Qual 2

• Internationaux de France • 22-27 Sep 2008 • Paris •

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23 Sep, Qualifying Finals :                                   Quelle Belle Journée du Squash

Chris Ryder (Eng) bt Joan Lezaud (Fra)                                      11/4, 11/6, 11/6 (43m)
                                        plays Willstrop
Tom Richards (Eng) bt Julien Balbo (Fra)                  9/11, 6/11, 11/2, 11/6, 11/7 (74m)
                                        plays Anjema
Saurav Ghosal (Ind) bt Mathieu Castagnet (Fra)                         11/3, 11/7, 11/7 (50m)
                                        plays Lincou
Aaron Frankcomb (Aus) bt Mark Krajcsak (Hun)  13/11, 11/2, 8/11, 10/12, 11/8 (125m)

                                      
 plays Gaultier

French trio foiled at Charlety

It was a disappointing second day of action for the hosts at the PUC Club in Stade Charlety as all three French hopefuls fell at the final qualifying hurdle, but there was no shortage of drama.

Joan Lezaud could find no answers to the steady play of Chris Ryder, and Julien Balbo saw a two-game lead disappear against another Englishman, Tom Richards. Mathieu Castagnet suffered the same fate as Lezaud, coming up against an opponent in Saurav Ghosal who had all the answers.

The final match was - as ever - the longest at over two hours, and provided the highest drama. After taking a close first game Aaron Frankcomb took control in the second and a quick win looked assured. But Mark Krajcsak wasn't done, and came within an ace of completing a tremendous comeback against a tiring Australian.
 


LJ Anjema

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Press Cuts
QUELLE BELLE JOURNÉE
DE SQUASH…

Une fois de plus, je sais que je me répète, mais que j’aime les qualifications… Les joueurs se battent «plus fort», comme dit la pub. Les joueurs ont faim de reconnaissance, et se battent avec une énergie décuplée. De plus, ce sont eux qui ont besoin du spotlight de la presse. Les Shabana, Greg, Willstrop, n’ont pas besoin de mes petits articles. Mais connaissez-vous les noms de Mark Krajcsak, Aaron Frankcomb ou Chris Ryder ? Probablement pas…

Et aujourd’hui encore, nous avons été gâtés. D’abord un excellent match de l’Anglais Ryder, un joueur n’ayant commencé sérieusement le squash qu’à 15 ans, puis après un petit tour en pro, a arrêté trois ans pour ses études, pour revenir il y a trois ans sur le circuit. A 28 ans, il est maintenant top 40, et a bien l’intention de monter un peu plus haut.

Et il a bien commencé la saison, en battant hier Yann Perrin en 4, et aujourd’hui Joan Lezaud en 3, contre un français qui n’a jamais rien fait de mal, mais qui a manqué un peu de jus et de clairvoyance contre un joueur à la régularité d’un métronome…

Ensuite, c’était le tour de Julien Balbo contre Tom Richards, un joueur exactement du même style de jeu que lui, stylé, aimant le jeu d’attaque, les lobs, et les belles parallèles bien collées.

Hélas, alors qu’on pouvait penser que Julien s’acheminait sûrement vers une victoire en 3 jeux, le français s’est fait mal au dos au début du troisième. Et même s’il a continué, il était clair qu’il était diminué, surtout sur le plan mental, pensant constamment à la blessure… Un excellent match sur la fin de l’Anglais, un joueur dont j’apprécie tout particulièrement le jeu et l’esprit parfait. Il nous brise le cœur en nous sortant Julien en 5, mais bon… Loi du sport, bla bla bla…

Pour Mathieu, un match où il n’a rien à se reprocher, un match où il a tout donné, encore une fois, où il a couru, dominé, couru, dominé, mais où son adversaire, le jeune Indien Saurav Ghosal, vainqueur du PSA de Bordeaux la semaine dernière, a été tout bonnement splendide… Pour ceux qui connaisse la condition physique et la détermination de Mathieu, ils savent que le petit ne s’est jamais rendu à « l’ennemi », et s’est battu jusqu’à mourir sur place… Belle couleur cramoisie qu’il avait, le Mathieu, à la fin du match…

Le dernier match, qui nous a tenu en haleine jusqu’à presque 22h, aura vu la victoire d'Aaron en 125 minutes. Un match où l’Australien menait 2/0, mais se fait remonter par le Hongrois Mark Krajcsak, soutenu par un public français séduit par la détermination de ce joueur à ne pas mourir…

A 2/2, tout était à refaire pour Aaron, mais l’Australien finira par s’imposer, 11/8 au 5ème, à son plus grand soulagement...

"J’étais peut-être moins bien en jambes que hier, et un peu moins solide aussi mentalement, mais le problème n’est pas venu de moi, mais de lui ! J’ai essayé de trouver des solutions, j’ai essayé de jouer lentement, vite, mais il contrôlait tout, et franchement, je n’ai jamais vu le T….

