A gruelling 74-minute battle between Egypt’s Zahed Salem and Colombia’s Miguel Rodriguez went the way of the former as the World No.16 came back from a game down in Doha to reach his first ever PSA Men’s World Championship quarter-final.
Rodriguez had won seven of their previous eight matches on the PSA Tour coming into the match and prevailed in a scrappy 102-minute battle the last time they met at March’s Grasshopper Cup, despite Salem holding three match balls.
Today’s match was a similarly combative affair with both players trading blows in a number of bruising rallies. It was World No.9 Rodriguez who took the opening game after a breathtaking exchange which saw both players do a series of court sprints before Miguel feathered a stunning volley drop into the nick.
What a way to win the first game for
MiguelSquash</a><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/squash?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#squash</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/PSAWorldChamps?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#PSAWorldChamps</a> <a href="https://t.co/sEFRfRQVlq">pic.twitter.com/sEFRfRQVlq</a></p>— PSA World Championships (PSAWorldChamps) November 12, 2019
And he led for much of the second game too, going 7-2 ahead, only to see Salem ramp the pace up, coming back to take nine of the next 11 points on offer to draw level.
A pumped up Salem showed his class in the third and fourth as he played some sublime winners towards the front left of the court in particular as Rodriguez began to run out of answers and the man from Egypt soon held five match balls in the fourth.
Rodriguez saved four of them to evoke memories of his win in Zurich, but Salem held his nerve to complete an 8-11, 11-9, 11-7, 11-9 victory to ensure he will play either New Zealand’s Paul Coll or 2015 runner-up Omar Mosaad in the next round.
“I'm happy to be through to the quarter-finals, it's the first time for me at the World Championship,” said Salem afterwards.
“Beating Miguel is never easy, so it means a lot to me to be through and to win today. It's incredible, I'm happy and proud of it.
“You're playing in the last 16 of the World Championship and you're 10-5 up. You're just one point away from winning the match, a lot of things were going through my mind.
“When I lost the first match ball I started remembering when we played at the Grasshopper Cup, I was 2-1 up and 10-7 up and lost in five. I was thinking about that a lot, but I'm lucky to win 11-9 in the end. I can't remember what shot I did, but I'm happy to be through.
“This tournament is important for everyone, it's a World Championship. I've given my best, I have had tough matches, I've played so well and I'm proud of my performances. It's good to be playing in the quarters and I'm looking forward to it.”
"When I lost the first match ball I started remembering when we played at the
grasshopper_cup</a>, I was 2-1 up and 10-7 up and lost in five."<br><br>But there was no repeat this time as <a href="https://twitter.com/ZahedSalem_?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">ZahedSalem_ held off
MiguelSquash</a> to reach a first Worlds quarter-final!<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/PSAWorldChamps?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#PSAWorldChamps</a> <a href="https://t.co/GoIEg7JSvZ">pic.twitter.com/GoIEg7JSvZ</a></p>— PSA World Championships (PSAWorldChamps) November 12, 2019
 Zahed Salem (EGY) v  Miguel Rodriguez (COL) 8-11, 11-9, 11-7, 11-9 (74m)