9 (84m)
Zac Alexander (Aus) bt Marwan El Shorbagy (Egy) 11/2, 12/10, 3/11, 11/8 (60m)
Main Draw Matchups: Matthew v Alexander, Richards v Momen, Hisham v Clyne, Selby v Rosner, Grant v Delierre, Anjema v Ryder, Palmer v Cuskelly, Kemp v Mueller
Action continues on Friday with eight men's first round matches (top half) on the Glass Court, and eight women's qualifying round one matches on the traditional courts at Drexel University. Both start at 12.00.
Impressive progress in the arena
During the day, preparations in the Daskalakis Athletic Centre moved on apace, with yesterday's essentially bare auditorium rapidly filling up and being transformed into what promises to be one of the best venues ever, catering for spectators, players, organisers and media in nicely-partitioned sections and making very good use of the impressive space available.