11:29 am
3 Dec 2023

French Favourites Fall As Dussourd & Aboelkheir Flourish In Nantes

14 Sep 2022

The two leading home hopes in the Open de France de Squash fell by the wayside on the second day of action in the PSA World Tour Bronze event in Nantes where Egyptian teenager Fayrouz Aboelkheir and France's Auguste Dussourd advanced against expectations to the quarter-finals.

16-year-old Aboelkheir opened the evening's glass court action, and quietened down the home crowd with a confident performance to overcome French No.1 Melissa Alves, the tournament's No.4 seed.

The pair had never before met on the PSA World Tour, and it was the young Egyptian that started the stronger of the pair, with her pace and power putting Alves off her rhythm slightly. She came through to take first game 11-9, to hold the advantage in the best-of-three contest.

The second game followed a similar pattern - moving on into a tie-break, with Alves saving two match balls early on. The Frenchwoman then had her chances to extend the match but Aboelkheir was able to eventually come through it 15-13, to book her spot in the quarter finals, where she will face close friend Nour Aboulmakarim. The 19-year-old also caused a French upset, defeating sixth seed √Čnora Villard in straight games on the traditional courts at La Maison du Squash.

"I am so happy. The court is a bit bouncy but I like it! All credit to Melissa, she is a top player and no-one can deny that. Being on court with here was a pleasure for me," Aboelkheir said.

"Before the match, I was a bit worried, obviously being so loud and being against the French No.1, it was really tensing and all credit to her. I am happy with the way I played and I am happy to now be playing Nour - we are good mates in Egypt. I am glad to be in the quarters!

"I started playing squash when I was 4 years ago. My mum would go to work and leave me there, I was like any other child, seeing a ball and racket, I wanted to play! It has been my dream to be in such big tournaments, and all credit to my coaches and family, they are the main reason I am here now. It is not about the quantity, but the quality of coaches and the people you have around you."

The biggest surprise in the men's draw came in the afternoon session at the traditional courts, as Auguste Dussourd came through the all-French battle against the country's long-time men's No.1 Gregoire Marche, winning in a deciding game.

The pair had met twice before on Tour, with Marche having won both clashes, including at the PSA World Championships earlier this year. Dussourd started well though, and controlled the opening exchanges to win the first game rather comfortably.

He went away from his gameplan in the second game, allowing Marche to fight back to level the match, but a sharp start from the lower-ranked Frenchman gave him the momentum early on in the third, and he went on to win it without dropping a point, taking down his nation's former No.1, and to move into the quarter finals on home soil.

"I feel great! After a victory, it always feels great. I was playing well tactically. At the start of the match, I was controlling the rallies and the pace, but then in the start of the second, I was 4-2 up and I completely changed," Dussourd admitted.

"I started to attack from the back, to cross a lot in the middle, so many bad errors. I was forcing my shots and he took the lead. At the start of the third, I had to make zero mistakes. If he was going to beat me, then he had to win all 11 points.

"When I don't make mistakes, I am tough to beat and that is what happened, I was consistent, hitting it tight, and I think at 6-0, he started to break a bit. I felt it and I pushed more, going to win it quite comfortably in the end. I am proud of the mental part, and to be consistent feels really good!"

Elsewhere on the second day, the Egyptian duo of Nardine Garas and Salma Eltayeb also caused upsets, with England's Declan James and Mexico's Leonel Cardenas joining them in taking surprise wins to make the last eight.