France’s Mathieu Castagnet continued his superb run at the 2019 Citigold Wealth Management Canary Wharf Classic as he followed up a second round scalp of No.2 seed Simon Rösner with a 2-1 win over No.7 seed Fares Dessouky at London’s spectacular East Wintergarden to reach the last four.
Castagnet, the 2016 Canary Wharf Classic champion, fell a game behind to 2017 runner-up Dessouky, who attacked at every opportunity. Castagnet was able to squeeze some errors from the Egyptian in the second game though as he pulled away to level for the loss of seven points.
Dessouky marched into a 4-1 lead in the third, but Castagnet’s indomitable fighting spirit came to the fore as he hung in the rallies and played the big points well. The 32-year-old closed out the win by an 5-11, 11-7, 11-7 scoreline to claim his first ever win against Dessouky after three previous defeats.
“I have no words to express my emotions,” said Castagnet.
“It is like [yesterday against] Simon Rösner, I had never beaten Fares, this is the first time I have beaten him. This is the right time to beat him, to reach the semi-finals of the Canary Wharf Classic again. I would like to thank all the French guys and all the people who supported me. Also, my wife is watching me with my little cat, so I say hi to both as well.
“I am pretty happy, I am trying to get back to a better shape and today and yesterday, I proved that I am able to get back into the world’s top 20, so I did my best for that.”
Castagnet is the only unseeded player to reach the semi-finals and he will line up against No.4 seed Paul Coll in the next round as they do battle for a place in the title decider.
Coll, the Kiwi World No.7, defeated Welshman Joel Makin to earn his place in the semi-finals of this tournament for the second time. Coll got the better of Makin in a brutal 106-minute encounter in the semi-finals of the Commonwealth Games back in April and their encounter at East Wintergarden was similarly attritional.
This time, the match was held under a best-of-three games format – which is being trialled at this tournament for a second successive year – and Coll recorded an 11-9, 12-10 triumph in 47 minutes to book his semis berth.
“I knew it was going to be so tough to win a point,” said Coll.
“Credit to him, he is a fighter, and he is a quality player already. He is only going to get better. [It was] very fair, and I enjoyed the match, as tough as it was. I was a bit off the pace, but I knew what I had to do. I just had to stay calm and I started attacking a lot more down my backhand where I was feeling comfortable, and it paid off.”
The other semi-final will see defending champion Mohamed ElShorbagy take on the man he beat in last year’s final, Tarek Momen, after they claimed respective wins over England’s Declan James and Australia’s Ryan Cuskelly.
James had got the better of ElShorbagy’s younger brother, Marwan, in the previous round, but found the older sibling a step too far as the man from Egypt completed an 11-9, 11-2 triumph to move into the last four.
Declan is one of my good mates on tour, we trained together this summer. He came to Bristol and we trained a few times. I don’t think I am going to train with him anymore,” ElShorbagy joked after the match.
“He beat my brother and I think Marwan is going to blame me for that. He has been playing really well and I am really happy for him. Tarek got out of jail a little bit today. Ryan was playing so well, but Tarek has been playing an amazing season. He beat me last week and I really forward to having another great match with him.”
Momen ended a nine-match losing streak to ElShorbagy when he ended his fellow Egyptian’s World Championship title defence in Chicago at the semi-final stage two weeks ago, and he will look to back up that win after defeating Australia’s Ryan Cuskelly 8-11, 13-11, 11-5.
“Eventually, what got me through today was my sheer desire to win and I am very happy to get through,” Momen said.
“I had a rest day yesterday, which I really made use of. It was very important. The best of three is helping in that regard, so I am happy to go only three games today, and hopefully I will get some good recovery for tomorrow.”
The semi-finals of the Citigold Canary Wharf Classic will take place on Thursday March 14 and play will revert back to the best of five format used at all other ranking PSA Tour events.
Play starts at 18:30 local time (GMT) and action will be broadcast live on SQUASHTV (rest of world), Eurosport Player (Europe only), and mainstream broadcasters such as BT Sport, Fox Sports Australia, Astro and more.
Results – Quarter-Finals: 2019 Citigold Wealth Management Canary Wharf Classic
 Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) bt Declan James (ENG) 2-0: 11-9, 11-2 (28m)
 Tarek Momen (EGY) bt  Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) 2-1: 8-11, 13-11, 11-5 (51m)
 Paul Coll (NZL) bt Joel Makin (WAL) 2-0: 11-9, 12-10 (47m)
Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) bt  Fares Dessouky (EGY) 2-1: 5-11, 11-7, 11-7 (49m)
Draw – Semi-Finals: To Be Played March 14th
 Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) v  Tarek Momen (EGY)
 Paul Coll (NZL) v Mathieu Castagnet (FRA)