Men’s $6k PSA Challenger, 14-16 Apr, Prague
The PSA Challenger Tour continues in Europe with the latest event in the Czech capital
Downer claims his first PSA title in Prague
The final was an unexpected one, with Prague-based Englishman Rob Downer, the fifth seed taking on third-seeded Czech Martin Svec.
Švec dominated the first game. He played a bit slower than he usually does but he was very accurate and was able to find the corners really well. Rob struggled to get into any kind of rhythm. Martin 11/5.
In the second Rob played a much better length and suddenly he was the one who controlled the rallies. He got to 8/2 quickly and closed out the game 11/7.
Third looked similar. Rob was moving Martin around well and Martin was making mistakes. Rob’s drops and counter drops were working really well. In the fourth Martin slowed down the pace again and got back into it and it was very close till 7/7.
Rob hit three winning drops to get to 10/7. And he used his first matchball with a lucky misshit forehand drive that ended just above the tin.
A first PSA title for Rob and one well deserved.
Rob: “11 long years since my first final at my first ever PSA aged 17. Today I finally step up and literally take home a title finally at long last and from the comfort of my new backyard Prague! My love for the sport shined bright this week and my experience on court means more to me personally than the title and the ranking.
“However the title I will happily allow to be symbolic for the sheer struggles and experiences I have been through till now it is something to show for all of those who have patiently believed in me and helped me to this point.
“The amount of people in my life I am grateful for past and present is a very long list indeed but I hope they all know what part they have played in this! Amazing to have another chance to showcase my squash this week during global mayhem. Back to training with a big smile on my face where I will channel this new found confidence and clarity in who I am as a squash player.
Martin: Congrats to Rob to his first title. He played really well today and deserved it. I felt well physically but I couldnt hit my targets. Obviously dissapointed now with not winning but happy to make the final and probably breaking top 100 next month which was my goal for this season. Its been really difficult year for me with quite bad covid in November and post covid syndrom which took me out for almost 4 months so once again really happy with the result here.
“Thanks to my family, friends and sponsors that helped me in these difficult times and kept me somehow motivated and thanks to Czech squash again for putting up this event and giving us chance to play.
Svec to face Downer in Prague final
Tomas Forter reports, photos from Irena Vanišová of Squashpage.net …
In the first semi-final Prague-based Englishman Rob Downer, playing in his home club, faced German Yannik Omlor. The match started with a long two minutes rally which Rob controlled most of it and although Yannick won it Rob continued the same way in the rest of the game as well.
He won the first game 11/4. He was pushing Yannick to his backhand back corner a lot and worked him well when he got an opening. Second game was a bit more close towards the end but Rob played the crucial points at the end better and won 11/8.
“I will not lie, if all the rallies for the match would have been as hard and long as the first rally of the match I think we would have both needed a wheelchair to exit the court. Luckily I really settled into my game plan after a few more rallies and built well from yesterdays performance to once again have an effective balance of attacks.
Was a pleasure to share the court with Yannik and I am understandably thrilled to be in the final!!! I believe todays win should put me top 100 and as for tomorrows final…the sky is the limit!”
In the second semifinal highest seeded player who remains in the draw Aqeel Rehman from Austria played againt the last Czech player in the tournament Martin Švec. Martin started very well and raced to 6/1 lead quickly with combination of hard hitting and holds. Aqeel came back to 7/7 but Martin did not panic, got to 10/8 and used the second gameball. In the second Aqeel was in front for most of the game but this time Martin came back to 8/8 and after two more points got two gameballs again.
Aqeel not only saved both but also won the next two points to equalize. Aqeel got a good lead at the beginning of the third. This time no comeback happened and Aqeel got 2/1 lead. The beginning of the fourth was close again, Martin got to 6/4, 8/5, 9/7. Aqeel got back to 9/9. 10/9 Martin, 10/10, 11/10 Martin, stroke to Martin, 12/10. 2 games all.
The fifth very close at the beginning 1/1, 2/2, 3/3, 4/4, Martin 6/4, 7/5, 8/6, 8/8, Martin 9/8, perfect cross court volley nick of the serve from Aqeel 9/9, stroke to Martin 10/9, backhand drop glued to the wall and a big shout from Martin, 11/9 and 3/2. This win should get him to top 100 in the rankings for the first time.
“Incredibly happy to hold the nerves and finish the match. Cant wait for tomorrow. Playing Robbie for the first time. I used to look up to him in juniors, always liked the way he plays so should be good, fun and fair match. Also big thanks to Czech squash for putting up the event and giving us chance to play competitive matches and get some ranking points.”
Tomas Forter reports, photos from Irena Vanišová of Squashpage.net …
The four quarterfinals featured five Czech players but only one made it through to the semi-finals when Martin Švec beat Ondřej Uherka.
The first match ended the run of Ondrej Vorlicek, who had beaten top seed Daniel Mekbib in the morning’s round one. Fifth seed Rob Downer was much more patient and he controlled most of the rallies for the whole match to win 3/0.
“It’s a pleasant feeling when all of the hard work in training translates into the match play when it matters the most, and today I found a strong translation with my movement and attacking areas of my game.
“Pleased to make semis with two 3 – 0 wins. Looking forward to the next challenge where I feel I can take confidence knowing I will be hard to beat this week.”
Fourth seed Jakub Solnicky lost to eighth seed Yannik Omlor from Germany. Jakub probably didn’t play his best squash but was solid like he usually is but Yannik was simply too good today and deservedly won 3/1 after a very good performance.
“Now I am looking to play Robbie Downer tomorrow. He is a good friend and I hope we are going to have a good match.”
Martin Svec and Ondrej Uherka played a rematch from the first edition of Czech Pro Series in January. Ondrej won a scrappy match 3/2 from 0/2 down then and Martin avenged this with 3/1 win today. He got the first game and when Ondrej got the second it looked like he could have the upper hand towards the end again but today it was Martin’s turn to win.
Last match of the day was played between Aqeel Rehman and Viktor Byrtus. Viktor won 3/1 last time they played here in December but this time Aqeel got his revenge with the same score. Both of them played a lot to the front and were trying to move their opponent around but towards the end of the match it looked like Viktor felt his match from the morning in his legs.
He was a bit slower and Aqeel was using it smartly. He got a bit nervous at the end when Viktor came back from 6/10 down to 10/10. At 11/10 Viktor saved his 5th matchball but the 6th at 12/11 was finally Aqeel’s.
“It was very tough match mentally. Viktor is very good with his racket. His movement was a bit slower today but he was attacking very well and made me move a lot. And I didn´t really find the rhythm. I tried to pick up the pace and run and fight. Happy to play semis tomorrow.”
Round ONE :
The first match of the tournament brought a big upset as top seed Daniel Mekbib was beaten by Ondrej Vorlicek, repeating the result from the Prague open in December where he also beat Daniel in the first round. This time Daniel won a close first game and when he won the second he looked in control. Ondrej kept fighting and was much more patient than Daniel in the rest of the match. Daniel went for too much too early and made mistakes.
The next six matches of the first round went to the seedings and seeds were mostly not really troubled by their unseeded opponents, but the last match brought another upset when Viktor Byrtus beat 6th seed Roshan Bharos in five games.