Swiss ace grabs Grasshopper Cup win in Zurich
By ALAN THATCHER and NATHAN CLARKE
Chris Simpson and Nicolas Müller both enjoyed outstanding victories in the first round of the Grasshopper Cup in Zurich.
Simpson, the world No.24, overcame Mathieu Castagnet, the recent Canary Wharf champion, in straight games. The Yorkshire-based Channel Islander beat the world No.7 14-12, 11-9, 11-9. The scoreline illustrates the closeness of all three games. The result shows how Simpson dealt with each passage of tension to claim such an important victory.
Simpson said: “Mathieu and I are the same age (29) but that was only our second match on the PSA World Tour so it was nice to play him as it was a new challenge.
“The last time we played he beat me in five and I was two-up. Those kind of matches scar you and you don’t forget them. He has made a massive surge in the rankings recently and been playing very, very well and I’m trying to chase that and today I was very happy with how I played.
“I started a little slow but after I woke up I felt like my game was on form and my tactics worked well.” Simpson will enjoy a rest day before tackling the talented Egyptian Ali Farag, who beat Hong Kong’s Leo Au.
Au played immaculate squash during the first two games and Farag had to impose his superior class to overturn deficits in both, before accelerating away in the third.
“I never felt comfortable on there at all today,” said Farag. “Leo is a very dangerous player and he has a very subtle touch so you can never be sure what he is going to do.
“I was glad to get away with a 3-0 win especially coming from 3-6 down in the first. Winning that one made a huge difference to the end result.
“It’s my first time here and it’s a good start – I’ve never been to a tournament where there was a full house from the very first round so it was amazing to see that. ”
Müller delight as home hero wins marathon
Local hero Nicolas Müller came through an epic battle with Australian Ryan Cuskelly, who is 15 places above him on the World Rankings at No.16, to delight a capacity crowd and move into the quarter-finals of the 2016 Grasshopper Cup, the PSA M70 tournament taking place in Zurich’s Puls5 venue.
Müller lost out in the first round last year after an agonising battle with Ramy Ashour but this time he was on the winning side of a gargantuan encounter, coming through from 2-1 down after 95 minutes of thrilling squash to win 10-12, 11-8, 9-11, 11-8, 11-7.
Müller started strongly but saw his early first game advantage wiped out as Cuskelly came from behind to take the early ascendency but with the crowd behind him Müller staged a remarkable resurgence in the fourth game and held his nerve in the fifth to seal a huge win – his first main draw win on the PSA World Tour since January.
“The atmosphere was amazing here last year when I lost to Ramy but it was even better tonight and the crowd just pushed me so much I don’t think I would have been able to do it without them,” said Müller.
“The first game I was up and had game ball and even though I lost I knew I had made him work a lot and in the third I was feeling good and the crowd was a huge push. I’ll go away and prepare myself for a big battle on Friday.”
Müller will face defending champion Gregory Gaultier in the last eight after the French World No.2 began his bid to win the tournament for a second consecutive time with a 3-1 win over Malaysian qualifier Nafiizwan Adnan.
The current world champion didn’t have it all his own way against Adnan and was forced to work hard from the off against the tenacious 29-year-old before showing his class to come through 11-8, 9-11, 11-9, 11-5.
“We’ve played a number of times and today I think he played the best that he has against me,” said Gaultier.
“I was struggling to find solutions and find my length but sometimes you have to deal with these things. I did what I could today and managed to get the win and I think we gave a good show for the fans.
“Last year was my first time playing here and I enjoyed it and won. I promised to come back so I wanted to live up to my word.”
Three British players will be looking to make progress when the bottom half of the first round draw takes place today.
Qualifiers Alan Clyne (Scotland) and Adrian Waller) meet Marwan Elshorbagy, the number four seed from Egypt, and Australia’s Cameron Pilley. England’s former world number one James Willstrop, seeded six this week, tackles Gregoire Marche of France.
The final match should provide plenty of fireworks, with No.2 seed Simon Rösner of Germany meeting the super-fit New Zealander Paul Coll, who is such a dangerous player to come up against.
PSA M70 Grasshopper Cup 2016, Puls 5, Zurich, Switzerland.
First Round (Top Half):
 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt [Q] Nafiizwan Adnan (MAS) 3-1: 11-8, 9-11, 11-9, 11-5 (53m)
[WC] Nicolas Mueller (SUI) bt  Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) 3-2: 10-12, 11-8, 9-11, 11-8, 11-7 (95m)
 Ali Farag (EGY) bt Leo Au (HKG) 3-0: 11-8, 11-6, 11-5 (35m)
Chris Simpson (ENG) bt  Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) 3-0: 14-12, 11-9, 11-9 (63m)
First Round (Bottom Half):
 Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) v [Q] Alan Clyne (SCO)
[Q] Adrian Waller (ENG) v  Cameron Pilley (AUS)
 James Willstrop (ENG) v Gregoire Marche (FRA)
[Q] Paul Coll (NZL) v  Simon Rösner (GER)
Adrian Waller (ENG) bt Campbell Grayson (NZL) 11-9, 6-11, 11-3, 11-9 (66m)
Nafiizwan Adnan (MAS) bt Kristian Frost Olesen (DEN) 10-12, 11-5, 11-5, 11-5 (61m)
Paul Coll (NZL) bt Olli Tuominen (FIN) 11-3, 11-7, 4-11, 11-3 (45m)
Alan Clyne (SCO) bt Laurens Jan Anjema (NED) 11-9, 11-7, 11-7 (37m)
1st qualifying round:
Adrian Waller (ENG) bt Charles Sharpes (ENG) 11-3, 12-10, 11-8 (37m)
Campbell Grayson (NZL) bt Jonas Daehler (SUI) 11-1, 11-5, 11-9 (29m)
Kristian Frost Olesen (DEN) bt Raphael Kandra (GER) 5-11, 3-11, 11-6, 13-11, 11-9
Nafiizwan Adnan (MAS) bt Reiko Peter (SUI) 11-8, 11-4, 9-11, 11-6 (48m)
Paul Coll (NZL) bt Henrik Mustonen (FIN) 8-11, 11-9, 11-5, 11-5 (52m)
Olli Tuominen (FIN) bt Ben Coleman (ENG) 11-7, 11-5, 11-8 (48m)
Laurens Jan Anjema (NED) bt Benjamin Fischer (SUI) 11-7, 11-5, 11-5 (35m)
Alan Clyne (SCO) bt Manuel Wanner (SUI) 11-9, 11-2, 11-2 (26m)
The action is taking place live at Puls5, Zurich and tickets can be purchased at https://www.starticket.ch/de/tickets/squash-gc-cup-2016-20160413-1800-20160417-1700-giessereihalle-puls-5-zurich
Pictures courtesy of PSA