J’ai bien vu au premier jeu, il t’endors avec son jeu de métronome, et bam, il passe en frappes courtes.. Et si hier, j’avais réussi à trouver des faiblesses au jeu de Jan, là, aujourd’hui, je n’ai rien trouvé…"

Au début du 3ème, j’ai pris un appui, et j’ai senti le dos claquer. Immédiatement, j’ai senti comme si j’avais une barre dans le dos, et à partir de là, j’ai eu peur de volleyer, j’ai eu peur d’avancer, et j’ai perdu mon jeu….

J’aurais dû abandonner, en fait, mais je pensais que peut-être, j’arriverais à jouer… Mais lui a commencé à très bien jouer, il n’a rien lâché…

Je suis complètement écoeuré, parce que j’avais le jeu bien en main, même si c’était dur… Complètement écoeuré…

Rien à dire, il était beaucoup trop fort pour moi aujourd’hui. En plus, je pense qu’il est en confiance après sa victoire à Bordeaux…

Je n’ai pas mal joué, j’étais précis à l’avant, mais il était encore plus précis que moi, et il a sorti le match parfait, faisant peu ou pas d’erreur…

Ce qui fait mal, c’est le nombre d’échanges que je dominais mais que je finis par perdre, et aussi le nombre d’échanges que je contrôle, mais où je finis par craquer physiquement, parce qu’il ramène tout, tout, tout…

Je pense qu’on a le même style de jeu, sauf qu’il est plus rapide, et plus précis…

Trop bon… Sur ce match, juste trop bon…

Chris Ryder (Eng) bt Joan Lezaud (Fra)   
             11/4, 11/6, 11/6 (43m)

PATIENT CHRIS..
Framboise reports

Yesterday, Joan Lezaud surprised everybody by beating Jan Koukal in an excellent performance. And he left probably a few gallons of energy there. Today, he was facing a completely different player, one who doesn’t give you ANYTHING, who can rally up and down the wall for hours on end, who is tall enough to volley and take the ball early, whose fitness is faultless, and who doesn’t make many unforced errors…

Not an easy task.

Joan tried all the shots and variations he could think of, never got discouraged, even though he seemed to make a few tactical errors too many, giving his opponent too much time on the ball.



But Chris was, as Joan mentioned, like a metronome, but one with a BIIIIG brain, who hardly got a shot wrong today and just frustrated his opponent…

"Yesterday, I went for pretty much everything and made a lot of errors, and I’ve learned from that. So today, I was much more patient and clinical, and I was happy with that.

"Joan is clean and tidy, and I can see how he gets good wins. But I think that today, he was probably a bit tired from his match yesterday.

"I didn’t play squash really until I was 15 years old. Then, I went on the PSA for 3 years, had a sort of fatigue trouble, plus my two years in Uni, and that meant 3 years away. Now, I feel rested, I’ve been back for 3 years now, it will be my fourth season.

"When I left Uni, my goal was to reach top 50, now I’m top 40, and I think there’s more to come, hopefully. I feel much stronger physically now, I’ve worked a lot on that, and I think it’s very important especially when you get on the glass court."

"Maybe I was a bit less fresh than yesterday both physically and mentally, but the problem didn’t come from me, but from him! I was trying all I could to find solutions, speeding up, slowing down, but he was completely in control, and to be honest, I never saw much of the T.

"It started from the first game, he puts you to sleep with his metronome rhythm, and baam, he finds a few close to the tin shots…

"If yesterday, I was able to find a few weaknesses in Jan’s game, today, I didn’t find any…"

Tom Richards (Eng) bt Julien Balbo (Fra)
                 9/11, 6/11, 11/2, 11/6, 11/7 (74m)

BATTLE OF NERVES…
Framboise reports

What started like a remake of the famous song, “anything you can do I can do better”, with those two fighters volleying, hitting tight drives, taking the ball early, imposing a fast pace from the first rally, and offering us a splendid show, ended up as a “battle of the wills”, with a Balbo struggling with a back injury contracted at the start of the third, that crippled his mind maybe more than anything else, and a Tom digging in to climb point by point the 2/0 down mountain…

The match was of an excellent quality, and even if Julien was in pain, he was still defending his chances with all he had, and attacked at will. Tom was now in a zone, retrieving beautiful attacks and getting more and more confident as the match went on.

The crowd supported their man, but was fair enough to clap warmly and numerous time to the stunning rallies and excellent shots that the young Englishman delivered today. We’ll never know what would have been the outcome without the injury, though. Maybe next time?



"In the first game, although I lost 11/9, I felt in control, I felt that I was playing better, just a few silly errors at the end, and I still believed I was going to win 3/1.

"In the second, I came back ready to win the game, but took a bad start, and decided to get my short game in check and good. And I just knew, it’s hard to explain it, I just knew that we were going to five.

"At 2/0 down, I didn’t have any doubts in my mind, I was ready to win the next three games.

