The 2018 Big Apple Open ended in unfortunate fashion as world No. 1 Manek Mathur sustained what appeared to be a severe Achilles injury midway through the second game of the final, forcing an immediate retirement and handing the 2018 title to Yvain Badan & Bernardo Samper Monday night at New York Athletic Club.
The final appeared to be well poised for the NYAC crowd as the top two seeds collided in one of the SDA Tour’s staple events.
Mathur rekindled his Maryland Club Open-winning partnership with Chris Callis and progressed through the draw with the same impeccable form that has seen the Indian international go undefeated for his last nineteen tournaments, spanning three seasons and dating back to the 2016 Maryland Club Open final loss nearly three years ago to the month.
The top seeds made a blistering start to the final with a decisive 15-5 score line, but the two seeds returned more resolute in the second game. At 7-all, Mathur pulled up awkwardly, unsure of what had transpired at first, until the reality of the injury set in. Callis, Badan and Samper as well as members of the crowd rushed to his aid and emergency services arrived shortly after to treat Mathur.
While both Samper & Badan mark their first career Big Apple Open title, both players could only focus on the well-being of their opponent, fellow Trinity alum and friend.
“There’s no celebration for us right now, we just feel horrible for Manek,” Badan said. “There’s no worse way to win a match. You never want to see that happen to anybody, no less someone you’re so close to. We all went to school together, we’re best friends, and it’s even more tough seeing how much of the season is still down the line and knowing how long it will take him to recover.”
The injury will no doubt have re-seeding and draw implications for the rest of the season as the tour prepares to descend on Westchester Country Club with an SDA Platinum draw this weekend.
“It really sucks, especially to see the caliber player he is and everything he’s doing for the tour,” Samper said. “He’s the best player, perhaps in history, and he’s been training really hard for this season, and to see it in the second game of the final is really sad. We wish him the best in his recovery and we need him back on the tour as soon as possible.”
Mathur had won the past two Big Apple Opens with Damien Mudge, including a 2017 final win over Samper & Callis. Badan reached the 2014 final with Mathur and the 2016 final with Mike Ferreira.
“We’re grateful to the Big Apple Open, they’re always a steady event every year,” Badan said. “Pat Canavan and his staff do a wonderful job and we’re grateful to everyone here. We’re just upset for Manek and that we couldn’t give them more of a final.”
World No. 1 Manek Mathur collected his second consecutive SDA title without dropping a game with first-time partner Zac Alexander, to claim their maiden Hamilton Cup at the Denver Club Invitational in Colorado.
After claiming the season-opening Maryland Club Open title with Chris Callis two weeks ago, Mathur forged a new partnership with Australian Commonwealth Games gold medalist Zac Alexader to lead the eight-team SDA Silver draw as the top seeds.
The bottom half of the draw saw two seeds John Roberts & Hameed Ahmed overcome Carl Baglio & Jordan Greenberg in a tight five-game semifinal 15-10, 8-15, 15-12, 14-15, 15-10. The result marked Roberts’ second career SDA final appearance and Ahmed’s first.
The final was all Mathur & Alexander, however, as the top seeds powered to a three-game victory 15-6, 15-11, 15-11.
The 2018 Denver Club Invitational was the first iteration of the event since 2014 to be held as a full ranking event. While Mathur celebrates his second title of the season in just as many weeks and first Hamilton Cup, Alexander collects his first career SDA title.
“It’s great to get that first title under the belt, still very much learning the game I think,” Alexander said. “This definitely gives me confidence to have a good season and progress. I’d like to be a stable top five or ten player for the next few years.”
Mathur & Alexander could oppose each other on court this weekend at the Big Apple Open with Mathur & Chris Callis and Alexander & Jonny Smith seeded first and fourth, respectively.
“It was our first event together though we’ve known and played against each other since we were fifteen years old,” Alexander said. “We know each other’s games and we’re good mates, which I think counts the most. The Denver Club is a sensational club with great atmosphere, passionate members and a great head pro in Binnsy. Hopefully Manek and I can defend our title next time around.”
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About the SDA Pro Tour – Entering its seventh season, the SDA Pro Tour supports a schedule of more than twenty events across the United States, Canada and Mexico with an aggregate purse of more than $500,000. Featuring players from twenty different countries, the SDA is the home for the world’s best hardball doubles action.
Manek Mathur & Chris Callis opened the 2018-2019 SDA season with a dominant display in Baltimore, clinching the SDA Diamond Maryland Club Open title Monday night.
Mathur, world No. 1, had been forced to shuffle partners this season due to an injury keeping Damien Mudge off court—his partner for the past two seasons. Mathur rekindled his 2015 Big Apple Open finalist partnership with Chris Callis, Princeton graduate and 2016 SDA rookie of the year. Callis stepped into Mudge’s role on the right wall as Mathur & Callis led the draw as top seeds.
Mathur & Callis blew past Peter Kelly & Joshua Schwartz 15-5, 15-8, 15-7 in the first round, and put in another strong performance in the quarterfinals against Mike Ferreira & Whitten Morris, 15-9, 15-3, 15-3.
Commonwealth Games doubles gold medalist Zac Alexander & Robin Clark upset the seedings in the quarterfinals, defeating England’s Clive Leach & James Bamber 15-14, 15-4, 15-5 to set up a semifinal against the top seeds. Mathur & Callis proved to be too much for Alexander & Clarke in the semis with the top seeds once again progressing to the final in three games.
2018 Buffalo Pro Doubles champions James Stout & Greg McArthur claimed the biggest upset in the bottom half of the draw. Two seeds John Russell & Yvain Badan had come back from 2-0 down to win their quarterfinal match up in five games against Raj Nanda & Greg Park. The two seeds found themselves 2-0 down once again in the semis against Stout & McArthur and appeared to be on the brink of another come back by winning the third and holding a simultaneous game/match ball at 14-all in the fourth. Stout & McArthur claimed the pivotal point to take the match 15-14 in the fourth.
Mathur & Callis continued their strong form into the final against Stout & McArthur, dropping just five points in the first and third games to claim the title in three. The title marks the largest of Callis’ SDA career and Mathur’s first at the Maryland Club.
“It was a treat to be out there with Chris,” Mathur said. “We go so far back that our friendship and understanding showed through with our on court communication, which was a massive plus. When you have someone new to play doubles with, no matter who they are or how good, the meshing aspect can be tricky. I think we understood each other’s strengths and weaknesses to a T.”
The Maryland Club Open event returns to the SDA Tour with its highest prize money to date following a brief hiatus last season. The club underwent renovations that added a third hardball doubles court—the only club in the United States with three courts.
“The Maryland Club is a special place,” Mathur said. “They’ve got some of the best members and now the best squash doubles facility in the world. It was a treat to be a part of their event and history and I am already counting down the days to their next event. Andrew Cordova is a class act. What he does for the game and the sport is unparalleled and consistently pushes us pros to raise the bar at our home clubs. Can’t thank the club, membership and the staff enough for treating us like family all through the weekend.”