Swiss No.1 Nicolas Mueller is expecting ‘goosebumps’ when he lines up in front of a partizan home crowd at Halle 622 for the 2019 Grasshopper Cup, PSA World Tour Gold tournament, which takes place between March 26-31 in Zurich.
Mueller, 29, resides in Zurich and has appeared at every edition of the Grasshopper Cup since 2012. The World No.17 has come within a whisker of claiming major scalps against the likes of previous winners Ramy Ashour and Mohamed ElShorbagy, and also close friend and current World No.5 Simon Rösner in that time.
Mueller faces Hong Kong’s Tsz Fung Yip in round one next week and says the Grasshopper Cup – which is the biggest PSA Tour event in Continental Europe – is a real highlight for him on the calendar.
“I’m very privileged to be able to play in front of a sold out home crowd, who are swinging Swiss flags,” Mueller said.
“It’s definitely goosebump material. I love playing in front of a big crowd, even more so when the majority are cheering for you. I’ve played some of my best matches here, so it must give me a big boost.
“I’ve played this event in multiple locations, growing with the tournament, from a $25K prize fund a few years back to now the biggest tournament in Continental Europe.. the new location is perfect, with the VIP section above, it’s very spacious, has a sponsors village and the hotel is just a two-minute walk away.”
A combination of injury and illness meant Mueller had a slow start to the 2018/19 season and he struggled to get out of the starting blocks, falling in the early rounds in each of his first eight tournaments.
Mueller in action in last year's edition of the Grasshopper Cup
Mueller followed that up by reaching the semi-finals of the Pittsburgh Open last month though, and the ‘Swiss Rocket’ feels he is back to full fitness as he aims to peak on home soil.
He said: “My season hasn’t really been the best. My summer preparation was non-existent due to illness and injuries, and that definitely didn’t help the process. At least now I feel like I’m back to 100 per cent finally, just in time for the main event.
“If I start beating these guys [Ashour, ElShorbagy, Rösner] that means I’d be amongst the top five in the world. Thats the quality you need to beat players like that. I definitely have to believe in beating them and the crowd definitely helps with that.”
The Grasshopper Cup offers a $110,000 prize fund and round one begins on Tuesday March 26 at the Squash Arena Uster. The second round onwards will be staged at Halle 622.
Eight of the world’s top 10 players – including World No.1 Ali Farag, top seed Mohamed ElShorbagy, and his younger brother, 2016 champion Marwan, will appear alongside Mueller in the draw.
Live matches will be shown on SQUASHTV (rest of world) and Eurosport Player (Europe only).
Tickets are available through the tournament website.