Swiss ace sinks Saurav Ghosal
By RAJ ARORA
Swiss World No.34 Nicolas Mueller ended home representation in the 2016 CCI International JSW ISC event after fighting back from two games down to beat Indian No.1 Saurav Ghosal in the quarter-final stage of the PSA M50 tournament taking place in Mumbai.
Ghosal, who reached the final of this tournament last year, won the pair’s only previous meeting on the PSA World Tour back in 2009, and it was the Kolkata-born World No.21 who edged the opening two games 11-9 and 14-12 to take a two-game lead at the Cricket Club of India.
But a resurgent Mueller battled back from a hand injury sustained towards the end of the second game to halve the deficit in the third for the loss of two points. The 27-year-old then carried his momentum forward in the fourth and fifth games to complete a superb comeback, earning him a place in his first PSA M50 semi-final since 2012.
Mueller will go head-to-head with second seed Mohamed Abouelghar for a place in the final after Abouelghar overcame fellow Egyptian Mohamed Reda by a 3-1 margin of victory.
Meanwhile, top seed Fares Dessouky booked his place in the last four courtesy of a 3-1 win over Scotland’s Alan Clyne, with England’s Chris Simpson standing between him and a place in the final thanks to a victory in straight games over Frenchman Lucas Serme.
(1) Fares Dessouky (EGY) beat 3-1 (6) Alan Clyne (SCO) 11-7, 11-8, 4-11, 11-5 (51 mins)
The top seeded Dessouky stamped his presence from the beginning and always had something in reserve as he dominated the first two games. The gritty Clyne battled gamely but the low dying length and the precision from Dessouky’s racket was a huge differentiator. Clyne obstinacy earned him the third game but it wasn’t enough as Dessouky took his appointed place in the final.
(3) Chris Simpson (ENG) beat 3-0 Lucas Serme (FRA) 11-4, 11-6, 13-11 (58 mins)
Simpson had played the longest match of the night yesterday. He clearly wasn’t feeling the effects of that as he controlled the pace and had that much more variation than his younger opponent. The difference in the length and the width ensured that Simpson stayed ahead. The young Frenchman had his moments at the end of the third but Simpson’s consistency gave him a deserved straight game win just under the hour mark. Simpson plays Dessouky tomorrow.
(5) Nicolas Mueller (SUI) beat 3-2 (4) Saurav Ghosal (IND) 9-11, 12-14, 11-2, 11-9, 11-6 (80 mins)
Egged on by some boisterous local support, Saurav looked composed as he took the court to the cheers of the crowd. Many juniors with their faces painted with the Indian flag screamed themselves hoarse as Saurav took a commanding 10-4 lead. The composed Mueller pegged it back rather systematically to 9-10 before a beautiful volley drop gave the Indian the first.
A very close second as they traded points before Mueller led 7-5. Saurav levelled at 7.
Mueller pressed on for 9-7. A fantastic rally – perhaps the longest of the match – belonged to Saurav. He followed it with another well constructed rally for 9-9. Mueller held the ball beautifully to inch to 10-9. A delightful cross court sent Mueller the wrong way – 10-10. He now had his own game ball . A no- let for Saurav- 11-11. Nothing to choose between them. 12-12. Both playing some quality squash. Saurav had Mueller scrambling in the next point. Some miraculous retrieving by Mueller, the last pickup close to the wall resulting in his hand being grazed. Blood. Playing hand. Injury timeout. Ritwik Battacharya was in his corner. A stroke followed to Saurav and he had a crucial 2-0 lead
A resurgent Mueller came storming back to stamp his class in the third. Showing off some amazing strokes he raced to 11-2. The crowd had suddenly gone quiet.
Mueller carried the momentum to lead 3-1 as Saurav kept it tight to level. A delectable volley drop followed by a monster of a rally and Indian had 5-3. The crowd was getting the power in the lungs back as the decibel levels increased in anticipation of an Indian victory. 6-4, then 7-5. Mueller wasn’t done as he pumped his fist to draw even at 7. Saurav stayed consistent to move closer 9-7. The Swiss stayed strong 9-9. The quality was from the top drawer. Game ball Mueller. An unforced error from Saurav and we were going into a decider.
Change of shirt for Mueller. Fresh instructions from Ritwik for Saurav.
Mueller raced to a 4-0 lead. The crowd willed the Indian on 1-4. Mueller looked in charge at 5-1 but Saurav kept battling. Back to back winners and it was 3-5. Edge of the seat stuff. Traded the next two points 4-6. Mueller 7-4. A controlled over head winner from Mueller for 8-4 followed by an unforced error and Muller was within sniffing distance. Mueller 10-5. Saurav saved one. The last winner from Mueller’s racket to complete a fine come from behind win. A disappointed crowd but they were treated to some vintage squash. Saurav had some kind words for Mueller, who richly deserved the win.
(2) Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY) beat 3-1 (8) Mohamed Reda (EGY) 11-6, 10-12, 11-3, 11-6 (50 mins)
In the last match of the night, one that came after the Muller Ghosal marathon – the crowd had thinned. A fairly large number of enthusiastic juniors were in the arena well past their bedtimes. Abouelghar showed more urgency as he took the ascendancy. Reda, an experienced war horse showed some intelligent shot selection and creditably drew level winning the second over extra points.
He came out with even more urgency quickly re-establishing his position on the T, winning the third rather handily. Abouelghar maintained the consistency to close the fourth 11-6, to take his spot with Muller in tomorrow’s semi final Abouelghar paid tribute to his teammate saying he was one of the cleverest players on the tour and how he like other young Egyptians had learnt much from him over the years.
PSA M50 CCI International JSW ISC 2016, Cricket Club of India, Mumbai, India.
 Fares Dessouky (EGY) bt  Alan Clyne (SCO) 3-1: 11-7, 11-8, 4-11, 11-5 (51m)
 Chris Simpson (ENG) bt  Lucas Serme (FRA) 3-0: 11-4, 11-6, 13-11 (58m)
 Nicolas Mueller (SUI) bt  Saurav Ghosal (IND) 3-2: 9-11, 12-14, 11-2, 11-9, 11-6 (80m)
 Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY) bt  Mohamed Reda (EGY) 3-1: 11-6, 10-12, 11-3, 11-6 (50m)
 Fares Dessouky (EGY) v  Chris Simpson (ENG)
 Nicolas Mueller (SUI) v  Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY)
Pictures by NITESH SQUARE