Thursday, February 29, 2024

England’s Declan James and George Parker through in Nantes but Lucy Turmel suffers shock defeat

By ALAN THATCHER – Squash Mad Editor

England’s Declan James and George Parker made it through to the men’s quarter-finals in the Open de France de Squash in Nantes but Lucy Turmel suffered a shock defeat in the women’s tournament.

James, champion here in 2018, had to fight from behind to get the better of US No.1 Shahjahan Khan in three games. James lost the first 11-4, but then showed his qualities to send the match into a deciding third game.

At 10-9 up in the third, and with match ball, the match was halted due to a blood injury to the American after James’ racket caught him above the right eye. After a short break, the Englishman took the first point back on court to seal the deal, and move through to the last eight where he will play top seed Marwan ElShorbagy.

James said: “Very happy to win. I wasn’t playing my best and I felt very flat, especially in the first game. I wasn’t moving amazingly well, but that’s the way it goes sometimes! You’ve got an early match, and you don’t feel amazing.

“I felt I fought my way through it in the second game, tried to be a bit more clever, play the court and how I was feeling. The third was then just brutal all the way. I got ahead and then he came back.

“I got my second wind halfway through it and then towards the end, it’s always a flip of a coin really. It was unfortunate that I just clipped him in the face there, so obviously I am sorry to him for that!

“A five-minute break at match ball is really difficult because you’ve gone cold, you don’t know what is going to happen, but I took my chance, and I am very happy to get through.

“This is one of my favourite tournaments, you know. I was desperate to make it to the glass court, and to be able to play in front of what is always a wonderful crowd. It is like a fresh start – the tournament starts again, so I am really happy to get to the glass and play in front of that crowd once again!”

George Parker overcomes Mahesh Mangaonkar

Parker beat India’s Mahesh Mangaonkar 11-3, 12-10. Parker won the first game comfortably but had to fight back from a mammoth deficit to win the second.

Parker meets Auguste Dussourd in the quarters and said: “I am still a bit rough from Qatar, really. That was my first hit with someone since then. I felt good to start with but then when I got into it, my technique…

“I wasn’t hitting my corners right, but I was able to force him to hit a few errors. I think he got a bit tired towards the end as well, but it’s good to just get through and move into the next round.

“The stadium looks really good and it’s always nice to play in front of a big crowd, so I am looking forward to that occasion.”

Nick Wall battles hard against top seed Marwan ElShorbagy

Top seed Marwan ElShorbagy was in top form to beat England’s Nick Wall 11-4, 11-7 in just 19 minutes on the club courts at Maison du Squash.

The Egyptian explained: “To be honest, I was a bit nervous. I know how good a player Nick is, best of three as well, a bit tricky always on the higher seed.

“Today the second game was crucial. He had a decent lead and I had to focus to make the rallies as long as possible – even if I lost the rally, putting a lot of work into him, to get to him a bit physically. The longer the rallies go, the better for me. I didn’t want to go for any cheap shots, but build the rallies and control them before I do anything.

“It paid off at the end when I won six or seven points a row. I’m happy to get the win, and looking forward to tomorrow. I’m excited to finally play in that court I have heard everybody talking about!”

Victor Crouin at full stretch

New French No.1 Victor Crouin delighted the home crowd in Nantes with a sublime performance to come through in straight games against former college rival Aly Abou Eleinen in the last match of the evening’s action.

Crouin took the first game 11-3, before then winning the first 10 points of the second game as well. Eleinen saved six match balls as Crouin tried to finish it with some flair, but he got through to clinch victory 11-67 in 26 minutes.

Crouin said: “It was a tricky first round. Aly, I could have played in the final. He is an incredibly talented player – I played him so much in college. He is only 60-something in the world rankings, but he is definitely going to be in the top ten one day.

“I wasn’t taking that match lightly at all, as you could see on court. I was very focused on what I had to do. I just wanted to play squash and have fun out there because it has been a crazy few weeks! I need to really stay in the moment and perform on the court and I’m super happy to finally get a win here in Nantes.

“A lot of people have asked me what it would feel like to be French No.1 But that was not my goal, I knew if I performed well on the PSA World Tour then I would get to that point. Now that I am French No.1, it feels different but I was just trying to avoid feeling that pressure.

