Seeds Triumph in Seattle With One Bloody Exception

Chris Gordon (l) against Matias Tuomi (image: Jay Prince)

Report courtesy of Matt Lombardi and Jay Prince

Sixteen players representing eleven countries squared off in the first round of the Seattle Open, a PSA Challenger event, with seven of the eight seeds coming out on top.

The one upset resembled a gladiatorial battle–or a hockey game. Matias Tuomi of Finland beat American Christopher Gordon in a four-game match that included over 30 minutes of delays due to blood injuries sustained by both players. Gore aside, the match was a display of the lethal effectiveness of driving deep along the left wall and following with a straight drop, a strategy that paid dividends for both players. Gordon worked the combination well late in the first game, coming back from 1-7 to even things 9-all. At 11-11, Tuomi took a racquet just above the eye, but following his injury break returned to take the game 13-11. Gordon gained his own 7-1 advantage in the second and cruised to a win in the game. Early in the third, though, he suffered a cut below his mouth, and after that he never got entirely back on track. Tuomi won the third and fourth, both 11-7.

Two more of the evening’s matches went to four. Daniel Mekbib of the Czech Republic and Joeri Hapers of Belgium both looked to impose pace on each other, but it was the lefty Mekbib who managed to dominate the middle of the court, sending Hapers scrambling repeatedly deep into the back right corner, particularly in the first and fourth games. Hapers found his form in the hotly contested second, taking an early lead and holding for his only game of the match.

With an emphatic forehand crosscourt nick, Frenchman Sébastien Bonmalais finished off the other four-game win, over the second Czech in the draw, Ondrej Uherka. It was one of the evening’s most entertaining matches, with both players hitting tight length and displaying soft touch at the front, and both working through interference rather than asking for lets. Bonmalais, just 20 years old, showed the influence of French stars Thierry Lincou and Gregory Gaultier, moving fluidly and using severe delays in his swing.

The remainder of the matches were decided in straight games. Englishman Lyell Fuller, Indian Ramit Tandon, and Canadians Andrew Schnell and Shawn Deliierre all notched decisive victories. Mohamed El Sherbini of Egypt had to work harder for his 3-0 win over American Faraz Khan, with the first and third games going to extra points. In the first, El Sherbini dominated a series of long, testing rallies to take a 9-3 lead, then proceeded to lose his length and find the tin. Khan came back to reach game ball at 10-9 and again at 11-10, but the Egyptian elevated his play to close out 13-11. The story in the third was a reverse of the first, with Khan going up 6-1 and ElSherbini fighting back. The tail end of the game was marked by a series of contested calls and tins from both players, with El Sherbini ultimately triumphant, 15-13.

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[2] Shawn Delierre (CAN) d Tristan Eysele (RSA) 11-4, 11-7, 11-0 (24 min)
[8] Andrew Schnell (CAN) d Jamie Ruggiero (USA), 11-5, 11-5, 11-1 (25min)
[6] Daniel Mekbib (CZE) d Joeri Hapers (BEL) 11-7, 8-11, 11-8, 11-4 (38 min)
[3] Mohamed El Sherbini (EGY) d Faraz Khan (USA), 14-12, 11-5, 15-3 (45 min)
Matias Tuomi (FIN) d [4] Christopher Gordon (USA), 13-11, 5-11, 11-7, 11-7 (72 min)
[7] Lyell Fuller (ENG) d Armando Olquin (MEX) 11-2, 11-2, 11-6 (21 min)
[5] Sébastien Bonmalais (FRA) d Ondrej Uherka (CZE), 11-5, 8-11, 11-6, 11-6 (30 min)
[1] Ramit Tandon (IND) Ben Coates (ENG) 11-2 11-1, 11-9 (35 min)