Competing in the first round of a major PSA World Tour Platinum event for just the second time, Malaysia’s 20-year-old Eain Yow NG sealed one of the biggest victories of his career to knock home favourite and World No.24 Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi out of the 2018 Qatar Classic at the first hurdle – on a day that saw all three competing Qatari players crash out of the event.
Taking on the talented Tamimi in his own back yard, NG embraced the underdog role and attacked without fear from the off. Playing with a relaxed, composed manner the World No.42 took the game to the local man, forcing errors from the racket of a nervous Tamimi to take the opening game for the loss of just three points.
Tamimi, currently at a career high ranking, looked to have found his rhythm as he levelled the scores. But the errors began to flow once again in the third game, with NG happy to profit and re-establish his lead. He then came from behind in the fourth game to seal the win and book a place in the second round of a major event for the first time in his career.
“I knew coming into it today it would be tough to play him in his home town so I just told myself that there was no pressure and to relax and enjoy the match,” said NG, who led Malaysia to a Gold medal finish at the Asian Games Team Championship.
“He’s a very talented and tricky player, so I just had to play basic, keep the ball tight and stay focused. I knew there would be pressure on him and in the first game I could see he was a bit slow of the mark and I tried to take advantage of that and the first game was very important.
“I fought back very well in the third game after being down and I just kept focusing on trying to play good squash instead of getting sucked into his type of game. I believed that I could do it and it paid off for me at the end.
“To win this match means a lot to me as well because I’ve fallen short at the major events previously and have struggled to get to the main draws so wining today and getting into the second round for the first time is big for me. Playing against players like Karim Gawad, who’s someone I have looked up to, is the sort of thing that every player works for so I’m excited to just give it everything I’ve got and see what happens.”
NG will go up against former World Champion and 2016 tournament winner Karim Abdel Gawad in the second round while Qatari wildcards Abdulrahman Al-Malki and Syed Azlan Amjad also bowed out at the first round courtesy of straight-game defeats at the hands of Australian Cameron Pilley – who today celebrated his 36th birthday – and Hong Kong’s Tsz Fung Yip.
Elsewhere German number two Raphael Kandra was one of six players to narrowly come through in five games and secure a place in the second round of the PSA World Tour Platinum event, with the 27-year-old coming from behind to see off Mexican Arturo Salazar in a thrilling encounter.
Kandra, playing at a career high ranking of 19, was off the pace to start with but managed to turn the match around and prevail against the dangerous Salazar – who’s brother Cesar saved match ball to triumph in another five-game battle with Welshman Peter Creed.
“I wasn’t that comfortable on the glass court to start with today but the longer it went on the better I felt,” said Kandra afterwards.
“I just focused on what I’m good at and it worked out for me in the end. I’m now going up against Diego (Elias) in the second round and I’m excited for the challenge – I will push as hard as I can to try and get the win.”
Egypt’s World No.45 Karim Ali Fathi also produced a surprise win on the opening day of action as he secured a 3-0 victory over France’s World No.31 Gregoire Marche while Mazen Hesham, Greg Lobban, Adrian Waller, Tom Richards, Borja Golan, George Parker, Mathieu Castagnet, Declan James and Joel Makin were the other winners on the day.
Results – 2018 Qatar Classic: First Round
Tsz Fung Yip (HKG) bt [WC] Syed Azlan Amjad (QAT) 3-0: 11-4, 11-7, 11-7 (24m)
Mazen Hesham (EGY) bt Chris Simpson (ENG) 3-1: 5-11, 11-5, 11-9, 11-4 (51m)
Greg Lobban (SCO) bt Nafiizwan Adnan (MAS) 3-2: 5-11, 11-7, 9-11, 13-11, 11-5 (84m)
Raphael Kandra (GER) bt Arturo Salazar (MEX) 3-2: 9-11, 11-8, 11-4, 7-11, 11-3 (55m)
Cesar Salazar (MEX) bt Peter Creed (WAL) 3-2: 7-11, 11-5, 5-11, 12-10, 11-8 (57m)
Adrian Waller (ENG) bt Alan Clyne (SCO) 3-0: 11-6, 11-6, 12-10 (38m)
Tom Richards (ENG) bt Mohamed Reda (EGY) 3-2: 9-11, 11-9, 11-7, 9-11, 11-6 (60m)
Borja Golan (ESP) bt Nathan Lake (ENG) 3-2: 10-12, 11-2, 11-9, 9-11, 11-4 (56m)
Cameron Pilley (AUS) bt [WC] Abdulrahman Al-Malki (QAT) 3-0: 11-7, 11-3, 11-5 (26m)
George Parker (ENG) bt Campbell Grayson (NZL) 3-1: 12-10, 11-5, 5-11, 11-8 (68m)
Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) bt Youssef Soliman (EGY) 3-1: 11-8, 11-9, 9-11, 11-5 (58m)
Joel Makin (WAL) bt Rex Hedrick (AUS) 3-2: 8-11, 11-5, 13-11, 8-11, 11-3 (78m)
Eain Yow Ng (MAS) bt Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi (QAT) 3-1: 11-3, 8-11, 11-9, 11-5 (40m)
Karim Ali Fathi (EGY) bt Gregoire Marche (FRA) 3-0: 11-6, 11-8, 11-7 (37m)
Declan James (ENG) bt Omar Abdel Meguid (EGY) 3-0: 11-1, 11-5, 11-8 (38m)
Leo Au (HKG) bt Ben Coleman (ENG) 3-1: 8-11, 11-9, 11-6, 11-3 (53m)
Draw – 2018 Qatar Classic: Second Round
 Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) v Tsz Fung Yip (HKG)
Adrian Waller (ENG) v Omar Mosaad (EGY)
Daryl Selby (ENG) v Mazen Hesham (EGY)
Raphael Kandra (GER) v  Diego Elias (PER)
 Paul Coll (NZL) v Cesar Salazar (MEX)
Borja Golan (ESP) v Greg Lobban (SCO)
Tom Richards (ENG) v Ryan Cuskelly (AUS)
George Parker (ENG) v  Simon Rösner (GER)
 Tarek Momen (EGY) v Nicolas Mueller (SUI)
Max Lee (HKG) v James Willstrop (ENG)
Cameron Pilley (AUS) v Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) Joel Makin (WAL) v  Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL)
 Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) v Eain Yow Ng (MAS)
Karim Ali Fathi (EGY) v Declan James (ENG)
Leo Au (HKG) v Saurav Ghosal (IND)
Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY) v  Ali Farag (EGY)