2015 World Champion and two-time Allam British Open winner Gregory Gaultier narrowly avoided crashing out of the 2016 staging of the prestigious ‘Wimbledon of Squash’ at the first hurdle, twice coming from behind to defeat Australian World No.12 Cameron Pilley inside Hull’s Airco Arena.
The Australian, who beat Gaultier for only the second time in 14 previous meetings during December’s Hong Kong Open, played with impeccable composure to force the pace on the Frenchman – who was returning to competitive PSA World Tour action for the first time since suffering an ankle injury during January’s Tournament of Champions – and take the opening game 11-8.
Gaultier managed to get back into the game and take the second 11-6 but it was Pilley who again upped his levels to reestablish his advantage on the board after the third.
But, after looking distracted and frustrated during the opening few games, Gaultier appeared to up his concentration levels to assert some dominance in the final two games – much to the frustration of Pilley.
“Obviously I am pleased to win and come through,” said Gaultier.
“I didn’t know what to expect and I did the best I could with the preparation time I had which wasn’t idea. I was in great form in January and it was very hard to start over again after the injury.
“Today wasn’t the best squash but I just did what I could. At 2-1 down I was telling the coaches that I just wanted to go back to France but they found the right words to motivate me and thankfully it worked.
“I’m happy to still be in the tournament and hopefully I can play better in the next round.”
 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt Cameron Pilley (AUS) 3-2: 8-11, 11-6, 7-11, 11-2, 11-7 (76m)