6:31 am
16 Jul 2024

Lake Licks Marche In Canary Wharf Classic Opener

14 Mar 2022

England's world No.36 Nathan Lake stunned France's world No.11 Gregoire Marche on the opening day of action as the GillenMarkets Canary Wharf Classic got underway in the spectacular setting of the East Wintergarden in London.

Chicago-based Lake, who was a late call-up into the main draw following a number of withdrawals, delivered a solid performance to claim a stunning 11-9, 11-3 victory over the Frenchman - the PSA World Tour Gold event using a best-of-three format up to and including the quarter finals.

The 29-year-old will now face Egypt's No.2 seed Mostafa Asal for a place in the quarter finals.

"It's great to play here, Tim [Garner, Tournament Promoter] kindly gave me the wildcard here about five years ago and that's really helped," said Lake afterwards. "Just so I knew what to expect, I'm really pleased with that and especially the second game.

"I played Gregoire in January, I lost in a close 3/2, I think with these guys, I will have seen a lot more of them than they have of me so I try to go in with a blank canvas and think about what I was trying to do, I tried to stay as calm as I possibly could and I'm glad I could manage my head today.

"He's great for the game, [Mostafa Asal] love him or hate him people, are talking about him so whatever your opinion I think he's good for squash."

Patrick Rooney and Adrian Waller will join Lake as the remaining home hopes in the event as they claimed respective wins over Egypt's Mohamed Elsherbini and England's George Parker.

Rooney managed to battle past a nervous start to overcome the talented Elsherbini, 11-8, 11-9 in 29 minutes on his first appearance at the event. Rooney's second round opponent will be another Egyptian in the form of world No.9 Mazen Hesham.

"I was quite nervous, it's my first time playing here," said Rooney. "It's a tournament I've always watched. The crowd always looks good but those first four points I was shaking a lot, so once I got over that I started playing and once I did I played well."

Waller will take on former World Champion Tarek Momen for a place in the last eight after he came out on top in the tightly contested all-English battle with Parker.

Meanwhile, England's former world No.1 James Willstrop saw his Canary Wharf campaign come to an early end at the hands of 2018 British Open champion Miguel Rodriguez.

The Colombian extended the rallies to force the four-time tournament champion deep into the back corners and attacked with relentless pressure to book his place in the second round where he faces Egypt's Fares Dessouky.

"I'm happy with my performance," said Rodriguez. "He was playing very offensive, I was very tempted to go for shots but last week he was playing very well in the front so I had to keep him in the back I had to dig deep in the first game and it was really big and got more confident from there."

France's Mathieu Castagnet was the surprise package of the day as he toppled Malaysia's Eain Yow Ng, who is ranked 29 places above him, in a three-game battle that went down to the wire much to the delight of the packed-out crowd.

The 2016 winner of the tournament rolled back the years as he used his experience to prevail in a topsy-turvy clash and will now face 2021 Qatar Classic champion Diego Elias in the second round. After the match, Castagnet admitted it could be his last outing at the event.

"I was just thinking I am going to retire from the PSA World Tour soon and my biggest success has been here at the Canary Wharf Classic and my only thoughts were to keep going and play one more match because I will never be back playing here again."

Fellow Frenchmen Baptiste Masotti and Victor Crouin will join him in the second round following their wins over Egypt's Moustafa El Sirty and English wildcard Joshua Masters on the opening day of action.

Masotti was forced to do things the hard way in both games against the rising star of the Tour El Sirty as a nervous start from both players saw scrappy rallies before the Frenchman began to find his length and accuracy.

More decisions followed in the second game with Masotti unhappy with El Sirty's movement. However, he managed to keep his focus and hold off the 20-year-old's attacking prowess to prevail 14-12, 14-12. He will face Welshman Joel Makin in the second round on Tuesday.

"I'm sorry guys, the match was awful, to be honest," said Masotti in his post-match interview. "He is playing well, but when he's doing these kinds of things he will never be respected. You need to respect your opponent, I tried to play my best, I'm sorry for this awful match, I found a way to win. He is a very good player but I can't respect what he is doing on court."

Meanwhile, Crouin overturned a 6-0 deficit in the first game with English wildcard Joshua Masters before comfortably prevailing 11-2 in the second to secure a second-round meeting with world No.1 and defending champion Paul Coll.

Elsewhere, it continued to be a good couple of weeks in London for Switzerland's Nicolas Mueller as he moved past France's world No.39 Auguste Dussourd by an 11-1, 7-11, 11-3 margin.

Mueller will face Egypt's Marwan Elshorbagy in the next round, with the two playing each other just last week when the 'Swiss Rocket' caused an upset at the Optasia Championships in Wimbledon.