Colombia’s Miguel Rodriguez battled to a hard-fought 3-2 victory over Egypt’s Youssef Soliman to seal his place in the last 16 of the CIB Black Ball Squash Open after 84 minutes of action.
Their only previous match on the PSA World Tour was a 73-minute, four-game clash so it was always going to be a lengthy affair, which was characterised by some gut-busting rallies.
Soliman absorbed everything his opponent could throw at him in the opening game, but World No.10 Rodriguez was in the ascendancy in the second as he profited off several tins from the Egyptian.
What a rally from— PSA World Tour (@PSAWorldTour) December 13, 2020
MiguelSquash</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/y_soliman97?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">y_soliman97
Over 2 minutes long
All four corners covered
This is intense stuff here in Cairo#BlackBallOpen pic.twitter.com/nYONHKrN9n
He then went ahead for the first time after taking the third, during which Soliman’s energy levels looked to be rapidly depleting.
However, a battling performance from the World No.28 saw him come out swinging to take the fourth for the loss of just four points. Rodriguez, though, wasn’t to be denied and the 34-year-old did just enough to push the win over the line by prevailing 11-9 in the decider.
There's getting out of the way, and then there is the Miguel way of doing it?
MiguelSquash</a> showing his jumping ability to get out of the way, before winning the rally to take the third game!<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/AirMiguel?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#AirMiguel</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/BlackBallOpen?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#BlackBallOpen</a> <a href="https://t.co/1oVr3k7Ncq">pic.twitter.com/1oVr3k7Ncq</a></p>— PSA World Tour (PSAWorldTour) December 13, 2020
“All of the first rounds are very challenging nowadays,” said Rodriguez.
“Especially playing a local player is tough. I’m glad to make it through, it was up and down and was a tough game for me to settle on the court. I was playing good games but then he was trying to slow down the pace and take his time to recover.
“I had to fight in my head to keep playing and do my best and it went all the way to the fifth game. I didn’t have time to play on the glass court and for me it’s always to play in the first round, especially travelling from Colombia.
“I came here a week ago and I’m doing my best. It wasn’t my best match or performance, but I’m taking this as a positive thing to play better in the next round.”
Rodriguez will play Egypt’s Zahed Salem for a place in the quarter-finals.
 Miguel Rodriguez (COL) bt Youssef Soliman (EGY) 3-2: 7-11, 11-3, 11-7, 4-11, 11-9 (84m)