US squash star Julian Illingworth’s reward for cementing his domestic supremacy in the qualifying finals of the North American Open was to draw world champion Nick Matthew in the first round.
Illingworth overcame US team-mate Chris Gordon in a 71-minute clash, triumphing 17-15, 9-11, 11-4, 11-9 after a marathon tiebreak in a 28-minute opening game.
It was far from the longest match on a day of brutal battles as the game’s rising stars fought for eight vacant places in the first round of this $115,000 PSA World Series event.
Mathieu Castagnet of France overcame Australia’s Ryan Cuskelly 8-11, 14-12, 11-8, 9-11, 11-9 in 122 minutes.
And Malaysian Mohd Nafizwan Adnan was not far behind with his 11-9, 8-11, 14-12, 8-11, 11-6 victory over Egyptian Karim Abdel Gawad taking 101 minutes.
Another Frenchman, Yann Perrin, recovered from two-one down in games to beat Australia’s Zac Alexander 13-11, 9-11, 8-11, 11-6, 11-7 in 92 minutes. Perrin meets No.3 seed james Willstrop of England in the first round.
RESULTS: PSA World Series North American Open, Richmond, Virginia, USA
Country Club of Virginia, Qualifying finals:
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)
North American Open 1st round draw:
 Nick Matthew (ENG) v (Q) Julian Illingworth (USA)
Shahier Razik (CAN) v Gilly Lane (USA)
Stewart Boswell (AUS) v Alister Walker (ENG)
 Wael El Hindi (EGY) v David Palmer (AUS)
 Daryl Selby (ENG) v Mohd Azlan Iskandar (MAS)
Simon Rosner (GER) v Joey Barrington (ENG)
Jonathan Kemp (ENG) v (Q) Cesar Salazar (Mex)
 Amr Shabana (EGY) v Arturo Salazar (MEX)
 James Willstrop (ENG) v (Q) Yann Perrin (Fra)