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Tinne Gilis on court during her first round match in Manchester

Manchester Open Side Courts: Day 2 Afternoon Session

The side action continued on the second day of the Manchester Open, with four matches taking place in the afternoon session at the National Squash Centre.

There was home involvement in both men’s matches, as English No.1 Adrian Waller took on compatriot and wildcard Patrick Rooney, with Declan James also in action in the last match of the block.

The United States pairing of Haley Mendez and Amanda Sobhy were also in action. Here is what happened in the afternoon session of matches.

Gilis Overcomes Mendez To Book Second Round Place

World No.18 Tinne Gilis is through to the last 16 of the PSA Silver level Manchester Open after a confident performance against USA’s Haley Mendez, with the Belgian winning in four games.

Gilis, the Belgian No.2, fell behind early in the first game, but then won six straight points to take control, before winning out 11-6. However, Mendez fought back with a strong performance in the second game, winning by the same scoreline to tie the match.

From there on, though, it would be the World No.18 that strolled to victory, as she allowed the American to score just six points in the next two games, taking the victory in four to book her place in the second round in Manchester.

[12] Tinne Gilis (BEL) bt Haley Mendez (USA) 3-1: 11-6, 6-11, 11-4, 11-2 (32m)

Waller Downs Wildcard Rooney

Waller (left) and Rooney (right) in action on the side courts

English No.1 Adrian Waller got the better of compatriot Patrick Rooney, the men’s wildcard for the event, in four games, as he secured his passage through to the last 16 of the Manchester Open.

The pair had only met once before on the PSA World Tour, with Waller having taken the victory in four during the qualifying rounds for the 2017 Allam British Open, and the same result occurred today.

It was Rooney who started the stronger of the two in the first game, but a run of six straight points saw the World No.19 take the early advantage in the match. He then ran into a 7-0 buffer in the second, cruising into a two-game lead.

Rooney fought his way back into the tie though, after winning the third game, but unfortunately for the wildcard, he seemed to run out of steam in the fourth. Waller won out 3-1 to book his place in the second round, where he will face World No.7 Marwan ElShorbagy.

[13] Adrian Waller (ENG) bt [WC] Patrick Rooney (ENG) 3-1: 11-6, 11-6, 7-11, 11-6 (53m)

Sobhy Dominates Soini To Advance

Amanda Sobhy (left) on court during her clash with Emilia Soini (right)

World No.7 Amanda Sobhy showed her class to advance to the second round of the Manchester Open, as she needed just 24 minutes to overcome Finnish No.1 Emilia Soini on the traditional plaster courts at the National Squash Centre.

The USA’s leading female player was imperious, as she allowed Soini to take just nine points across the entire match, winning out 11-5, 11-2, 11-2.

Sobhy will now face Belgium’s Tinne Gilis in the second round after the World No.18 got the better of Sobhy’s compatriot, Haley Mendez, with that match coming on the showpiece glass court.

“Very happy with how I played even though my first shot was a return of serve shank straight into the floor. It was so bad that I laughed and my opponent laughed as well. I think it was a great way to start, though, as it took the pressure off myself, and I don’t think I could have hit a worse shot than that,” she explained.

“After that, I just played freely. I was happy with being back on court and playing. I have been working on a few changes that I have made over the last five weeks since I moved to Philadelphia. I just wanted to apply those changes more than really care about a win or being dominant.

“Really, I just focused on my own game and the shots I wanted to hit, and just being happy to be back on court. I was very happy with it, to get a win in the bag and to be back on tour competing.”

[5] Amanda Sobhy (USA) bt Emilia Soini (FIN) 3-0: 11-5, 11-2, 11-2 (24m)

James Saves Match Ball Before Beating Crouin

Declan James (fore) in action against Victor Crouin

England’s Declan James went through the wringer before eventually coming away from his first round match with a victory, as he downed Frenchman Victor Crouin in a five-game thriller on the side courts at the National Squash Centre.

The Englishman did not seem to get going during the first game, as he could only muster up four points, with Crouin moving out into a one game lead. However, James fought back to take the second game, before then saving two game balls at the end of the third. He won four straight points to come from 8-10 down to win it 12-10, and with it, take the advantage in the match.

It would not be an easy finish for the World No.22, though, as the young Frenchman fought his way back into the match in some style. He won the fourth with relative ease, and then took a late lead in the deciding fifth game as well.

James had to save match ball to take the victory, as he won the final three points of the clash to win the decider 12-10, and book his place in the second round. He will face Karim Abdel Gawad, another man to come through a brutal five-gamer, on Saturday.

“The brain just goes dead when you’re at that level of exhaustion. You can’t put two and two together without making five,” James admitted.

“It was just so hard. I expected it to be tough because he is a good mover. He had some good results last season and he came out of the traps so quickly! I was doing a lot of work, so at the end it was just about survival, and he was going to have to claw the win away from me.

“I have had a great off-season for training during the lockdown. Although I was exhausted on court, I have done that for the last six months so I can cope with that. It was more just that my squash wasn’t good enough.”

[16] Declan James (ENG) bt Victor Crouin (FRA) 3-2: 4-11, 11-9, 12-10, 5-11, 12-10 (67m)

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