Today marks the first day of the Manchester Open. We’ll have reports of all the action from the side courts here throughout the day.
Today’s Schedule (all times local, GMT+1)
Haley Mendez 3-2 Milou van der Heijden
The side court action got off to a thrilling start as Haley Mendez beat Milou van der Heijden in a tight affair.
Van der Heijden has had the better of Mendez in recent encounters and the Dutch player made the stronger start, moving her opponent around the court well in a relatively comfortable 11-5 opening game win.
Mendez, however, rallied well, battling back to take the second game 11-8.
With a game apiece it was little surprise that neither player was able to exert their dominance in the third. Eventually though, Mendez broke the deadlock, eking out a 11-9 win, though van der Heijden may point to what she perceived to be a harsh stroke decision with the scores at 9-9.
After winning two consecutive games, momentum appeared to be with Mendez and she started the fourth game on top. Van der Heijden, however, fought back admirably to take the game 11-9.
The fifth started in a similar fashion to the fourth, with Mendez dominating the court on her way to a 7-3 lead.
Unlike the fourth, however, on this occasion van der Heijden could not find a way back, eventually going down 11-7 for a 3-2 Mendez win.
Speaking after the match, Mendez said: “I’m really happy I was able to keep my nerves in check and stick to my plan. I was confident in my fitness and felt ok going to five, I felt like I was ready and could push through.
“[In the next match] I want to be a bit more confident. I was edgy taking the ball short and there were some really silly errors.”
The 27-year-old also paid tribute to the limited return of fans.
“It’s massive having fans back. It makes such a difference and stops it feeling like a practice match. Hearing a couple of people yelling ‘Come on Haley’ or ‘Nice shot’ is so encouraging,” she said.
Mendez will play Belgium’s Nele Gilis at 12:00 on August 10 in the second round.
Lucas Serme 3-0 Daryl Selby
In the court’s second match, England’s Daryl Selby lost 3-0 to France’s Lucas Serme.
Selby went into the match with a strong record against his opponent but short of match sharpness and it was the latter that appeared the more significant factor.
Serme started the match well and took the first game 11-4, showing a good range of shots at the front of the court.
Though Selby recovered well in the second game, Serme maintained his grip on the match with an 11-7 win, despite failing to convert an intense rally when 3-1 down and with Selby marooned at the back of the court.
With a two-game advantage and clearly full of confidence, Serme raced into a commanding lead in the third, combining flair with accuracy on his way to a 11-5 win, taking the match 3-0.
Speaking after the match, Serme said: “I’m really happy. It was the first time I had beaten Daryl in a PSA match having got close so many times before. It means a lot, mentally, to finally get that win against him.
“You need to stay focused from the very first point to the very last one, I usually struggle with that and have moments in a match where I suddenly doze off and relax too much or think about something else completely. I’m really happy I managed to stay 100 percent focused on the match and what I was doing and I’m going to have to do that in the next match, too.”
Selby, meanwhile, said: “I’m feeling tired and trying to get used to the pace again. Lucas was tough to break down on the court and I don’t have enough matches in my legs to really do that, but I absolutely love playing and competing again.
“It’s great that everyone’s starting to be able to play tournaments again. I didn’t feel sad for myself because I’ve had a long time playing, but I felt sad for the top players who are at the peak of their career and have had to have a year off in these tough times and even more so for the lower-ranked players.”
Serme will play Egypt’s Mazen Hesham at 12:45 August 10 in the second round.
Sivasangari Subramaniam 3-0 Nicole Bunyan
In their first PSA meeting, Sivasangari Subramaniam beat Nicole Bunyan 3-0 in an entertaining match.
With a 24-place cushion in the PSA rankings, it was perhaps unsurprising that World No.36 Subramaniam looked confident and the Malaysian took the first game 11-7.
Though Bunyan fought hard in the second, particularly during a brutal rally at game ball, the Canadian was unable to prevent Subramaniam from taking the game by the same scoreline.
Two games down and against an in-form opponent, it was always going to be a tough ask for Bunyan to claw her way back into the match. Though the 27-year-old pressured Subramaniam hard in the third, the Malaysian was ultimately able to complete a 3-0 win, taking the final game 11-8.
Speaking after the match, Subramaniam said: “I’m glad to make it through, I didn’t feel that good on court. It’s always tough to play a lower-ranked player but I was able to follow my game plan and am happy to make it through.
