Companion Open 2003
22-27 July, Sao Paulo, Brazil,  $6k

[Q] Rafael Alarcon (Bra) bt Sabir Butt (Can)  13/15, 15/8, 15/8, 15/9

from Murilo Mori in Brazil

Home favourite Rafael Alarcon upset the odds once again to beat Sabir Butt in four games to capture the Companion Open 2003 in Campinas.

The club was totally full to watch the final. As the 4 times Canadian Champion and former number 17 in the world, Butt started favourite. The 4 times Brazilian champion Alarcon was Brazil's main hope for Companion Open and also for the XIV Pan American Games in the Dominican Republic in August, but had endured a hard week, coming through qualifying and a five-game win over top seed Lars Harms in the semi-finals.

After a gruelling first point which lasted 1':45" (and ended in a let) the Brazilian took the early advantage to lead 5/1. Butt recovered to 9/9, and in a game of many long rallies, again from 11-13 to take the first game 15/13 after 28 minutes of great squash.

The Canadian's efforts in the first game were to cost him dear. From an initial 7/3 advantage in the second Butt visibly tired as the Brazilian pegged back the lead and surged on to take the game 15/8. The pattern was repeated in the third as Alarcon took a 2-1 lead.

In the fourth it was the Brazilian who was on top again, opening up a 10/2 lead before closing out the game, and the match, 15/9.

A great tournament and fantastic matches here in South America, see you soon...

Murilo Mori

Official site from Mori Squash

Rafael Alarcon
photos from MoriSquash


Companion Open 2003
1st Round
Thu 24th
Fri 25th
Sat 26th
Sun 27th
[1] Lars Harms (Sui)
15/10, 15/9, 15/10
Amr Ramy Swelim (Egy)
Lars Harms
15/10 15/7 15/7
Omar Rafat
Lars Harms

11/15 14/17 15/11 15/12 15/7

 Rafael Alarcon

Rafael Alarcon
13/15 15/8 15/8 15/9

Sabir Butt

Mads Korsbjerg (Den)
15/13, 15/12, 15/4
Omar Rafat (Egy)
[3] Andrew Whipp (Eng)
15/10, 15/11, 12/15, 15/11
[Q] Rafael Alarcon (Bra)
 Rafael Alarcon
15/13 3/15 15/8 15/11
Luciano Barbosa
Luciano Barbosa (Bra)
17/14, 15/3, 15/4
[Q] Morten Sorensen (Den)
Sabir Butt (Can)
15/8, 15/6, 5/15, 15/8
[Q] Khaled Elebrashy (Egy)
Sabir Butt
15/12 15/13 6/15 15/6
Alister Walker
Sabir Butt

15/13 15/6 15/7

Ronivaldo Conceição

[4] Alister Walker (Eng)
10/15, 15/7, 15/6, 15/13
Sam Miller (Eng)
Andre Holderegger (Sui)
15/10, 15/5, 15/9
[Q] Mostafa Essam (Egy)
Andre Holderegger
15/11 15/11 15/6
Ronivaldo Conceição
Ronivaldo Conceição
15/7, 15/6, 15/13
[2] Jean-Michel Arcucci (Fra)


Qualifying Final Round:
Rafael Alarcon (BRA) bt Jorge Gutierrez (ARG)  15/7, 15/10, 15/11
Khaled Elebrashy (EGY) bt Danny Knudsen (DEN)  15/5, 15/8, 15/8
Morten Sorensen (DEN) bt Gláucio Novack (BRA)  15/7, 9/15, 15/13, 13/15, 15/13
Mostafa Essam (EGY) bt Julio Caseiro (BRA)  15/13, 15/4, 8/15, 15/10

Qualifying 1st round:
Jorge Gutierrez (ARG) bt Luiz André Couto (BRA)  15/7, 15/7, 15/9


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

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 3/0 victory.

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!

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 switzerland 3/0.

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 winner.

In the semi-finals Harms plays Alarcon and Butt faces Conceição.

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 recover.

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.

12 Jul
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 Brazilian players 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.

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