James Willstrop: Rodriguez’s efforts deserve a wider audience

Miguel Angel Rodriguez
Miguel Angel Rodriguez
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PLAYER of the month award for January would surely have to go to Miguel Angel Rodriguez, the Columbian world number 8.

On January 1 he entered the world’s top 10 for the first time – the first South American to do so. He followed this with his first-ever World Series semi-final in New York, beating Gregory Gaultier and losing to Nick Matthew.

After five hours of squash that week, including a 121-minute five-gamer against Peter Barker, and an 88-minute duel with Gaultier, you would think he’d be inclined to settle for that good month’s work.

But he was not finished, and, having entered in to the Motor City Open a few days later, he didn’t sit around licking wounds. In fact it got worse. This time it was six hours of world-class squash in only four straight days, not a rest day in sight, culminating in a five-game win over Stephen Coppinger in 112 minutes in the final.

To give this some kind of context to the non-squash playing reader: any match to last over 80 minutes means a player takes quite a hit. Have one of those in a tournament and you will likely be in some physical trouble for days after. When we start to talk about the two hours plus mark for a squash match they can finish a player for weeks.

Thankfully they’re not too common. I have often likened it to the marathon runner, who after 2 hours 20 serious racing will probably do very little else for several weeks. In this case Miguel has had to repeat these hard matches time after time and day after day during the course of two weeks.

I’m not sure I remember a feat like this. Anthony Ricketts played four five-set matches in five days at Canary Wharf in 2006, which is one example to compare.

This achievement from the Columbian has gone relatively unnoticed away from the world of squash, which is a travesty, but yet that is how it is.

He deserves a long rest.

James Willstrop, lefvt, in action against Mohamed ElShorbagy in Dubai. Picture courtesy of PSA

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