“In the next game I have to stay on my toes more, I felt a bit flat today and need to be more active. I’ve got Rowan [Elaraby] tomorrow, who’s been my rival since junior days and hopefully it will be a good match.”
Bunyan, meanwhile, was happy to take positives from the match. “This tournament was a bit of a bonus for me because I only found out on Wednesday that I was going to be in, it’s been a great warmup for the British Open next week. I’m really glad to have played a match, in a competitive environment, before then. Now I’ll push on for the rest of the week,” she explained.
Subramaniam will face Egypt’s Rowan Elaraby at 14:00 August 10 in the second round.
Declan James 3-1 Alan Clyne
In a match defined by numerous long, energy-sapping rallies and a lengthy injury delay, England’s Declan James came from behind to beat Scotland’s Alan Clyne 3-1.
World No.42 Clyne made an ideal start to the match, winning the first game, one in which every point was emphatically fought for, 11-6.
James, however, did not appear worried. The second game, which, as with the first, was a long and fiercely-contested affair, went to the World No.29 11-6, with the winning point coming from an exquisite boast.
Heading into the third, James kept up the momentum gathered during the second. He controlled the game and although Clyne’s restless tenacity forced the 28-year-old to earn every point, he took it 11-2.
Despite the heavy third-game defeat, Clyne continued to make things difficult for his opponent in the fourth. The 35-year-old covered the entire court, stopping only when a blow to his head, seemingly from a collision with James’ racket, drew blood.
Despite a lengthy delay, Clyne was able to return to the court, as James saw out the final point to win the game 11-7 and the match 3-1.
Speaking after the match, James said: “That was a long, hard match and it was really difficult to win rallies in the first game. I was playing quite well but just wasn’t winning any points. But in those scenarios you just have to keep the faith and in the second game the ball died off which allowed me to pick my moments and get the ball in short.”
On returning to court to play match ball after the injury delay: “The exact same thing happened in [last month’s] World Championships in Chicago, except I was 2-1 down at that time. But it was the same shot and happened in the same way, so in a weird way I was quite well prepared for it. I felt I was a little negative when that happened in Chicago, so I just told myself I was going to be positive and fortunately I was able to come back on and get the winning shot.”
After the match, Clyne said that when he went off the court his immediate focus was on making sure his vision was unaffected. He added that he felt like he had been playing more like himself today and had a chance to get back into the game after returning to court.
James will play Egypt’s Mohamed Abouelghar at 14:45 August 10 in the second round.
Emily Whitlock 3-0 Cindy Merlo
Welsh World No. 23 Emily Whitlock cruised through to the second round, courtesy of a comprehensive 3-0 win against Switzerland’s Cindy Merlo.
Whitlock made a strong start, flying into an 8-2 lead and controlling the game, driving to the back particularly impressively as Merlo struggled to find rhythm. The World No.51 did eventually manage to find a foothold in the game, though not enough to prevent Whitlock from taking the first 11-6.
In the second, though, Whitlock was imperious and her dominance was rewarded with an 11-1 win.
The final game proved to be little easier for Merlo. Whitlock continued the intense pressure, seeing off Merlo 11-3 to secure the win inside 25 minutes.
After the match, Whitlock expressed satisfaction with her performance. “It was pretty straightforward [and] I was focused throughout,” she said. The 27-year-old added that although the music from the nearby glass court playing could have thrown her off, she used that as inspiration to win and get on the glass court herself.
Merlo, meanwhile, said: “I’m disappointed because I thought I could do more. But even in the first game, I wasn’t feeling sharp so I tried to do my best and the attacking shots were good, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to continue through that well. So I tried my best to build myself up even though it’s not my perfect day, but today it didn’t work.
“I’m taking some positive lessons from this match, I was mentally quite good, although I went for a couple of shots that I shouldn’t have. That’s the phase when I dropped a little bit. But I tried to put myself back even though it wasn’t 100 percent today.”
Whitlock will play Egypt’s Nadine Shahin at 17:00 August 10 in the second round.
Eain Yow Ng 3-0 Tom Richards
Malaysia’s World No.22 Eain Yow Ng brushed aside England’s Tom Richards in 30 minutes to progress to the second round.
Eain Yow took the first game comfortably, beating the World No.35 11-3 in the first.
Richards started the second game more aggressively and was initially able to impose himself on court as the players traded points. Though Eain Yow began to open up a lead, Richards recovered well to close again. Yow, however, who moved well throughout, was able to stem the comeback, taking the second game 11-9.
