Day ONE Reports & Reaction

August’s ‘Festival of Squash’ continues as the 2021 Manchester Open gets under way at the National Squash Centre with sixteen first round matches.

Following on from last week’s British Nationals, an international field is assembled for the third edition of the Manchester Open, this time as a men’s and women’s PSA Silver event with $85,000 prize money on offer in both draws.

Day One features sixteen first round matches on two courts, with the winners progressing to matches against the seeded players on day two.

You can watch live on SQUASHTV and Facebook follow the matches with live scoring and our social media feeds, and we’ll have reports and reaction from the Glass Court right here, with a roundup to follow at the end of the day.

Manchester Open 2021 : Day ONE Glass Court

Lisa Aitken (Sco) 3-2 Donna Lobban (Aus)    8-11, 4-11, 11-6, 11-8, 11-4 (53m)
Adrian Waller (Eng) 3-2 Youssef Soliman (Egy)  7-11, 11-6, 11-6, 7-11, 11-9 (85m)
Jasmine Hutton (Eng) 3-0 Lucy Turmel (Eng)   11-7, 11-5, 11-7 (35m)
Youssef Ibrahim (Egy) 3-0 Mohamed ElSherbini (Egy)   11-6, 11-7, 12-10 (39m)

Coline Aumard (Fra) 3-0 Rachael Chadwick (Eng)   11-3, 11-2, 11-7 (31m)
Patrick Rooney (Eng) 3-0 James Willstrop (Eng)   11-4, 11-5, 11-8 (36m)
Rachel Arnold (Mas) 3-0 Alexandra Fuller (Rsa  ) 11-9, 11-6, 11-3 (24m)
[wc] George Parker (Eng) 3-0: Greg Lobban (Sco)   11-5, 11-6, 11-3 (36m)

Draws & Results  Live Scores Photo Galleries

Aitken Fights Back To Shock Lobban

Lisa Aitken

In the opening match of the tournament on the glass court, Scotland’s Lisa Aitken came back from two games down to record a surprise victory over fellow left-hander Donna Lobban.

The Aussie, who has been as high as World No.13 during her career, raced into a two-game lead after just 20 minutes of play at the National Squash Centre in Manchester, but Aitken was able to get herself back into the match.

The Scot, who has spent time in the commentary box for SquashTV at recent events, took the last three games in some style, to book her place in the last 16 of the Manchester Open.

“I think the turning point had to be when I was 2-0 down. Something had to change there and it was just a quick refocus on tactic. I was opening up the court far too early. I knew I wanted to attack into the front of the court but I didn’t really get that reward. I wasn’t really building the rallies well enough to take it in. At 2-0 down I knew I had put some work into her, I felt great, build the rallies, then attack on it,” she explained.

“Obviously I will be looking to push on and get another result here. I am going to tournaments am losing the first or second round so I am just pleased to beat a great player like Donna. I have grown up, looking up to her a little bit, and she is the type of player, with her ranking, that I am looking to beat now.

“My breakfast didn’t arrive on time, and that threw me off a little bit. Not to worry, I had my Scottish oats with me in the room and I was flying and I felt great!”

Result: Lisa Aitken (SCO) bt Donna Lobban (AUS) 3-2: 8-11, 4-11, 11-6, 11-8, 11-4 (53m)

Waller Wins 85-Minute Battle With Soliman

Adrian Waller

Adrian Waller loves a five-game battle on this court. Following two 75+ minute matches last week during the British Nationals, the Englishman started his Manchester Open campaign with another, spending 85 minutes on court against Egypt’s Youssef Soliman.

The Nationals finalist spent more time on court than anyone last week, and he started sluggishly in his opening match of this event. However, he fought back to go 2-1 up, following a short injury break due to an impact injury to Soliman’s right hip.

The Egyptian sent it into a deciding game but Waller was able to keep his composure, advancing to the last 16, and he will be on the glass again tomorrow, in a rematch of the Nationals final, against World No.10 Joel Makin.

“I have played quite a lot of squash in the last week, and it is nice for me to keep being able to put in some good performances. Just happy to keep going and making sure that I am competing on court as well as I can, and not giving in as much as possible. Just happy to battle away at the moment,” he explained.

“I can’t really explain how important it [recovery] is. Lots of sleep, lots of food, lots of water, lots of rest, lots of TV, and that’s it, really.

“I have had some late nights, but it is nice to see other athletes [Olympians], and we see them sometimes at different points and at different venues, so it is nice to see them do well. They all put in a lot of hard work, as we do, and we can see the benefits they get, and they deserve all the success they get while they’re out there.

“My squash quality has been good, with nice tight lines and that allows me to se up lots of rallies, and that keeps me in lots of points, maybe even longer than I should be staying in some. It sets a foundation for good squash on my part.”

