French Champion Serme Stuns Elshorbagy At Canary Wharf
8 Mar 2017
French qualifier Lucas Serme overcame a gap of almost 40 places on the PSA World Rankings to defeat second seed Marwan Elshorbagy, the world No.7, and secure a surprise berth in the quarter-finals of the 2017 Canary Wharf Classic - the PSA M70 event in its 14th year at East Wintergarden in London.
This breakthrough Tour triumph comes just a month after Serme captured the French national title, against the odds, for the first time.
The 25-year-old from Creteil battled through over 100 minutes of qualification action just to reach the main draw of the event - but played relaxed, free-flowing, squash to expose an under-par Elshorbagy and come through 11-9, 11-9, 7-11, 11-7 - with the Egyptian struggling physically following his exploits in reaching last week's Windy City Open final in the USA.
Serme, who studied at the University of West of England in Bristol alongside Elshorbagy, was sublime from the off and, despite dropping the third game, was fully deserving of the victory that takes him through to meet Spain's Borja Golan for a place in the semi-finals.
"I'm not entirely sure what happened," said a disbelieving Serme afterwards.
"I'm very, very happy with the result. He had a big week in Chicago and I could feel he wasn't as sharp mentally as he usually is - he was a little flat. I had to jump on there from the start and get as many points as possible before he got into it and maybe I was the more hungry player today.
"There was no pressure on me. He was the number two seed so the pressure was all on him and that allowed me to play my shots - and my wife Anna played a big part as well because she kept sending me messages to help me relax."
Fellow Frenchman and defending Canary Wharf Classic champion Mathieu Castagnet began his campaign with a straightforward win over wildcard Lyell Fuller, coming through 3/0 as he looks to end a poor run of injury-ravaged form.
Since claiming the title here twelve months ago, Castagnet has failed to progress beyond the quarter-finals of any tournament - a record he'll hope to change against Egypt's Fares Dessouky.
"I'm happy with how I played today - I felt like I was moving well," said Castagnet.
"Lyell is a good player and he surprised and scared me in the first game - but today is the first match that I've felt like I'm moving and playing well. Since leaving here last year my ranking and my health has gone down - it's been a nightmare.
"Last season I reached my first World Series semi-finals, I won here and played the World Series Finals - I played around 15 or 20 matches more than in any other season of my career and I think maybe I didn't listen enough to my body and I started to get injured.
"So this week I'm just going on court to focus on my game and not worry about my body. If I can enjoy the experience, work on my basics and just enjoy being injury free then I'll go home happy."