Ali Farag so close to rocking reigning champion in San Francisco
By NATHAN CLARKE in San Francisco
Defending champion Gregory Gaultier came within a whisker of a shock first round exit at the 2015 NetSuite Open, PSA M100 tournament, saving multiple match balls against Egyptian Ali Farag to keep his tournament alive following a dramatic 90-minute encounter.
After booking his place in the main draw after a 70-minute match with French number three Gregoire Marche, the 23-year-old from Cairo attacked the ball constantly.
He bravely took the match to Gaultier and unsettled the French World No.3 from the off, and it was a strategy that paid off for the Harvard graduate as he came from 2-1 down to level the match and force a fifth game.
Farag’s continued aggression was rewarded when he found himself with two match balls in hand but he couldn’t convert and it was the a relieved Gaultier who eventually sealed it 12-10 in the fifth.
“He played so well, it was unbelievable,” said Gaultier.
“I haven’t lost many first round matches over the last ten years but the way he was playing I wouldn’t have had many complaints tonight. I played quite well, I lost my concentration in places, but there were only a few points that made the difference and I was lucky that I won those points tonight.”
After the match Farag said: “Of course it’s disappointing to lose but he has been in these situations hundreds of times and it was experience that made the difference in the end.”
Top seed Nick Matthew, the World No.2, and 2014 World Champion Ramy Ashour (below), the World No.5, suffered no such difficulties as they began their campaigns with comfortable victories over Mazen Hesham and Tom Richards, respectively.
Qualifier Ryan Cuskelly’s rich vein of form continued as he followed up his surprise win over top seeded qualification player Alister Walker with an impressive performance against Mathieu Castagnet, taking out the World No.9 3-2 after a brutal 101-minute battle.
Fellow Australian Cameron Pilley also upset the seeding to take out World No.8 Peter Barker 3-0. text here
NetSuite Open, San Francisco, USA.
PSA M100 First Round:
 Nick Matthew (ENG) bt Mazen Hesham (EGY) 3-1: 11-6, 12-10, 6-11, 11-4 (55m)
 Simon Rösner (GER) bt [WC] Mike Lewis (USA) 3-0: 11-7, 11-2, 11-3 (17m)
Cameron Pilley (AUS) bt  Peter Barker (ENG) 3-0: 11-8, 11-3, 11-9 (38m)
 Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL) bt [Q] Cesar Salazar (MEX) 3-2: 11-9, 8-11, 11-7, 11-13, 11-2 (78m)
 Ramy Ashour (EGY) bt [Q] Tom Richards (ENG) 3-0: 11-6, 11-8, 11-5 (34m)
[Q] Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) bt  Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) 3-2: 11-5, 9-11, 11-5, 10-12, 11-7 (101m)
 James Willstrop (ENG) bt Nicolas Mueller (SUI) 3-2: 11-5, 7-11, 11-9, 12-14, 11-9 (64m)
 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt [Q] Ali Farag (EGY) 3-2: 11-6, 8-11, 11-6, 8-11, 12-10 (90m)
 Nick Matthew (ENG) v  Simon Rösner (GER)
Cameron Pilley (AUS) v  Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL)
 Ramy Ashour (EGY) v [Q] Ryan Cuskelly (AUS)
 James Willstrop (ENG) v  Gregory Gaultier (FRA)
Pictures by STEVE LINE (www.squashpics.com) courtesy of NetSuite Open