US SQUASH

Mathur & Mudge Successfully Defend NAO Title

The 2018 NAO final, (l-r): Yvain Badan, Damien Mudge, Mike Ferreira, Manek Mathur

Playing in their first SDA tournament since their Briggs Cup triumph in December, world No. 1’s Manek Mathur & Damien Mudge made a victorious return by successfully defending their SDA Diamond Chilton Investments North American Open title Monday night in Greenwich, Connecticut.

Top-seeded Mathur & Mudge progressed through the full draw of sixteen teams without a significant challenge on their way to the final, notching three, three-game victories.

The same could not be said for two seeds and finalists Mike Ferreira & Yvain Badan. After a second round exit at the 2017 NAO, Ferreira & Badan faced another early exit down 2-1 in the first round against Carl Baglio & Travis Judson. Ferreira & Badan recovered to emphatically close out the fifth 15-5 and progress to the quarters.

Qualifiers Steve Scharff & James Stout nearly pulled off a first-round upset against Bobby Burns & Hamed Anvari, but fell short 12-15 in the fifth.

The draw otherwise played out according to seeding with the top four seeds contesting the semifinals. After Mathur & Mudge dispatched four seeds Clive Leach & James Bamber, Ferreira & Badan sealed their place in the final with a four-game win over three seeds Bernardo Samper & Chris Callis.

In the final, Mathur & Mudge dropped their only game of the tournament in the second, clinching the title 15-8, 13-15, 15-8, 15-11.

“Mike and Swiss played a great final,” Mathur said. “They adjusted well to our game plan, retrieved almost every ball and definitely put the pressure on. I think in the second we didn’t hit our zones which let their attack of the front court come in to play well. I think heading into the third and fourth we took some pace off to control the ball better which helped.”

(l-r) Damien Mudge, Manek Mathur, Morris Clothier, Bart Osman, Yvain Badan, Mike Ferreira

Mathur & Mudge now remain unbeaten this season with their fifth title, and continue their winning streak spanning forty-seven matches.

“Great to be back,” Mathur said. “Lots of adversity with physical and health issues for the two of us, but managed to put things behind us for the weekend and pull through with a positive mindset. Unfortunate to miss a couple events leading up to this one, but I am sure we will play a full January next season.”

The title marks Mathur’s third consecutive, having also won in 2016 with Badan. Mudge’s remarkable NAO title record now extends to his fifteenth having won his first in 2000.

“The NAO is arguably the most prestigious title on the tour so to have our name on it together again is amazing,”Mathur said. “For me especially I started my doubles career at the FCG so it means a lot to be winning this event for the third time.”

The North American Open was first held in 1931. The Greenwich doubles community perennially hosts the event at the Field Club of Greenwich, Greenwich Country Club and Round Hill Club.

“This event has grown and improved year over year,” Mathur said. “We cannot thank Chilton, Lexington Partners and The Delamar hotel enough for all their support. Steve, Liam and Rodney go through a huge amount of work to make their event run smoothly and it shows right from the first ball hit to the last. We both look forward to being back next year.”

View NAO images on the SDA SmugMug page. Watch match replays below.

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