Round-1 match recap from Squash Emcee Andy Taylor, Voice of the Qatar Classic.
Since 2017, Andy Taylor has been the voice of the Qatar Classic Squash Championship. With his individual style and delivery, Andy writes and narrates each player’s introduction; highlighting career accomplishments, providing context for fans before each match. As tournament emcee, Andy also interviews the winners and hosts the trophy ceremony at the conclusion of the championship.
A voice acting veteran, Andy is best known as the Voice of the US Open in New York. There, he has spent the last 20-years shaping the sound of the tennis season’s final Grand Slam; enhancing the fan experience. Informing. Entertaining. Celebrating sport and its colorful cast of characters.
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7th meeting. Down two games, Waller comes back to keep unbeaten streak alive
These two clashed for the first time in 2011, during Round-2 of the Under-23 British National Championship. Now, ten years later, today marked their seventh career meeting. Adrian Waller remains undefeated; but he had to battle for it today, coming back from a two game deficit to earn the win. Before this afternoon, Adrian had only lost a single game in their six previous matches. They also met here in Doha four years ago, during the opening round of Qatar Classic qualifying; where Waller emerged the victor in 39-minutes.
Adrian Waller -29- (ENG) | Round-1 Emcee Introduction
A Platinum Quarterfinalist at the 2014 US Open, he is a Commonwealth Games Silver medalist, a World Team Championships Silver Medalist, and has been ranked as high as World #17. 13-years-ago, he made history – becoming the first Junior ever to win British National Titles at the Under-13, 15, 17, and 19 levels. This past August, at 31-years-old, he reached the Final of the British National Championship for the first time. Competing in his 6th Qatar Q-Terminals Classic – he returns to Doha on a 4-match win-streak after capturing his 9th PSA Challenger title Monday night at the Cleveland Skating Club Open. From England, please welcome Adrian Waller.
- R1 — W — Nathan Lake -43- (ENG) | Score: 5-11, 6-11, 11-7, 11-7, 11-9 (66m)
- Last week, Waller’s 9th PSA Challenger Tour title didn’t come easy; he and Egypt’s Mohamed Elsherbini went the distance. Final: 6-11, 11-2, 11-7, 10-12, 16-14 (75m)
- Interestingly, Adrian Waller’s matches are either quick 30-minute clashes, or grueling battles that last well over an hour
- Statistically, he hasn’t had much luck the longer the match wears on. For example — In 2018, Adrian dismantled Omar Mosaad on this court in just 22-minutes. Meanwhile, a few weeks earlier, he went over 100 minutes with Declan James at the US Open and fell in five games: 11-6, 11-6, 8-11, 17-19, 14-16 (101m). Ouch
- In fact, Adrian was part of the sport’s longest match in 30-years in the Final of the 2013 National Capital Open – where Canadian Shawn Delierre outlasted him in a 2-hours and 37-minutes: 13-11, 10-12, 12-14, 11-4, 12-14 (157m). Brutal
Nathan Lake -43- (ENG) | Round-1 Emcee Introduction
Even with 6-months lost due to the global pandemic – Remarkably, this 29-year-old has still managed to claim 4 PSA Challenger titles in 5 Finals over the past two seasons. Last October, when play finally resumed from the shutdown, he made a career-best Platinum run at the Egyptian Open – and climbed to a career-high ranking of World #40, after defeating Raphael Kandra, then Arturo Salazar to reach the Round of 16 at a Major for the first time. Now (9-3) to start the 2021-22 season, he lit up the Challenger Tour in the United States – reaching the Semis in Marietta, capturing his 6th career title in Cincinnati; then last week, reaching the Final-4 of the Skating Club Open in Cleveland. In pursuit of his first match victory here at the Qatar Q-Terminals Classic – from England, please welcome Nathan Lake.
- R1 — L — Adrian Waller -29- (ENG) | Score: 11-5, 11-6, 7-11, 7-11, 9-11 (66m)
- Right before the global shutdown of the sport in March of 2020, Nathan Lake captured the Manitoba Open Challenger in Winnipeg. It was his third PSA Challenger title of the shortened season
- When the shutdown ended, Lake fell in Round-1 during the sport’s return in Manchester. However, weeks later, he reached the Round of 16 at PSA Platinum event for the first time at the Egyptian Open
- While Nathan didn’t make any deep runs at the remaining Majors, he did climb to a career-high ranking of World #40 – and reached another Challenger Final before the end of the 2020-21 season
- The new season started in September, and Lake wasted no time. A Semifinalist at the Marietta Challenger in Georgia, he went on to capture his 6th PSA title in Cincinnati
- After an early exit at the US Open, he made another Semifinal run at the Cleveland Skating Club Open (Challenger Tour 30)
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QATAR SQUASH: 27 YEARS OF HIGHLIGHTS AND HISTORY
For nearly three decades, the Qatar Squash Federation has hosted the sport’s elite at the Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex. Originally coined the Qatar International, Pakistan’s Jansher Khan captured the first five Doha titles from 1992 to 1996. Canada’s Jonathan Power then won back-to-back Doha titles over Scotland’s Peter Nichol; earning triumphs at the 1997 Qatar International and the 1998 World Championship.