Result: Adrian Waller (ENG) bt Youssef Soliman (EGY) 3-2: 7-11, 11-6, 11-6, 7-11, 11-9 (85m)

Hutton Wins All-English Clash With Turmel

Jasmine Hutton
Jasmine Hutton

England’s Jasmine Hutton got the better of compatriot, and the higher-ranked Lucy Turmel, in their first round clash at the Manchester Open.

The pair had only met once before on the PSA Tour, and from the off in this one, the left-handed Hutton was on the front foot, aiming to attack at every opportunity, and it paid off.

The World No.44 needed just 35 minutes to secure the victory, one she was very happy with. She will face another Englishwoman in the last 16, in Sarah-Jane Perry, the woman who claimed her third British Nationals title on Friday evening.

“I was really happy. I have had a few matches on the glass this last week, but I wasn’t overly pleased with how I performed against Tez [Evans, in the British Nationals], so I wanted to make sure that I player better this time,” Hutton said.

“I personally like to play physically, having a physical presence on court. One of my main strengths it to be physical on court and play with real pace. The last few tournaments, I feel like I haven’t done that as much, I’ve been quite passive, and that is something I wanted to get back into my game. Definitely the last couple of days it is something I have focussed on for this event.

“I feel like I have got my mojo back, I have lost a lot of matches, I don’t think I have won a match this season, so to come out and be really strong was really good. I’m really happy with it.”

Result: Jasmine Hutton (ENG) bt Lucy Turmel (ENG) 3-0: 11-7, 11-5, 11-7 (35m)

Ibrahim Downs ElSherbini in Egyptian Battle

Youssef Ibrahim
Youssef Ibrahim

World No.18 Youssef Ibrahim is through to the last 16 of the Manchester Open after defeating compatriot Mohamed ElSherbini in straight games on the glass court at the National Squash Centre.

Ibrahim, who is currently at his highest World Ranking, comfortably took the first two games, as his opponent made too many errors in the early part of their contest.

The third game was much closer, with ElSherbini even having a game ball at the end of it. However, Ibrahim saved it, before winning the first two points of the tie-break to win it 12-10, booking his place in the second round of the PSA Silver level tournament.

“I think I held my nerve well, especially at the end. I am happy with the way I have been improving mentally, the last couple of months. Winning 3-0 consistently makes me hungry, makes me want to go deep into the tournament more. I usually like five-gamers, so I am happy I am giving my body more time to relax and go deep,” Ibrahim said.

“Playing Mohamed is never easy. He plays in Alexandria, we are training partners, we train a lot, play practice matches a lot. He beats me in practice more than I beat him so to beat him in three in this tournament is a big positive to focus on. The last game was a little bit scrappy. I knew he wanted to that game so badly so the momentum would shift to his side and once he gets on a roll, it is very hard to break his rhythm and his momentum once he gets it. I made sure that I held my nerve at the end to take that last point.

“I am the kind of player who plays much better when I am under pressure. That’s not to say that I don’t give it my all in practice, but it’s like some people, like Tarek [Momen], Ali [Farag], they’re very strong in practice and that is what I benefit from. Those crucial moments in the practice, if I am under pressure, I play them better, I play them better in games than I do in practice. I am probably just better under pressure, let’s just say this!

Result: Youssef Ibrahim (EGY) bt Mohamed ElSherbini (EGY) 3-0: 11-6, 11-7, 12-10 (39m)

Aumard Opens Manchester Campaign with Win

Coline Aumard
Coline Aumard

France’s World No.25 Coline Aumard got her time at the Manchester Open under way with a strong 3-0 showing against England’s World No.63 Rachael Chadwick.

Aumard, who has been open about her injury problems this past year, was free-flowing and on top form in the opening two games as Chadwick struggled to get a foothold into the match with the Frenchwoman dominating the middle of the court to take a comfortable 2-0 lead.

The shackles appeared to come off for Chadwick in the third game as she built up a 6-3 lead, but Aumard soon was back on level terms before closing out 11-7 to book her place in the last 16 of the PSA Silver event where she will face India’s Joshna Chinappa.

“I’m very pleased I won,” said Aumard afterwards. “I was very excited to play here in Manchester because I have some people that came to watch me and it means the world. I just wanted to win and I’m glad I did – it’s for them. I had a tough year, so I’m pleased they came and the support is just priceless.

“It’s been tough and I think we are lucky to be in England today and play this tournament. It’s my second home, I don’t have my French family here, but I have my English one. It means a lot and I think all the players are excited to play here. I don’t know what to say, I’m happy to be here, happy I won and I’m feeling good and that’s the most important thing for me.

“To be injury-free for me is the main thing. I felt good physically and I was jumping everywhere before the match. I felt good on court and I just want to say thank you to my team that make me feel strong and ready for that match.”

Result: Coline Aumard (FRA) bt Rachael Chadwick (ENG) 3-0: 11-3, 11-2, 11-7 (31m)

Rooney Overcomes ‘Mentor’ Willstrop

Patrick Rooney (right) in action against James Willstrop (left)
Patrick Rooney (right) in action against James Willstrop (left)

England’s World No.40 Patrick Rooney claimed one of the most memorable victories of his career so far as he defeated former World No.1 James Willstrop 3-0 on the opening day of action in Manchester.

