Mathieu marches past Walker to set up England-France battle in Chicago
FRENCH ace Mathieu Castagnet will be gunning for revenge when he meets England’s number eight seed Peter Barker in the second round of the Metrosquash Windy City Open in Chicago.
The two were engaged in a fractious encounter during the second round of the Tournament of Champions in New York last month.
Barker emerged victorious after a 79-minute confrontation which was not the best advertisement for top-level professional squash.
The PSA’s own TV commentators were staggered by the physical contact and some questionable pick-ups that provoked a flurry of comments on Squash Mad.
Since then, Barker has struggled with injury and pulled out of the British Nationals Championships last week to be ready for a busy March schedule.
Yesterday he beat American lucky loser Chris Gordon in straight games, one day after the American had been beaten in the qualifying finals by Finland’s Henrik Mustonen.
Gordon came in to take the place of England’s Adrian Grant, who was forced to withdraw because of illness.
Castagnet made sure of his place in the second round by overcoming the higher-ranked Alister Walker in straight games. After a close opening game, Castagnet took control to win 12-10, 11-6, 11-9.
With Castagnet at 21 in the world and Walker at 19, this result could have some significant impact. So could Castagnet’s battle with Barker.
The English and French have fought many a skirmish on American soil. This latest encounter may need the strongest refereeing team available.
Egyptian world number four Ramy Ashour fought from 1-0 down to record a 3-1 win against Australian Cameron Pilley.
The former world number one was returning to World Series action for the first time since the 2013 Hong Kong Open in December, when injury ended his tournament prematurely, and quickly found himself down against Pilley before showing his class to come through 8-11, 11-6, 11-3, 11-3.
Ashour, who lost in the final of the Swedish Open to Nick Matthew in his comeback tournament, said: “Cameron is a great player who really pushes you to be at your best and he’s a very big hitter as well.
“He came out firing today and won the first game and I had to work hard to try and contain him and I’m glad I managed to do that and come through the match.
“I have a day off now and I need to make sure I look after my body. My recovery has been going steady so far and for me it’s now a matter of working on my mental organisation.
“I need to work on organising my routine, what I’m eating and how I am on court, and hopefully it will continue steadily.”
After winning the Tournament of Champions in New York, Egyptian Amr Shabana began his Windy City Open title bid in impressive fashion.
The world number nine, who is unseeded in Chicago, dispatched English qualifier Adrian Waller 11-6, 11-6, 11-9 to book a second round showdown with James Willstrop.
“Any time you win a match you are happy,” said Shabana. “In the first round you never really know what will happen so I was just pleased to come through.
“I had a good run in New York to win the TOC but you try not to think about things like that. I’m just happy to be injury free at the moment and hopefully I can take the momentum forward and I’ll just take the rest of the tournament match by match.”
Willstrop looked sharp as he removed Malaysian Nafizwan Adnan in straight games, but there was something of a shock result as Egyptian student Marwan Elshorbagy took out England’s Tom Richards 3-1 after losing the first game.
2014 Windy City Open: Round One, Top Half Results:
 Nick Matthew (ENG) 3-0 [Q] Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) 11-6, 12-10, 11-9 (56m)
Laurens Jan Anjema (NED) 3-0 [Q] Henrik Mustonen (FIN) 11-4, 11-6, 11-4 (31m)
Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) 3-0 Alister Walker (BOT) 12-10, 11-6, 11-9 (57m)
 Peter Barker (ENG) 3-0 [LL] Christopher Gordon (USA) 11-9, 11-5, 11-6 (47m)
 James Willstrop (ENG) 3-0 [Q] Mohd Nafiizwan Adnan (MAS) 11-4, 11-7, 11-4 (41m)
Amr Shabana (EGY) 3-0 [Q] Adrian Waller (ENG) 11-6, 11-6, 11-9 (35m)
Marwan Elshorbagy (EGY) 3-1 Tom Richards (ENG) 5-11, 11-7, 11-8, 11-3 (48m)
 Ramy Ashour (EGY) 3-1 Cameron Pilley (AUS) 8-11, 11-6, 11-3, 11-3 (43m)
Thursday February 27: Round One, Bottom Half Draw
Simon Rosner (GER) v [Q] Chris Simpson (ENG)
 Borja Golan (ESP) v Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL)
Omar Mosaad (EGY) v [Q] Shawn Delierre (CAN)
 Mohamed Elshorbagy (EGY) v Stephen Coppinger (RSA)
Saurav Ghosal (IND) v [WC] Peter Creed (WAL)
Tarek Momen (EGY) v  Karim Darwish (EGY)
Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) v [Q] Karim Ali Fathi (EGY)
[Q] Joe Lee (ENG) v  Gregory Gaultier (FRA)
Pictures courtesy of MARIAN KRAUS and PSA