Herbert wins men’s Mozart Open – Aqeel Rehman reports
Austria’s biggest squash event, the Austrian Squash Challenge, reached its climax with the Mozart Open men final. Together with the women’s edition last week, which is Austria’s only female PSA world ranking tournament, 12.000 USD on prize money were offered, which makes it also the biggest PSA world ranking tournament in the country.
Today for sure it was the best attended day of the event with a full EUROPARK shopping mall offering a well deserved stage for the final match between top seed Simon Herbert (ENG, WRL 78) and fifth seed Robin Gadola (SUI, WRL 108).
The opening game was very even, with rather short and intense rallies. Simon was attacking a lot, especially with great drop shots. Most of them were clear winners, however he also produced some errors. His opponent also showed his attacking skills which equalized the score regularly until the very end of this game. So it had to be decided in the tie break in which the Englishman had the better and and won 12/10.
In the second game the top seed started very strong and raced to a 5/0 lead, from which Robin could never fully recover. Still the rallies were very well fought and very physical. There were many decisions of the referee having to be called. Of course not all the time both players were satisfied with those calls. Simon won the second game comfortably 11/6, which put a lot of pressure on his opponent.
The absolutely packed crowed was hoping for an extension of the match and cheering a lot in favour of Gadola. He paid back with a great effort and definitely proving, that there was a chance for him to turn around the match. He nearly did and saved one match ball at 8/10. But eventually Simon converted his second match ball – of course with a clinical drop shot – to win the game 11/9 and therefore the match 3/1 after 34 minutes of play. Congratulations to Simon for winning the title and also to Robin Gadola and all other players showing great squash during all the week.
The prize giving ceremony was attended by Vice-Mayor of the City of Salzburg Mr.Bernhard Auinger and Vice-President of the Sportunion Salzburg.
We would like to thank all our sponsors and our host EUROPARK Salzburg for making this unique event possible. Hopefully this successfull event can be a role model for any future events in Austria. Also a big thanks to all our supporters and volunteers who did an amazing job over the past two weeks
Photos by Jasmin Walter
Semis : It’s England v Switzerland for the Men’s title
There were two great matches played today at a very busy EUROPARK Salzburg shopping mall. It was the beginning of the easter school holidays which meant that there were many spectators around to watch.
The first semifinal was between top seed Simon Herbert (ENG, WRL 78) and unseeded Miko Aijanen (FIN, WRL 159). It was interesting to see if the Finn could cause another upset after defeating the number six and three seed of the tournament already.
It was a very tough fought match, both players not giving much space to each other which meant there was a lot of traffic around the middle of the court. But Simon and Miko also showed great racket and retrieval skills. So often it went point by point and no one could really create a big enough
gap to relax. Also the games were split equally after every game.
It was quite a logic that it had to come to a deciding fifth game which was even decided in the tie break. Unseeded Miko already had two match balls at 10/8, which Simon could save to reach the tie break and even turn the match around.
He converted his first match ball to win the match 12/10 in the fifth game after 62 minutes of play.
The second semifinal was an all-swiss affair between fourth seed Yannick Wilhelmi (WRL 100) and fifth seed Robin Gadola (WRL 108) who took out local favourite Aqeel Rehman in the quarterfinals the day before.
Both players of course know each other very well and it was even a repeat match from last year’s quarterfinal. As then lower seeded Robin had a better start and had a 2/0 lead in games. Though most rallies were very tight and close.
In the third game Yannick came back into the match after winning it comfortably 11/5.
The fourth game became a close encounter again and tension started to build up. There was hardly more than one point between the two Swiss. Eventually Robin was able to get a lead towards the end of the game and it was then no way to come back for Yannick and Robin won this game 11/7
and the match 3/1 after 50 minutes of play.
This means the final tomorrow, Saturday at 16:30 will be played between Simon Herbert and Robin Gadola. The following prize giving ceremony will be attended by vice-mayor of the city of Salzburg Mr. Bernhard Auinger.
Quarters : Aqeel bows out
After a big win from Austrian Champion and event organiser Aqeel Rehman (WRL 138) in the first round of the Mozart Open he could not repeat a surprise in the quarterfinal against a strong Robin Gadola (SUI, WRL 108). An again packed crowd supported their local favorite massive, but the fifth seed swiss showed a too clinical performance.
Fourth seed and twice runner-up of the tournament in Salzburg Yannick Wilhelmi (SUI, WRL 100) also won his quarterfinal match against fresh Czech Champion Jakub Solnicky (WRL 128) so it will be an all-swiss semifinal – a repeat of the quarterfinal of last year where Yannick managed to come back from 0/2 down.
The second semifinal will be played between Miko Ajianen (FIN, WRL 159), who won this tournament in 2019, and top seed Simon Herbert (ENG, WRL 78). Unseeded Ajianen caused his second upset in a row, this time taking out third seed Daniel Poleshchuk (ISR, WRL 99), while Herbert did not drop a single game yet in the tournament and therefore justified his top position in the draw.
