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Sam Todd (left) on court with Mahesh Mangaonkar (right) in the Odense Open semi-finals

Farkas, Todd and Malliff Take Shock Wins To Reach Odense Open Finals

Three of the four semi-finals at the Odense Open, the first qualifying event for the 2021-2022 PSA World Championships in Cairo, saw upsets, as Hungary’s Balazs Farkas, and the English pairing of Katie Malliff and Sam Todd, made it into the finals of the Challenger 10 level tournament at the Odense Squash Club.

England’s Sam Todd played in the final match of the evening, and came up against the men’s top seed, India’s Mahesh Mangaonkar. The pair had met once before on Tour, at the Madeira International last September, with the Indian having won in four games.

Their semi-final in Odense would see the same scoreline, but in favour of the Englishman in the end. Mangaonkar started strongly, winning seven of the first eight points, but Todd then found his length to level the game at 7-7, before going on to take it on a tie-break 12-10.

The World No.49 fought back though to take the second game and level the contest, and with the possibility of making a final on the line, both players upped their games. It was eventually the Englishman who would take victory, winning both the third and fourth games 11-9 to advance to the final in Odense for the second time, after also reaching that stage of the tournament back in 2020.

“I think, overall, it was a bit of a scrappy match. There were a lot of decisions and we were getting frustrated with each other,” Todd admitted.

“I started off slowly, 7-1 down, and he was just picking me off because he’s so good around the middle on the volley. Once I got my length, I was able to build up from that and I was able to vary the pace, which favoured me, so I ended up winning the first, which was crucial for me!

“Each game was crucial, but the third to go 2-1 up… We were doing a lot of heavy movements into the front and we were trying really hard to get around each other. I just tried to relax, to refocus and move on to the next point!”

Todd will face Balazs Farkas in the final on Saturday evening, after the Hungarian No.1 overcame the challenge of USA’s Faraz Khan, the tournament’s No.2 seed, in a five-game battle that lasted well over an hour.

Balazs Farkas

The pair were meeting for the first time on Tour, and it was the American that got off to a fast start, playing with high pace to take the first game. Farkas then was able to wrestle the momentum back his was, to win both of the next two games and hod the lead in the contest for the first time. Khan was able to fight back to send the match into a decider, but it was the Hungarian that was able to clinch the victory, winning in five for the second straight day, to advance to the final in Odense.

“I really like squash, so I spend more time on court! Unfortunately, I can’t finish in four games, but I think it was a really good battle, a good semi-final! We tried to push as hard as we can,” the Hungarian said.

“I was thinking after the fourth game that I had to leave everything on court if I was going to win, and I did that to win this match and to go into the final.”

There was also another shock in the women’s event, as England’s Katie Malliff caused an upset once again, beating a higher-ranked Egyptian player for the fourth day in succession. Kenzy Ayman, No.5 seed Nour Aboulmakarim and No.4 seed Menna Hamed had all fallen to the Englishwoman in earlier rounds, and she was able to defeat No.6 seed Salma Eltayeb in the semis to make it four in a row.

The pair had never played on Tour before, but were well matched in the first game, with Malliff eventually taking it on a tie-break. The young Englishwoman was able to continue that momentum through the rest of the contest, winning in straight games to reach the biggest final of her career.

Katie Malliff (fore) in action against Salma Eltayeb (back) in her semi-final contest

“I am feeling really happy! I kind of can’t believe it, so I am really pleased! It was really cool. The last few days have been a little bit quiet, but today was a much bigger crowd, and it’s good to have the crowd behind you, so it’s good!” Malliff said after her win.

She will face top seed Alexandra Fuller in the final, after the South African No.1 got the better of No.7 seed Malak Khafagy in a tight four-game battle to reach finals day, where those World Championships spots are up for grabs.

The finals of the Odense Open will take place at the Odense Squash Club on Saturday, March 5, with the action starting at 17:00 (GMT+1). Both finals will be shown live on SQUASHTV.

Men’s Semi-Final Results: Odense Open
[6] Sam Todd (ENG) bt [1] Mahesh Mangaonkar (IND) 3-1: 12-10, 7-11, 11-9, 11-9 (68m)
Balazs Farkas (HUN) bt [2] Faraz Khan (USA) 3-2: 7-11, 11-8, 11-2, 6-11, 11-9 (74m)

Men’s Final Draw: Odense Open (To Be Played Saturday, March 5)
[6] Sam Todd (ENG) v Balazs Farkas (HUN)

Women’s Semi-Final Results: Odense Open
[1] Alexandra Fuller (RSA) bt [7] Malak Khafagy (EGY) 3-1: 11-5, 11-5, 8-11, 11-9 (42m)
Katie Malliff (ENG) bt [6] Salma Eltayeb (EGY) 3-0: 13-11, 11-8, 11-5 (32m)

Women’s Final Draw: Odense Open (To Be Played Saturday, March 5)
[1] Alexandra Fuller (RSA) v Katie Malliff (ENG)

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