GOLAN INTO FINAL AFTER LE ROUX RETIRES INJURED | 12th September 2015 | PICTURES
A packed CCI crowd welcomed Borja Golan and Shaun Le Roux for the first semifinal. A large number of juniors swarmed the first few rows of seating, and the energy was palpable.
The nimble Golan and the razor sharp Le Roux traded early blows before Golan's greater consistency began to pay dividends. The court coverage was a masterclass for the juniors as Golan asserted his supremacy to win the opener 11-7.
In the second, Le Roux opened stronger racking up a 5-3 lead. The drops were more measured, the length impeccable, and it seemed like Borja had a battle on his hands. An attritional point at 4-5 resulted in a brief debate. As always, the referee's decision stood. Le Roux followed up with a stroke and another tight point and, in a trice, he led 7-4. This is when Borja played the point of the match thus far as he pulled level at 7.
Le Roux allowed himself to be distracted as he yielded his fifth point on the trot, 9-7 to Golan. But an on-court collision at 8-9 left Shaun was wincing. It looked like a hamstring, as an injury timeout was called.
The Physio attended to Le Roux as the packed house jostled for position. The crowd had begun to debate what the decision would be -- was it a let or 10-8 to Borja. The Physio confirmed a pulled muscle -- a pity because it was turning out to be a cracker -- and Golan took the match 11-7, 10-8 (conceded due to injury).
GHOSAL WINS ELECTRIC FACE-OFF WITH HESHAM | 12th September 2015 | PICTURES
Two of the fastest movers on the tour stepped on court today to earn the spot in the final against Borja Golan (ESP). Ghosal had a boisterous crowd behind him as he took on the Egyptian magician. The two traded points to start, seeking the openings cautiously, before a brace of delightful points took Ghosal to 7-5. The racket skills on display were special as Hesham played a beauty to level the game.
No standing room in the house with the crowd gasping in marvel at some of the precision and pick-ups and cheering loudly as the first game went to Ghosal 11-7.
The second game saw nagging length and measured drops as both players used incredible variations on pace and height. Two superb finishes followed by an unforced error and Hesham led 3-0. The pace was incredible as Hesham looked a bit more assured at 5-2. But a nick on the return of serve gave Hesham 6-3, and another unforced error from Ghosal made it 7-4. They traded errors for 8-5 before Ghosal pulled out a beauty to narrow the gap 6-8. But two fabulous volley drops that Ghosal couldn’t answer meant Hesham had four game balls.
Then a string of unforced errors from Hesham let Ghosal get his foot in the door. A 'not up' call and the game went to extra points. The players traded two classy shots for 11-11. But another unforced error from Hesham, his fifth of the game, and still another, and the Indian took it from under Hesham’s nose 13-11, leading 2-0.
Ghosal stayed composed as Hesham alternated between the brilliant and the inconsistent in the third. The two stayed even until 6-7 Hesham’s lead, when it got a bit untidy. Hesham played two steady points 9-6. Then it was déjà vu as Hesham hit self-destruct, giving three easy points to allow Ghosal to level it at 9-9. A superb two-wall boast, and Hesham pulled one back 11-9.
Three games and it was already 53 minutes on the clock.
There was more urgency from both players at the start of the fourth. A stroke to Ghosal made it 3-3, then Hesham raised the level a bit for 6-3. The crowd was on edge, and at 7-6 to Hesham, some started visualising a decider. At 7-7, the crowd got louder. But it didn’t shake Hesham. Two gems in a row from the Egyptian made it 9-7, before he started to appear cramping. Still, he closed it out 11-9.
The energy was special, electric, akin to a bullfight. Hesham pulled ahead 2-0 in the fifth, before Ghosal played a beautiful drop and forced an error to level at 2-2, heralding a nail-biter. The shots became outlandish; the players appeared to have saved the best for last. 4-5 Ghosal as he sent a searching length deep into the back hand corner. Then, 5-5 with another Hesham error.
An unreal rolling nick made it 7-6 Hesham, before he gifted one back. Clearly no cramping anymore, as Hesham moved well. A brutal rally ended in a no let for Hesham, and it became 8-7 Ghosal. They sent each other in different directions before Ghosal drew the error at 9-8. Then, match ball, Ghosal. The referee called for quiet.There it was.
Ghosal won the slugfest 11-7, 13-11, 9-11, 9-11, 11-9 in 74 minutes.