Thursday, November 30, 2023

No Swede 16 for Waller as Greg awaits in Linköping

French and English duo sweep into Swedish Open last 16 

By MICHAEL CATLING – Squash Mad Chief Reporter

England’s Adrian Waller faces the unenviable task of overcoming new joint world number one and defending champion Gregory Gaultier in the Swedish Open first round, after battling past Henrik Mustonen of Finland in the final round of qualifying.

Waller, who suffered a comprehensive defeat to Gaultier at the US Open in October, shrugged off a third game tie-break defeat to triumph 11-5, 11-5, 10-12, 11-5 in 45 minutes at the Linköping Sporthall.

The world number 29 (pictured right) has failed to advance past the first round of a PSA event in six of his last nine tournaments but can draw encouragement from taking two games off world number three Mohamed Elshorbagy in their memorable clash at the World Championship in November.

Elsewhere, new world number 22 Chris Simpson increased English representatives to six in the main draw, after swatting aside fellow Brit Alan Clyne 11-5, 11-8, 11-3 in just under an hour.

Simpson, who was pitted against triple World champion Nick Matthew in the opening round last year, showcased some of the form which saw him appear in four Tour finals in 2013 as he booked a last 16 meeting with Tournament of Champions winner Amr Shabana.

French duo Mathieu Castagnet and Gregoire Marche also advanced into the first round after contrasting wins in the final qualifying round at the $70,000 PSA event.

Castagnet, 27, lived up to his billing as the top qualifying seed with a hard-fought 11-4, 11-9, 12-10 victory over South African number one Shaun le Roux. 

However, Marche was forced to fightback from a game down before prevailing in four games over world number 32 Max Lee of Hong Kong. 

Lee, though, will rue squandering several game balls in a tense fourth game tie-break as he fell to an 8-11, 11-9, 11-5, 15-13 defeat – his third successive qualifying round loss this year. 

Marche’s reward is a first-round meeting with world number 10 Daryl Selby, while fourth seed Borja Golan of Spain will return to competitive action for the first time since losing in the Hong Kong Open final when he faces Castagnet on Thursday evening. 

Former world number one Ramy Ashour, who like Golan is making his debut at the Scandinavian event, will make his much anticipated return after aggravating a hamstring injury during December’s Hong Kong Open.
Ashour lines up against top-ranked German Simon Rosner, the world number 11, in the first round, while Matthew faces fellow Englishman Tom Richards.

Matthew, the number three seed and champion three times in a row from 2009, has his sights set on a sixth appearance in the final since 2004, while Gaultier is gunning for his third successive Swedish Open title.

Qualifying Finals Results:

Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) 3-0 Shaun le Roux (RSA) 11-4, 11-9, 12-10
Gregoire Marche (FRA) 3-1 Max Lee (HKG) 9-11, 11-9, 11-5, 15-13
Adrian Waller (ENG) 3-1 Henrik Mustonen (FIN) 11-5, 11-5, 10-12, 11-5 (44m)
Chris Simpson (ENG) 3-0 Alan Clyne (SCO) 11-5, 11-8, 11-3 (54m)


First Qualifying round report: Comeback spares Castagnet’s blushes in Sweden 

World number 21 Mathieu Castagnet survived a major upset in the opening round of qualifying at the Swedish Open after scraping past Mohamed Abouelghar of Egypt in five games.

Castagnet, who is the top qualifying seed at the $70,000 PSA event, twice came from behind before ousting the world number 51  8-11, 11-8, 7-11, 11-4, 11-7 at the Linköping Sporthall.

CastagnetThe French number two last failed to progress past the qualifying stage at the North American Open in March 2013 and showed his experience against Abouelghar, who is seven years his junior, to capitalise on a nervy final two games from the 20-year-old and prevail in 60 minutes.

Castagnet (pictured left) will now meet world number 56 Shaun le Roux in the next round, after the South African fought back from a game down to beat Sweden’s Christian Drakenberg 7-11, 11-6 11-5, 11-7.

Elsewhere, Hong Kong number one Max Lee had little problem in booking a qualifying finals showdown with Frenchman Gregoire Marche, after defeating Aussie Steven Finitsis in straight games.

Marche, 23, enjoyed a similarly comfortable evening by thrashing local hope Carl Remle 11-8, 11-4, 11-1 in just over 20 minutes and will now face Lee in a repeat of their epic five game qualifying match at the Motor City Open last week

In the bottom half of the draw, new world number 22 Chris Simpson overcame a tough first two games against Swede Romain Tenant before prevailing 11-9, 10-12, 11-1, 11-9. 

Simpson’s fellow compatriot Adrian Waller also advanced into the final round of qualifying, after the 24-year-old left-hander battled past Karim Ali Fathi of Egypt 11-8, 15-13, 14-12 in 65 minutes – the longest match of the day. 

Waller and Simpson will now meet Henrik Mustonen and Scotland’s Alan Clyne respectively for a spot in the main draw, after the duo overcame Scandinavian pair Aryan Ahmed and Kristian Frost Olesen.

Mustonen, who is the sole representative for Finland this week, cruised past the unranked Ahmed of Sweden in three games, while Clyne overcame a third game wobble to progress 11-8, 11-6, 6-11, 11-3 over Denmark’s Olesen. 

Qualifying Finals Draw:

Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) v Shaun le Roux (RSA) 
Max Lee (HKG) v Gregoire Marche (FRA)
Adrian Waller (ENG) v Henrik Mustonen (FIN) 
Alan Clyne (SCO) v Chris Simpson (ENG)

First Qualifying Round Results:

Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) v Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY) 8-11, 11-8, 7-11, 11-4, 11-7 (60m)
Shaun le Roux (RSA) v Christian Drakenberg (SWE) 7-11, 11-6 11-5, 11-7 (45m)
Max Lee (HKG) v Steven Finitsis (AUS) 11-7, 11-6, 11-7 (38m)
Gregoire Marche (FRA) v Carl Remle (SWE) 11-8, 11-4, 11-1 (22m)
Adrian Waller (ENG) v Karim Ali Fathi (EGY) 11-8, 15-13, 14-12 (65m)
Henrik Mustonen (FIN) v Aryan Ahmed (SWE) 11-6, 11-5, 11-3 
Alan Clyne (SCO) v Kristian Frost Olesen (DEN) 11-8, 11-6, 6-11, 11-3
Chris Simpson (ENG) v Romain Tenant (SWE) 11-9, 10-12, 11-1, 11-9 

Picture by Steve Cubbins (SquashSite)

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