‘Colombian Cannonball’ Miguel Angel Rodriguez will compete in the last eight of the Windy City Open for the first time in his career later this week after successfully negotiating a tricky and highly competitive encounter with England’s Tom Richards at the University Club of Chicago earlier today.
It took the World No.6 74 minutes to get past the resurgent Englishman who has been in fine fettle in recent weeks, enjoying a return to top form after several years of disappointing results, but it is a result that will leave the now World No.24 rueing wasted opportunities.
There was little to separate the duo throughout proceedings in what was an encounter of the highest calibre with the opening game setting the scene as they traded points tit-for-tat to 9-9. After fighting hard to stick with the dynamic Colombian Richards cut a frustrated figure at the end of the first game after some costly errors handed Rodriguez the advantage.
He re-composed himself in the second and took command easy on as he restored parity on the scoresheet and he continued to dictate play at the start of the third as he moved ahead 3-0.
Momentum was firmly on the side of Richards but an overturned ‘Let’ to ‘No Let’ decision at 9-9 granted Rodriguez game ball to put the pressure back on Richards. He played a superb rally to force a tie-break but paid the price for attempting two precise drop shots as back-to-back tins gifted Rodriguez the lead once again.
The fourth proved to be a mirror image of the third as Richards played with composure, reading Rodriguez well in the front court to get the better of some furious exchanges, but with game ball in hand he went for broke and again came up short to give Rodriguez a sniff at victory and he wasted no time in lapping up the opportunity, converting the next two points in succession to take the match much to the frustration of Richards.
“Tom is playing well at the moment and he had some good results in the past few weeks and it was a tough match today,” said Rodriguez.
“I think that nowadays all matches against top 20 and top 30 players are very competitive but I’m delighted to come through and make my first quarters here in Chicago.
“It was tough – he was playing very solid throughout but I took my chances in the third where I had a great comeback and I’m happy I managed to see it out.”
After the match Richards said: “Those two errors at 10-10 in the third – I tried to push it, and that’s the difference between wining and losing.
“Maybe I just lack a little bit of match focus as I haven’t played that intensity for a little while. I’m fit but it’s just the mental focus at the end of the games.”
 Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL) bt Tom Richards (ENG) 3-1: 11-8, 6-11, 12-10, 12-10 (74m)