In the city that gave birth to legendary movie franchise Rocky it was Essex star Daryl Selby who held firm to land the knockout blow against South African Stephen Coppinger in a brutal 92-minute battle in the second round of the 2015 Delaware Investments US Open at Philadelphia’s Drexel University.
Almost exactly twelve months since they met in an epic encounter at the 2014 World Championship, when Coppinger prevailed 3-2 to record his first ever win over Selby, the duo again locked horns in a compelling contest that swung back-and-forth as many times as any of the iconic Sylvester Stallone sagas.
After defeating training partner and World No.5 Miguel Angel Rodriguez 3-0 in the first round it was 31-year-old Coppinger who began brightly, taking the first game for the loss of just two points as he looked to be on course to book a place in the last eight of the US Open for the first time ever. But Selby showed the fighting spirit epitomised by Balboa as he dug in, upping his levels to eventually prevail 2-11, 13-11, 11-4, 5-11, 11-8 in a contest that enthralled the crowd.
“Steve is an absolute animal,” said Selby. “He’s an unbelievable player – his tenacity and sheer will to win is something we can all learn from and I tried to match him in that department today.
“I’ve been playing well and hitting well but if you don’t match him in positivity then he steamrollers you like he did in to me in the first game tonight. He deservedly beat me in a really tough match at the World Championship last year and he’s on the up at the moment so he’s a player that I’m really delighted to beat.”
The knock-out blow came when Selby edged a mammoth lung-busting rally that took the scores to 10-8 in the fifth and the man from Essex held firm to take the match, to his huge relief, and set up a last eight showdown with Egypt’s Omar Mosaad – who came through a similarly tough 81-minute match with Tarek Momen.
“Everyone knows how powerful Omar is and he played well against Tarek early today,” he said.
“He played the big points really well so it’s certainly going to be a tough match. He’s beaten me the only few times we have played so I’m very thankful that I’ve got a rest day to recuperate and come back on Thursday to give it my best shot.”
Daryl Selby (ENG) bt Stephen Coppinger (RSA) 3-2: 2-11, 13-11, 11-4, 5-11, 11-8 (92m)