Sep, Qualifying Finals :
Quelle Belle Journée du
Chris Ryder (Eng) bt Joan Lezaud
11/4, 11/6, 11/6 (43m)
Tom Richards (Eng) bt Julien
9/11, 6/11, 11/2, 11/6, 11/7 (74m)
Saurav Ghosal (Ind) bt Mathieu
11/3, 11/7, 11/7 (50m)
Aaron Frankcomb (Aus) bt Mark Krajcsak (Hun) 13/11,
11/2, 8/11, 10/12, 11/8 (125m)
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
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
QUELLE BELLE JOURNÉE
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
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…
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
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
11/6, 11/6 (43m)
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…
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
"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
"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
"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
9/11, 6/11, 11/2, 11/6, 11/7 (74m)
BATTLE OF NERVES…
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…
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
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.
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
"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
"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
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…
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
"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
"I try and give 100% at every rally, and I’ve worked enough now
physically to keep that up for five games…"
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
"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."
(Aus) bt Mark Krajcsak (Hun)
13/11, 11/2, 8/11, 10/12, 11/8 (125m)
Aaron holds off
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
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."