"So I came off court, and changed everything, my headband, my wristbands, shirt, racquet, etc. And I just thought of the way Peter Barker – with whom I play a lot – would play, how disciplined he is. I know that when I play against him, I always play well, so I just went back to discipline…

"I don’t feel particularly tired physically right now, it’s more mentally, there was a lot of emotion out there, even if I didn’t show it…"



"At the start of the third, as I was going to take an impulsion on the floor, I felt my back clicking, and like an immediate tension at the bottom of the spine. From that moment on, I was afraid to volley, I was afraid to go forward, and I just lost my game….

"I should have stopped, but I thought I could get away with it, but he started playing very well, and didn’t let go of anything…

"I’m disgusted, I was controlling the game I thought, although it was a tough match… Utterly disgusted…"

Saurav Ghosal (Ind) bt Mathieu Castagnet (Fra)   
                     11/3, 11/7, 11/7 (50m)

GRANDIOSE, LE SAURAV…

The contrast between the match Balbo/Richards and this Ghosal/Castagnet was quite staggering. If the first one was all about style, and lob, and “classical orchestra” feel, this one was more “Hard Rock & Roll”!!!

Neither Saurav and Mathieu’s technique are of that typical English school, they both have some funny moves with their racquets, but the heart, the will, the determination, are all in the right place.



Some of the third game rallies made me think of the famous James Willstrop/John White matches, with James playing cat and mouse with an exhausted but still running Whitey… Saurav was playing, attacking, and Mathieu was running, visiting the court 1000 per rally, and giving it every drop of energy he had.

”I’m playing well, I’m very precise, he is just more precise than I am”, he said to his coach between games. And that was a perfect summary of the encounter. The Frenchman didn’t do anything wrong, Saurav just did everything a bit better…

"I really wanted to play on the glass court. Are all the first round match played in the glass court? Yes? Great! I’m on there for sure!!!!

"Yesterday I really felt tired, and like I didn’t want to play. Today, I knew that to be beat Mathieu, and especially here, in front of his home crowd, I was going to have to be at my best. So I came on court trying to play the best I could.

"I know what it is, when you play in your own country, it’s like when I play in India, if the other one gives me anything, we just go for it. So I didn’t want to give him anything at all. And luckily, I was able to do so.

"I’m still based in Leeds, I train in Pontefract, but I finished my Uni now, and I’m now a “Professional Squash Player”…

"I don’t know what makes me run and run. I just see the ball, I know it’s going there, so that’s where I go, I just try and make him play just one more shot. Because I know that when I play somebody like that, who picks up everything, I’m always thinking, “if I don’t get a roller, I’ll never finish the point”…

"I try and give 100% at every rally, and I’ve worked enough now physically to keep that up for five games…"

"Nothing to say, he was just far too good for me today. And I think he is running on the confidence from his win in Bordeaux last week.

"I didn’t play too bad, I was accurate enough at the front, but he was even more accurate than I was, and he played the perfect match, with hardly any errors.

"What is painful really, is the number of rallies that I was dominating, but that I ended up losing, or where I cracked physically because he just picks up everything, and I mean EVERYTHING…

"I think we’ve got the same type of game, apart from the fact that he is quicker at it, and more precise…

"Too good, on the day, just too good."



Aaron Frankcomb (Aus) bt Mark Krajcsak (Hun)
  13/11, 11/2, 8/11, 10/12, 11/8 (125m)

Aaron holds off
Hungarian comeback

Steve Cubbins reports

And to finish ... a marathon and a half!

When Aaron Frankcomb cruised through the second game to take a 2/0 lead it looked all over, but Mark Krajcsak had other ideas, and the Hungarian came within a whisker of completing a remarkable comeback.

In the event this match consisted of four games where you couldn't split the players and one which was taken easily. In the end that second, where Mark was below par and Aaron played exceptionally well, proved to be the difference.

Once Mark had found his feet again, he pulled one, then two games back. The rallies were long, the lets many, and the fourth was particularly fractious, with both players annoyed with each other and the refs.

It settled down in the fifth though, both needing all their energy. Mark looked the stronger and quicker at the start, but somehow Aaron hung in, and from 8-all squeezed out the final three points - Mark lunged into the back corner, appealed hopefully for a let, but Aaron was already celebrating before the inevitable "no let" decision came.

So, after over two hours it's the Australian who goes on to play top seed Gregory Gaultier - thankfully for him in the last match of tomorrow's first round.

"I took the second too easily - I played really well and he was a bit off, but I was getting on top of the ball early and felt really good. After that game Neil [Guirey] told me he would come out hard in the next, and not to be overconfident … and that's exactly what happened.

"The fourth was tight, I thought I was a bit unlucky to lose that one, but tiredness got on top of me and I wasn't able to keep to a game plan. Even though I felt tired in the fifth I just told myself to give it all I had left, and after hanging in for a few points something just clicked."

"I sometimes let the referee and the decisions get to me, and I react too much, but I'm happy, I'm just happy to qualify …"



"It was disappointing to lose the first and I lost concentration in the second, I was making too many mistakes. But I've put a lot of work in over the summer and I wanted to show that I could come back from two down against a good player.

"It was going well until 8-all in the fifth, when I felt I got a bad decision, and I couldn't keep my game together for the last couple of points."

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