Yasir Butt edged out US number two Christopher Gordon in a marathon 83-minute qualifying final of the EBS Dayton Open to join fellow Pakistani Aurangzeb Mehmund in the main draw of the PSA World Tour International 35 squash event in its ninth year at the Dayton Squash Center in Dayton, Ohio, USA
The world No64 from Lahore - the lowest-ranked player to qualify - had already taken out higher-ranked New Zealander Martin Knight in the first qualifying round.
Described by tournament organiser Charlie Johnson as a "battle of giants", the Butt/Gordon match provided an "incredible display of squash and athleticism from both players".
The 18-minute first game set the tone for the match as it was apparent that both Gordon and Butt were determined to earn a spot in the main draw.
"With both players tall, both rangy, both willing to cut the ball off and attack the front, the crowd was treated to a great back and forth game that saw Butt victorious 11-8," said Johnson. "In game two that seemed to be almost a rewind of the first, Gordon, who was urged on by his supporters in the crowd, turned the tables and won 11-8.
"The important third game saw both players raise their game to an incredible level. Words can't describe the extraordinary and often long points displayed on the court, many ending in lets (much to the groan of the crowd and dismay of the players!), and after 23 minutes Butt took a 2/1 lead in the match winning 13-11 on a point that featured incredible retrieves and attacks from both players."
Gordon took the fourth to draw level, but from nine-all in the decider it was 24-year-old Butt who marched into the main draw, courtesy of his 11-8, 8-11, 13-11, 4-11, 11-9 triumph.
"All this for $500 and 55 ranking points - now that's commitment!" one spectating PSA player was heard to comment.
Two other clashes for places in the main draw took more than an hour to resolve - Frenchman Gregoire Marche beating Shawn Delierre 11-13, 12-10, 11-6, 11-6 in 76 minutes in his first meeting with the Canadian, and New Zealander Campbell Grayson upsetting higher-ranked Egyptian Omar Abdel Aziz 11-8, 9-11, 11-4, 11-8 in 72 minutes.
And Cesar Salazar ensured Mexican interest in the first round after upsetting Pakistan's top-ranked player Aamir Atlas Khan 9-11, 12-10, 11-6, 11-4.
RESULTS: PSA International 35 EBS Dayton Open, Dayton, Ohio, USA
Gregoire Marche (FRA) bt Shawn Delierre (CAN) 11-13, 12-10, 11-6, 11-6 (76m)
Yasir Butt (PAK) bt Christopher Gordon (USA) 11-8, 8-11, 13-11, 4-11, 11-9 (83m)
Cesar Salazar (MEX) bt Aamir Atlas Khan (PAK) 9-11, 12-10, 11-6, 11-4 (52m)
Campbell Grayson (NZL) bt Omar Abdel Aziz (EGY) 11-8, 9-11, 11-4, 11-8 (72m)
Updated 1st round draw:
 Omar Mosaad (EGY) v Zac Alexander (AUS)
Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) v [Q] Campbell Grayson (NZL)
Marwan El Shorbagy (EGY) v Aurangzeb Mehmund (PAK)
 Borja Golan (ESP) v Siddharth Suchde (IND)
 Cameron Pilley (AUS) v Shahier Razik (CAN)
Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) v [Q] Yasir Butt (PAK)
Chris Ryder (ENG) v [Q] Gregoire Marche (FRA)
 Alister Walker (BOT) v [Q] Cesar Salazar (MEX)
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