The stage is set for an England vs Egypt final at the 2010 Rochester ProAm.
#7 seed Tom Pashley continued his strong run by upsetting top seed Cesar Salazar in a keenly contested semifinal with both players displaying some scintillating squash and athleticism.
The second semifinal saw 18 year old Egyptian wunderkind Karim Abdel Gawad reverse his previous loss to Englishman James Snell in the 2009 Japan Open final with a 3-1 victory.
Match reports by Eric Hernady, photos by Paul Schwartz::
Tom Pashley bt. Cesar Salazar 11-9, 13-11, 5-11, 2-11, 11-6 (91m)
The first semifinal pitted Cesar Salazar (Mex) versus Tom Pashley (Eng). Both players are young, up-and-coming professionals, who put all their skills on display in the first game. Each moved fluidly and effortlessly around the court demonstrating calm and poise throughout the rallies. Each player built on their tight, deep length, with Pashley using his soft hands to volley to all corners of the court. Salazar countered with excellent court coverage. No player had more than a 2 point lead throughout the game, which saw Pashley apply just enough pressure at 9-all to win the game at 11-9.
The second game saw more of the quick footwork, varied tempos and beautiful clearing by each player. Pashley worked his way out to an 8-4 lead only to see Salazar steady his game. Salazar found his length volleyed more and added pressure to the front right to get Pashley out or position more than once. Pashley again stepped forward to volley to all corners of the court and created attacking opportunities. At 10-8, game ball, Salazar again fought back to earn a game ball of his own with slow, deep rallies causing Pashley to attempt some attacks that just hit the tin. Pashley played with continued confidence and forced two errors to squeak by with a 13-11 win.
The third saw more of the same from both players early, but Salazar was more patient and built rallies off his length and put Pashley under more and more pressure. At 5-all Pashley appeared to pull up injured and seemed to be unable to retrieve balls being sent into the corners. He seemed to let up a bit and Salazar ran away with the game at 11-5. The fourth saw the same pattern develop early with Salazar playing smartly by extending the rallies and not giving Pashley many chance to attack the front. Pashley was visibly hurt and gave away the last of the game 11-2.
The last game opened with a mammoth first point, where Pashley showed he we was ready to chase everything down to win. He made some adjustments to his foot between games and he played with newly found confidence. Pashley again stepped up in the court and cut balls off to volley and add pressure to Salazar who was happy running all day long. Pashley opened a surprising 8-1 lead and Salazar made some unforced errors to compound his problems. Although at 2-10 down Salazar again steadied himself and played patient squash to force Pashley to attack too early. After bringing the game back to 6-10 Pashley finally ended the more than 60 minute match with another attack to the frontcourt ending a brilliant match from both players.
Karim Abdel Gawad bt. James Snell 6-11, 11-7, 11-4, 11-6 (52m)
The second of the semifinal matches in the Rochester Pro draw saw England’s James Snell play Egypt’s Karim Gawad. In a match with a stark contrast in styles saw Snell play a consistent length and width game with few if any boasts to Gawad, who was not willing to allow rallies to extend too long. He attacked the frontcourt at every opportunity with flair and reckless abandon. The first game tested each style and after holding a 6-4 lead Gawad began committing unforced errors while Snell happily drove the ball deep to force more errors from Gawad. Snell surprisingly ran away with the game winning 7 points in a row.
The second saw Snell pick up where he left off, but this time Gawad stayed back and drove the ball deep and calmed himself enough to get out to a 4-1 lead. With his confidence growing Gawad started boasting from both sides to force Snell into the front then picked off volleys from behind him with great reach and control. The middle of game saw more lets and some frustration building from Snell. Karim sensing this kept attacking and took a stretch of 5 consecutive points in the middle of the game to take the game 11-7.
The third game saw Gawad come out and cut off as many balls as possible. Snell was under constant pressure and started committing uncharacteristic unforced errors off of drop shots and on service returns as well. Gawad was calm and seemed to have limitless fitness as he dared Snell to drive the ball past him. Snell, to his credit, lobbed the ball deep to extend rallies, but Gawad’s game was too much and he won 11-4.
The fourth game started with a few lengthy rallies, fewer let calls and Snell seemed to have righted the ship a bit at 5-all. Then Gawad began driving pinpoint lengths and crosscourts, which stretched Snell to all parts of the court and some loose shots gave Gawad more chances to volley to the front wall. Gawad’s sustained the pressure and displayed some amazing racquet-work as well. By winning 6 of the last 7 points Gawad earned a place in the final Sunday afternoon.