Going into today’s match, the head-to-head record was heavily weighted 3-0 in Willstrop’s favour, however, Rooney turned that on its head to put together a mature performance and defeat the iconic Englishman.

Rooney was on top throughout the match, with a professional display against his Pontefract training partner – with both players previously coached by Willstrop’s father, Malcolm. There were glimpses of the ‘Marksman’s’ best with his trademark fake on show in the first game, however, it was 24-year-old Rooney that impressed the most as he got his game plan spot on today to complete an 11-4, 11-5, 11-8 victory.

Rooney will face Peru’s World No.8 Diego Elias for a place in the quarter finals tomorrow.

“We’ve been kind of having a coach-player relationship recently,” said Rooney.

“It was a bit weird today, but the reason I said ‘finally’ afterwards was because I’ve got this mental block when I play him I think. I give him a lot of respect, so I tried to not do that today and I was fully emersed today and I wanted to win really bad.

“It felt different today and like I was fully focused the whole time and I was never not in the moment and never not on court. I knew I had to be so disciplined to do what I’ve just done, I was a lot more disciplined than I’ve ever been to keep it going for all three games – I’m pretty pleased with that.”

Result: Patrick Rooney (ENG) bt James Willstrop (ENG) 3-0: 11-4, 11-5, 11-8 (36m)

Impressive Arnold Seals Win

Rachel Arnold (left) in action against Alexandra Fuller (right)
Rachel Arnold (left) in action against Alexandra Fuller (right)

Malaysia’s World No.43 Rachel Arnold is through to the last 16 of the Manchester Open after defeating South Africa’s World No.40 Alexandra Fuller 3-0.

Despite being close in the women’s World Rankings, the two players have only faced each other twice before with each taking one win apiece.

Today, it was all about Arnold though as she put together an impressive performance to down Fuller in straight-games. The Malaysian converted the first on her second game ball attempt with Fuller looking as though she was carrying her momentum from that game into the second as she built up a lead.

Arnold played with patience and attacked with precision to come back though and doubled her advantage by an 11-6 margin before powering to the finish line in the third as Fuller struggled to come up with a response.

Next up for the Malaysian will be top seed Egypt’s Hania El Hammamy.

“I think I was nervous throughout the whole match, but I just managed to keep my composure and cope with it well,” said Arnold.

“I think I just try to have fun while I’m on court since we haven’t been playing the last year, this is the first few tournaments up, so I’m happy to be back.

“She [Hania El Hammamy] is a 10/10 player, she is really good on court, I’m just going to try my best and just have fun tomorrow.

“I think from last year it’s just been tough watching them and not playing tournaments and training has been off and on the last year, I’m just trying to focus on what I’m good at on court and focus on my game.”

Result: Rachel Arnold (MAS) bt Alexandra Fuller (RSA) 3-0: 11-9, 11-6, 11-3 (24m)

Parker On Top Against Lobban

George Parker (left) takes on Greg Lobban (right)
George Parker (left) takes on Greg Lobban (right)

England’s World No.39 George Parker secured his place in the second round of the Manchester Open courtesy of an 11-5, 11-6, 11-3 victory over Scotland’s World No.28 Greg Lobban.

Parker, who enjoyed a good spell at the British Nationals in Manchester last week reaching the semi-finals, carried that rich vein of form into his opening round of the PSA Silver event with a confident display over the Scot.

The 25-year-old is the wildcard at this event and made sure to grasp the opportunity with both hands as he stayed composed and in control against an out-of-sorts Lobban, who made unusual unforced errors and struggled to enforce his game on a powerful Parker.

Next up for the Englishman will be No.1 seed Marwan ElShorbagy for a place in the quarter finals.

“I felt like I played similar to when I played James [Willstrop] in the Nationals last week,” said Parker in his post-match interview.

“I thought that I was timing the ball well and got my width a bit better, I struggled when I played Adrian Waller to get the ball past him, I was trying to do the right thing but was coming up a bit short. I felt like my length and width was good enough today to push in the middle where I do most of my damage. I’m happy with that.

“I feel like I have been playing quite well, so I always put pressure on myself. Beating James [Willstrop] is one of the biggest wins I’ve had, especially when James is playing quite well. Sort of put a bit of pressure on myself, I was quite nervous in the first game and Greg is obviously a good player. The pressure is always high when you want to improve, you never really take that pressure off yourself.

“I was in control, I’m not going to say I’m going to be like that when I’m struggling and when I’m down. When I’m in control, I can play like that but when I’m under pressure and things aren’t going my way that’s when I start to get a bit aggressive and a bit erratic. When I’m in control like that, I normally play good squash.”

Result: [WC] George Parker (ENG) bt Greg Lobban (SCO) 3-0: 11-5, 11-6, 11-3 (36m)