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Saurav Ghosal begins his title assault at the Grasshopper Cup today

Grasshopper Cup: Day Three - As It Happens

Second round action continues in Zurich today as the likes of World Championship finalists Ali Farag and Tarek Momen get their tournaments under way at the Grasshopper Cup.

England's Declan James and India's Saurav Ghosal are first on at 17:00 (GMT+1).

Their head-to-head record currently stands at one game apiece and both players have been in fine form of late, with James reaching the quarter-finals of the Canary Wharf Classic two weeks ago, while Ghosal made it to the same stage of the PSA World Championships last month.

Momen came runner-up in both of those tournaments and he follows onto court at 18:00 as he faces Canary Wharf Classic semi-finalist Mathieu Castagnet.

World Champion and World No.1 Ali Farag has a tough test against Welshman Joel Makin in store at 20:00, before home favourite Nicolas Mueller takes to the court against Egypt's Mohamed Abouelghar an hour later.

Swiss No.1 Mueller will have a partizan crowd behind him as he looks to reach the quarter-finals of his home tournament for the first time since 2016.

Join us here for reports and reaction, or watch LIVE on SQUASHTV (rest of world), Eurosport Player (Europe only) or the PSA World Tour Facebook page (excluding Europe & Japan).

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Here's the Order of Play
(All times are local GMT+1)

Ghosal Sees Off James to Reach Quarter-Finals

Saurav Ghosal (right) v Declan James (left)

Indian No.1 Saurav Ghosal advanced to the quarter-finals courtesy of a hard-fought 3-1 victory over England’s Declan James at Halle 622.

The match was a closely contested affair, which was much closer than the 3-1 scoreline suggested, and things could have been different if James was able to convert either of his two game balls in the second game.

Ghosal started the better of the two as he forced James into some tough lunges in all four corners of the court, and he took the opening game for the loss of seven points.

James momentarily halted Ghosal’s charge though in the second as he played some intelligent lobs to move the diminutive Indian out of position, and he was rewarded with a 10-8 lead after taking the first six points in a row. Some loose shots from the 25-year-old though meant Ghosal came back to double his lead.

In game three, World No.20 James was able to covert the first of his three game balls to halve the deficit, but the rangy Englishman slowed down in the fourth as the exertion took its toll. Ghosal dropped just five further points to complete an 11-7, 12-10, 7-11, 11-5 victory.


“[The second game] was obviously a key moment because when you’re coming back from 6-0 down, it’s a big mental hurdle for him to cross,” said Ghosal.

“But he showed how good a player he is and how much of a fighter he is in the third. When I went 6-0 down, I didn’t think I was playing too badly, I was constructing the rallies well, but he was hitting winners at the end of the rallies and winning the points.

“Fair play to him, sometimes you have to hold up your hand and give credit to the other guy for playing that well on those points. You have to focus on the next one and take it point by point. That’s what I was trying to do, and I tried to do that as much as I could.”

Ghosal will play either World No.3 Tarek Momen or Frenchman Mathieu Castagnet in the next round.

The Kolkata-born 32-year-old said: “Both of them are fantastic players, Tarek is obviously having a wonderful year, and Mathieu had a very good Canary Wharf two weeks back.

“I’m sure they’re going to entertain the crowd, and I think I’m going to enjoy watching them play too. Hopefully I will stretch well, recover well, and enjoy the match like everyone else.”

Result
[8] Saurav Ghosal (IND) bt Declan James (ENG) 3-1: 11-7, 12-10, 7-11, 11-5 (76m)

Momen Masterclass Vanquishes Castagnet

Tarek Momen (left) v Mathieu Castagnet (right)

2014 runner-up Tarek Momen put on a clinical masterclass to down Frenchman Mathieu Castagnet in a quick-fire 3-0 triumph in the day’s second match.

With three final appearances in his last four tournaments – including a run to the PSA World Championships title decider earlier this month – World No.3 Momen is one of the most in-form players on the PSA Tour, and it showed as he won 11-5, 11-7, 11-4 in 34 minutes.

Castagnet has also enjoyed some fine form of late, with the World No.26 reaching the semi-finals of the Citigold Canary Wharf Classic two weeks ago. But he was powerless to stop a rampant Momen today in Zurich.

Momen – the Canary Wharf Classic runner-up – was extremely accurate as he hit a range of winners, while his length game was immaculate. The 31-year-old rattled off wins in all three games to book his place in the last eight for a third year in succession, where he will face India’s Saurav Ghosal.

“I’m quite pleased with the way I played,” Momen said.

“As tough as back-to-back tournaments are on the body, they get you in the zone and make you really sharp. From the word go, I felt like I was just playing a tournament yesterday. It’s a good thing and a bad thing, but I’m trying to take the positives out of it.

