By ALAN THATCHER
Some brutal battles have meant a late night here at the NAO qualifying finals at the Country Club of Virginia.
The longest by far was the marathon match-up between Mathieu Castagnet of France and Australia’s Ryan Cuskelly, with the Frenchman finally triumphing 8-11, 14-12, 11-8, 9-11, 11-9 after 122 minutes.
Not far behind them in terms of durability were Malaysian Mohd Nafizwan Adnan and Egypt’s Karim Abdel Gawad, with Adnan winning 11-9, 8-11, 14-12, 8-11, 11-6 in 101 minutes.
Another French triumph came in the final match on court with Yann Perrin fighting back from two games to one down to beat Australian Zac Alexander 3-2.
Aaron Frankcomb of Australia swept past Joel Hinds in straight games, with the young Englishman apparently affected by an injury.
A fascinating all-American match-up between Julian Illingworth and Chris Gordon lasted 72 minutes, with Illingworth maintaining his domestic supremacy with a 3-1 scoreline.
The first game lasted 28 minutes before Illingworth won the tiebreak 17-15. Gordon squeezed home 11-9 in the second to draw level, but Illingworth’s superior conditioning seemed to give him the edge in the third as he won 11-4 in just seven minutes.
Gordon opened up an 8-3 lead in the fourth but Illingworth recovered to win six points in a row and Gordon managed just one more point before his opponent finally found the shots to finish things off 11-9.
North American Open Qualifying Finals:
Country Club of Virginia
Aaron Frankcomb (Aus) bt Joel Hinds (Eng) 11-6, 11-4, 11-7 (56 mins)
Cesar Salazar (Mex) bt Mark Krajcsak (Hun) 7-11, 11-5, 11-7, 11-8 (58 mins)
Martyn Knight (NZ) bt Dylan Bennett (Ned) 9-11, 11-5, 11-9, 11-9 (72 mins)
Mathieu Castagnet (Fra) bt Ryan Cuskelly (Aus) 8-11, 14-12, 11-8, 9-11, 11-9 (122 mins)
Mohd Nafizwan Adnan (Mas) bt Karim Abdel Gawad (Egy) 11-9, 8-11, 14-12, 2-11, 11-6 (101 mins)
Stephane Galifi (Fra) bt Siddarth Suchde (USA) 11-7, 11-6, 6-11, 11-8 (65 mins)
Yann Perrin (Fra) bt Zac Alexander (Aus) 13-11, 9-11, 8-11, 11-6, 11-7 (92 mins)
Julian Illingworth (USA) bt Chris Gordon (USA) 17-15, 9-11, 11-4, 11-9 (71 mins)