World Rackets Defending Champion Jamie Stout takes a 4-0 lead after he defeated Tom Billings 15-4, 15-11, 15-0, 17-14 in their First Leg of the World Rackets Singles Challenge in New York.
The World Champion was in top form as he started the defense of his title, Stout led from the front, establishing a 5-0 lead in the first game. Challenger, Tom Billings, was also playing well and rallied back strongly. But Stout played a supreme fault free game, hitting perfect length and edged towards the opening game, winning 15-4.
The second game was a classic as Billings' confidence grew. Although Stout made the early running, leading 3-0, then 5-2, Billings dug deep to level and then establish a slim 7-5 lead. Back came Stout to level and then develop his own 10-7 lead. Both players were playing astonishing shots to generate breath-taking rallies, thoroughly enjoyed by the packed New York gallery. Again Billings recovered to 10-all and then his own slender 11-10. But the World Champion used his local knowledge to tip the balance and win the next five points without reply, winning the game 15-11 to establish a two game to love lead.
After the excitement of the second game, the third proved to be one-way traffic. Billings had produced sublime Rackets to match Stout but the Champion now stepped up his game to an entirely new level. Points slowly accumulated as Stout closed in; Billings fought valiantly but it was Stout who was producing a masterclass, eventually securing the third game 15-0.
Stout was now in the ascendency and carried his dominance into the fourth game, establishing the early running, leading 3-1 and then 6-2. Billings now matched his illustrious opponent, producing his top form, but still the Champion moved on, increasing his lead further to 9-3. Again, Billings stepped up and now started to regain ground, recovering points slowly against the free-flowing Stout, and after three further hands levelled the game before creating his own lead 11-9. The earlier subdued gallery was now in full voice - the game could go either way. Stout came into serve but again Billings held his own and then scored again on his own hand, to lead 12-9. Stout fought back to 11-12 but again Billings drove on to reach 14-11. After an unbelievable rally to save game point, Stout inched back to 14-12 and then 14-all on the next hand. Billings called a set to three but the momentum was now with the Champion. Winning three points without reply took the fourth and final game 17-14, and create a four game to love lead.
The second leg of the World Singles Challenge will take place on Saturday 18th November.