Friday, January 27, 2023

Shock defeat for James Willstrop in Grasshopper Cup

Gregoire Marche is on the ball in Zurich
Gregoire Marche is on the ball in Zurich

Greg on the Marche in Zurich


Former World No.1 James Willstrop suffered a shock first round exit during the 2016 Grasshopper Cup as he fell to a straight-games defeat at the hands of Frenchman Gregorie Marche inside Zurich’s Puls5 venue.

The Englishman, who has won 19 PSA World Tour titles, was under par from the off and Marche took full advantage to open up the court and make life difficult for Willstrop.

The first game was arguably the best of the match as the duo traded points in a series of high class exchanges, but it was Marche who moved ahead from the mid-point stage and from then on Willstrop never truly looked like he would be able to find the killer blow to put Marche away as his movement was exposed time and again.

“James has been World No.1, he is one of the best players out there so I knew it would be tough,” said Marche.

“I’m really happy to beat him for the first time. I had to be accurate with my length and not allow him to volley. I don’t think he was 100 per cent but I had to make him work and stay focused until the end and use my speed so I’m very happy with that win.

“I had to take a few weeks out myself to recover from a niggle and I’m happy to be back playing again now and happy that I can move like I did today.”

Simon Rosner makes big lunge against Paul Coll
Simon Rosner makes big lunge against Paul Coll

German Simon Rösner, the number two seed and last year’s runner-up, stormed into the quarter-finals in the last match of the second day as he dismissed New Zealand’s Paul Coll 3-0 to set up a quarter-final match with Marche.

“I was on my toes all the time because he’s a very tough competitor,” said Rösner.

“I knew it would be tough and that’s exactly what it was. I’m pleased to come through in three because you never want to get into a fourth or fifth game with him because he never stops.

“I tried to change my tactics a bit today because I think my game is suited to him so I’m very pleased I managed to stick to the plan today.

“I’m in a position where I have to defend a runner-up finish which isn’t easy but I think I play better with pressure.”

The other winners on the second day of competition were Marwan ElShorbagy, who downed Scotland’s Alan Clyne 3-0, and Australian Cameron Pilley who came back from the brink of defeat against Adrian Waller to secure his passage to the quarter-finals.

Pilley began the encounter in sluggish form and was quickly facing down the barrel off a first round exit but in the third he began to play with improved length, finding his targets in the back court more frequently to level the playing field.

The fifth started with Waller back in control to open up a 6-1 lead but again Pilley dug in and upped his game to reel off 10 unanswered points and save his hopes of success here in Zurich.

I think that was tough mentally (to come back from 2-0 down) especially because he beat me last time we played and I wanted to get revenge for that,” said Pilley.

“But he played really well in the first two games and I was flat – I had nothing. It was a matter of playing a lot smarter in the third, fourth and fifth and I’m proud of the comeback and I think I finished the match quite strongly.

“It’s great to have big crowd here on the first round it is something we really appreciate it so it;’s great to be here and come through.”

PSA M70 Grasshopper Cup 2016, Puls 5, Zurich, Switzerland.

Results – First Round (Bottom Half)
[4] Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) bt [Q] Alan Clyne (SCO) 3-0: 11-8, 11-9, 11-5 (42m)
[5] Cameron Pilley (AUS) bt [Q] Adrian Waller (ENG) 3-2: 6-11, 7-11, 11-8, 11-2, 11-6 (69m)
Gregoire Marche (FRA) bt [6] James Willstrop (ENG) 3-0: 11-8, 11-6, 11-7 (40m)
[2] Simon Rösner (GER) bt [Q] Paul Coll (NZL) 3-0: 11-8, 11-9, 11-5 (60m)

Draw – Quarter-Finals:
[1] Gregory Gaultier (FRA) v [WC] Nicolas Mueller (SUI)
[7] Ali Farag (EGY) v Chris Simpson (ENG)
[4] Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) v [5] Cameron Pilley (AUS)
Gregoire Marche (FRA) v [2] Simon Rösner (GER)

The action is taking place live at Puls5, Zurich and tickets can be purchased at 

Pictures courtesy of PSA 


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