Simon Rösner takes 86 minutes to beat Greg Marche
By NATHAN CLARKE
Local hero Nicolas Müller’s dreams of Grasshopper Cup glory were abruptly ended by defending champion and World No.2 Gregory Gaultier in Zurich tonight during a high class evening of quarter-final action that also saw German Simon Rösner come through a titanic 86-minute battle with Frenchman Gregoire Marche.
After watching home favourite Müller bow out to Gaultier, the capacity crowd inside the Puls5 venue were on the lookout for a new favourite. And they made their voices heard during another all-European battle between Marche and Rösner, which was jam-packed with lung-bursting rallies from that off that had both players scurrying around all four corners on the court at a ferocious pace.
Despite playing at a supremely high level throughout the encounter, including taking the first game, Marche couldn’t do enough to stop 2015 runner-up Rösner coming through 9-11, 11-6, 11-9, 16-14 in the match of the tournament.
“I think that was one of the toughest matches that I have played,” said Rösner.
“Every time I thought he was tiring he came right back at me and it was an amazing battle but I’m super glad to come through in four. I’m really pleased to be in the semis – after reaching the final last year it is a good achievement to be back in the last four for me.
“He pressured me a lot in the first and was making em do a lot of work and putting me under pressure. I had to really focus on hitting the corners from the second onwards and I think that ultimately made the difference at the end.
“I need to do what I can now to get back on court tomorrow as fresh as possible.”
Rösner will now face Egyptian Marwan ElShorbagy in the semi-finals after he downed Cameron Pilley 3-0 while Ali Farag, who beat Chris Simpson, awaits Gaultier after his comprehensive win over Müller.
After coming through a thrilling first round encounter with Ryan Cuskelly to set up the last eight battle with Gaultier, Müller couldn’t find anything in his locker to halt a surge from the current World Champion and went down 11-4, 11-2, 11-7 in just 37-minutes.
“It is always tough to play against the local boy – at the end of the day I have to do my job and I was moving better today than in the first round,” said Gaultier.
“I had to be very aware of his skills. He had a tough first round match and was maybe a bit drained from that and I took full advantage to counter him and dictate the game.
“Sometimes we travel to places and it can only be players and refs at the first round so it’s great to play her win front of a good crowd so it’s good to see Switzerland embracing squash.”
Egyptian Farag started slowly against Simpson, who earned his place in the last eight courtesy of a superb 3-0 victory over Mathieu Castagnet, and soon found himself down on the scoreboard as Simpson took full advantage, attacking at every opportunity to edge the opening game 11-9.
Farag responded well in the second as he improved his length and played with greater variation from the back court and he was rewarded as he took the game 11-6 to level the scoreboard, but with the match tied it looked to be there for the taking for Simpson and he started well in the third.
But Farag continued to move up slowly through the gears and managed to pull away in the third, taking it 11-7 before then storming out to a 5-0 lead in the fourth. While Simpson manage to mount a mini comeback Farag’s class told in the end as the World No.11 cruised into the last four.
“Chris is a very disciplined player and has a very solid game plan,” said Farag.
“When I matched him he was better than me so I tried to mix it up and change the pace because down the line he is very good. I am happy with how I focused after the first and with how I came through.
“It was not comfortable at all – he kept pushing and made it very tough throughout the match. Every opponent is so tough inside the top 30 – anyone can beat anyone – hopefully next match I will feel more in control on court.”
Elshorbagy recorded a second consecutive straight-games win to move into the semi-finals.
ElShorbagy capitalised on an under-performing Pilley, who struggled in stages during his first round match, to seize every opportunity to attack and reach the last four in his maiden appearance in Zurich.
“It has been a good tournament for me so far,” said ElShorbagy. “I finished 3-0 yesterday and again today so I’m feeling fresh, which is a good sign. Hopefully I can keep it going tomorrow against Simon. Last time we played he killed me in a 3-0 win so I’ll try and see where I went wrong and prepare myself for tomorrow.
“It’s been a tough season. Cameron was physically tired today which I could feel – he had a tough match yesterday as well – but finishing in three means I can be fresh tomorrow.”
PSA M70 Grasshopper Cup 2016, Puls 5, Zurich, Switzerland.
 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt [WC] Nicolas Mueller (SUI) 3-0: 11-4, 11-2, 11-7 (37m)
 Ali Farag (EGY) bt Chris Simpson (ENG) 3-1: 9-11, 11-6, 11-7, 11-5 (54m)
 Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) bt  Cameron Pilley (AUS) 3-0: 11-9, 11-8, 11-7 (42m)
 Simon Rösner (GER) bt Gregoire Marche (FRA) 3-1: 9-11, 11-6, 11-9, 16-14 (86m)
 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) v  Ali Farag (EGY)
 Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) v  Simon Rösner (GER)
Pictures courtesy of PSA