Home favourite Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi earned his place in the last 32 of the 2020 Qatar Classic after edging an exciting five-game battle with England’s Patrick Rooney.
Al Tamimi is the highest ranked Qatari squash player of all time and he often saves his best performances for home soil, however a sloppy start saw the World No.30 make seven unforced errors to hand his opponent a one-game lead.
The errors then flowed from the Englishman’s racket in the second as Al Tamimi powered into a 9-0 lead and he converted to draw level.
The match made for captivating viewing with a clear difference in style between the two players. Rooney is coached by the renowned Malcolm Willstrop and favours a methodical style of play which sees him construct rallies to draw his opponent away from the ’T’, whereas Al Tamimi is one of the most unpredictable players on the men’s tour and can hit winners from all over the court.
That unpredictability caused Rooney real problems as he conceded the third but brought the structure back into the match in the fourth to set up a decider.
However, it was all about Al Tamimi in the fifth as he pulled Rooney from pillar to post and he wrapped up a 10-12, 11-3, 11-8, 8-11, 11-3 in 54 minutes to earn his second round spot against Peru’s Diego Elias.
“It’s tough playing here at home,” Al Tamimi said.
“I need to raise my level always, I just want to make the whole country proud. I had some great performances last year, so I had a lot of pressure on me coming into this first round, especially with the lockdown we’ve been having because of COVID-19. I haven’t had any matches since February in Chicago.
“I only played one match against Tarek [Momen] in Manchester and when I came back I had to do two weeks quarantine, so all that work went for nothing. I think its [the errors] just from a lack of matches and I’m really glad I got through this one. I’m sure against Diego I’ll be a lot sharper.
“We’re really good friends and I’m really looking forward to it. I think it’s going to be a hell of a match and I’m sure it’s going to be fair and entertaining for everybody.
“It’s always a good week here, it’s one of the best tournaments on tour, if not the best, because of the organisation and all the history of the game here in Doha.”
Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi (QAT) bt Patrick Rooney (ENG) 3-2: 10-12, 11-3, 11-8, 8-11, 11-3 (54m)