By LEE HORTON
Mathieu Castagnet smashed his way into the last eight of the US Open in Philadelphia last night to set up a quarter final showdown with Greg Gaultier, then revealed he almost quit squash this year through injury.
The Frenchman recorded his first ever victory over a world-top-ten-ranked player when he upset seventh-seeded Spaniard Borja Golan. He went into the match with a 0-3 head-to-head record against the world No9 from Santiago de Compestela – losing out in five games over 110 minutes in their most recent meeting.
And the latest clash also took more than 100 minutes as the unseeded Frenchman bid to make his breakthrough against Golan in his first appearance in the US Open.
Castagnet (pictured above with Golan) took the opening game but Golan struck back to lead 2-1. From four-all in the fourth, the Frenchman opened up a lead before eventually forcing the decider.
In the fifth Castagnet again made a good start, 3-0 and 8-5 – but Golan battled back to eight-all. A Spanish drop into the tin took the underdog to 9-8, then a drive that died in the back corner to 10-8, before mishit winner gave Castagnet his career-best scalp in an 11-7, 9-11, 8-11, 11-9, 11-8 scoreline after 105 minutes.
“I have no words, I’m so happy,” said 26-year-old Castagnet. “I was injured for three months before the world teams and couldn’t shake it off. I really considered ending my career then, but I’m so glad I worked hard to recover.
“It feels so good to be playing again, and to be winning a match like this is unbelievable.
“If I end up playing Greg (Gaultier) in the quarters, it will be great for France but a very tough match for me. But playing anyone now would be tough, I need to get some rest and recovery!”
A speedy 29-minute win by the top seed later did give Castagnet the opponent he predicted whenGregory Gaultier dismissed Englishman Adrian Waller 11-1, 11-4, 11-7.
“Today I was really focused from the first point,” said Gaultier, the world number two, now a step closer to his second successive appearance in the final. “I really had to play fast and bring something. In the first round I wasn’t quite there mentally, so I tried to raise my pace today.
“It’s just motivation at the end of the day. I’ve been a month on the road and haven’t seen my family and my kid. I turned up at the junior tournament downstairs, and I was also quite impressed with the level of the juniors here.”