Monday, July 22, 2024

Mathieu Castagnet walks tall at Canary Wharf


Champion! Mathieu Castagnet celebrates his victory at Canary Wharf
Champion! Mathieu Castagnet celebrates his victory at Canary Wharf

French ace takes giants’ causeway to the Canary Wharf title
By ALAN THATCHER – Squash Mad Editor


French number three seed Mathieu Castagnet capped a brilliant week in London by beating the top seed, Omar Mosaad, to win the Canary Wharf Classic final.

Before a packed crowd in the stunning East Wintergarden venue, both players served up a superb display of high-quality squash, with Castagnet delivering an error-free performance.

In each round the 5ft 10in tall Castagnet overcame giant opponents, Joe Lee (6ft 3in), James Willstrop (6ft 4in), Cameron Pilley (6ft 3in) and finally blunting the blows of Mosaad (6ft 4in).

It was Castagnet who walked tall after a dynamic display in which he recovered from losing the first game and dominated long spells of the match.

For Mosaad, it was his 12th match in less than three weeks, having finished runner-up in Colombia and reaching the semi-finals in Chicago.

Understandably, he occasionally looked a little tired but still summoned up the enormous power which has earned him the nickname of The Hammer Of Thor.

Castagnet had one simple game plan: to keep getting back as many balls as possible.

Mathieu Castagnet gets in front of Omar Mosaad
Mathieu Castagnet gets in front of Omar Mosaad

In several rallies, Mosaad fired in a succession of attempted kill shots only to find Castagnet returning his efforts with interest. He is more, much more, than a simple runner and retriever.

He has improved his quality in all areas of the court and his counter-drops often caused Mosaad problems.

Castagnet began brightly and raced into a 6-2 lead only for Mosaad to play brilliantly to win nine points in a row to win the game.

The 29-year-old Frenchman quickly regrouped and built a 6-1 lead in the second. This time he withstood all that Mosaad could throw at him and drew level at one game all.

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The crucial third game was even all the way but Castagnet won four points in a row from 8-7 down to strike a major psychological blow to the 27-year-old Egyptian.

Mosaad led 4-3 in the fourth game but Castagnet broke his spirit with a superb spell of dominant squash, embellishing his extraordinary retrieving with some outstanding winners or forcing Mosad into mistakes. This passage of controlled play against a tiring opponent yielded a run of six consecutive points.

After a flurry of exchanges, Mosaad claimed one more point and the outcome was decided on a penalty stroke with a tired shot down the middle of the court.

A delighted Castagnet followed French legend Thierry Lincou to have his name on the Canary Wharf trophy.

It was a milestone performance in a career that clearly promises so much more.

“I can’t believe I have won this title tonight,” said Castagnet. “This is such a prestigious tournament and to put my name on the trophy with players like Thierry Lincou, James Willstrop and Nick Matthew – some of the best players in the world – is a great pleasure for me and a huge achievement.
“Omar and I had a great battle in Chicago a few weeks ago when he won 3-1 but today it was my turn. I tried to be more aggressive and play to the front of the court and force mistakes from him.
“He came back very strong in the first game and in the second he started to come back again and I was worried. But getting that point to go to 7-4 was important mentally and I am happy with how I played.
“I have to thank my family, my girlfriend, my coaches and my sponsors for helping me all the way and thanks to the crowd here as well who have been amazing all week.”
Speaking after the match World No.4 Mosaad said: “I have played three tournaments in a row and it was tough on the body, but I’m really happy with reaching the final in two out of three. 
“I truly enjoyed playing in front of the Canary Wharf crowd this week and I hope I’ll be back next year.”

Amazingly, Castagnet thanked Irish international Steve Richardson for offering some advice between games. He revealed: “I was 6-2 up in the first game and then Omar won nine points in a row. Then one guy came to coach me.

“I didn’t know him but I saw him in the crowd. I’ve seen him a few times on tour, he was a professional.

“He is such a great guy and he asked if I want to be coached and he helped me to find good tactics.

“And then Omar started to be tired too because he had played tournaments for three weeks in a row.”

M70 Canary Wharf Squash Classic, East Wintergarden, Canary Wharf, London.


(3) Mathieu Castagnet (France) beat (1) Omar Mosaad (Egypt) 6-11, 11-7, 11-8, 11-5 (83 mins). 

Pictures by STEVE LINE ( and


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