Following a two-month injury enforced absence, 2017 tournament winner Gregory Gaultier marked his return to competitive action on the PSA World Tour with a straight-games defeat of local hero Nicolas Müller in the first round of the 2018 Grasshopper Cup in Zurich.
The 35-year-old former World No.1 was halted by an adductor injury suffered during January’s Tournament of Champions but put those troubles behind him as he out-classed Müller, the World No.18, to prevail 11-7, 12-10, 11-8 in the PSA M100 tournament and set up a quarter-final clash with Egyptian Mohamed Abouleghar,
“Everybody knows I’ve been injured and had a tough year,” said Gaultier.
“I missed the game so much but luckily the doctor gave me the green light a few weeks ago but to come back at my age takes longer and a lot of work.
“So I was trying to be smart on the court today. There’s a balance between wanting to play but also on the other hand trying to make sure you don’t aggravate any injuries, but I’m just very happy to be back on court and back here in Zurich.
‘I’ve had great memories here over the past few years and hope that can continue this week.”
Gaultier is joined in the last eight by long-term rival Ramy Ashour, the maverick three-time World Champion who has been plagued by injury throughout the past three years.
The Egyptian looked to have resurrected elements of his former self as he moved effortlessly around the court against German Raphael Kandra, striking winners with ease to triumph 11-6, 14-12, 11-5 to set up a meeting with Simon Rösner – the hard-hitting German number one who earned his quarter-final berth with a hard-fought 3-1 win over Daryl Selby, his fourth straight win over the Englishman in 2018.
“I gave away too many points early on with errors and that allowed him to get off to a good start,” said Rösner.
“But I felt like I got into my rhythm in the second game and I’m happy with how I managed to change my approach and turn the game around. To come through with the win against a player of Daryl’s quality is very encouraging.”
Result – First Round (Top Half): 2018 Grasshopper Cup
 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt [WC] Nicolas Mueller (SUI)
 Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY) bt [Q] Mazen Hesham (EGY) 3-1: 15-13, 7-11, 11-8, 11-9 (57m)
 Ramy Ashour (EGY) bt [Q] Raphael Kandra (GER) 3-0: 11-6, 14-12, 11-5 (38m)
 Simon Rösner (GER) bt Daryl Selby (ENG) 3-1: 9-11, 11-6, 11-6, 11-9 (69m)
Draw – First Round (Bottom Half)
 Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) v [Q] Greg Lobban (SCO)
James Willstrop (ENG) v  Saurav Ghosal (IND)
 Tarek Momen (EGY) v Borja Golan (ESP)
[Q] Omar Mosaad (EGY) v  Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY)