The withdrawal of Egyptians Karim Darwish and Amr Shabana from the main draw of the Springfield British Grand Prix saw Borja Golan and Simon Rosner promoted to the main draw which starts in Manchester on Friday.
After a couple of shuffles, the remaining top-ranked player in the qualifying draw, India’s Saurav Ghosal, received a bye to tomorrow’s qualifying finals.
Those three will be grateful for the rest days as they witnessed a series of marathon qualifying matches on the Wolverhampton Lawn Tennis and Squash Club courts.
Ghosal will meet England’s Jonathan Kemp, who proved too strong for compatriot OIlie Holland. Holland led in both of the first two games, losing out 12-10 in the first which he should have won. However an increasingly large number of typical inspired winners broke down Holland’s resistance providing Kemp with a 3/0 win in just 35 minutes, the shortest match of the day.
The opening match of the night saw locals Chris Ryder and Jaymie Haycocks battle for 74 minutes before Ryder, from 2/1 down, came through to close out the match 11-5,11-8. Ryder, coming back from illness, looked out of the match at the end of the third game, but he took the last two games, taking the ball early and pushing Jaymie to the back of the court while playing some brilliant backhand drop shots.
France’s Mathieu Castagnet, ranked World No.37, was originally scheduled to take on Germany’s Simon Rosner, the world number 18. The redraw offered Castagnet an easier route and he proved too strong for Wolverhampton’s coach Darren Lewis, defeating him 11-6, 11-8, 11-7 in 40 minutes which according to Lewis “felt more like 2 hours!”
Lewis retired from the PSA World tour several years ago and had the support of a very vocal Wolverhampton crowd which carried him through the early stages of each of the three games.
An all-French qualifying final looked likely as world #26 Marwan El Shorbagy went two games down against Gregoire Marche, seeded 21 places below the Egyptian double world junior champion.
Cutting out the unforced errors that had contributed to his losing the first two games, Shorbagy levelled the score at two game all but the fifth saw him making the same sort of errors as in the first two games, only securing the decider 11-9 after 70 minutes of play.
“Happy with my performance andn looking forward to play another frenchman tomorrow,” tweeted a relieved Marwan.
The first seeding upset of the night came as England’s Adrian Waller, ranked 16 places below his opponent Max Lee from Hong Kong, secured a 3/1 victory in 75 minutes in a match played at a furious pace. Waller always looked the more comfortable of the two and although Lee took a close fought third game, he couldn’t out hit Waller sufficiently well to win the fourth.
The last two matches of the evening were the longest, and provided another guaranteed English qualifier.
After 84 minutes in a match punctuated by sixty-one decisions and numerous discussions with the referee World No.38 Chris Simpson finally overcame Siddarth Suchde of India 11-6, 5-11, 12-10, 14-12 .
In an epic final match and the biggest upset of the night England’s Joe Lee, who wasn’t even in the draw at the start of the day, came through to defeat Scotland’s Alan Clyne. Clyne fought back valiantly from two games down, but eventually succumbed 11-8 in the fifth after 94 minutes.
“Felt like I grabbed defeat from the jaws of victory tonight,” tweeted Clyne, adding “plenty of things to work on before the next event.”
Unusually – but understandably given the change of venue for the main draw – the four qualifiers will have a day off before taking to the all-glass court at the National Squash Centre in Manchester.
On tonight’s evidence, they’ll need it …
Tue 18th, Qualifying Round One:
Adrian Waller (Eng) 3-1 Max Lee (Hkg) 11-5, 11-8, 10-12, 12-10 (75m)
Chris Ryder (Eng) 3-1 Jaymie Haycocks (Eng) 11-5, 8-11, 6-11, 11-5, 11-8 (74m)
Mathieu Castagnet (Fra) 3-0 Darren Lewis (Eng) 11-6, 11-8, 11-7 (40m)
Marwan El Shorbagy (Egy) 3-2 Grégoire Marche (Fra) 9-11, 7-11, 11-7, 11-5, 11-9 (70m)
Saurav Ghosal (Ind) v bye
Jonathan Kemp (Eng) 3-0 Ollie Holland (Eng) 12-10, 11-9, 11-3 (35m)
Chris Simpson (Eng) 3-1 Siddarth Suchde (Ind) 11-6, 5-11, 12-10, 14-12 (84m)
Joe Lee (Eng) 3-2 Alan Clyne (Sco) 11-7, 11-5, 6-11, 6-11, 11-8 (94m)