Egypt’s World No.40 Youssef Soliman was forced to five as he overcame experienced Spaniard Borja Golan in the first round of the Channel VAS Championship at St. George’s Hill PSA World Tour Gold tournament to claim his 100th PSA Tour win.
Both players pushed each other to their limits with some gruelling rallies on show. The Bristol-based Egyptian started strongly to take the first, before Golan roared back in the second to equalise comfortably with Soliman looking as though he was struggling with an injury and asked to take extra time during the break.
After treatment from the physio, Soliman seemed to get his game plan back on track but Golan, who is 14 years older than the Egyptian, was dominant once again to take the lead for the first time in the match.
Soliman once again battled back though as he pushed through his injury concern to play some dynamic squash with his accurate play and caused problems for Golan, eventually drawing level to push the match to five.
"He's absolutely slotted it! That is scandalous!"
golansquash</a> pulls out an absolutely ridiculous jumping cross-court nick to win this point! <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/squash?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#squash</a> <a href="https://t.co/PmZFiSrRhg">pic.twitter.com/PmZFiSrRhg</a></p>— PSA World Tour (PSAWorldTour) November 19, 2019
In the fifth, it was Golan who allowed his frustration to get the better of him as he continuously showed signs of losing his focus with errors littering his game to play into the hands of Soliman to close out an 11-6, 2-11, 7-11, 11-7, 11-6 victory in 81 minutes.
Soliman will face top seed and World No.2 Mohamed ElShorbagy in the second round tomorrow.
“He’s one of the most experienced players on tour,” said Cairo-born Soliman afterwards.
“I knew it was always going to be a tough match. It doesn’t matter how old he is, physically he is so good and he always finds a way. I’m really happy to close out the fifth game.
“In the second game, I had a problem with my shin, it was like my leg was tight and planted in the floor, I just couldn't move. I saw myself having to retire. But Shonagh, the PSA physio, worked on it and just released the tightness and I was able to go back on court.
“He has such a good position on the middle, I was trying to take that away from him, by playing as fast as I could, and exposing him a bit at the front and at the back. But it took a while because he was so experienced and knew how to absorb my shots and was mixing so well.”
Youssef Soliman (EGY) bt Borja Golan (ESP) 3-2: 11-6, 2-11, 7-11, 11-7, 11-6 (81m)