India and Hong Kong were the winners of the afternoon's fixtures at Modern Squash. Both went to a deciding match but the two Asian countries overcame Germany and the United States.
By Jérôme Elhaïk and Jenny Lavaud
Pictures from Nathalie Goossens
The second match on the glass court today opposed India and Germany. The two sides have met twice before , the last time being in 2013 when Germany won. First on were number 2 seeds Rudi Rohrmuller et Vikram Malhotra. Both players found it difficult to set the pace but Malhorta had the edge and took the game 11-8. Once back on court, the Indian sped through the second game , conceeding just one point, 11-1. He then took an early lead in the third but at 7-2 up seemed to lose concentration and put a few balls in the tin. Rohrmuller climbed back to 8-9 but the Indian found new inspiration and took the next points to win the game 11-8. Great news for his team!
The big match of the day brought on court two well-known figures on the PSA circuit – Simon Rösner against Saurav Ghosal (pictures below). Their matches have always been very close, Ghosal having a slight advantage over Rösner, 4-3, even though the German is the higher ranked player. It proved to be an up-and-down, five-setter match ! A fine display of squash in the first game with some long exciting rallies greatly appreciated by the crowd , Rosner scraping through 11-9. Ghosal stormed back in the second game taking an 8-0 lead. Some great shots from the Indian secured the game 11-4. At 1-1, the third game was to be vital. Rösner took an early lead but Ghosal battled on and levelled up at 5-5. However, the German was having none of it and took the next 6 points and the game. Both players looked extremely determined at the beginning of the fourth - a tight game wih a slight advantage to Ghosal 6-3, 7-4. He finally won the game 11-6. Back on court, a very quick fifth game won by Rösner, Germany 1- India 1.
The decider between Valentin Rapp and Mahesh Mangaonkar was to determine which team would face England in the quarters. After several close rallies in the first, 11-6 for India. The less experienced German seemed more relaxed in the second and put up a strong fight to level up at 4-4 but eventually lost the game 11-8. Mangaonkar started well and continued to do so ensuring India of a place in the quarters against England.
Comments by Simon Rösner after his win
“A really tough, up-and-down match. I was playing well and then he wasn’t and the other way around. Fortunately, I had a good start in the fifth game and managed to keep an advantage but I found the conditions difficult here. It’s very cold and the ball is dead. You have to modify the game and get the ball to the back and into the corners. There were some awesome rallies. I enjoyed it and I hope the crowd did too.”
Hong Kong have made the top 8 for only the second time in their history at the MWTC but it was far from easy against a very resilient US team. Leo Au put the HK boys in front, beating Chris Gordon in 4 games, before American number one Todd Harrity produced what was – according to some journalists who follow US players all year long - “one of the best performances of his career,” overcoming much higher ranked Max Lee in 4 games (picture below). The third match of the tie was therefore the deciding one, and after a close game Yip prevailed against Chris Hanson. Hong is through to the quarters and might play home country France tomorrow.
Hong Kong's number 3 Tsz Fung Yip
"Of course I was a bit tense because it was a big match, but I was also very focused. It's kind of the match where both players will give 120 per cent. I am very happy to get the win, it was very close all the way against the US. We're happy to make the top 8, but we are taking things step by step. We might be playing France tomorrow, even though they'll be supporting their team obviously, that would be great to play in such an atmosphere. That is what you want for the sport, the more people who watch the better. As far as we are concerned, we want to perform well and give our best. Yes, our new coach Chris Robertson has been important. He brings a new prospective and new ideas.”