‘Colombian Cannonball’ Miguel Angel Rodriguez showed glimpses of the form that took him to a high of No.4 in the World Rankings during 2015 as he came through a thrilling four-game battle with Chris Simpson of England in the first round of the 2016 Windy City Open.
The 30-year-old from Bogota broke through 12 months ago when he reached the semi-finals of the Tournament of Champions in the midst of his best ever run of form and against an ever-improving Simpson he looked to be reaching his dynamic, free-flowing best on court as he played with typical unorthodox stylings in a highly entertaining 76-minute battle.
Both players started strongly in the opening game before, at 3-3, Simpson made a series of errors that handed the game to Rodriguez in what could have spelled a quick exit for the Englishman. But he recovered in the second and played with precise line and length to gain a foothold in the match as he took the play to the Colombian and was rewarded when the scoreboard was levelled up at 9-9.
The third and fourth games were packed with brutal, lung-bursting 100-shot plus rallies that tested the physical fitness of both men but despite twice saving match ball, Simpson couldn’t make his efforts count, and a relieved Rodriguez managed to see it out 11-4, 6-11, 11-8, 12-10.
“That was a very tough match,” said Rodriguez.
“I have played a lot of times with Chris and I know how tough he is so I think I played well in first game. But fro then on it just got tougher and tougher so I’m very happy to get through.
“You have to be very consistent to compete in big events now because all top 20 players are good and no match can be taken for granted. You have to play hard in every match and give it 100%.”
 Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL) bt Chris Simpson (ENG) 3-1: 11-4, 6-11, 11-8, 12-10 (76m)