Day TWO : Round TWO begins

We’re down to just the Glass Court at The Wimbledon Club from now on, and today saw the start of Round Two with eight matches from the top half of the women’s and bottom half of the men’s draws.

No upsets to report today, with just three games going against the head and comfortable wins for some of the title favourites. Read on to see how the matches went …

Optasia Championship 2024 : 13-Mar, Day TWO, Round TWO part one

Abbas first through to quarters

[3] Nada Abbas (Egy) 3-0 [9/16] Millie Tomlinson (Eng) 11-4, 11-3, 11-2 (26m)

The first player through to the quarter-finals was Egypt’s world #18 Nada Abbas, the third seed putting in a dominant performance over England’s Millie Tomlinson, who produced a dramatic comeback in the first round but had no answer to Abbas’ precision and deception today.

On the attack from the start, Abbas was quickly ahead and stayed in control for the duration of the three games, completing the win in just 26 minutes to register an emphatic first victory over Tomlinson in five attempts.

“I’m really happy with my performance today, I’ve played Millie three or four times before and never got the win, plus I think she’s the only player who’s bageled me so very happy to win.

“I wasn’t in the best of places for a while, but I’ve been working with Jessie from SquashMind and I’m getting there, it’s making me realise that the mental side of the game is as important as the physical or tactical.”

Masotti marches on

[8] Baptiste Masotti (Fra) 3-1 [9/16] Leandro Romiglio (Arg) 11-6, 6-11, 11-7, 11-7 (44m)

In a match described as “High-Tempo” by the SquashTV commentary team, France’s Baptiste Masotti, a semi-finalist here last year, opened his campaign with a four-game win over training partner Leandro Romiglio, the world #35 from Argentina who had an easy opening match against Shahjahan Khan yesterday.

The Frenchman opened up a lead in the first and took the lead 11-6 after 12 minutes, the Argentinian came out firing in the second, taking an 8-0 lead in just two minutes. Masotti reduced the deficit with some winners of his own but Romiglio levelled on his third game ball.

There was never much in it in the next two games, but Masotti managed to eke out and maintain leads, finishing both games strongly and closing out the match 11-7, 11-7 in 44 minutes.

“Leandro is one of my friends on and off tour, we train together and it’s always difficult playing a friend. I had a good run here last year and a lot of points to defend so there was a lot to lose for me and nothing to lose for him.

“It’s been a tough time for me, but I’m happy to be back playing and happy to be back here, I have some good memories of last year and friends here.

“The commentators said it was ‘high-octane’ ? Was that Joey ?? He always says I just play boom-boom squash, and Greg Gaultier too he says I don’t have a plan B, C or D just plan A but I’m working on it!”

Tesni grinds out the win

[5] Tesni Murphy (Wal) 3-1 [9/16] Chan Sin Yuk (Hkg) 11-5, 8-11, 12-10, 11-8 (42m)

Wales’ Tesni Murphy set up a quarter-final against Nada Abbas, but was made to work extremely hard for the four game win over Hong Kong’s Chan Sin Yuk.

Murphy, currently ranked #29 but with a high of #8, looked in control in the first game as she took the lead, and then led 8-5 in the second before a number of errors let Chan back in to reel off six points in a row and level the match.

With Murphy seemingly off the boil, Chan led 7-4 in the third but this time it was Evans who fought back, levelling at 7-all and regaining the lead on her second game ball.

With the momentum and her game seemingly back, Murphy took an early advantage in the fourth and held on to close out the match.

“Oh that was so tough at the end, she had me running all over, just trying to get one more back and hoping that she’d tin it or something! I’ve had two or three close matches like that in the last few months that haven’t gone my way, so I was determined not to let this one go.

“I had a bit of luck at times yes, but it’s not all luck sometimes you just work for it and deserve it.”

Coll cruises into Quarters

[2] Paul Coll (Nzl) 3-0 Todd Harrity (Usa) 11-6, 11-2, 11-6 (30m)

Second seed Paul Coll cruised into the quarter-finals to conclude the afternoon session with a three-nil win over USA’s Todd Harrity who came from two games down to beat Nicolas Mueller in one of yesterday’s upsets.

