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Butt Beats El Shorbagy; Marche Marches Into Grand Central

“This is a dream come true,” said 22-year-old Gregoire Marche after qualifying for his very first J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions in a grueling 99 minute match at the Princeton Club against Hong Kong’s Max Lee.

“Since I was 10, I have watched the great players, like Gregory Gaultier, win this tournament.” After winning the first game, Marche quickly dropped the next two, but revived in the fourth. The fifth was nip and tuck all the way as the lead changed hands on almost every single point until the Frenchman closed out the match at 12-10. He will next play Finland’s Ollie Tuominen.

The match that followed was only 8 minutes shorter and equally intense as Australian Ryan Cuskelly defeated Egypt’s Mohd Ali Anwar Reda 11-3 in the fifth. The play was fast, furious and physical. Cuskelly will next face Reda’s countryman Karim Darwish.
Yasir Ali Butt will make his first appearance on the glass court in Grand Central against Germany’s Simon Rosner after displaying great tenacity in his five game win over Marwan El Shorbagy of Egypt.  Down two games to love, the Pakistani was persistent in his ball retrieval. A few key mistakes in each of the last three games from El Shorbagy turned the match around, with Butt winning the deciding games 11-8,11-8,11-9 to secure his place in the main draw.
Local hopes were dashed when American Julian Ilingworth succumbed in three games to Canada’s Shawn Delierre who has drawn Tarek Momen of Egypt in the first round.

New Zealand’s Campbell Grayson was decisive and strategic as he executed precise winners, especially on his drop shots, to defeat England’s Joe Lee in straight games. Lee will still make it to the glass court as a lucky loser to take the place of injured Alister Walker against defending champion Nick Matthew. Grayson plays Malaysia’s Ong Beng Hee. Chris Simpson took a decisive two game lead against Abdullah Al Muzayen. But just as he had in his five- game victory the previous night, the young Kuwaiti came alive in the fourth and with several winning shots kept his hopes of a Grand Central appearance alive. The Englishman had other ideas, however, and reasserted himself to win the fourth game, 11-3, with relative ease. His next opponent is two time ToC champion Amr Shabana.

At one all, Adrian Waller was down 4-10 in the third against Mohd Nafiizwan Adnan of Malaysia.  After coming back to win 13-11, Waller attacked relentlessly in the fourth to take his place in the main draw against world #1 Ramy Ashour. It has been seven years since veteran Shahier Razik, 35, had to qualify for the Tournament of Champions. He needed four games and 85 minutes to fend off 26-year-old Mathieu Castagnet. “My heart keeps me going. I love to play,” explained a tired but happy Razik after the match. “And tonight, what kept me going was that I wanted to play in Grand Central again.”  When he gets there on Saturday, his opponent will be India’s Saurav Ghosal.

RESULTS: PSA World Series J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions, New York, USA
Qualifying finals:

Campbell Grayson (NZL) bt. Joe Lee (ENG) 14-12,11-7,11-6   62 mins
Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) def. Mohd Ali Anwar Reda (EGY) 6-11,11-8,13-11,7-11,11-3 91 mins  
Gregoire Marche (FRA) bt. Max Lee (HKG) 11-2, 6-11,2-11,11-6,12-10  99 mins
Adrian Waller (ENG) bt  Mohd Nafiizwan Adnan (MAS) 11-7,6-11,13-11,11-8 63 mins
Shawn Delierre (CAN) bt Julian Illingworth (USA) 11-6,11-6,11-7 70mins
Chris Simpson (ENG) bt. Abdullah Al Muzayen (KUW) 11-4,11-3, 8-11, 11-3 38 mins
Shahier Razik (CAN) bt. Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) 5-11, 11-4,11-4, 11-9  85 mins  
Yasir Ali Butt (PAK) bt. Marwan El Shorbagy (EGY) 6-11,6-11,11-8,11-8,11-9 66 mins