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Tournament wildcard Claudio Pinto

Madeira International: Home Hopes Fall at Quarter-Finals

Portugal’s World No.98 Rui Soares and World No.229 Claudio Pinto both fell to quarter-final defeats at the International Tournament Madeira Island to dash home hopes at the tournament.

Number six seed Soares encountered a strong opponent in India’s Mahesh Mangaonkar, who put the home talent to the sword to prevail in straight-games and book his place in the semi-finals of the PSA Challenger Tour event – which will see the winner secure themselves a place at the prestigious PSA World Championships, which will be held in Chicago next year.

“It was tough, I put myself under a lot of pressure because I was playing a local,” said the 24-year-old following his victory.

“I knew there would be a lot of home support for my opponent, so I was very nervous for my match, but it turned out to be alright. I felt like it was a good match for both of us and that Rui put in a tough fight.

“I felt like I won because I was a little bit more aggressive than him and I was happy with the way things panned out for me.”

World No.68 Mangaonkar will now face top seed United States Todd Harrity in the semi-finals after he defeated Mangaonkar’s compatriot and World No.108 Abhay Singh in straight-games to take one step closer to the final.

“I’ve been feeling the pressure a little bit this week,” said the World No.50.

“It’s been a long time since I’ve been the top seed in a tournament, so I’ve been getting a little nervous before my matches, but I was really glad that I was able to settle down, get through it and play well at times.

“I’m very impressed with the set-up and the resort as a whole here and how the tournament is run – everyone is so nice. The island is gorgeous, and they are really taking care of the players.”

The other semi-final will see England’s number two seed Joshua Masters line up against Germany’s Valentin Rapp after they defeated Wales’ World No.123 Emyr Evans and Portuguese wildcard Pinto, respectively.

World No.53 Masters – who finished runner-up at the tournament last year – was in dominant form to condemn Evans – who defeated France’s Benjamin Aubert in a 3-2 thriller in round two – to a straight-games defeat as he prevailed an 11-4, 11-3, 11-3 winner in 29 minutes.

“I’m happy with my performance today,” said the 23-year-old Englishman.

“Emyr can be a really dangerous player, so I’m pleased that I kept my focus well and didn’t let him in at all.

“I’ve had a good start to the season and a good summer’s training so it’s nice to see that it’s paying off so far.”

Meanwhile, Germany’s World No.150 Rapp encountered a strong Pinto – who had upset the seedings the day before to knock out England’s Patrick Rooney – who got off to the perfect start, much to the delight of the home crowd, to take the first game.

Rapp, however, soon settled into the match and was able to counter Pinto’s attacking style of play as he overturned a 1-0 deficit to emerge a 6-11, 12-10, 11-5, 11-5 winner in 58 minutes.

“It was tough, he was on fire here in front of his home crowd,” said the 26-year-old German.

“But I knew what to expect. In the first game he was very quick, so I tried to just neutralise the pace and make the rallies long but it wasn’t easy and I lost the first. Then in the second, I got more into the match and I knew he was going to be tired, it was a crucial game and fortunately I won it.

“I just had to be focused and I’m happy to be through. I wasn’t seeded so it’s a big surprise for me that I am in the semi-finals and I’ll just try and play my best because there isn’t any pressure on my shoulders.”

Results: Quarter-finals:
[1] Todd Harrity (USA) bt [7] Abhay Singh (IND) 3-0: 11-5, 11-7, 11-7 (44m)
[4] Mahesh Mangaonkar (IND) bt [6] Rui Soares (POR) 3-0: 13-11, 11-7, 11-9 (51m)
[2] Joshua Masters (ENG) bt Emyr Evans (WAL) 3-0: 11-4, 11-3, 11-3 (29m)
Valentin Rapp (GER) bt [WC] Claudio Pinto (POR) 3-1: 6-11, 12-10, 11-5, 11-5 (58m)

Draw: Semi-finals – To be played September 22
[1] Todd Harrity (USA) v [4] Mahesh Mangaonkar (IND)
Valentin Rapp (GER) v [2] Joshua Masters (ENG)

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