Chris Simpson earned himself a place in the main draw of the Abierto Mexicano de Raquetas in Mexico – but the world No37 from England was taken the full distance by higher-ranked Australian Ryan Cuskelly before edging through 12-10 in the fifth after 88 minutes.
The new PSA World Tour International 70 championship is the biggest Tour event ever to be held in Mexico – and is being staged in dramatic style on an all-glass court sited in the Plaza de los Martires in Toluca, overlooked by the city’s historic cathedral.
“Delighted to come out on top in a 12/10 in the fifth for once,” tweeted Simpson (pictured) overnight. “Brutal match with Ryan as always, it could have gone either way.”
Simpson’s 13-11, 9-11, 11-6, 10-12, 12-10 qualifying finals victory was followed by another five-game marathon as Egypt’s Marwan El Shorbagy beat Frenchman Mathieu Castagnet 8-11, 11-8, 11-9, 4-11, 11-6 in 70 minutes to join his older brother Mohamed El Shorbagy in the main draw.
El Shorbagy senior was impressed: “That was truly an amazing match between my brother and Castagnet. They both should be proud of their performance!!” exclaimed the world No7 on Twitter.
It was then after midnight before the last match got underway – when Indian number one Saurav Ghosal claimed the only straight games win of the night by overcoming Egypt’s Omar Abdel Aziz 11-5, 11-2, 11-7.
Frenchman Gregory Gaultier is favourite to lift the new PSA title. The world No3 from Aix-en-Provence arrived in Toluca fresh from success in last month’s PSA International 70 NetSuite Open in San Francisco, his 21st title on the PSA Tour.
Gaultier begins his campaign against qualifier Ghosal, the world No22 from Kolkata who will be looking for his first win over the Frenchman in their fifth meeting in three years.
Updated 1st round line-up:
1 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) v [Q] Saurav Ghosal (IND)
Mohamed El Shorbagy (EGY) v Laurens Jan Anjema (NED)
Nicolas Mueller (SUI) v [Q] Olli Tuominen (FIN)
4 Peter Barker (ENG) v [Q] Marwan El Shorbagy (EGY)
3 Amr Shabana (EGY) v Borja Golan (ESP)
Simon Rosner (GER) v [Q] Chris Simpson (ENG)
Omar Mosaad (EGY) v Alfredo Avila (MEX)
2 Karim Darwish (EGY) v Alister Walker (BOT)
Olli Tuominen (FIN) bt Gregoire Marche (FRA) 11-7, 6-11, 11-4, 11-9 (54m)
Chris Simpson (ENG) bt Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) 13-11, 9-11, 11-6, 10-12, 12-10 (88m)
Marwan El Shorbagy (EGY) bt Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) 8-11, 11-8, 11-9, 4-11, 11-6 (70m)
Saurav Ghosal (IND) bt Omar Abdel Aziz (EGY) 11-5, 11-2, 11-7 (39m)
1st qualifying round:
Olli Tuominen (FIN) bt Edgar Zayas (MEX) 11-5, 11-5, 11-9 (28m)
Gregoire Marche (FRA) bt Henrik Mustonen (FIN) 6-11, 11-9, 11-9, 11-3 (32m)
Chris Simpson (ENG) bt Christopher Gordon (USA) 11-4, 11-8, 11-7 (34m)
Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) bt Eric Galvez (MEX) 11-6, 11-9, 11-4 (49m)
Marwan El Shorbagy (EGY) bt Campbell Grayson (NZL) 8-11, 11-7, 12-10, 11-9 (54m)
Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) bt Erik Tepos Valtierra (MEX) 11-5, 11-5, 11-6 (29m)
Omar Abdel Aziz (EGY) bt Juan Carlos Gomez (MEX) 11-3, 11-5, 11-5 (17m)
Saurav Ghosal (IND) bt Cesar Salazar (MEX) 11-8, 11-5, 11-9 (42m)