“I felt really good on court today, Mathieu is a very dangerous player and he has some real fighting spirit in him. I know that if I hadn’t been 100 per cent sharp, he would have tortured me like he did last time we played in Sweden. I was really determined to play my best squash, so I could build a bit of a gap in every game.

“This is the first season in my 13 years on the tour that I’ve managed to be this consistent. It’s something I’m very proud of, I wasn't sure if I could sustain it at the beginning, I felt a little bit shaky. But as soon as the first and second tournaments were on, I felt I was getting there, and my mental game has improved.

“In every match I keep fighting, no matter how tired I am. Before, when I wasn’t that fresh or had a niggle I always thought about it too much and lost my game. But now I know how to fight, despite everything.”

Result
[3] Tarek Momen (EGY) bt Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) 3-0: 11-5, 11-7, 11-4 (34m)

Farag Comes Back from Game Down to Beat Makin

Ali Farag (left) v Joel Makin (right)

World No.1 and World Champion Ali Farag came back from a game down to overcome Welshman Joel Makin in a thrilling four-game encounter which saw the pair walk off court to a standing ovation from spectators inside Zurich’s Halle 622.

Some gruelling rallies and incredible feats of athleticism from both players was on show throughout the 64-minute contest as the contrast of playing styles made for a fascinating encounter, with Farag’s deft touches and free-flowing movement clashing with Makin’s tenacity and speed.

They sent the crowd wild in the opening game after contesting a gladiatorial 100+ shot rally – which totalled over two minutes in length – with Makin prevailing to go two game balls up.


He converted to take a surprise one-game lead, but Farag took the sting out of the World No.18’s attacks in the second to go 7-3 up. Makin kept fighting to level at 9-9 as a nervy-looking Farag struggled to put the game to bed, however the Egyptian found his shots at the crucial stages to draw level.

The Egyptian was able to keep up a measure of control across the next two games as he forced Makin into some serious recovery work, and he closed both of them out 11-6 to book his place in the next round.

Farag, the 2017 runner-up, has won both of the PSA Tour events he has appeared at in 2019 and will play compatriot Mohamed Abouelghar in the next round as he targets a third successive title.

“Now that I’m here, I feel how much I missed playing this tournament last year,” said Farag.

“The Grasshopper Cup has grown from a $25k, to a $35k, $50k, $70k and now here it is at a Gold level. We hope that we’ll go to a Platinum level and even before that bring in a big women’s event, which would be great.

“[Tournament Promoters] Steve [Buchli] and Claudia [Schurmann] do a fantastic job making us feel at home from the very first second we step on court, and the crowd always makes us motivated to play.

“Everything about this tournament, it makes us play very well, and it’s no surprise that the first few rounds all have big matches.”

Farag is playing at his first PSA event since winning the PSA World Championships and becoming World No.1 earlier this month and says that he is motivated to achieve even more before the end of the season.

“It’s been a dream since a very young age to become World No.1 or win the World Championships, so to do both two days in a row is a fantastic feeling,” Farag said.

“But I don’t want to be satisfied yet, I hope I can keep going and carry on the momentum to the end of the season because everyone wants to end on a high, and everyone is going to be chasing that No.1 spot.”

Result
[2] Ali Farag (EGY) bt Joel Makin (WAL) 3-1: 8-11, 11-9, 11-6, 11-6 (64m)

Abouelghar Grounds Swiss Rocket in Zurich

Mohamed Abouelghar (right) and Nicolas Mueller (left)

Egypt’s Mohamed Abouelghar overcame home hero Nicolas Mueller in straight games to bring an end to Swiss hopes in Zurich.

Mueller, the country’s No.1 player, is known on tour as the ‘Swiss Rocket’ and every winner he hit throughout the match was greeted with a roar from the crowd, while a multitude of Swiss flags were on show in the stands.

Despite the crackling atmosphere at Halle 622, Mueller wasn’t quite able to oust Abouelghar as the World No.8 won the battle at the front of the court to complete an 11-8, 11-8, 11-9 victory in 37 minutes.

2017 runner-up Ali Farag awaits Abouelghar in the next round.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many Swiss flags in one day,” Abouelghar said afterwards.

“I’m really happy to be back playing in Switzerland, it’s a special place for me and I’ve always played well. Even though I was playing against Nicky and I had all the crowd cheering against me, I still enjoyed it and it was a pleasure to be part of that tonight.

“I’ve played Nicky before, and I’ve watched him a lot. We both play the same way, we like to go short and play an open game, and in the critical points I thought I had to stick to the side wall more and play less risky squash. I’m happy with the way I dealt with it at the end of each game and happy to be through in three.

“Ali has been on fire recently. I’m happy for him, and he deserves it. Tomorrow, I will stick to my plan and hopefully go one step further.”

Result
[7] Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY) bt Nicolas Mueller (SUI) 3-0: 11-8, 11-8, 11-9 (37m)

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