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‘Massive win’ for smiling Simpson

Sport | Published:

IT HAS been a while since Chris Simpson had reason to smile on court, but it was obvious just how much yesterday’s epic victory over Zahed Salem meant to him.

The 31-year-old Guernsey professional booked his place in the third round of the inaugural $180k Black Ball Squash Open in cairo – the final PSA Platinum event of the year – with an against-the-odds 11-7, 5-11, 11-8, 9-11, 11-9 over the home player who, at 26th in the world, is 14 places above Simpson in the rankings.

‘It’s a massive win,’ said the Sarnian.

‘So far this season I’ve not been confident, I lost from match-ball up in my last tournament and then in the fourth I thought about that a little bit and I thought “right, concentrate” – but he came back.

‘In the fifth when I was 10-7 up I think I again played some not so great rallies, but I was just willing myself to win somehow.

‘We were both up-and-coming two years ago and we both saw our careers threatened by injuries.

‘It’s so hard to get the momentum back when you lose it, especially with the form the players have at the moment, they are all so fast and fit.

‘So we are both very hungry.’

Despite being hungry for success, Simpson also earned plaudits yesterday for his sportsmanship, giving back a ball that had touched him which no-one saw.

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On paper, Salem was the favourite and was also playing home in front of his mother, but Simpson played out of his skin to come through an intense 75min. battle, eventually taking his third match-ball in the decider.

‘Today, I’m very happy I managed to keep calm,’ Simpson said.

‘It doesn’t make sense to suddenly get nervous at 31 years old, but that’s the way it is when things change at home and you realise you are not going play much longer. So happy I managed to keep my nerves – well, until match ball that is…

‘I’m playing another tournament before the year is out, if I get a decent run in here and play well again tomorrow, then hopefully I can carry that momentum into the next tournament.

‘It would be nice to have a nice break at Christmas, with a few drinks, and not sulking about a bad end of the year.’

Simpson now faces world No. 7 Paul Coll.

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