11:36 pm
19 Jun 2024

Crouin Advances To ToC Quarters At Asal's Expense

22 Jan 2023

Frenchman Victor Crouin reached the quarter-finals of the JP Morgan Tournament of Champions at Grand Central Terminal in New York for the second year in a row after world No.1 Mostafa Asal was forced to retire from their third round clash in the PSA World Tour Platinum event due to illness.

Asal had won their previous four encounters, but after Crouin took the opening game of their last 16 match, the 21-year-old Egyptian called to extend the game break to three minutes, but was unable to continue further due to dizziness and other symptoms - thus handing the match to Crouin.

The 23-year-old Harvard graduate's quarter-final opponent will be world No.6 Marwan ElShorbagy after the Egyptian stopped the surging Nicolas Mueller in his tracks with a skilful straight games win.

"Yeah, very happy to win in three," ElShorbagy said. "I lost to Nicky three times in the last 12 months, so I know how dangerous he could be, especially in that court. He loves this court, I remember when he beat [Karim Abdel] Gawad, when he was world No.1 on this court.

"And he played very well against Joel Makin a couple of days ago. So, yeah, it's always tough against Nicky, so skilful. You have to be very sharp. We all love coming back here and then playing at the Grand Central Terminal, one of the best venues on the PSA World Tour."

There was a major upset in the women's event when 21-year-old Jana Shiha recorded the first top ten upset of her career in her Grand Central debut, removing England's eighth seed Sarah-Jane Perry.

Shiha, who finished her studies just last month in Egypt and entered the her first ToC ranked 44 in the world, earned her debut in Grand Central with two upsets on Wednesday and Thursday against world No.39 Zeina Mickawy and world No.32 Joshna Chinappa. Shiha's first encounter against Perry was a five-game loss at the Hong Kong Open just last month where the English veteran came back from 2/0 down to win.

Shiha nearly experienced a similar comeback loss after winning tie breaks in the first two games 14-12, 14-12 before Perry stormed back 11-8, 11-6 in the third and fourth games. Shiha clinched the match 11-9 after sixty-two minutes despite Perry saving numerous match balls.

"I had no idea this was going to happen," Shiha said. "I had a tournament last week and a really bad loss first round. But then I was like, 'Honestly, I'm just going to go for it. Do whatever I do, play my best.' I had two matches on a traditional court, never played ToC, never had the opportunity on the glass court. I have nothing to lose. But yeah, great run until now.

"Played SJ last month in Hong Kong lost in five too, I was 2/1 up, so I kind of knew what I was going to do, but also a little bit different because that was on the traditional court again. "That was my goal [to reach Grand Central], honestly," Shiha said. "I was like, I had a first round, always tough with the Egyptian, my friend Zeina, and then I played Joshna, two tricky matches, but I was like, again, just you have nothing to lose."

Shiha will make her debut in a Platinum quarter-final against fourth seed Joelle King, who recovered well from a difficult five-game opening match to defeat world No.9 Nele Gilis in a decisive three games. The other top half women's quarterfinal will be contested between world No.1 Nouran Gohar and world No.6 Nour El Tayeb who both won in three games against Mariam Metwally and Sabrina Sobhy, respectively.

The other top half men's quarterfinal will feature 37-year-old Colombian Miguel Rodriguez and world No.9 Mazen Hesham.

With the current world's top three men-Ali Farag, Mohamed ElShorbagy and Mostafa Asal-all out of title contention, world No.4 "Superman" Paul Coll now takes the pressure on his shoulders knowing that a ToC title would send the Kiwi back to the world No. 1 position. Coll will be in action Sunday evening against France's Sebastien Bonmalais.