“It is an honour because there have been so many good players for our country, and there still are. There are still many players that I wouldn’t like to be on court with. It is tough competition, but I guess I earned it, and I hope I can stay there for a long time now!”

Auguste Dussourd lunges for a low ball in his stunning win over No.2 seed Gregoire Marche
The biggest surprise in the men’s draw came in the afternoon session at the traditional courts as Auguste Dussourd came through the all-French battle against Gregoire Marche, winning 11-6, 6-11, 11-0.
The match was evenly poised at the start of the third game but Dussourd began well and went on to win it without dropping a point, taking down his nation’s former No.1 to move into the quarter finals on home soil.
Dussourd admitted: “I feel great! After a victory, it always feels great. I was playing well tactically. At the start of the match, I was controlling the rallies and the pace, but then in the start of the second, I was 4-2 up and I completely changed and made so many bad errors.
“At the start of the third, I had to make zero mistakes. If he was going to beat me, then he had to win all 11 points.
“When I don’t make mistakes, I am tough to beat and that is what happened, I was consistent, hitting it tight, and I think at 6-0, he started to break a bit. I felt it and I pushed more, going to win it quite comfortably in the end. I am proud of the mental part, and to be consistent feels really good!”


Charlie Lee in action against Saurav Ghosal

Indian No.1 Saurav Ghosal got the better of England’s Charlie Lee in straight games at Hangar 24.

The Englishman began strongly, winning six of the first eight points with some great winning shots. However, Ghosal proved why he has been a top ten player in the past, fighting back to take the first game 12-10.

That form continued into the second game, and he was able to shut the game down, and restrict Lee’s shot-making abilities. The Indian won it 11-4 to advance to the quarter finals, where he will face Spanish No.1 Iker Pajares Bernabeu.

“First of all, we have to give credit to Charlie. he came out quick out of the blocks, let his arm go, and hit some very good shots, which I wasn’t reading,” Ghosal explained.

“When I was down, I was just trying to find my way back onto the match, lengthen the rallies, and get good length and width as much as possible. Even if I did lose the first, i was going to make him work for it, thankfully I won it which is always a help so the second was better. It is good to get into the match and the tournament, so it is good to get through today!

“If I am playing, I want to play with the top guys, beat the top guys and play in the deep end of events. I am working hard to achieve that goal and that is the ambition, the goal. Mentally and physically, I want to push myself! I think when I was younger, I didn’t have as many matches as some of the other guys, which is an advantage for me now. i have to keep putting the work in, and doing the right things and the wins will come for me soon!”

Lucy Turmel watches as Nardine Garas strikes a backhand

Women’s No.5 seed Lucy Turmel lost 13-11, 3-11, 11-5 to Egypt’s Nardine Garas, who got into the second round after a late withdrawal saw her receive a walkover through the opening day’s action.

Garas won the first on a tie-break, and then saw the second slip away from her following an injury break. However, she regrouped to win the third game to advance to the quarters.

Garas said: “I’m training with Nasr Magdy and my fitness coach is Ahmed Faraghallah. I’ve been working with them for three, four years, and they improved every aspect of my game, physically, technically and mentally.

“Today, I was very nervous, I only knew I was in the tournament on Friday! It went so fast! I just kept attacking, trying to get rid of my nerves, it’s my first bronze event, my first time in Nantes, my first time playing best-of-three, my first match in the event, and my first interview with you! It’s my first of everything!”

Canada’s Nicole Bunyan, the No.7 seed, beat England’s former World No.20 Millie Tomlinson 15-13, 11-9.

Tinne Gilis gets in front against Satomi Watanabe

The women’s top two seeds, sisters Nele and Tinne Gilis, both won through. Nele beat Marie Stephan (France) 11-6, 11-7 at the club but Tinne had to come from behind to beat Japanese No.1 Satomi Watanabe 8-11, 11-4, 11-5 in an exciting contest at Hangar 24.

Nele said: “I find the best-of-three very stressful, because everyone is playing so well so you have to focus from the very beginning until the end. There have been so many upsets already so anything can happen.”

