Final : Ramachandran makes it two
India’s Sandeep Ramachandran claimed his second PSA Tour title in two weeks, winning the MST Dubai Squash Series II, once again coming through the event without dropping a game.
Establishing himself as the best player in the country at the moment. Ramachandran, who was ranked as high as 153 in the PSA World Rankings, started his route to the title with a comfortable win over UAE’s Sampuran Banerjee, before taking on Egypt’s Zeineldin Shams in the Quarter-final, who he also got past in straight sets. Another convincing win over Pakistan’s Muhammad Jehangir Khan in the semi-final saw him reach his second PSA final.
Ramachandran’s opponent in the final was Egyptian Abdelaziz Hegazy, who managed to get to the final playing in his second PSA tour event. Hegazy started his campaign with a straight sets victory against compatriot Aley Afifi, before taking on his older brother Omar Afifi, who he got past in three games as well. Hegazy was severely tested in his Semi-final against the events surprise package Muhammad Waseem of Pakistan and needed 85 minutes along with saving two match balls to make it to his first career final on the PSA tour.
In the final, Ramachandran, the World No.311, managed to keep his composure in a tight first game with the pair attacking at every chance they got. Ramachandran edged the first after being 9-all and from then on found his stride to take the next two comfortably 11-3 and 11-5 to secure the victory, winning in straight games, as he did all week, to take his secondnd title on Tour.
The Challenger 5 level tournament, which was held at the famous Aviation Club at the Jumeirah Creekside Hotel in Dubai – home of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, was restricted to domestic entrants only, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, meaning only those currently based in the United Arab Emirates were permitted to play.
Semis : Ramachandran and Hegazy set up title showdown
Coming through a mammoth 85 minutes encounter, 2nd seed Abdelaziz Hegazy of Egypt made it to his first PSA Tour event, defeating 7th seed Muhammad Waseem of Pakistan in the Semi-final of the MST Dubai Series II which is being held at The Aviation Club in Dubai.
The seesaw battle started with both players trading the initial points and being level at 4-all in the first. Hegazy then made a break taking a 7-5 lead and finishing the game 11-6. After being tied at 8-all in the second, Waseem fought back to level winning a 11-8. The third was similarly contested with the pair playing point for point till 7-all, then an unforced error and three winners from Hegazy saw him take the lead once again winning 11-8. Waseem once again leveled taking the 4 th 11-8 and pushing the match into a decider.
The two had already been on court for over an hour at this point and showed no signs of slowing down. A very tense fifth game saw Waseem take an early 4-1 lead but Hegazy fought back to level the scores at 8-all.
Displaying patience both players increased the pace yet kept their error count down with Hegazy breaking through at 8-all to win the next two points and take himself to matchball.
Waseem hit a winner of the serve and a mistake from Hegazy saw him save two matchballs and then have one of his own at 13-12 but an error from his racket saw Hegazy level the score at
13-all. After 85 minutes of play, Hegazy was able to convert his next match ball winning 15-13 to book his place into his first PSA tour final.
Earlier, in the first semifinal, top seed Sandeep Ramachandran ended the run of the 5th seeded Muhammad Jehangir Khan of Pakistan, in a convincing three games victory. Ramachandran on his quest for a 2nd PSA title in two weeks, after winning the 1st event of the MST Squash Series earlier this month, took under 30 minutes to make his way to the final.
Keeping the pace high and attacking at every opportunity Ramachandran stamped his authority as one of the best players in the country taking the match 11-6, 11-7, 11-4 and progressing to the final without having dropped a game yet.
Quarters : Waseem gatecrashes the semis
MST and Aviation Club’s own resident coach, Pakistani Muhammad Waseem, continued his fine form taking out the No. 3 seed, Egyptian Seifeldin Shams, in a very closely contest match that went the full distance in the Quarter-finals of the MST Dubai Squash Series II tournament being held at The Aviation Club in Dubai, UAE.
After taking the first 11-7, Shams was met with strong resistance from Waseem who leveled taking the second comfortably 11-3. The next two were shared with Shams taking the third 11-8 and Waseem taking the fourth 11-9 to take it to a decider.
Both players displayed their skill and retrieval abilities to entertain the packed crowd. Going point for point till 6-all in the fifth Waseem took the lead with a flurry of winners to get to match ball. Converting on his first matchball Waseem booked his place in his first PSA semi-final.
In the all Egyptian clash, 2nd seed Abdelaziz Hegazy got the better of his compatriot Omar Afifi in an entertaining match, with Hegazy prevailing in three games to set up a semi-final against Waseem.
India’s Sandeep Ramachandran, the top seed, continued his quest for his second PSA title in two weeks with a comfortable straight games win over Egypt’s Zeineldin Shams who was clearly feeling the effects of his five game encounter against Barath Balaji in the previous round. Ramachandran faces Muhammad Jehangir Khan of Pakistan who got past Ali Miski of UAE in straight games.
Round ONE :
The second event of the MST Dubai Squash Series got off to a smooth start at the Aviation Club in Dubai on 23rd December with results along expected lines and the only upset of the day being caused by Egyptian teenager Omar Afifi, the unseeded player beating 6th seeded Nikolai Denisov of Russia in straight games.
Playing each other for the second time in two weeks Omar restricted his older opponent this time around keeping the ball tight and minimizing opportunities Denisov had to attack. A spirited fight from Denisov saw him reach game ball at 10-8 in the third but Omar held his nerves to take the next three points and make his way to the quarterfinals for the second time in two weeks. The 30 minutes match provided ample entertainment to the spectators in a contrast between youth and experience.
Omar Afifi’s opponent in the quarterfinals will be 2nd seed Abdelaziz Hegazy, who dispatched Omar’s younger brother and wildcard of the event Aley Afifi in three very entertaining games
with the youngster displaying flashes of brilliance with the racket and his speed.
Earlier in the evening the crowd was treated to a very closely fought match between another Egyptian, 8th seeded Zeineldin Shams and India’s Barath Balaji which went the full distance. Losing the first and second 11-8, 11-5, unseeded Balaji made a comeback taking the next two 11-6 and 11-8 to push for a decider.
Going point for point in the fifth, Shams edged it 11-8 to make it to his first PSA quarterfinals and will now play the event’s top seed and winner of the MST Dubai Series I Sandeep Ramachandran of India, who brushed aside his compatriot Sampuran Banerjee in the straight games.
3rd seed Seifeldin Shams triumphed in straight sets over his younger brother, the event’s second wild card Saffay Shams, in the match between brothers. Seifeldin now plays Pakistan’s
Muhammad Waseem who beat India’s Vishal Venkat in a convincing three games.
Pakistan’s Jehangir Khan, the 5th seed, beat compatriot Rizwan Khan in straight games to set up his quarterfinal against 4th seed Ali Miski of UAE.
The Challenger 5 level event, which is being held at the famous Aviation Club at the Jumeirah Creekside Hotel in Dubai – home of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, is restricted to
domestic entrants only, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, meaning only those currently based in the United Arab Emirates were permitted to play.