Men’s Round One : Local hero Aqeel scalps second seed
Today was the first round of the Men’s Mozart Open at Europark Shopping Mall. There were a few upsets including a happy end for local hero Aqeel Rehman (WRL 138). He caused the biggest upset of the day by beating second seed Yannik Omlor (GER, WRL 87) who won the tournament 2021, in straight games.
Earlier on the champion of 2019 Miko Ajianen (FIN, WRL 159) beat sixth seed Andres Herrera 3/0. Also Jakub Solnicky (CZE, WRL 128) took out Valentin Rapp (GER, WRL 116) 3/2. Wildcard entry Austro-Lichtensteiner David Maier showed a great fight against Rob Downer (ENGL, WRL 124) but lost 1/3.
Match of the day in front of a full crowd and an amazing atmosphere was for sure Rehman – who won the tournament twice in 2013 and 2017 – against Yannik Omlor which were last on at the all-glasscourt. The Austrian record champion and tournament organiser was pushed by his supporters which helped him to overcome german vice-champion Yannik Omlor 3/0. He will will meet fifth seed Robin Gadola (SUI, WRL 109) in the quarterfinal.
Women’s : Torrie claims a fourth title in Salzburg
Today’s final between the two teenagers – top seed Torrie Malik (ENG, WRL 85) and unseeded Haya Ali (EGY, WRL 117) – ended up as a high quality match to watch for the big crowd at EUROPARK Salzburg shopping mall.
Congratulations to Torrie Malik to becomes Mozart Open Champion. Also well done to Haya Ali to a great tournament.
Quarters : Youngsters dominate in Salzburg
Three players aged under 19 will compete at the Mozart Open semifinals on friday on the all-glasscourt at EUROPARK Salzburg shopping mall.
These are Haya Ali, Torrie Malik and Malak Khafagy. Unseeded Haya Ali (EGY, WRL 117) caused for an upset by beating last year’s runner-up and third seed Katerina Tycova (GER, WRL 94) in straight games. She will meet second seed Malak Khafagy (EGY, WRL 80) in an all-Egyptian semifinal on
The second semfinal will be an all-British affair between top-seed Torrie Malik (ENG, WRL 85) and fourth seed Alison Thomson (SCO, WRL 92). Both players won their quarterfinal matches comfortably 3/0.
Indeed, all four quarterfinal matches were pretty one sided and decided
in three games.
Round One :
The first round of the Ladies Mozart Open showed eight great matches on the all-glasscourt at EUROPARK Salzburg shopping mall. There were some upsets, though most seeded players reached the quarterfinal. One of them is Austrian Champion Jacqueline Peychär (WRL 110), while Salzburg star Sabrina Rehman could not cause an upset against second seed Malak Khafagy (EGY, WRL 80).
Photos by Jasmin Walter
Haya Ali (EGY, WRL 117) surprised by beating eight seeded Taba Taghavi (FRA, WRL 114), she was the only seeded player not to get through the first round. Runner-up from last year Katerina Tycova (GER, WRL 94) won her match comfortably 3/0. So did top seed Torie Malik (ENG, WRL 85).
National Champion Jacqueline Peychär will be Austria’s only home hope left after beating Polly Clark in straight games.
The biggest crowd though attended the final match of the day between Sabrina Rehman and Malak Khafagy. Pushed by the spectator’s Salzburg based Sabrina showed a good performance and was able to stay in the game. However her egyptian opponent was too good and dominant and did
not let Sabrina cause an upset.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is known as Salzburg most famous citizen. This is why this event offers many activities connected to the artist.
The Mozart Open is part of the ‘Austrian Squash Challenge’ – Austria’s biggest squash event from 20th March – 1st April. Staged on a full glasscourt in the beautiful shopping mall EUROPARK there are many side events offered, such as the VIP tournament with former Olympic and World Champions and the ‘Kids & School Days’ with more than 500 juniors getting free squash clinics with 16 times Austrian Champion and former national player Aqeel Rehman. More then 3000 kids have enjoyed this offer since 2015! This makes it to Austria’s biggest squash-grassroots-programme.
The highlight of course will be the Mozart Open. After the premiere in 2022 it will be the second time that this event will also host a ladies event. The prize money could be doubled to 6.000 USD and is now equal to the men’s tournament starting next week. It is Austria’s only PSA world ranking tournament for women!
The first round will start on Wednesday 22nd March and shows a strong field of players. Local hero Sabrina Rehman (AUT, WRL 384) faces second seed Malak Khafagy (EGY, WRL 80). The wildcard entry hopes for a massive home support by the crowd. Top seed of the tournament is Torrie Malik (ENG, WRL 85).
Photos by Jasmin Walter