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Sivasangari Subramaniam

ToC Day Two: Player Reaction

Day two of the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions takes place today inside the iconic Grand Central Terminal’s Vanderbilt Hall – and we’ll have reports and reaction from all 10 matches from New York right here.

Play begins at 11:00 (GMT-4) live on SQUASHTV and you can also stay up-to-date with all the live scores from the tournament here.

The likes of Youssef Ibrahim, James Willstrop, Sivasangari Subramaniam and Lucy Turmel are in action as they bid to secure their last 16 spots.

Order Of Play
All times are local (GMT-4)

Dussourd Takes Out Compatriot Masotti

Auguste Dussourd celebrates

World No.39 Auguste Dussourd has claimed his first ever win at a PSA World Tour Gold event after he took out his higher-ranked compatriot Baptiste Masotti to seal his place in the last 16 of the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions.

Their only previous meeting on the PSA Tour went the way of World No.21 Masotti in 2016. It was a shaky start from both players today and Masotti – who helped France to second place at the European Championships last week – kept his nerve to go a game to the good.

He held three game balls in the second too, but a tenacious Dussourd dug in and was able to stem the flow of points to draw level. Dussourd’s powers of recovery were also on show in the third game as he came back from an 8-4 deficit, rattling off seven points from the next eight to hold a 2-1 lead against his country’s No.2 player.

And lightning struck once again in the fourth as Masotti was again unable to make the most of two game balls, with Dussourd keeping a calm head amongst a flurry of errors from his opponent. As soon as the win was sealed though, a delighted Dussourd let his calm manner drop and unleashed a huge roar in front of the cameras to celebrate a huge triumph.

“It’s the best venue I have played in my life,” said Dussourd.

“I was so happy to get in [to the draw] and to get the win for the first time I am here. I will have one day to enjoy [the win] and then I’ll think about the next match.

“I will maybe watch this match once to see what I did right and did wrong, then after that I will focus on the next match against a top player.”

Dussourd will go up against Colombia’s Miguel Rodriguez for a place in the quarter finals.

Result
Auguste Dussourd (FRA) bt Baptiste Masotti (FRA) 3-1: 8-11, 12-10, 11-9, 12-10 (55m)

Letourneau Holds Off Serme

Danielle Letourneau (right) takes on Anna Serme (left)

Canada’s Danielle Letourneau held off the challenge of World No.42 Anna Serme to set up a tricky second round fixture against World No.1 Nouran Gohar.

The only previous meeting between Letourneau and Serme on the PSA Tour took place at the 2021 Malaysian Open Squash Championships, with the former winning in straight games.

This time around, Serme was able to take a game off her opponent, but the Canadian held firm to complete an 11-5, 9-11, 11-5, 11-4 victory in 29 minutes.

“I’m feeling pretty confident,” said Letourneau.

“She obviously jerked me in a couple of different directions with her flicks, but I felt I really stepped up and tried to play my own game and apply pressure, so it’s nice to get off with a win.

“It’s good to get going, each match gets harder and harder, so it’s better to activate your body and feel like you’re moving well and getting a feel for the court rather than feeling like you’re not being challenged.

“I’ll go practice [tomorrow], it won’t be on here but I’ll go and practice at the other club [the Nicol Squash Club] to keep myself going. My body is feeling pretty fresh, so I might as well just keep working.”

Result
Danielle Letourneau (CAN) bt Anna Serme (CZE) 3-1: 11-5, 9-11, 11-5, 11-4 (29m)

Lake Injury Sends Crouin Through to Last 16

Victor Crouin in action

A back injury sustained by World No.34 Nathan Lake brought his clash with Frenchman Victor Crouin to a premature end.

The match was tantalisingly poised at one game apiece after Lake recovered from a game down to draw level after a promising start from his opponent. The Englishman stormed into a 7-0 lead in the second game, before building up seven game balls.

Crouin was able to save five of them before Lake eventually got the win over the line. However, a fast start from Crouin saw him power into a 3-0 lead in the third, at which point Lake took an injury break to get some treatment on his back problem from the physio.

Lake fought on for four more points, but his movement was undoubtedly laboured and he was sadly forced to shake hands with Crouin, sending the Frenchman into round two, where he will take on 2017 champion Karim Abdel Gawad.

“Nathan has been in good form in the last few weeks and months, and he is at his best ranking so far,” said Crouin afterwards.

