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21 Apr 2024

Gaultier Grabs 10th Successive Hong Kong Open Quarter-Final Slot

3 Dec 2015

Just a week after defeating a resurgent James Willstrop en-route to the World Championship title, Gregory Gaultier was once again forced to produce his best squash to defeat the towering Englishman to reach a tenth successive men's quarter-final in the Cathay Pacific Sun Hung Kai Financial Hong Kong Open.

It took the Frenchman over 60 minutes to secure his place in the last eight of the PSA World Series tournament, one of few titles to have eluded him during a glittering career, at the expense of Willstrop - whose shock victory over Mohamed Elshorbagy during the World Championship helped Gaultier to top the World Rankings this month.

The 32-year-old from Aix-en-Provence began impressively, utilising his pace and power to take advantage of a misfiring Willstrop and open up a two-game lead. 'The Marksman' upped his game in the third as he began to find his range, firing in pinpoint shots from all areas of the court to reduce the deficit but Gaultier dug into his reserves to mount a huge challenge in the fourth and his doggedness was rewarded when he sealed the match 11-7, 11-8, 3-11, 11-6.

"That was one of the toughest matches I could have had at this stage in a tournament and I really had to give my all," said Gaultier.

"He proved last week at the worlds that he can beat anyone so I knew I had to be sharp. I had to push myself mentally and physically especially in the fourth game when I gave everything in the tank to try and take control of the match away from him.

"I feel a little bit physically drained after winning the World Championship but mentally I'm still there. I struggled yesterday in the first round and today was a tough match as well but these kind of matches can help keep you sharp.

"Even if my body isn't 100 per cent, mentally I want to finish the year on a positive note. You can't be 100 per cent all year round but you can give your best on court each day and there are always solutions to problems so I'm going t be giving it my all this week."

Gaultier will line up against Cameron Pilley after the unseeded Australian produced the men's upset of the day by beating Germany's No.5 seed Simon Rösner.

Favourite Mohamed Elshorbagy progressed to the last eight without breaking sweat after Indian Saurav Ghosal conceded their match due to injury.

In the women's draw England's new world No.2 Laura Massaro extended her current unbeaten streak on the PSA World Tour to 12 matches as she despatched Egyptian challenger Heba El Torky in straight games.

Massaro has so far claimed back-to-back PSA World Series titles during the 2015/16 season, winning at the US Open and Qatar Classic, and will be hoping to complete an impressive hat-trick this week during the 30th staging of the Hong Kong Open. But the Lancashire lass will face a stern challenge from her main title rivals Raneem El Welily, the world No.1, and Nicol David, the world No.3 who is bidding for a record 11th successive title.

"I felt like the match was a bit scrappy at times today," said Massaro, who took 34 minutes to complete the 11-9, 11-5, 14-12 win.

"The rallies were short and there was not much rhythm. It was tough to get through it but I'm really happy to have got a 3-0 win in the end.

"Coming home after winning in Qatar I had a few days off but then my mind was back on training and it wasn't difficult to refocus on coming here to Hong Kong. I had a good two weeks at home which gave me plenty of time to get some good training in and I'm feeling good.

"This is a World Series event and as such carries a lot of emphasis - it's very important and I'm fully focused on doing as well here as I can and performing to my best. It's great to be in the quarters of another World Series tournament so hopefully I can perform well again tomorrow."

Massaro will face Nouran Gohar in the last eight while El Welily made her way into the quarter-finals after being in command against Low Wee Wern - the Malaysian conceding the match at the end of the second game in her first Tour event since undergoing knee surgery.

El Welily will now face sharp-shooting American Amanda Sobhy for a place in the semi-finals.