Second Round Sunday
Today saw the start of the second round—the last sixteen—and it was the top half of the draws back in action, all on the glass court at Drexel University’s John A. Daskalakis Athletic Center.
Today’s eight matches produced a feast of squash for the crowd, one major upset as France’s Mathieu Castagnet beat seventh seed Borja Golan in an epic 105-minute encounter, and one narrow escape as fourth seed Alison Waters just managed to hold off Donna Urquhart.
WSA World Series, top half:
 Nicol David (MAS) bt Camille Serme (FRA) 11-9, 11-5, 11-4 (36m)
 Alison Waters (ENG) bt Donna Urquhart (AUS) 8-11, 11-5, 11-6 , 9-11, 12-10 (58m)
 Madeline Perry (IRL) v Line Hansen (DEN) 6-11, 11-2, 11-3, 11-8 (41m)
 Joelle King (NZL) bt Sarah Kippax (ENG) 11-9, 11-4, 11-7 (31m)
PSA World Series, top half:
 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt Adrian Waller (ENG) 11-1, 11-4, 11-7 (29m)
Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) bt  Borja Golan (ESP) 11-7, 9-11, 8-11, 11-9, 11-8 (105m)
 Mohamed Elshorbagy (EGY) bt Alan Clyne (SCO) 11-6, 11-6, 11-6 (37m)
 Karim Darwish (EGY) bt Gregoire Marche (FRA) 11-5, 11-2, 12-10 (44m)
Perry Powers into Quarters
Eighth seed Madeline Perry didn’t make a great start to her match with Denmark’s Line Hansen, but the Dane was playing well and managed to maintain a lead throughout the first game which she took 11-6. The Irish veteran took control from the outset of the second though, and took the next two games 11-2, 11-3 with Hansen getting frustrated with her high error rate.
“She started well, her length was better than mine and I just couldn’t get control of any rallies,” said Perry, “but I felt much better from the start of the second.
“I’ve been struggling with a knee injury for the last couple of months, so it’s just nice to be playing again. I’m looking forward to the quarterfinals—and having another rest day can’t hurt!”
King back on Track
Joelle King, the Kiwi fifth seed who so nearly upset Nicol David in last year’s semi-finals, came through to the last eight with a straight-games win over Sarah Kippax, although the Englishwoman will feeel unlcky not to have at least taken a game.
King started off well enough, taking a 4-1 lead, but Kippax levelled at 5-all and continued to hold her own up to 8-all. There were some tough rallies, but plenty of unforced errors too, and despite hitting the tin seven times King managed to win the game 11-9 as Kippax struck out on King’s second game ball.
“I had a close match against Nouran [Gohar] in the first round, and that was probably just the kick up the bum I needed,” admitted King afterwards. “I’m glad I was able to come out and play much better today, even if I did make a few errors at the start.”
It’s Magnifique, Mathieu
In the first of the men’s second round matches, Mathieu Castagnet pulled off the biggest upset of the event so far as he beat seventh seed Spaniard Borja Golan in an epic five game encounter that took 105 minutes to complete.
There was nothing to choose between the two players for five games that were superbly contested, close all the way, with both players willing to play patient squash waiting for an opportunity, upping the pace when they could, settling back into a patient game if it didn’t work. Captivating stuff, and thoroughly enjoyed by the growing crowd at Drexel.
There were no wild swings of fortune—the Frenchman took a good start, maintaining the lead after a 4-1 advantage to take the first 11-7, but Borja struck back to take the second and third 11-9, 11-8 with barely a point between them. Castagnet opened up a gap from 4-all in the fourth to force a decider, 11-9.
In the fifth Castagnet again made a good start, 3-0 and 8-5, but Golan battled back to 8-all. A Spanish drop into the tin for 9-8, a drive that died in the back corner for 10-8, and a mishit winner to the front to finish a match that no-one deserved to lose.
“I was injured for three months before the world teams and couldn’t shake it off. I really considered ending my career then, but I’m so glad I worked hard to recover. It feels so good to be playing again, and to be winning a match like this is unbelievable.
“If I end up playing Greg [Gaultier] in the quarters it will be great for France but a very tough match for me—but playing anyone now would be tough—I need to get some rest and recovery!”
Elshorbagy Crushes Clyne
World No. 6, Mohamed Elshorbagy, came to play this afternoon. Within the first five points, the Egyptian was hitting winners between his legs from the back court, rolling over his backhand volley for nicks and collecting every point with mind-numbing quickness. Scotland’s Alan Clyne was left just trying to survive. Elshorbagy had secured the first game in less time than it took for Castagnet and Golan to finish their first five points!
