The first qualifying round of the prestigious J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions, PSA World Series event saw India’s Ramit Tandon secure easily the greatest victory of his nine-year career with a shock triumph over World No.22 Ali Farag – despite being ranked a mammoth 233 places behind the Egyptian.
After dropping the first game to his opponent, 23-year-old Tandon stormed back to open up a 2-1 lead and put himself on the cusp of victory, only to see Farag restore parity to proceedings after a confident display in game four. Tandon battled to a four-point lead in the early stages of the deciding game and, despite a nervy finish to the fixture, held firm to record a superb 4-11, 11-8, 11-8, 4-11, 11-8 victory to leave him just one match away from a maiden PSA World Series main draw appearance.
His opponent in the final round of qualifying will be South African training partner Clinton Leeuw after he sealed a hard-fought 3-2 win over experienced Dutchman Laurens Jan Anjema. Leeuw soared into an early two-game lead but looked to have surrendered the initiative after a resilient Anjema fought back to level the match up at 2-2. However, a lengthy fifth game battle eventually went in Leeuw’s favour, with the World No.163 taking it 12-10 on the tie-break to book his final qualifying round berth.
“It’s ironic that I am almost at retirement and I just got the biggest win of my career,” a visibly delighted Leeuw remarked after the match.
“I’m humbled to play well against someone I’m a fan of.”
There was almost a third upset of the day in Gregoire Marche’s encounter with home hope Chris Hanson, with the the Frenchman eventually prevailing after recovering from a 2-1 deficit. An aggressive start to the match from Hanson threw Marche off balance but the five-time PSA World Tour title winner repelled Hanson’s early momentum to claim the win in five and set up a next round clash with New Zealand’s Campbell Grayson.
“I was up 2-1 and leading in the fourth when I started thinking that I actually had a chance to win the match, that’s when Marche really asserted himself.” said Hanson.
Meanwhile, Lucas Serme took just 15 minutes to dispatch Mike Lewis and has a tough encounter with Mohamed Abouelghar up next after the Egyptian swept past Shawn Delierre.
There were also wins for Pakistani players Nasir Iqbal and Farhan Zaman after they saw off Sunny Seth and Paul Coll, respectively. Iqbal will line up against Greg Lobban for a place in the main draw while Zaman will meet England’s Declan James.
Results – First Qualifying Round: J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions 2016
Farhan Zaman (PAK) bt  Paul Coll (NZL) 3-0: 11-9, 11-8, 12-10 (35m)
 Declan James (ENG) bt Christopher Gordon (USA) 3-1: 10-12, 11-7, 12-10, 11-6 (57m)
 Nasir Iqbal (PAK) bt [L] Sunny Seth (GUY) 3-1: 11-3, 10-12, 11-4, 11-1 (43m)
 Alan Clyne (SCO) bt Joe Lee (ENG) 3-1: 8-11, 11-5, 11-6, 11-3 (64m)
Gregoire Marche (FRA) bt Chris Hanson (USA) 3-2: 11-8, 7-11, 8-11, 11-6, 11-2 (72m)
 Campbell Grayson (NZL) bt [L] Faraz Khan (USA) 3-0: 11-7, 11-5, 11-3 (29m)
 Lucas Serme (FRA) bt [L] Mike Lewis (USA) 3-0: 11-2, 11-4, 11-2 (15m)
 Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY) bt Shawn Delierre (CAN) 3-0: 11-8, 11-8, 11-3 (29m)
[L] Ramit Tandon (IND) bt  Ali Farag (EGY) 3-2: 4-11, 11-8, 11-8, 4-11, 11-8 (71m)
[L] Clinton Leeuw (RSA) bt  Laurens Jan Anjema (NED) 3-2: 12-10, 11-6, 9-11, 6-11, 12-10 (67m)
 Diego Elias (PER) bt [L] Sam Gould (USA) 3-0: 11-3, 11-4, 11-1 (22m)
 Greg Lobban (SCO) bt [L] Wael El Hindi (EGY) 3-1: 6-11, 11-7, 11-7, 6-6 ret. (49m)
 Alfredo Avila (MEX) bt Harinder Pal Singh Sandhu (IND) 3-1: 12-14, 11-7, 11-6, 11-6 (60m)
 Raphael Kandra (GER) bt Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi (QAT) 3-0: 11-6, 11-6, 13-11 (34m)
 Mohamed Reda (EGY) bt Arthur Gaskin (IRL) 3-0: 11-5, 11-9, 11-8 (41m)
 Adrian Waller (ENG) bt [L] Supreet Singh (IND) 3-0: 11-7, 11-7, 11-2 (28m)
Draw – Final Qualifying Round
Farhan Zaman (PAK) v  Declan James (ENG)
 Nasir Iqbal (PAK) v  Alan Clyne (SCO)
Gregoire Marche (FRA) v  Campbell Grayson (NZL)
 Lucas Serme (FRA) v  Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY)
[L] Ramit Tandon (IND) v [L] Clinton Leeuw (RSA)
 Diego Elias (PER) v  Greg Lobban (SCO)
 Alfredo Avila (MEX) v  Raphael Kandra (GER)
 Mohamed Reda (EGY) v  Adrian Waller (ENG)