Day ONE : Wildcard Willstrop one of three upsets

Wildcard Willstrop one of three opening day upsets

The 20th edition of the Canary Wharf Classic kicked off with the now traditional “Super Sunday”, with eight best-of-three first round matches on the Glass Court at the spectacular East Wintergarden venue.

All today’s matches finished two-nil, with Baptiste Masotti, wildcard James Willstrop and Eain Yow Ng upsetting the seedings to take their places in Round Two, which features the world’s top eight players as the seeds.

Read on for quick summary and quotes from today’s matches …

GillenMarkets Canary Wharf Classic 2023 :Day ONE, Round ONE

[9/16] Victor Crouin (Fra) 2-0 Sebastien Bonmalais (Fra)   11-2, 11-6 (26m)
Baptiste Masotti (Fra) 2-0  [9/16] Youssef Soliman (Egy)  12-10, 11-9 (36m)

[9/16] Patrick Rooney (Eng) 2-0 Greg Lobban (Sco)  11-6, 11-3 (23m)
[9/16] Joel Makin (Wal) 2-0 Auguste Dussourd (Fra)   11-3, 11-8 (34m)

[9/16] Karim Abdel Gawad (Egy) 2-0 Dimitri Steinmann (Sui)  11-7, 11-8 (24m)
[wc] James Willstrop (Eng) 2-0 [9/16] Gregoire Marche (Fra)  11-1, 3-0 rtd (7m)

[9/16] Nicolas Mueller (Sui) 2-0 Raphael Kandra (Ger)  11-7, 11-3 (20m)
Eain Yow Ng (Mas) 2-0 [9/16] Youssef Ibrahim (Egy)  11-7, 12-10 (31m)


Eain Yow Ng (Mas) 2-0 [9/16] Youssef Ibrahim (Egy)  11-7, 12-10 (31m)

Ng ends Round One with third upset

Malaysia’s Eain Yow Ng concluded Round One with a straight-games win over Egypt’s Youssef Ibrahim, the third seeding upset of the round, although he needed to take the last three points of the match to prevent Ibrahim taking it the distance.

Ng now meets 2021 Champion Ali Farag on Tuesday for a place in the quarters.

“I know Youssef has been out injured for a while, but I didn’t really think of that. Over the last few events he’s put in some good performances, he’s  unreal with his racket skills, one of the best, if not the best,” Ng explained.

“I knew that I had to be running a lot today. I think I did that well, covered the space as well, defended it well in there, basically executed my game plan.”

[9/16] Nicolas Mueller (Sui) 2-0 Raphael Kandra (Ger)  11-7, 11-3 (20m)

Mueller wins all-European clash

The penultimate match of the opening day saw Switzerland’s Nicolas Mueller beat Raphael Kandra of Germany, maintining the run of two-nil victories as he took a close opening game before dominating the second.

“We know each other’s game very well, we’ve played many times and we train together at Paderborn.  I enjoyed my time out there tonight though, I could see he wasn’t in it,” Mueller said.

“I do like playing in front of big crowds. It gives me an extra boost. And obviously the crowd here is very knowledgeable. They know what they’re talking about and it gets quite rowdy as well, after a few beers, it gets quite loud!

“I like that and hopefully it’s going to be very rowdy when I play my next match. Mazen’s improved a lot in the last couple of years. We always have close games but I’m looking forward to hopefully getting the win this time.”

[wc] James Willstrop (Eng) 2-0 [9/16] Gregoire Marche (Fra)  11-1, 3-0 rtd (7m)

Wildcard Willstrop through to ElShorbagy clash

James Willstrop, awarded the wildcard sport in this, his 19th CW Classic, eased into round two with his opponent Greg March unable to compete after being ill since yesterday, retiring early in the second game.

Willstrop now goes through to a meeting with Mohamed ElShorbagy.

“I just spoke to Greg and he’s obviously had a problem for a few weeks and issues in Cairo, it just shows doesn’t it,” said Willstrop.

“It’s awful, isn’t it? Come to a tournament like this, which is a priority and a great event and you want to be able to perform in front of a crowd. I just feel sorry for him, it’s clearly not a good way to to play a match and win it.

“I’m just grateful at this point in my career to be able to soak stuff like this up. And I think I’m in a position where I have the perspective that I do that now. So it gives me more energy to just enjoy the spectacle.”

