Squash Mad

Mathieu Castagnet rekindles Canary Wharf memories with dramatic win over Simon Rösner

Mathieu Castagnet volleys against Simon Rösner

Makin takes it to the Max to make quarter-finals
By ALAN THATCHER, SEAN REUTHE and MATT COLES  

French World No.26 Mathieu Castagnet booked his place in the quarter-finals of the 2019 Citigold Wealth Management Canary Wharf Classic after he caused a stunning upset of No.2 seed Simon Rösner – and Welshman Joel Makin joined him in the quarter-finals after beating No.6 seed Max Lee.

This tournament has been a happy hunting ground at times for Castagnet in the past, with victory over Egypt’s Omar Mosaad in the 2016 final seeing him win his biggest title on the PSA Tour.

A string of injuries have seen Castagnet slide down the rankings from a career-high No.6 ranking, but he rolled back the years with a fearless display against the German No.1 to claim his first PSA win over Rösner at the seventh attempt.

All of those matches were played using a best-of-five games format. However, the best of three format – which is being trialled in Canary Wharf for a second successive year – looked to play into his hands as he attacked well and used the lob intelligently to complete an 11-8, 3-11, 11-9 victory in 55 minutes.

“The first, and the last, time I beat Simon Rösner was when I was 16 or 17 years old,” Castagnet said. “It was at the French Junior Open. Since then, in leagues, exhibitions, PSA tournaments, European Team Championships, all the time he beats me 3-2, 3-1, 3-0. So when I reached my first match ball against him in the seniors, if I had to put the ball to the back of the court a thousand times, I would.

“I don’t know if we can say that in English, but he is like my ‘black beast’. All the injuries I have had, it is such an amazing game for me today. I have so much respect for him and we are close friends, but I really enjoyed that moment because I worked so hard to be back at my best and to live that moment. It is something special to me, to be honest.”

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Castagnet will line up against 2017 runner-up Fares Dessouky for a place in the semi-finals after the World No.67 defeated home favourite Daryl Selby 11-5, 11-2.

Dessouky has recently recovered from an ACL tear which saw him miss out on appearing at this tournament last year, but he came close to lifting this title two years ago, ultimately losing out to legendary Englishman Nick Matthew in the title decider.

Dessouky was on song in the opening game as he hit a series of thunderous shots into the nick, and he went on to take the opener for the loss of just five points.

The start of the second game was a scrappy affair as the video referee was called into action in the first four rallies of the game. Dessouky took a number of points in succession and he dropped just two points to close out the win in 25 minutes.

“I played very good squash today, even my movement was quite good,” said Dessouky. “I had an ACL injury so I had surgery in December [2017]. After that I had another small surgery, and I feel like I’m improving every tournament. Playing in front of crowds like this is all part of my motivation to get back.”

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New Zealand’s Paul Coll also advanced to the quarter-finals, coming through to beat England’s Tom Richards 11-4, 11-5. The pair had met in the quarter-finals of the Canada Cup exactly a week ago, with Coll winning that encounter in straight games too.

Richards tried everything he could to force openings against one of the fittest athletes on the planet, but Coll’s amazing court coverage was highlighted in one astonishing rally when Richards thought he had hit six winning nicks only for Coll to constantly keep retrieving the ball and winning the point.

In the following rally, Richards managed to slot a winner and raised his arms aloft to celebrate.

“We played each other in Toronto last week, so I knew he liked to take it in fast, lots of angles. I tried to stay up the court and cover those angles,” Coll said after his win.

“We had some fast rallies last week as well, so I knew exactly what to expect. I am happy with the way I adjusted and found my length on the court too.”

Asked to describe the difference between playing on a glass court in Chicago, a plaster court in Toronto and then glass  again in London, Coll said: “Sometimes we play on two different courts [at the same tournament], so it is about adjusting and finding your length early on in the match, and the person who does that the most gets the upper advantage.

“I focussed on my corners in that first set. I felt like I hit them really well and that opened up the rest of the court.”

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The Kiwi will line up against Welshman Joel Makin. Makin overcame Hong Kong’s Max Lee, winning 6-11, 11-9, 11-7 to reach the quarter-finals in Canary Wharf for the first time.

“He is so tricky at the front. You could see early on in the first game that as soon as my length dropped short, he was chopping and changing the angles,” Makin said.

“He was difficult to play against really. I really had to get my length back and get back in front of him.

“I tried to step up the court a little bit more, but it was more about hitting the spots across the backhand and getting the ball through a little bit higher. Trying not to hit it as hard and making sure it was hitting the back wall for a little bit.

“He did well there. He caught me with a couple of shots. It was difficult trying to finish that off, so yeah, I was really happy with that.

“I have been watching this tournament for years. It is one of the favourites for all the players and everyone enjoys it. I wanted to get through a couple of rounds, I hadn’t done well in this tournament before so I am really looking forward to tomorrow.”

Their match-up will be a repeat of their phenomenal semi-final in the Commonwealth Games last April, when Coll triumphed in a marathon match lasting 106 minutes.

The quarter-finals of the Citigold Canary Wharf Classic will take place on Wednesday March 13 and play starts at 18:00 (GMT). Matches will be shown live on SQUASHTV (rest of world), Eurosport Player (Europe only) and the official Facebook page of the PSA World Tour.

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2019 Citigold Wealth Management Canary Wharf Classic, East Wintergarden, Canary Wharf, London, England.

Second Round (Bottom Half):
[4] Paul Coll (NZL) bt Tom Richards (ENG) 2-0: 11-4, 11-5 (27m)
Joel Makin (WAL) bt [6] Max Lee (HKG) 2-1: 6-11, 11-6, 11-9 (47m)
[7] Fares Dessouky (EGY) bt Daryl Selby (ENG) 2-0: 11-5, 11-2 (25m)
Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) bt [2] Simon Rösner (GER) 2-1: 11-8, 3-11, 11-9 (55m)

Quarter-Finals (March 13):
1] Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) v Declan James (ENG)
[8] Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) v [3] Tarek Momen (EGY)
[4] Paul Coll (NZL) v Joel Makin (WAL)
[7] Fares Dessouky (EGY) v Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) 

Pictures by STEVE LINE courtesy of PSA, PATRICK LAUSON and ARTYOM LISS

 

Posted on March 13, 2019

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About The Author

Alan Thatcher

Lifelong sports journalist and squash lover. Event promoter, coach, author, voice artist. Founder of World Squash Day.

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