Tesni Evans (Wales) came up against Spain’s Cristina Gomez in her second round match, and her first since the Commonwealth Games. She was on top form to win 11-6, 11-2 in 18 minutes and now meets Egypt’s Nardine Garas in the quarter-finals on Thursday.

Evans said: “It has been a hard summer! A lot of us are in the same boat – I took a short break after the Games and then got straight back into a few weeks of training. I am feeling pretty good and hoping for a better season than last year.

“I have heard so much about this event, so this year I knew I had to play here. The people are so nice and the venue looks awesome. I went down last night to have a little watch, and that gave me motivation to get through.

“They are exposing squash to another level, the fans love it, and the atmosphere is something I love. They’re doing great things for the game and I can’t wait to get out there!”

Egypt’s Fayrouz Aboelkheir stunned the home crowd by taking out French No.1, and the tournament’s No.4 seed, Melissa Alves, 11-9, 15-13 in two tight games.

The Open de France de Squash continues tomorrow with the quarter finals taking place on Wednesday, September 14 at the Hangar 24. All the action from the last eight will be shown LIVE on SQUASHTV.

Open de France de Squash, Hangar 45, Nantes, France.

Men’s Second Round: 
[1] Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) bt Nick Wall (ENG) 2-0: 11-4, 11-7 (19m)
Declan James (ENG) bt [7] Shahjahan Khan (USA) 2-1: 4-11, 11-5, 11-9 (51m)
[6] Iker Pajares Bernabeu (ESP) bt Lucas Serme (FRA) 2-0: 11-8, 11-5 (39m)
[3] Saurav Ghosal (IND) bt Charlie Lee (ENG) 2-0: 12-10, 11-4 (31m)
[4] Victor Crouin (FRA) bt Aly Abou Eleinen (EGY) 2-0: 11-3, 11-6 (26m)
Leonel Cardenas (MEX) bt [5] Omar Mosaad (EGY) 2-0: 11-8, 11-9 (30m)
[8] George Parker (ENG) bt Mahesh Mangaonkar (IND) 2-0: 11-3, 12-10 (28m)
Auguste Dussourd (FRA) bt [2] Gregoire Marche (FRA) 2-1: 11-6, 6-11, 11-0 (41m)

Men’s Quarter Final (Top Half, Wednesday, September 14):
[1] Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) v Declan James (ENG)
[6] Iker Pajares Bernabeu (ESP) v [3] Saurav Ghosal (IND)

Men’s Quarter Finals (Bottom Half, Thursday, September 15):
[4] Victor Crouin (FRA) v Leonel Cardenas (MEX)
[8] George Parker (ENG) v Auguste Dussourd (FRA)

Women’s Second Round:
[2] Tinne Gilis (BEL) bt Satomi Watanabe (JPN) 2-1: 8-11, 11-4, 11-5 (30m)
[7] Nicole Bunyan (CAN) bt Millie Tomlinson (ENG) 2-0: 15-13, 11-9 (33m)
Nour Aboulmakarim (EGY) bt [6] Enora Villard (FRA) 2-0: 11-6, 11-9 (22m)
Fayrouz Aboelkheir (EGY) bt [4] Melissa Alves (FRA) 2-0: 11-9, 15-13 (33m)
[3] Tesni Evans (WAL) bt Cristina Gomez (ESP) 2-0: 11-6, 11-2 (18m)
Nardine Garas (EGY) bt [5] Lucy Turmel (ENG) 2-1: 13-11, 3-11, 11-5 (35m)
Salma Eltayeb (EGY) bt [8] Cindy Merlo (SUI) 2-0: 11-5, 11-4 (13m)
[1] Nele Gilis (BEL) bt Marie Stephan (FRA) 2-0: 11-6, 11-7 (25m)

Women’s Quarter Finals (Top Half, Wednesday, September 14):
[2] Tinne Gilis (BEL) v [7] Nicole Bunyan (CAN)
Nour Aboulmakarim (EGY) v Fayrouz Aboelkheir (EGY)

Women’s Quarter Finals (Bottom Half, Thursday, September 15):
[3] Tesni Evans (WAL) v Nardine Garas (EGY)
Salma Eltayeb (EGY) v [1] Nele Gilis (BEL)

Pictures courtesy of Lauranne Rochais, Nathalie Goossens, and PSA World Tour


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