7:47 am
23 Apr 2018

Marche Makes Maiden World Series Quarters In Qatar

16 Nov 2016

Unseeded Gregoire Marche - the sole Frenchman in the main draw of the Qatar Classic for the first time since 2007 - reached the first PSA World Series quarter-final of his career after upsetting Egypt's world No.9 Tarek Momen in the second round of long-established championship at the Khalifa International Tennis & Squash Complex in Doha.

It was one-way traffic in the beginning of the encounter, with sixth seed Momen looking sharp as he went a game ahead for the loss of four points. The Frenchman, ranked 15 places lower, moved up through the gears to take the next two games, but a combination of strong retrieving from Momen and some errors from the racket of Marche saw the Egyptian level, before Marche took the fifth to close out a hard-fought triumph.

"It's my first ever World Series quarter final, and I feel this is not the end," said Marche, who had never before beaten the Egyptian.

"I felt good on court today, and even if there were a few moments I felt a bit in the red, at the end, I had a lot left under the foot, and that's a great feeling to have. I cannot describe the feeling you get when you beat somebody like Tarek, somebody I've always admired."

German No.1 Simon Rösner put in an immaculate display to defeat former world No.1 James Willstrop, the Englishman who boasted a pre-match 11-3 head-to-head advantage over his opponent.

Rösner, the current World No.13, was deadly from the outset and executed his game plan to perfection, with a powerful and accurate performance sending Willstrop into all four corners of the court, drawing the normally accurate Yorkshireman out of his comfort zone and into a number of errors to record a superb 11-7, 11-7, 11-8 victory.

"I think I played my best squash, my best squash of the season, at least," said Rösner.

"I kept him behind me most of the time and I was able to attack quite well at the front. I played attacking squash and I think that I can't play much better than that.

"It's so tough to beat this guy, I think he's pretty much back to normal and playing the way he used to before he was injured. To beat him in this form is quite special for me, so I'm really glad."

Rösner will take on defending champion Mohamed Elshorbagy for a place in the semi-finals after the world No.1 overcame a strong challenge from unseeded Leo Au.

A focused start from the man from Hong Kong saw him start the better of the two players, but Elshorbagy ramped up the pace to force Au into a number of errors towards the latter stages to take the lead.

Au fought back in the second to draw level, but the Egyptian soon rediscovered his rhythm to pull through with a 12-10, 11-13, 11-8, 11-8 triumph.

"I thought I was up and down again like the first round and I lost focus at times," said Elshorbagy.

"Mentally, I felt a bit tired in the first round, but today I felt fresh. When you're playing short sharp rallies, you have to be mentally fresh to keep it up. If you're not, you're going to struggle big time in these kinds of conditions.

"Yesterday, I took the full day off, I didn't even touch my squash racket for even a minute, and I never normally do that during tournaments, but I had to. After a long two years, I had to take one day off and I felt that I deserved one."

World Champion Karim Abdel Gawad continued his title charge, but was forced all the way to five games after a dogged challenge from fellow Egyptian Zahed Mohamed to set up a quarter-final fixture with world No.7 Marwan Elshorbagy, with the 23-year-old defeating Australia's Ryan Cuskelly.

Gawad twice saw a one-game lead wiped out by Mohamed, who dug in and hit a number of sumptuous winners against his in-form compatriot. But a fast start to the fifth game from Gawad saw the 25-year-old finally break Mohamed's resistance, and he recorded a 13-11, 9-11, 11-3, 9-11, 11-5 victory to reach the last eight.

"Since my first tournament here in Qatar, I played really well and I always play well here," said Gawad.

"I was looking forward to this tournament especially, I've done well the last few tournaments, and I believe I can also do well here. Tomorrow is a new day, I will just come on court and focus as if it is the first match and I will try to grab the win."

Three-time World Champion Nick Matthew will face Marche for a place in the semi-finals after defeating tenacious Scotsman Alan Clyne, while Australian No.1 Cameron Pilley and world No.19 Daryl Selby will contest the other quarter-final fixture courtesy of respective wins over Mexico's Cesar Salazar and qualifier Adrian Waller.

Qatar Classic image courtesy of www.squashpics.com