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  27-Nov, Quarters:

Top seeds to contest Dutch Open semis

The top four seeds will contest the semi-finals of the Dutch Open Squash 2009 after contrasting quarter-final victories tonight at the Victoria Club in Rotterdam.

Third seed Azlan Iskandar opened proceedings with an impressive win over Englishman Tom Richards. Iskandar was in control from the outset and denied Richards the opportunities to get a foothold in the match. "I felt quite comfortable in the first two, I was content to put him under pressure, trying to make him heavy-legged," said Iskandar. "I knew he would come into it, I expected it in the second, but in the third he definitely made the court longer and I panicked a bit after winning the first two so comfortably, but I managed to get it back together."

Iskandar will meet second seed Cameron Pilley for a place in the final. The Australian was in equally impressive form, demolishing Italy's Davide Bianchetti for the lost of just six points in the first two games, and although the Italian made it tougher in the third the second seed always looked the likely winner. "Davide's very talented with the racket as he showed in the third," said the victor. "I'm seeded to get to the final but it's going to be tough - I played Azlan a few weeks ago in Hong Kong and he got me 3/0 so it's good to get a chance of revenge."

Home favourite Laurens Jan Anjema delighted the packed crowd when he also won in straight games. But the Dutchman was made to work hard in the last two of them by young German Simon Rosner, with Anjema having to come from 10-6 down to take the second on extra points. "I needed to come back to get the second," said a relieved top seed. "It was a make or break moment and two-nil was a big plus for me and a disappointment for him. He played well, but I'm not too unhappy with how I played either.”

Anjema's semi-final opponent will be Englishman Daryl Selby, who also needed to mount a recovery to claim his expected place in the last four. Trailing the USA's number one Julian Illingworth by a game and 8-6, Selby displayed determination and patience to eventually prevail in four games after 80 minutes of exhausting play. "Winning the second was really important," said Selby. "Then I got really annoyed when he sent me the wrong way on a simple crosscourt to go 4-1 up in the third. I thought come on, you're not going down without a fight here and just dug in. It wasn't the tightest game of squash, we can both play better than that, but you can't play well all the time. If you can come out of a match where you don't play at your best with a win, that's the most important thing. At least you give yourself a chance of playing well in the next round."

26-Nov, Round One:

Anjema powers into Dutch quarters


Seven of the top eight seeds progressed to the quarter-finals of the Dutch Open Squash 2009 in Rotterdam's Victoria Club, but it was far from easy going for several of them.

Third seed Azlan Iskandar opened proceedings with a comfortable enough win over qualifier Steve Finitsis, and will meet young Englishman Tom Richards for a place in the semi-finals after Richards denied local wildcard Piedro Schweertman in four games. Iskandar was surprised at the pace of the match: "After watching the matches last night I was waiting for the ball to start dying, but it never did, it was so fast," he said. "That's a good start though, to get off in three in half an hour, I can look forward to the rest of the tournament now."

Richards started well against Schweertman, who took his time to get going but gave the Englishman a hard time of it in the third game. "You could see he got confident, he got a lot of balls back and hit some great shot, made it difficult for me which is what I expected," said Richards. "I'm glad to get through, now it's my training partner Azlan, we always hit together when we're in London, so it should be interesting."

There was further Dutch disappointment when last night's hero Dylan Bennett fell narrowly short against Davide Bianchetti, the seventh seed. After a slow start Bennett found his range and took the match to a decider, which the fiery Italian narrowly won. "I struggled in the first two, I just couldn't get it past him," said Bennett. "Tommy [Berden] kept telling me I had to find a way to get the ball deep, and I did that in the third and fourth, and he got frustrated. Overall I'm happy, considering where I was ten days ago it's a big improvement."

Bianchetti meets second seed Cameron Pilley who won an entertaining match against fellow Aussie Ryan Cuskelly. Although they lived close to each other in Australia they had strangely never played a serious match against each other before tonight.

In the top half of the draw local favourite and top seed Laurens Jan Anjema was in impressive form as he dispatched Swiss qualifier
Nicolas Mueller. The pressure of being the home favourite doesn't seem to be affecting ‘LJ’: "I felt exactly the right level of nervousness," he said. "I was relaxed but knew it was important, it felt good and I hope I can keep that feeling for the rest of the week."

Anjema's quarter-final opponent is the only unseeded player left in the draw, after Germany's Simon Rosner upset fifth seed Joey Barrington. After a tough three and a half games that took exactly an hour the Englishman retired injured - cumulative rather than anything dramatic - with Rosner leading 2/1 and 7/5.

The top half of the draw is completed by England's Daryl Selby and USA number one Julian Illingworth, both of whom survived five game encounters. Selby needed all his determination to suppress the racket skills of New Zealand's Kashif Shuja, while Illingworth had to come from two games down to beat England's Chris Ryder. "I was annoyed losing the first game from so far up," said Selby. “But I have to give a lot of credit to Kashif, he played really well and put me under a lot of pressure. I was proud of myself mentally, of how I dug in though," he added.

Illingworth was similarly relieved to progress: "I'm happy to get through, this is the first time I've made the second round of a four or five star event, so it will be good to get a match against one of the top boys - probably Daryl, but I wouldn't be too disappointed if a qualifier upset him!"


25-Nov, Qualifying Finals:
Bennett boosts local interest at Dutch Open


It was a day of upsets in Rotterdam as the qualifying finals for the Dutch Open Squash 2009 – which offers a total prize fund of US $40,000 - saw two Australians, one Swiss and one Dutchman reach the main draw of the biggest men's event to be held on Dutch soil this century.


Ryan Cuskelly opened proceedings with a hard-fought win over Chris Simpson, who will feel aggrieved not to have at least taken a game. "I'll have to be at the top of my form tomorrow if I draw one of the top three boys, but we'll see how we go," said Cuskelly, whose reward is a matchup against fellow Aussie Cameron Pilley, the second seed.


Rising Swiss star Nicolas Mueller used pace to overcome the guile of Stéphane Galifi. "I'd lost to him two or three times, so I knew what I needed to do to beat him, keep the pace up and make him work," said Mueller. "Even if he won the first game or the first two games I had to keep that going, and today it worked," said the former European Junior Champion who meets top seed and Dutch favourite Laurens Jan Anjema tomorrow


Dutch-based Australian Steve Finitsis utilized the same tactics to upset France's Julien Balbo and earn an unexpected place in the main draw. "I can enjoy it now, especially since I came here as first reserve, I didn't know if I was even going to get a game," said a delighted Finitsis who will now play Mohd Azlan Iskandar in tomorrow’s first round.


The final match of the day saw Dylan Bennett boost local interest in the main draw as he prevailed in a see-saw contest with England's Robbie Temple. "Tough,” said the victor. "It was more of a mental game really. In the first two I was more relaxed and he was doing the arguing, then it was the other way round in the next two. I got a good start in the fifth, he argued a couple of decisions and that cost him a few more points, I just needed to push through and close it out." Bennett goes through to meet eighth seed Davide Bianchetti in the first round which starts Thursday at 1pm at Victoria Squash in Rotterdam.