by James Hawkins
The strongest Qualifier field in the history of the fifteenth Motor City Open presented by The Suburban Collection in Detroit, took to the Birmingham Athletic Club courts Thursday with their sights set on gaining one of four spots in the $70,000 Main Draw to start Saturday.
And while temperatures were bone-chilling outside, the action inside the BAC sizzled as ten of the world’s best squash professionals battled it out.
Egyptian Marwan El Shorbagy and Aussie Ryan Cuskelly provided a packed house with a pair of thrilling victories, but none was as awe-inducing as the first match of the day between Hong Kong’s Max Lee and American Christopher Gordon.
Meeting for only the second time in their careers, Lee (world No. 32) dropped the first game—a grueling twenty-four-minute battle in which he fought off three game balls—to Gordon (world No. 52) but then bounced back to take the next three: 15-17, 11-9, 11-3, 11-7.
“It was a very tough first game and the rallies were long, but I started getting my shots going and had a few lucky ones in the second,” said Lee. “I thought it was going to be a fifty-fifty match, so I just wanted to focus every point, hit shots and try to stay positive.”
“Max is a good player and he played consistently the whole time. I used a lot of energy in the first game and just never got a second wind,” commented Gordon afterwards. “I wasn’t able to keep the pace and I thought especially in the third and fourth (games) I was playing catch up a lot of the time.”
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