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Colombia’s Rodriguez Makes History

29-year-old Colombian World No.8 Miguel Angel Rodriguez became the first ever South American squash player to reach the quarter-finals of a PSA World Series event after beating England’s Peter Barker in a 120-minute epic at the J.P Morgan Tournament of Champions.

Two of the fittest and most fluid movers on tour, the duo served up a titanic battle of attrition that was packed with lung-bursting rallies as they tried to break each other down but it was Rodriguez, the highest ranked South American player of all time, who managed to edge it, taking the match 11-6, 8-11, 11-13, 11-9, 11-7 and record his first ever win over the World No.6.

“This is one of the best wins of my career so far because it is the first time I have beaten him and also the first time I’ve made it to the quarter-finals at one of the major events,” said Rodriguez.

“I prepared very hard for the match and I’m delighted to win. I think I played very well – it was not an easy match because he is a very tough player.”

After taking the opening game, which in itself lasted 26-minutes, Rodriguez found himself 2-1 down after Barker closed out a gritty tie-breaker in the third and the Englishman appeared to have the ascendency as he moved 9-7 ahead in the fourth game and within two points of the match.

But two consecutive errors gave the Colombian an opportunity and he pounced to keep the match alive and in the deciding game he continued to set a relentless physical pace that 31-year-old Barker couldn’t live with.

“I worked very hard on the physical side of the game last year and I played a lot of events as well so had a good rhythm and it has all payed off for me,” sad Rodriguez.

“I’ve started the year in the top ten and at my highest ever ranking and I’m into the quarter-finals for the first time so i already feel like this is definitely going to be my best year.”

In a mammoth day of action in Manhattan there were also wins for German World No.10 Simon Rösner, French World No.2 Gregory Gaultier and England’s World No.4 Nick Matthew, with Gaultier claiming the quickest win of the day with his 43-minute, 3-0 triumph over qualifier Tom Richards.

Omar Mosaad had Nick Matthew on the ropes but the three-time World Champion refused to lose. “I had to use every bit of my 34 years of experience to pull that out,” the relieved Englishman said after the match. Mosaad played superb squash, at times looking like he had Matthew on a string as he forced the 2012 ToC titleholder to scramble to cover every corner of the court. Matthew dug in and returned everything Mosaad threw at him, ultimately prevailing 7-11, 15-13, 11-6.

Results: Second Round (Bottom half) J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions
[3] Nick Matthew (ENG) bt Omar Mosaad (EGY) 3-1: 7-11, 15-13, 11-6, 13-11 [94m]
[8] Simon Rösner (GER) bt Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) 3-1: 11-13, 11-5, 11-5, 11-6 [75m]
Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL) bt [5] Peter Barker (ENG) 3-2: 11-6, 8-11, 11-13, 11-9, 11-7 [120m]
[2] Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt [Q] Tom Richards (ENG) 3-0: 11-6, 11-5, 11-3 [43m]

 Draw: Quarter-finals, Top Half (To be played Jan 20)

[1] Mohamed Elshorbagy (EGY) v [6] Borja Golan (ESP)
[7] Tarek Momen (EGY) v [4] Amr Shabana (EGY)