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Rosner and Darwish Survive Marathon Matches

German squash star Simon Rosner and world #5 Karim Darwish of Egypt each survived marathon five- game matches to move into the second round of the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions at Grand Central Terminal where they will play each other.

Fifth seed Karim Darwish of Egypt found himself facing an early exit from the tournament when his countryman, 25-year-old Omar Mosaad, took a 2-0 lead in their afternoon match on the glass court in Vanderbilt Hall. Mosaad, world – ranked #12, was firing on all cylinders as he used a strong and fast attacking game to put Darwish, a former world #1 , on the defensive. In the third, Darwish reversed the roles by attacking first to stay alive and win the game. “I knew I had to go out there and start attacking more,” said Darwish,” and it helped that the ball cooled down after the second game so I could put my shots where I wanted.” The 32-year-old from Cairo capitalized in the fourth on a lapse of focus by Mosaad to win the game and even the match at two all. “The final game was anybody’s to win,” said the eventual victor, who took advantage of his opponent’s waning energy to capture the deciding game 11-9 after 82 minutes of play. Darwish’s next opponent, Simon Rosner, eked out the opening game of his match in a 14-12 tiebreak against India’s Saurav Ghosal The second game went to Ghosal in another tiebreak, 16-14. Although the height differential between the two players is 9”, with the 6”3” German towering over the 5’6” Ghosal. they stood toe-to-toe when it came to battling for points. Ghosal took control of the match in the third game, jumping out to a 7-2 lead and winning the game 11-4. ”The first two games were brutal,” said Rosner,”and after the third, my energy dropped. I don’t quite know how I managed to get back on track.” But he did get back on track to even the match at 2-2 after winning the fourth 11-9. Going into the deciding game, Rosner gave himself a pep talk. “I saw that Ghosal was getting tired, so I told myself to stay positive and just get one more shot back than him.” The self-help worked as Rosner secured his spot in the second round by winning the fifth game 11-5 after being on court for 90 minutes. Earlier in the day, Englishman Chris Simpson achieved his goal of getting into the second round when he defeated Harvard senior and qualifier Ali Farag, The players were a definite contrast in styles. Simpson is a consistent player who is known for his ability to hit the ball extremely tight and straight. Farag, on the other hand, has a relaxed hitting style and is a counter puncher who likes to move the ball around the court. . “He has a refreshing style of play,” said Squash TV commentator Paul Johnson. “He doesn’t rely on power the way a lot of players do these days.” The entire capacity crowd was enthralled by the youthful energy of the two players, each of whom knew he had a substantial chance of getting to the second round if he played well. The 22-year-old Egyptian especially delighted the cadre of his Harvard teammates in the crowd when he won the first game 11-9. Just after the start of the second game, Farag suffered a bloody nose when got a little too close to Simpson’s swing. After being patched up by the medics, Farag got back on court, but not the game which Simpson won 11-0. In the third, Farag had a 10-6 and three game balls, none of which he was able to convert for the win. In the fourth, Simpson’s strategy of changing pace and not giving his counter punching opponent much power paid big dividends as the 26-year-old from Guernsey closed out the match by winning the fourth game 11-5. “I am relieved to win that one,” said Simpson after the match. “A lot of people were thinking that I had a great draw because I was playing an unranked qualifier. But all the players know how good he is- he plays to the level of a top 20 or top 30 ranking player. The match really came down to that third game. Farag can be an up and down player, so when he was up 10-7, I knew that if I stayed strong, I still had a chance of winning.” Simpson will now face eighth seed Daryl Selby who won a straight forward match in three games against qualifier Adrian Waller. Third- seed Mohamed Elshorbagy defeated the American wild card Todd Harrity in three games before a highly partisan crowd. Although both players are the same age – 23- the Egyptian has substantially more experience playing on the professional tour. “This was a great opportunity to experience first- hand what a top player has in his game that I don’t,” said Harrity after the match. “The biggest thing was how incredibly fast the game is at that level.” Elshorbagy’s next opponent is countryman Tarek Momen who defeated qualifier Omar Abdel Meguid in straight games. “It is difficult mentally for me to play Omar because we are teammates and friends – we have been playing each other since we were eight years old.” Born and based in Cairo, the two 25-year olds were born on the same day, and are only one point apart -at 11 and 12- in the PSA rankings. On this day, though, it was all Momen as he completely controlled the match from start to finish. “I feel that my game has improved a lot this past year, even though I haven’t had the greatest season. I just need more confidence now.” The final second round matchup features top seed Gregory Gaultier, who defeated Tom Richards 3-0, and #19 ranked Alister Walker. “I think that was the longest three-game match I have ever played,” said Walker of his 67-minute victory which featured two tiebreak games. Keeping the ball straight and tight on the wall, Walker contained the speed and agility that are the trademarks of his opponent Miguel Angel Rodriguez. “Miguel is so quick that I knew I had to be very patient and could only go for a winner when he was completely out of position.” [3] Mohamed Elshorbagy (EGY) bt [WC] Todd Harrity (USA) 11-3, 12-10,11-2 28 mins Tarek Momen (EGY) v [Q] Omar Abdel Meguid (EGY) 11-5, 11-6, 11-8 32 mins
Chris Simpson (ENG) bt [Q] Ali Farag (EGY) 9-11, 11-0, 12-10,11-5 69 mins
[8] Daryl Selby (ENG) v [Q] Adrian Waller (ENG) 11-9, 11-7, 11-5 43 mins
[5] Karim Darwish (EGY) bt Omar Mosaad (EGY) 6-11, 11-13, 11-7, 11-5, 11-9 82 mins
Simon Rosner (GER) bt. Saurav Ghosal (IND) 14-12, 14-16, 4-11, 11-9, 11-5 90 mins
Alister Walker (BOT) bt. Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL) 13-11, 11-7, 18-16 67 mins
[1] Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt Tom Richards (ENG) 11-4,11-8,11-6 41 mins