Determined to make a good showing, Clyne held his own to 6-all in the second, but Elshorbagy ran the table from there to take a commanding lead, 11-6—and then ran away with the third, 11-6 … but it wasn’t that close. Elshorbagy put on a dazzling array of inside-out dropshots that left the crowd gasping and Clyne shaking his head. The pace being imposed by Elshorbagy was breathtaking and exhausting, for his opponents and spectators alike.
“}I was too passive in my last match, so I knew I had to increase the pace today,” said Elshorbagy. “I used my rest day well yesterday, and I’m really happy with my performance today.
“Yesterday I just chilled and had a massage. I know if I play Karim Darwish next I’ll be looking for revenge because he beat me in 3-0 in Malaysia last time we played.”
When fourth seed Alison Waters was playing well, she was playing very well, and Donna Urquhart was being forced onto the back foot to do some hard work in keeping the rallies going. The Australian does that willingly, but Waters’ aim was true at the opening of the match as she took an 8-3 lead.
Urquhart was still fighting, while Waters started finding the tin rather than the nick, and the left-handed Aussie took eight points in a row to take an unlikely lead 11-8.
Normal service looked to have been resumed as Waters took the second and third by the scruff of the neck 11-5, 11-4. But Urquhart wasn’t willing to be shaken off that easily as she came out firing in the fourth, holding off Waters’ late comeback to level the match 11-9.
Waters looked to have established a winning platform at least three times in the decider, but a) she kept making mistakes, b) Urquhart never stopped running and c) the Aussie found a handful of winners that left Waters stranded.
Waters led early in the fifth, 4-1 and 6-3, but those factors brought us level at 7-all, then two careless tins from Waters put Urquhart two points away from the match. Waters’ threw her racquet in disgust, got a conduct warning for her trouble, then fired in three crisp winners to reach match ball 10-9,
That was lost on a stroke, then another opportunity when Urquhart was denied a let —confirmed by video review but unpopular with the crowd—and that was converted with a trickle boast. This time it was Urquhart’s turn to bounce her racquet.
“Donna played well, but I was pretty patchy throughout,” admitted Waters, “I’m just glad to have got through!“
David Does it Again
They met just last week in the Carol Weymuller final, and the Frenchwoman gave the undisputed world number one a good run for her money then. She did the same today, for the first game at least, keeping the scores level until 6-all, going ahead 8-6 even.
But David just kept plugging away—as she does—came back to take the lead 11-9, and leads of 6-1 in the second and 7-1 in the third, along with Serme’s now increased error count, were enough to see her through 11-5, 11-5 in 36 minutes.
“I was really pumped up for this, ready to give my best,” said David. “We played last week and she was playing really well, so I knew she would be fired up for it. I managed to settle and get into my game but it wasn’t easy, she played well again.”
Gaultier Goes Gangbusters
Top-seeded Gregory Gaultier of France was a prohibitive favorite going into his second round clash with England’s Adrian Waller, and nothing about the outcome would prove that to be wrong. Waller, playing in his third U.S. Open main draw has now bowed out to the No. 1 seed in each of those events—to Ramy Ashour in 2009, Thierry Lincou in 2010 and now Gaultier.
To Waller’s credit, Gaultier has been rolling recently. Last month, Gaultier won the Abierta Mexicana de Raquetas in Toluca, Mexico, and then a week ago finished runner-up to Ramy Ashour in the NetSuite Open in San Francisco, California.
The world No. 2 pressured Waller from the start by jumping on the ball early and never giving Waller a sniff of hope. The Frenchman’s shots were too tight, too deep when hitting length, and so severely cut when going short they the ball refused to bounce. Top that off with lightning quickness, and Gaultier was never going to be denied.
“Today I was really focused from the first point,” said Gaultier. “I really had to play fast and bring something. In the first round I wasn’t quite there mentally, so I tried to raise my pace today. It’s just motivation at the end of the day. I’ve been a month on the road and haven’t seen my family and my kid. I turned up at the junior tournament downstairs, and I was also quite impressed with the level of the juniors here.”
Marche’s Dreams Dashed by Darwish
Egypt’s Karim Darwish, former world No. 1 and current No. 5, ran out to a 10-2 lead in the opening game against France’s Gregoire Marche before surrendering thee more points to put the Frenchman in a hole, 11-5. But before Marche could gain confidence from that late run in the first, Darwish again raced out to a 10-2 lead in the second—and snuffed out any hope Marche might have had by finishing that one off, 11-2.
However, Marche refused to go away, and Darwish relaxed ever-so-slightly in the third as they stayed even to 10-all. That’s when the rallies lengthened, approaching 75 strokes each.
Unfortunately for Marche, that played into a career-long strength of Darwish who was content to let Marche work until he made an error. In this case, that error came in the form of a pair of strokes to Darwish, and the match in forty-four minutes.
“It’s always best to win these early rounds as quick as possible,” commented Darwish. “But these days that’s getting much harder. The third game today was like three games.”