Enter the Qatar Classic Squash Championship
After a two year absence, professional squash returned to Doha in 2001. Rebranded the Qatar Classic, Peter Nichol – now representing England – again reached back-to-back Doha Finals. This time, he captured the first two Qatar Classic titles over Australia’s David Palmer. England’s Lee Beachill and James Willstrop won the next two Qatar Classic titles, before Egypt began its outright Doha dominance.
In fact, since Ramy Ashour became the first Egyptian Doha champion at the 2006 Qatar Classic; the Arab nation has won 13 of the last 15 Doha titles, including three World Championships. Alexandria’s Mohamed Elshorbagy – the only 3-time Qatar Classic Champion – reached a record six consecutive finals on this court between 2012 and 2017. Most recently, Ali Farag won back-to-back Qatar Classic titles in 2018 and 2020. Unfortunately, the World #1 won’t be back in Doha this year to defend the title.
Professional Squash and COVID-19
Like every international sport, the recent global pandemic has created tremendous challenges for squash events worldwide. Due to COVID’s insidious spread, the 2019-20 season ended abruptly in March; immediately following Mohamed Elshorbagy’s victory at the 2020 Canary Wharf Classic.
Without fans, the sport launched its return six months later in Manchester – another Elshorbagy triumph. However, with global cases hitting a second surge, all events in the United Kingdom, United States and Asia were shuttered. The 2020-2021 season was in peril. At the time, as a U.S. resident, Andy Taylor made the difficult decision to suspend all international travel. Reluctantly, he stepped away from his role as emcee at the 2020 Qatar Classic.
Saviors. The Qatar Squash Federation and CIB’s CEO Hussein Abaza of Egypt
Over the next 10-months, Qatar and Egypt were the only two nations to host PSA Platinum events. Without the U.S. Open. Hong Kong Open. New York’s Tournament of Champions. The Windy City Open. And British Open — The sport needed bold and determined intervention.
Cautiously, the QSF moved forward with the Qatar Classic, providing a COVID safe bubble for players and crew. Meanwhile, Egypt’s Hussein Abaza went above and beyond. Remarkably, CIB’s CEO spearheaded two PSA World Tour Finals, the Egyptian Open, two Black Ball Opens and El Gouna International. From September to June, he funded six expensive, top-tier PSA events for both the men’s and women’s tours. Egypt became the hub of the sport – a safe place to compete while vaccinations took hold; while the world recovered.
Thankfully, since July, much of the globe has slowly opened back up. Chicago hosted the World Championships. Hull welcomed the sport’s elite for the British Open. Last month, it was only fitting that the 2021-22 season began in front of the pyramids at Giza. True to form, Egyptian rivals Ali Farag and Mohamed Elshorbagy headlined the event; delivering an exceptional 5-game Final, where Farag lifted his 9th Platinum trophy.
A Sport Back on Track, thanks to human compassion and ingenuity
After September’s Egyptian Open, the U.S. swing was also a tremendous success. From San Francisco to the US Open’s immaculate new Arlen Specter US Squash Center in Philadelphia; fans responsibly returned, recently tested or fully vaccinated. All starved to once again see the best in the world compete inside the glass.
Now, squash returns to the Arab Gulf for the 17th Qatar Classic Squash Championship.
Thankfully, as global vaccinations continue their ascent, the new squash season is beginning to follow a familiar path. While the past 19-months have been dark, spotlighting the reality of human fragility; it has also been an epoch defined by compassion, resilience and hope. Squash, as a sport and lifestyle, embodies these traits.
When we choose to quiet the noise, steel our determination, and commit to selflessly work together toward collective good; ultimately toward survival — the darkness is no match for our blinding ingenuity.
No, the fight isn’t over. But we’ve hit some astonishing nicks, and continue to edge closer toward “match ball.”