DOHA: ‘It was tough as it always is, and it hasn’t really sunk in yet, but I’m delighted obviously to beat him for the first time’ Daryl Selby has been on a roll of late. In the last 16 stage of the recent World Championship in Cairo, the 34-year-old Englishman gave a big fright to eventual finalist Ramy Ashour, before going down fighting. He seems to have carried that form to the Qatar Classic, being played at the Khalifa Tennis and Squash Complex here, as he created the first big upset on the second day of the World Series event yesterday by sending second seed Omar Mossad crashing out. The pulsating opening round clash wasn’t expected to go the distance, with Selby trailing 0-5 against the Egyptian in head-to-head record. He was trailing here too, after taking the first game 11-9 with some fast and accurate squash. Mossad stormed back to take the next two games 5-11 and 2-11, and it looked like a matter of time before the head-to-head record turned 6-0 in favour of the World No. 4 Egyptian. However, Selby rode out a scrappy fourth game and controlled the tempo in a one-sided fifth to end his five-match losing streak against ‘The Hammer of Thor’.
“It was tough as it always is, and it hasn’t really sunk in yet, but I’m delighted obviously to beat him for the first time,” said Selby at the end of the 69-minute contest. “It was a similar match to the ones we’ve played in the past, they always seem to be five-gamers and they’re always fairly physical. “I expect that really because he’s such a big guy. He’s tough to play because he hits the ball so hard and so clean. Maybe I kept my head a little bit better in the fifth game and he looked a little bit despondent. He’s lacking a little bit of confidence at the moment, whereas I’ve been having some decent results. “I think that was the difference really, the confidence factor. I was nearly not going to play because I’ve been struggling with a little neck injury, but managed thanks to the physio and a little bit of grit and determination. That’s why I was shouting and getting really animated because I was trying to get my adrenaline going,” added Selby, who meets fellow Englishman Adrian Waller next.
Waller, who had to come through qualifying, made it past Nicolas Mueller of Switzerland, taking three games on the trot after losing the opening game. Mueller led the head-to-head record by three matches to one before yesterday’s match, and the Zurich-based 27-year-old took the match to Waller in the opening game, with his accurate shots to the front of the court causing his English opponent numerous problems. But it was Waller all the way thereafter. “I don’t know how I managed to steal that at the end to be honest,” said Waller. “It was a bit of a scrap at times between us. We’ve played for a lot of years and we know each other well enough to pre-empt what the other one is going to do a little bit. I think it was a good draw for both of us.” Egypt’s World No. 25 Zahed Mohamed put in a superb display to overcome England’s Tom Richards in straight games to make it to the second round of a World Series tournament for the first time in his career. The 24-year-old blew Richards away with some accurate nicks and powerful smashes, sending his English opponent scurrying to all corners of the court for the better part of their 25-minute contest. The best match of the day was undoubtedly the one between World No. 16 Ryan Cuskelly, who managed to overcome the feisty Max Lee from Hong Kong after a gladiatorial five-game battle.
Lee sped through a one-sided first game 11-3, but Cuskelly refused to bow down to the pressure as he battled back to go 2-1 ahead. The 29-year-old was unable to convert a match ball though, and Lee forced a decider, only to succumb to cramps as Cuskelly closed out a 3-2 win (3-11, 11-9, 11-6, 11-13, 11-9) after 96 energy-sapping minutes. Recently-crowned world champion Karim Abdel Gawad opened his Qatar Classic campaign with a scrappy 3-1 win over fellow Egyptian Mohamed Reda. A flurry of errors and some consistent play from Reda saw World No. 3 Gawad losing the opening game 9-11, but it was virtually one-way traffic thereafter as the 25-year-old found his range and showcased his sublime attacking talents to full effect to take the next three games 11-6, 11-4, 11-3. He will take on compatriot Zahed Mohamed for a place in the quarter-finals. “I was very, very tired after the World Championship,” said Gawad. “I finished on Friday and then I had to travel on Monday to Qatar. I only had a couple of sessions in Qatar, I didn’t have enough time to do some fitness. I didn’t try to exert myself much today.”
Australian Cameron Pilley, seeded eighth, was in a league of his own against Malaysian qualifier Nafiizwan Adnan, winning in straight games 11-5, 11-9, 11-5.