4:45 pm
21 Feb 2019

Mueller & Rosner Advance In New York After Upsets At Grand Central

24 Jan 2010

US hopes of success in the JP Morgan Tournament of Champions were dashed when Swiss qualifier Nicolas Mueller beat five times US national champion Julian Illingworth, the 15th seed, in the first round of the $97,500 PSA Tour Super Series squash event at Grand Central Terminal in New York.

The 20-year-old from Zurich got off to a nervous start in his very first appearance on the all-glass court at Grand Central as he quickly fell behind 1-5. "It was a little overwhelming," said Mueller, "even bigger and noisier than I could have imagined." But the Swiss player steadied himself and snared the first game. The highest-ranking American ever on the PSA tour, Illingworth struggled in the second game as a sore wrist hampered his shot-making.

With the crowd loudly in his corner, the New York-based Illingworth gamely tried to challenge Mueller in the third and drew even at nine-all with some deft shot-making and quick movement to the front of the court. But two tins by Illingworth gave Mueller the match 11-9, 11-7, 11-9 after 46 minutes - and the opportunity to face world No1 Ramy Ashour in the second round.

Ashour defeated French qualifier Mathieu Castagnet 11-9, 11-7, 11-5. "He surprised me," said Ashour. "But I was happy to be playing someone who was smart on the court. He read my boast well and to win the match, I had to be faster and make him work more."

The other upset came when Germany's Simon Rosner defeated 16th seed Renan Lavigne, from France, with relative ease in front of a capacity crowd in the nearly 500 seat stadium. "It is just a great feeling," said the broadly smiling victor after the match. "I was nervous because I don't often get to play on the glass court, and never in front of such a big crowd."

Rosner received some advice between games from his coach back home who phoned in coaching tips while watching the live webcast on SquashTV. Lavigne was sanguine about the 3/0 loss to his 22-year-old opponent. "I had decided about a month ago it was time for some new challenges," said the 35-year-old Frenchman who has had some memorable battles on the Grand Central glass court. "I wasn't mentally tough today, but I am glad to get play here one last time, especially because I wanted to bring my father, for his 62nd birthday present, to New York City see one of the best tournaments in the world."

Qualifier Ryan Cuskelly got an early jump on Nick Matthew when he took the first game against the world No2 from England. Midway through the second game, Cuskelly caught Matthew in the ankle with the ball. "I was a little flat in the first game and getting hit with the ball, which annoyed me, gave me the fire in the belly I needed to get going," Matthew said.

The Englishman started playing more aggressively and closed out the match against the 22-year-old Australian 8-11, 11-6, 11-2, 11-7. Matthew's second round opponent will be another Australian, Stewart Boswell, who eliminated Brazil's Rafael F Alarcon in three straight games.

France's Gregory Gaultier began his defence of the title with a straightforward victory over Scottish qualifier Alan Clyne 11-6, 11-5, 11-5. "I was real excited to come back here to Grand Central," said the world No4. "After a terrible year end with injuries, I am happy to be playing again, especially in a place where I feel so comfortable."

Gaultier will next play Miguel Angel Rodriguez who defeated fellow Colombian Bernardo Samper in four games. "There are only two professional squash players from Colombia," said Rodriguez, "and we end up playing each other in the first round."

Wael El Hindi, the eighth seed from Egypt, demonstrated a new seriousness of purpose when he showed up for his first round match against Hungary's Mark Krajcsak. "I was a little more nervous this year because New York City is my home now, and I had a lot of friends and supporters in the crowd," said the 29-year-old who is the touring pro at Cityview Racquet Club. In the early going, it was a nip and tuck match, with the lead exchanging hands on almost every point until El Hindi nabbed the opening game. Krajcsak came back in the second, taking a 7-4 lead, but El Hindi held his ground to take the second game and easily closed the match 11-9, 11-8, 11-6.

"I have changed a lot of things in the last year to get stronger and fitter, because I realised that moving up in the rankings is about how many matches you can keep playing at the same level of intensity," said the satisfied new New Yorker.

1st round:
[1] Karim Darwish (EGY) bt Gilly Lane (USA) 11-3, 11-3, 11-9 (34m)
[12] Hisham Mohd Ashour (EGY) bt [Q] Yasser El Halaby (EGY) 11-7, 12-10, 11-7 (32m)
[7] David Palmer (AUS) bt Aaron Frankcomb (AUS) 11-6, 11-7, 11-3 (32m)
[Q] Adrian Waller (ENG) bt [11] Olli Tuominen (FIN) 11-6, 11-4, 2-11, 6-11, 14-12 (60m)
[3] Amr Shabana (EGY) bt Omar Abdel Aziz (EGY) 12-10, 12-10, 11-8 (33m)
[9] Alister Walker (ENG) bt Amr Swelim (ITA) 11-9, 13-11, 12-10 (44m)
[6] James Willstrop (ENG) bt [Q] Shaun le Roux (ENG) 11-7, 11-2, 11-5 (29m)
Mohd Ali Anwar Reda (EGY) bt [13] Tarek Momen (EGY) 11-5, 11-9, 9-11, 8-11, 11-9 (76m)
Simon Rosner (GER) bt [16] Renan Lavigne (FRA) 11-6, 11-5, 11-9 (35m)
[8] Wael El Hindi (EGY) bt Mark Krajcsak (HUN) 11-9, 11-8, 11-6 (45m)
[10] Stewart Boswell (AUS) bt Rafael F Alarcon (BRA) 11-6, 11-5, 11-3 (32m)
[4] Nick Matthew (ENG) bt [Q] Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) 8-11, 11-6, 11-2, 11-7 (60m)
[Q] Nicolas Mueller (SUI) bt [15] Julian Illingworth (USA) 11-9, 11-7, 11-9 (46m)
[5] Ramy Ashour (EGY) bt [Q] Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) 11-9, 11-7, 11-5 (30m)
[14] Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL) bt [Q] Bernardo Samper (COL) 11-13, 11-3, 11-9, 11-2 (49m)
[2] Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt [Q] Alan Clyne (SCO) 11-6, 11-4, 11-5 (33m)