Rafael Alarcon bt Lars Harms
11/15 14/17 15/11 15/12 15/7
Sabir Butt bt Ronivaldo Conceição 15/13 15/6 15/7
ALARCON HURTS HARMS
TO REACH SAO PAULO FINAL
from Murilo Mori in Brazil
The first semi-final between top seed
Lars Harms and qualifier Rafael Alarcon was the best match of the
tournament so far. Lars began with a mixture of power and smooth shots,
taking control of the first game to win it 15/11. Alarcon staged a
recovery in the second, reaching 13/10, and had game ball at 14/13 before
Harms surged again to take it 17/14.
The full house still believed in Rafael
- he is also known as the ninja, because he never surrenders. And the
crowd was correct. Rafael knew that the third game was all or nothing, and
refused to let any ball die. Showing great technique and heart, Rafael won
the game 15/11. The fourth was tight. Lars wanted to close the match and
Rafael was beginning to struggle. Harms took an initial 6/2 advantage, but
Alarcon turned the game around to win in a close 15/12.
For the fifth and final game, fitness was the key for victory, and it was
the Brazilian who proved he was in better shape. Harms was suffering with
the high temperature and dry
air, and was hampered by a nose bleed in the fifth. Alarcon surged to a
6/0 lead against a tired-looking Harms, and maintained control to run out
the 15/7 winner to the delight of the packed gallery.
In the other semi final local player
Roni Conceição couldn't find his form from earlier rounds and was totally
dominated by Sabir Butt. Sabir used his complete arsenal, giving Roni
little chance to shine. Conceição's only chance came in the first game
when he recovered from an 8/2 deficit to lead 13/12. The Canadian held on
to take the first, but in the following two games Roni simply didn't play.
He made many unforced errors and threw a lot of easy balls directly to the
tin. Butt took advantage, playing safe squash, and completed a comfortable
Tomorrow's final will be a clash between
the 4 times Canadian champion and the 4 times Brazilian champion. Sabir
Butt is the favourite, but don't forget ... Rafael never surrenders!
BRAZILIANS STILL ON FIRE
from Murilo Mori in Brazil
The second night of Companion Open 2003
was another great one for the Brazilian players, and for the top seed Lars
Harms from Switzerland.
Harms faced Egyptian Omar Rafaat who started very well, and opened up a
10/4 lead in the first game before the Swiss
staged a fantastic recover to take the first game 15/10. Thereafter Harms
had no problems and cruised to a 3/0
In the all-Brazilian clash Rafael Alarcon beat Luciano Barbosa in a tight
game. Long rallies and enormous physical effort from both players provided
the audience with a real treat. In the end Rafael displayed more patience
to register a 3/1 win.
A second Brazilian will feature in the
semi-finals, as Roni Conceição showed great squash once more, perfect
volleys, nick shots and great shape. Roni beat Andre Holderegger from
The final quarter final was a battle and the best game of the night. A
match with many lets and real contact, on some occasions resembling a
street fight rather than a squash game. The encounter between veteran
Sabir Butt, 4 times
Canadian champion and former 17º world, and young Alister Walker from
England, had everything you could imagine. Great drop shots, volleys, many
lets, strokes and contacts, even diving retrievals from Alister. In
the end though it was victory for experience, as Butt ran out the 3/1
In the semi-finals Harms plays Alarcon
and Butt faces Conceição.
SAMBA TIME IN
from Murilo Mori in Brazil
It was Samba time in Sao Paulo as the Brazilian
players enjoyed a great night, producing some stunning upsets in the first
round of the Companion Open.
Brazilian number one Roni Conceição
took out second seed Jean Michel-Arcucci with some great nick shots and
incredible retrieving, and capitalised on the Frenchman's troublesome back
to win 15/7, 15/6, 15/13. He now meets Austrian Andre Holderegge.
Second ranked Brazilian Rafael
Alarcon stunned third seed Andrew Whipp 15/10, 15/11, 12/15, 15/11,
playing his best squash and denying the Englishman any opportunities to
To complete a home hat-trick Luciano
Barbosa took a tight first game against Danish qualifier Morten
Sorenson and before romping to victory, 17/14, 15/3, 15/4.
Brazil is guaranteed a home
semi-finalist, as Alarcon and Barbosa now meet in the quarter-finals.
Top seed Lars Harms was in no
mood for upsets though, and the Swiss number one swept past Egypt's Amr
Razy Swelim 15/10, 15/9, 15/10 to set up a quarter-final clash with
another Egyptian, Omar Rafat, who beat Mads Korsbjerg 15/13, 15/12, 15/4.
The other quarter-final will feature
England's third seed Alister Walker and Canadian Sabir Butt, who both
scored 3/1 first round victories.
Harms seeded for
Sau Paulo title
Top seed for the Companion Open 2003, a $6,000
PSA Super Satellite event in Sau Paulo, Brazil, is Switzerland's Lars
Harms, the world number 52.
Harms faces competition from a strong
European contingent, with France's Jean-Michel Arcucci
and England's Andrew Whipp and Alister Walker completing the top four seedings.
Local interest will centre on
Ronivaldo Conceição, Rafael Alarcon and Luciano Barbosa, who will
use the event as a final warm-up before contesting the XIV
Pan American Games in
San Domingo in August.
There are women's and amateur events
running alongside the PSA tournament - see the official site for details.