The American made a solid start as the opening eight points were shared, but Coll started to get on top, opening up a lead and then racing through the final three points to lead 11-6. The second game was a quick affair as Coll doubled his advantage 11-2, and he was always ahead in the third.

Harrity saved the first match ball as he got the better of a long, entertaining rally, and although he took the next point too the inevitable end came as Coll completed the win 11-6 on the half hour mark.

“That was a good tester, Todd takes it early and volleys a lot so you have to be sharp.

“It was a good workout to get used to the court, which behaved differently than I expected so I’ll take something from that.”

Gilis dominates Malliff to advance

[1] Nele Gilis (Bel) 3-0 [9/16] Katie Malliff (Eng) 11-8, 11-2, 11-5 (34m)

Top seed Nele Gilis joined her watching fiance Paul Coll in the quarter-finals with a dominant performance over England’s 20-year-old Katie Malliff to kick off the evening session.

It was an even first game with Malliff competing with the Belgian world #4 on all levels, happy to rally and finding winners to match those from the top seed. A couple of unforced errors towards the end of the game gave Gilis a 10-7 advantage which she finished off 11-8.

It was a different story in the second though as Gilis dominated from the start and raced through to double her advantage 11-2 in just six minutes.

Malliff managed to get back into the match in the third, but Gilis was still in charge, reaping many points with accurate shots into the front left corner. A 3-1 lead became 6-3, extended to 10-5 and Gilis took the win at the first opportunity.

I’m very happy with my performance there.

I know Katie, I train with her so I know how dangerous an opponent she is and I knew I had to be on my toes and finding my marks from the word go, so I’m happy that I was able to do that.

All the sevens for Asal

[3] Mostafa Asal (Egy) 3-0 [9/16] Raphael Kandra (Ger) 11-7, 11-7, 11-7 (40m)

Third seed Mostafa Asal, making his first Optasia appearance, was given a real test by Germany’s Raphael Kandra, with all three games finishing 11-7 and taking 13, 13 and 12 minutes with Kandra still on terms towards the end of each of them.

The German’s disruptive style has won him more than a few big scalps, and at times Asal was struggling to contain his opponent in the way he often does.

But Asal found the way in each game with runs of closing points, taking the first from 8-7, the second from 4-7 and a close-all-the-way the third from 8-7.

“I’m very happy with my performance today, I know that Rapha is a very dangerous opponent. It feels strange being in the bottom half of the draw and playing first, but it means I get a day off!

“It was really good playing in front of this crowd in this great venue, there’s a really good atmosphere.

“It’s great working with James [Willstrop], he’s a legend of the game and has play for and won all the big titles. He brought me back to the game, I thought of quitting for a while, but it’s great to be able to work with someone like him.

Moataz edges past Mead in four

[8] Hana Moataz (Egy) 3-1 [9/16] Alicia Mead (Eng) 11-7, 11-9, 9-11, 11-5 (36m)

Eighth seed Hana Moataz won through to the quarter-finals with a battling performance against England’s Alicia Mead, who had her chances.

Moataz pulled clear from midway through the opener to take the lead, but found herself 2-8 and 6-9 down in the second but battled her way back to double the lead to Mead’s frustration.

The Englishwoman led 9-6 in the third too, but was again pegged back to 9-all and much to her own relief took the final two points to reduce the arrears.

The Egyptian was in front throughout the fourth though, finishing the match 11-5 in 36 minutes.

“I was getting frustrated at hitting too many tins, but I just tried to hit a better length and stay in the rallies longer, and I’m happy to be able to win in four.

“Nele has been putting in some good performances, I’m really looking forward to seeing how I get on against her.”

Makin too strong for Pajares

[6] Joel Makin (Wal) 3-0 [9/16] Iker Pajares (Esp) 11-4, 11-5, 11-3 (43m)

Wales’ Joel Makin won the final match of the evening with an impressive three-nil win over Spain’s in-form Iker Pajares, showing increased authority as the match progressed.

The rallies were mostly long and attritional, but as the SquashTV commentary team noted, not really tough enough to cause Makin serious concern.

Yeah, very happy with that, it’s been a strange couple of months for me, I’ve been putting in the work outside of the court but I just need to get a few matches under my belt.

Iker’s 17 in the world for a reason, and to beat him with a scoreline like that I’m very happy with. If I can carry that sort of performance and form through to Friday I’ll be happy.