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23 Jul 2024

Mexican Cardenas Downs Willstrop In Manchester Open Opener

14 Apr 2022

Mexico's world No.39 Leonel Cardenas secured a huge career win on the opening day of the Manchester Open when he defeated former world No.1 James Willstrop in the first round of the PSA World Tour Silver event at the National Squash Centre.

Willstrop came into the tournament off the back of a long week at the WSF World Doubles Championships in Glasgow - where the 38-year-old Englishman struck Gold in the Men's event. This showed as he struggled with his movement - something of which the Mexican took full advantage.

Cardenas was able to come through an opening game tie-break, and from there the 22-year-old looked in control, going on to win in three in under 40 minutes. His reward is a meeting with Egypt's Youssef Soliman in the second round.

"I am really happy. Playing James Willstrop is an honour for me, I grew up watching him playing, and winning tournaments, so I am really happy with my performance," said Cardenas.

"I tried to play with a good rhythm. I knew James was coming from the World Doubles, so I hoped he was a little bit tired, and I was able to take advantage of that."

Elsewhere, Frenchman Mathieu Castagnet rolled back the years as he produced a superb performance to vanquish world No.25 Adrian Waller in straight games to claim his first win at the Manchester Open.

The 35-year-old was a picture of composure as he kept an increasingly frustrated Waller at arm's length to complete an 11-5, 12-10, 11-9 victory which will see him take on India's Saurav Ghosal in the next round.

"I have such good memories here when I reached the final [at the AJ Bell British Squash Grand Prix] and I beat [Mohamed] Elshorbagy when he was ranked world No.1," said Castagnet.

"It's always been a pleasure for me to play in front of a crowd where I have felt a lot of support, even if we are in England. We had a really great battle. I knew it wouldn't be easy for him today because he had to play the World Doubles last weekend and he had to use a lot of energy. When we played the first couple of rallies and he was starting to talk to the ref, I knew that I had to push as much as I could."

It was also a good day for England's No.1 Patrick Rooney, who continued his good run of form as he axed Scotland's Greg Lobban in straight games to advance in Manchester.

Rooney will face No.2 seed Marwan Elshorbagy for a place in the quarter finals.

"The first game was a battle to get through, where we were working each out, but I knew he has just come back from a week of doing two events at the World Doubles," Rooney explained.

"In the back of my mind, I knew he might be a bit fatigued. I tried to make the first as hard as possible, and then tried to follow up on that, not let up any pressure, and that worked as well.

"It's good to be back, playing in front of a home crowd. I can take a lot of confidence from that, I thought I was hitting the ball well, moving well. Coming off a week of doubles, I thought I would be a lot worse off today, but I was okay, and I am looking forward to tomorrow."

He will be joined in the second round by compatriot George Parker who comfortably moved past wildcard Simon Herbert to book a last 16 match-up against Wales' Joel Makin.

In the women's draw, England's Jasmine Hutton will fly the home flag in the last 16 after overcoming compatriot and wildcard Julianne Courtice in four games on the newly built glass court inside the National Squash Centre.

Hutton, who beat Courtice in five games a week ago today at the Annecy Rose Open, made a confident start as she hit her targets and gave her opponent little time on the ball to take a two-game advantage.

World No.55 Courtice recovered to hold six game balls in the third game as Hutton lost her focus, however a display of attacking squash from the latter saw her come back to within two points. Courtice stepped up the court and went on the attack herself to save off the comeback from her opponent and halve the deficit.

Hutton wasn't to be denied though and she kept her composure in a crucial fourth game to record an 11-6, 11-8, 8-11, 11-7 victory in 40 minutes and will face Egypt's Nadine Shahin for a place in the quarter-finals.

"My concentration was really poor, I was dipping in and out and I did it again in the third today, where I was leading and I kept making some silly errors at stupid times, which wasn't good enough. But I'm happy to pull through in the fourth," said Hutton afterwards.

"I'm trying to stay mentally tough when it's getting tight. Some people use techniques where they just take it point by point, I'm trying to do that a bit more."

Top seeds Sarah-Jane Perry and Joelle King make their entrance into the draw on day two after receiving a bye in round one and will face Egypt's Yathreb Adel and Sana Ibrahim, respectively.

Adel earned her place in the next round courtesy of a comfortable 11-6, 11-3, 11-3 win over fellow Egyptian Menna Nasser.

The 26-year-old had beaten Nasser in two of their previous three encounters and she made it two wins on the bounce to set up a second round fixture with No.1 seed Perry.

"I'm very happy to be through, Menna is a very close friend of mine, so it's hard to play a close friend in the first round," said Adel.

"We both have respect from each other and we both wanted to win. When we step on court we just concentrate on our games, and what happens on court, happens on court."

Ibrahim, meanwhile, completed a straightforward 11-3, 12-10, 11-3 victory over Czech Anna Serme in under half an hour to reach the last 16.