Day 1 of FISU 2018 World University Squash Championship
The FISU 2018 World University Squash Championship got under way yesterday with the early rounds of the men’s and women’s individual competitions.
Surprises were at a relative premium in the initial 38 matches played at the University of Birmingham – although by the end of the day, two men’s seeds had each been edged out by the odd game in five to exit the Championship.
Australia’s Thomas Calvert (seeded 8) and Swiss hope Robin Gadola (10) came unstuck against, respectively, Federico Cioffi from Argentina (11-7, 9-11, 13-11, 7-11, 9-11) and the South African Dewarld van Niekerk (11-4, 10-12, 12-14, 11-9, 10-12) – despite the first games of both Second Round matches going to form in favour of the seeds.
Cioffi’s triumph was all the more remarkable, coming as it did only a few hours after he had been on court to face Sion James Wiggin of New Zealand in one of the Championship’s opening 10am First Round ties. The Argentinian did, however, make short work of Wiggin – prevailing in straight games over just 24 minutes to keep something in reserve for his later-afternoon mission.
Argentina had a great chance of pulling off not just the one shock, but a hat-trick of them, as Cioffi’s unseeded compatriots Francisco and Rodrigo Obregón both took seeds to five games in the men’s Second Round, before falling in the fifth.
Each of the twins detained his higher-ranked opponent for over an hour, before Henry Leung (7) of Hong Kong edged out the right-handed Francisco (11-5, 10-12, 11-9, 9-11, 11-6), and David Zeman (12) from the Czech Republic saw off the challenge of left-handed Rodrigo (8-11, 13-11, 8-11, 11-8, 11-5).
Elsewhere in the men’s competition, a combination of 3-0 and 3-1 victories saw seeded players safely through to the Third Round – with the top five seeds all securing straight-games victories, and each of the leading two dispatching his opponent with 20 minutes on the clock.
Hong Kong’s Yip Tsz Fung (1) gave a drop-shots masterclass in the course of defeating Singaporean Benedict Chan (11-4, 11-4, 11-5), while home player Josh Masters (2) comfortably beat the South African Adam Erni Shean (11-3, 11-3, 11-1).
The women’s competition, unlike the men’s, confined itself to completing just the First Round on the opening day – and its eight matches did not involve any seeds, who join proceedings from this morning.
Six of those eight contests were done and dusted inside half an hour – although very much less time was required in some cases.
Canadian Hannah Blatt was on and off court in 10 minutes after defeating Esther Nakato of Uganda in straight games and without conceding a single point. And Marija Shpakova from Switzerland, having dropped one point in the first game against her Chinese opponent Xiao Yating, did not lose another in the process of an extraordinary eight-minute 3-0 rout.