Day Four : Quarter-finals
Quarters : Castagnet joins top three seeds in the semis
FRance’s Mathieu Castagnet produced another seeding upset as he came from a game down to beat Fares Dessouki and join the top three seeds in the semi-finals.
He’ll play Kiwi Paul Coll, the fourth seeded Kiwi who overcame Wales’ Joel Makin in two tough games.
Defending champion Mohamed ElShorbagy ended home hopes as he beat Declan James in two, setting up a repeat of last year’s all-Egyptian final against Tarek Momen, who survived a torrid test from Aussie Ryan Cuskelly.
France’s Mathieu Castagnet continued his superb run at the 2019 Citigold Wealth Management Canary Wharf Classic as he followed up a second round scalp of No.2 seed Simon Rösner with a 2-1 win over No.7 seed Fares Dessouky at London’s spectacular East Wintergarden to reach the last four.
Castagnet, the 2016 Canary Wharf Classic champion, fell a game behind to 2017 runner-up Dessouky, who attacked at every opportunity. Castagnet was able to squeeze some errors from the Egyptian in the second game though as he pulled away to level for the loss of seven points.
Dessouky marched into a 4-1 lead in the third, but Castagnet’s indomitable fighting spirit came to the fore as he hung in the rallies and played the big points well. The 32-year-old closed out the win by an 5-11, 11-7, 11-7 scoreline to claim his first ever win against Dessouky after three previous defeats.
“It is like [yesterday against] Simon Rösner, I had never beaten Fares, this is the first time I have beaten him. This is the right time to beat him, to reach the semi-finals of the Canary Wharf Classic again. I would like to thank all the French guys and all the people who supported me. Also, my wife is watching me with my little cat, so I say hi to both as well.
“I am pretty happy, I am trying to get back to a better shape and today and yesterday, I proved that I am able to get back into the world’s top 20, so I did my best for that.”
Castagnet is the only unseeded player to reach the semi-finals and he will line up against No.4 seed Paul Coll in the next round as they do battle for a place in the title decider.
Coll, the Kiwi World No.7, defeated Welshman Joel Makin to earn his place in the semi-finals of this tournament for the second time. Coll got the better of Makin in a brutal 106-minute encounter in the semi-finals of the Commonwealth Games back in April and their encounter at East Wintergarden was similarly attritional.
This time, the match was held under a best-of-three games format – which is being trialled at this tournament for a second successive year – and Coll recorded an 11-9, 12-10 triumph in 47 minutes to book his semis berth.
“Credit to him, he is a fighter, and he is a quality player already. He is only going to get better. [It was] very fair, and I enjoyed the match, as tough as it was. I was a bit off the pace, but I knew what I had to do. I just had to stay calm and I started attacking a lot more down my backhand where I was feeling comfortable, and it paid off.”
The other semi-final will see defending champion Mohamed ElShorbagy take on the man he beat in last year’s final, Tarek Momen, after they claimed respective wins over England’s Declan James and Australia’s Ryan Cuskelly.
James had got the better of ElShorbagy’s younger brother, Marwan, in the previous round, but found the older sibling a step too far as the man from Egypt completed an 11-9, 11-2 triumph to move into the last four.
“Declan is one of my good mates on tour, we trained together this summer. He came to Bristol and we trained a few times. I don’t think I am going to train with him anymore,” ElShorbagy joked after the match.
“He beat my brother and I think Marwan is going to blame me for that. He has been playing really well and I am really happy for him. Tarek got out of jail a little bit today. Ryan was playing so well, but Tarek has been playing an amazing season. He beat me last week and I really forward to having another great match with him.”
Momen ended a nine-match losing streak to ElShorbagy when he ended his fellow Egyptian’s World Championship title defence in Chicago at the semi-final stage two weeks ago, and he will look to back up that win after defeating Australia’s Ryan Cuskelly 8-11, 13-11, 11-5.
“I had a rest day yesterday, which I really made use of. It was very important. The best of three is helping in that regard, so I am happy to go only three games today, and hopefully I will get some good recovery for tomorrow.”
The semi-finals will take place on Thursday March 14 and play will revert back to the best of five format used at all other ranking PSA Tour events.
Quarter-Final Preview, by Alan Thatcher
Battling British underdogs Declan James and Joel Makin will be aiming to spring major shocks this evening as they take on Mohamed ElShorbagy and Paul Coll in the quarter-finals of the Citigold Wealth Management Canary Wharf Squash Classic.
James will be fired up after his superb second round win over Marwan ElShorbagy but his big brother will be a tougher prospect.
Mohamed, the top seed and reigning champion, is hungry to regain his world number one position after surrendering top spot to fellow Egyptian Ali Farag on March 1.
In a best-of-three format, the pace and pressure is sure to be fast and relentless.
First up 6pm, Australian left hander Ryan Cuskelly takes on No.3 seed Tarek Momen.
Cuskelly’s confidence will have been boosted by his second round victory over James Willstrop, when coach Robert Owen told him to step up the pace after losing the first game.
Momen overcame another left hander in the second round as Raphael Kandra worked the front corners with some success before Momen began moving the ball to different parts of the court.
ElShorbagy and James are the second match on, with Fares Dessouky meeting Mathieu Castagnet after the break.
Dessouky played with considerable confidence and precision against Daryl Selby last night and will aim to repeat that level of performance against Castagnet.
The Frenchman, champion here in 2016, will have to refocus after an emotional win over Simon Rosner last night that was a long time coming.
Rosner’s mistakes contributed to the result, but Castagnet played tight, structured squash and attacked any loose ball with considerable success.
Don’t expect an early night with Coll and Makin the final match of the schedule.
The last time these two supreme athletes met on court was during the Commonwealth Games semi-finals in Gold Coast in April, when Coll squeezed home after 106 minutes of brutal squash.
Tonight’s encounter will obviously be in the best-of-three category, but I expect the style of play to be dominated by high-paced driving from both players, patiently waiting for any loose ball to attack.
Coll’s court movement last night was absolutely phenomenal. Tom Richards was trying his hardest to bury nicks but the ball simply kept coming back.
Makin is a different type of player and I am sure coach Owen will have a game plan in mind for the occasion.
Coll’s quality at the front of the court has improved considerably since his last appearance at Canary Wharf two years ago and Makin will have to keep the ball tight and deep to have any hope of springing another upset.
One thing is for sure. James and Makin can both be guaranteed enormous vocal support from the packed Canary Wharf crowd.
We have seen plenty of passion and drama already this week, and the crowd will attempt to play their part by giving a lift to the underdogs.