With a 2-0 lead and in good form, Yow made short work of the third game, winning 11-1, though Richards may take some consolation from arguably scoring the point of the game, a coolly-hit crosscourt volley that left Eain Yow stranded.
After the match, both players were complimentary of each other’s abilities. Eain Yow said: “To get through someone of Tom’s level in three games, I was quite happy with that. I was a little bit wobbly in the second game, made a few errors and didn’t get my targets right, so I’ll have to look back and see how I can improve on that.”
Richards, while disappointed to lose, left the match feeling optimistic. “I’m happy to come through the match, having had knee surgery three months ago. I’ve not had chance to play anyone of Yow’s level [since the operation] and I found myself enjoying it, which I wouldn’t normally if I was being beaten that badly! I needed that match to give me those sensations of lungs burning again.”
Richards added that he believes Eain Yow has the potential to be one of the world’s best players. “I think he’s going to get to the very top. He’s very skilful, moves well, is athletic, young – everything you want to be as a squash player!”
Eain Yow will play Egypt’s Omar Mosaad at 17:45 August 10 in the second round.
Danielle Letourneau 3-0 Ineta Mackevica
World No.22 Danielle Letourneau progressed to the second round after beating Ineta Mackevica 3-0.
Letourneau, ranked 32 places ahead of Mackevica, controlled the match from the beginning. Her quick movement and consistent accuracy were rewarded with a relatively comfortable 11-5 win in the first game.
In the second, mistakes crept into Mackevica’s game as the Latvian struggled to break Letourneau’s rhythm. An increasingly frustrated Mackevica started missing too many of her shots, allowing the 29-year-old Canadian to take the game 11-2.
In the third, Mackevica recovered her composure in time to present more difficulties for Letourneau. However, Letourneau’s careful performance was ultimately enough to keep the 29-year-old at bay, as she took the final match 11-7.
Despite the defeat, Mackevica may take some comfort from the improved performance in the third game, ahead of the pair’s rematch at the British Open next week.
Speaking after the match, Letourneau said: “I’m feeling relieved to get the first one out of the way, I had been on a bit of a low after the World Championships so I was glad I could pick myself up and put myself in the right mindset for this one.”
Letourneau, who will play Belgium’s World No.19 Tinne Gilis in the next round, said she was optimistic ahead of tomorrow’s encounter. “I haven’t played Tinne in a very long time and I’m really excited for this opportunity – we’re pretty close in the rankings so I think it’s a good opportunity to prove myself a bit.”
Mackevica said she felt her body hadn’t been entirely ready for the tournament and likely needed more rest, something she was looking forward to doing ahead of the pair’s rematch.
Danielle Letourneau will play Belgium’s Tinne Gilis at 18:45 August 10 in the second round.
Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi 3-0 Borja Golan
Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi closed out the day’s action with an entertaining 3-0 win over Borja Golan in one of the best games of the day.
Despite the 3-0 scoreline, World No.31 Golan may feel hard done by the result, as he largely matched the World No.38 in their first meeting.
In an even first game, both players were initially content to keep the ball down the sides as they traded points. With the game finely poised at 8-8, Golan was eventually able to move two clear, only for the excellent Al Tamimi to save both game balls to level at 10-10.
With the scores still level and both players pushing hard, a number of thrilling rallies ensued and it took a moment of real quality from Al Tamimi to end the first game, the Qatari sealing the 14-12 win with a delightful flicked volley to the front.
In the second, despite appearing to have difficulty keeping his footing, Al Tamimi was able to build on his first game’s success, besting Golan 11-5.
After the two games, Al Tamimi was able to quickly finish the struggling Golan in the third, wrapping up the game 11-4 and he spoke after the match of his admiration for the Spaniard:
“I have a lot of respect for Borja, I’m really glad I get to play him and get to know how it feels getting on court with him. I’ve always watched him play and always liked him as a person as well. It was a really fair match and I was really happy to win the first game after being 10-8 down in the first.”
Reflecting on the match, Golan said that he was still approaching his peak physical condition.
“The first game I had my chances, but I felt out of breath at times just because of the pace of the matches, I haven’t had that in recent months. But the speed of the court and Tamimi’s movement was the difference today, he was playing to the front and I couldn’t defend myself because I was slower than normal,” he said.
Al Tamimi will play Colombia’s Miguel Rodriguez at 19:30 August 10 in the second round.