[9/16] Karim Abdel Gawad (Egy) 2-0 Dimitri Steinmann (Sui)  11-7, 11-8 (24m)

Gawad comeback continues

Karim Abdel Gawad continued his comeback after a long-term layoff with a confident two game win over Switzerland’ Dimitri Steinmann.

“Of course, really happy to be back here in Canary Wharf and back competing. I really enjoy Canary Wharf, every time I didn’t win any matches here before but I still enjoy it,” Gawad said.

“The venue, everything is really nice here so I enjoy my time here in the Canary Wharf every time.

“I feel good. I feel I’m moving really well on court and I trained well in the last couple of months after a long break, and I feel very confident now. My body is really  taking care of itself and I’m taking it step by step.”

[9/16] Joel Makin (Wal) 2-0 Auguste Dussourd (Fra)   11-3, 11-8 (34m)

Makin sets up Elias clash

Joel Makin, back in action after his mammoth exploits in the Black Ball Open, came through in two games against Auguste Dussourd, denying a French hat-trick and setting up a second round clash with #1 seeking Peruvian Diego Elias.

“I set my stall out well, got the straight lines and felt like I got the ball gripping on the side wall, especially on the backhand. And that just gave me chances for good, straight drops, so when I was doing that all through the match, I was getting on top,” Makin said.

“He started banging a few in, a couple of kills, taking the space around the middle and then sort of disrupted it a little bit. But I just had to get back to that kind of straight lines, neutralize him down the backhand and opened up a little bit after that.

“When you win like that and you can get off in about half an hour, it definitely helps your legs because it  means there’s not that buildup of fatigue. I feel good actually, I had a couple of good days off, slept well, and  as long as you get in a bit of good recovery you can feel alright in a few days.”

[9/16] Patrick Rooney (Eng) 2-0 Greg Lobban (Sco)  11-6, 11-3 (23m)

Rooney through in Two

The thid match of the day saw the first English winner as Patrick Rooney got the better of Scotland’s Greg Lobban, setting up a Round Two clash with Tarek Momen.

“Feeling good, feeling confident. It was a bit of a shaky start in the first game. The ball was flying around and Greg was playing at a good pace, but I managed to keep some level of accuracy and was moving quite well to get a lot of the balls back he was throwing at me,” Rooney said.

“I think similar to today, I’ll take what I’ve just done to tomorrow against Tarek, playing with good pace, trying to be accurate. He’s a very attacking player, he’ll throw me into the front a lot, so I’ve just got to find a way to defend that well, keep it tight, not give him any options.

“Playing in England suits me a lot, there’s a lot of benefits to playing at home. It’s hard to compete maybe two or three days after traveling. So playing at home like you feel fresh all the time and having the home crowd cheering for you.”

Baptiste Masotti (Fra) 2-0  [9/16] Youssef Soliman (Egy)  12-10, 11-9 (36m)

Masotti doubles up for the French

Baptiste Masotti provided a second French winner and a first seeding upset as he got the better of Youssef Soliman in two close games, avenging his defeat at the Egyptian’s hands in last week’s Black Ball Open.

“I worked with some guys, like with Yann Menegaux, Mathieu Benoit, sometimes to work on my mental side of my game,” Masotti explained.

“I think that’s one of my biggest weakness on the court. But you know at the end you can work with a lot of guys, but in the end it’s you and you versus you every time.

“So iI just need to find some  way to be be consistent in my game. That’s the point, you know.”

[9/16] Victor Crouin (Fra) 2-0 Sebastien Bonmalais (Fra)   11-2, 11-6 (26m)

Crouin wins all-French opener

The opening match of the 2023 GillenMarkets Canary Wahrf Classic was an all-French affair, with Victor Crouin easing past compatriot Sebastien Bonmalais to set up a Round Two meeting with top seed Mostafa Asal. Last year Crouin followed up his opening day win by beating top seed and defending champion Paul Coll !

“I think it’s even more special when you’re the first on court, because you know that the crowd is also getting very excited throughout the tournament, but during that first day and especially that first match, I think they’re getting into it,” Crouin said.

“t was extra special because I was playing Sebastien as well. My dad kept telling me before the match that he’s just another player. Forget about the friendship and all the things behind it.

“It’s definitely tough to be on court with one of my best friends. But as I say, it’s also a privilege to be together in one of the best venues in in the world. So I try to be grateful for this and it went my way pretty comfortably today so I’m happy.”