Day 2. Round 1. Omar Mosaad

Andy Taylor. Squash Announcer. Qatar Classic Squash Championship. Day 2. Round 1. Omar Mosaad

Squash Announcer. Andy Taylor. Qatar Classic 2017

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Omar Mosaad (EGY) def Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL) 13-15 11-5 12-10 10-12 14-12 (108-min)

It never feels right bringing 29-year-old Omar Mosaad onto the court first. Since the 2010-11 season, the former World #3 has always reached July ranked inside the top-15. Injuries last season led to a limited schedule, and a rough road to recovery. The World #31 ranking reflects that. However, the Hammer of Thor’s resilience and infectious optimism, despite the setbacks, is beginning to pay-off. When the rankings emerge Wednesday, he’ll be back in the PSA’s top-20.

Miguel Angel Rodriguez had a tough 2016-17 season, as well. The former World #4 started the season with four 1st-Round losses, and managed only seven Tour-level match wins between August and May. Though a frustrating run, the highest ranked South American player of all time has rediscovered his rhythm. Last month, he began his 2017-18 campaign by winning all four of his matches for Columbia at the Pan American Team Championships. Two weeks ago, he played through qualifying to reach the Quarterfinals of the St. George’s Hill Classic.

The Hammer of Thor. Gentle Giant. Tremendous role Model

Thanks to his work ethic, determination and focus, Omar Mosaad went from tall, lanky junior to an overpowering force on the PSA World Tour. Recently engaged, he owns 10 PSA Tour titles, was a Finalist at the 2015 PSA World Championships, and in April of 2016, captured the Egyptian National Championship in Cairo. Now 29-years-old, he’s had a great start to the new season after reaching his 29th career Final in Hong Kong, and the Semifinals at the US Open in Philadelphia. Omar has his hammer back, and he plans to pound his way through the draw here in Doha.

Columbia’s Finest. Miguel Angel Rodriguez

At 31, Rodriguez is also a decorated veteran of the game. Two-years-ago, he reached a career-high ranking of World #4, and has spent a combined 22-months inside the top-10. Currently the World #23, what’s most impressive about Miguel is his winning percentage “when it counts.” He’s won 26 PSA Tour titles in 36 career Finals. That’s an unheard-of 72% winning percentage in championship matches. Obviously, the trick…is winning enough matches to reach those Finals.

Five games. 1 Hour and 48 Minutes

Evenly matched, everyone knew this would be one of the toughest clashes of the Qatar Classic’s 1st-Round. The two had played seven times previously. Mosaad had won four of those matches. All were tough contests. In fact, two of their previous battles went the distance. Rodriguez won the first one in 1-hour and 53-minutes in the Quarterfinals of the 2013 Abierto Mexicano de Raquetas. Omar returned the favor with an hour and 41-minute, 5-game victory two years later in the Hong Kong Quarterfinals.

Game-1 to Rodriguez in a tiebreak

Down 7-10 in the first game, Miguel Angel Rodriguez saved three game balls to force the tiebreak. He’d save another to level it at 12-all. Finally, after 28-minutes, Miguel captured the game 15-13 to take the early lead.

The tone was set

By now, Mosaad knew he needed to strike early and protect the lead. Rodriguez was too fit and welcomed the long haul. In game-2, he unleashed the hammer and jumped ahead 6-1. At 6-5, Omar ripped through 5 unanswered to level the match.

Rodriguez turned the tables in game-3, leaping ahead 4-0 early, but Mosaad kept hammering. Up 10-8, Omar squandered two game balls, but delivered on the third. We were about 45-minutes into the match and even the fans were exhausted.

No surprise, the fourth featured a tie-break, as well. Miguel led most of the way after a 0-3 start. At 10-all, Rodriguez strung together two quick points and forced the decider.

Game-5 took 27-minutes

It was nearly a half hour of video reviews, replay decisions, overruled calls…and lactic acid buildup. Mosaad was cramping. Both kept stumbling onward. Both earned two match balls. Mosaad won the match on his second. (FULL MATCH RECAP)

Omar Mosaad: In the fifth I was getting tired and getting some cramps, but I just tried to fight and keep focused…At match ball down it is of course very difficult. But I believe that the top 25 players are all very similar level but the difference is mentally and the one who stays focused and keeps to their game plan the longest is usually the one who wins.

Two great former top-5 players. One hell of a match.