“I’m sure he will continue to go up and I was really looking forward to playing this match. He played incredibly well last week at the Euros [European Team Championships] against the French boys, which is not what I wanted, but at least if I could get revenge today it would have been great for the French boys.

“But it’s definitely not the way I wanted to win and I’m wishing him all the best for his recovery.”

Crouin is currently studying Economics at Harvard University, and the World No.23 discussed how he was able to balance playing professional squash with his studies.

“When I came to Harvard, I didn’t know what to expect in terms of professional squash,” he said.

“I took a gap year after high school to play professionally and I really enjoyed it. I came to Harvard with the goal of graduating and turning pro afterwards. My goal was to stay in the top 100 during the four years, and I continued to go up, so I decided to keep balancing my academics and squash.

“I did that during high school, so there was no reason I couldn’t do that in college. I was playing on the professional tour and I was also really excited to play the college season from November-March. I spent three years at Harvard because of COVID and those three years have definitely transformed me in many ways.

“I’m going to look back in 10, 20, 30 years and I’ll be really grateful to have had this opportunity to go there [to Harvard].”

Result
Victor Crouin (FRA) bt Nathan Lake (ENG) 3-1:  11-5, 8-11, 7-0 retired (30m)

Khan Shows Spirit to Dispatch Bonmalais

Shahjahan Khan celebrates

USA’s Shahjahan Khan marked his Tournament of Champions debut with a 3-0 victory over World No.35 Sebastien Bonmalais.

Khan had gotten the better of the Frenchman at the Allam British Open in March and he followed that up with an 11-9, 14-12, 11-6 triumph to set up a last 16 battle with No.3 seed Mazen Hesham.

It was an entertaining, free-flowing affair, with a brutal 50-shot plus opening rally which set the tone for the match.

Khan took the opening match after edging his opponent but lost his focus in the second game, which allowed Bonmalais to storm into an 8-2 lead. However, Khan came alive at that point, changing the pace and hitting with more accuracy at the front of the court to work his way back into the contest.

He overturned two game balls and then forced some errors in the tie-break to double his advantage. Khan gifted Bonmalais the first three points at the start of the third but again redoubled his efforts and soon found his way back in front to close out the win in straight games.

“I’d like to thank Allah for giving me the opportunity, it’s been a tough road,” said Khan.

“I was a bit nervous, to be honest. It’s my first ToC and I was really excited at the same time. It’s a big crowd, so thanks to them for coming.

“The nerves have gone because my whole family surprised me yesterday, my mum, my dad and my two sisters. They’ve been great supporters. Whenever I get nervous I see their pictures on my phone and I know I’m strong now and that nothing can go wrong.

“I’m excited for the next round and I feel hungry for the next one as well, inshallah.

“I played him at the British Open and beat him 3-1, so I knew what was coming. He’s a strong competitor for sure, and I get inspired by him, with the way he works hard and the way he improves at every tournament. I had to be mentally strong and the right strategy came out on top today.

“Today is Eid and I haven’t sent any messages to my friend. Eid Mubarak to all my friends and family.”

Result
Shahjahan Khan (USA) bt Sebastien Bonmalais (FRA) 3-0: 11-9, 14-12, 11-6 (44m)

Subramaniam Books Last 16 Berth

Sivasangari Subramaniam (fore) takes on Enora Villard

Sivasangari Subramaniam celebrated her rise into the top 20 of the PSA Women’s World Rankings as the Malaysian overcame France’s Enora Villard to reach the last 16 of the Tournament of Champions for the first time.

Their previous match, which came in March’s Allam British Open, saw Subramaniam win 3-0 in just 18 minutes and the World No.20 wasted no time in building up a 2-0 lead today in Grand Central Terminal.

She was able to ramp up the pace at the business end of each game and took the ball early and hit a number of winners to exert her authority on the match.

A handful of errors from the Malaysian’s racket handed Villard a 6-2 lead at the outset of the third game, but Subramaniam was able to come back strongly, and she ultimately closed out the win courtesy of an 11-7, 11-5, 11-8 scoreline.

“I feel relieved,” said Subramaniam, who will take on USA No.2 Olivia Fiechter next.

“Enora played really well today. I played her a month ago at the British Open and it was definitely harder this time. The court is really different too and I’m just really happy to get through.

“I just made a couple of easy errors in the middle of the game, so I needed to refocus and get my length to the back. I think I did really well to come back and finish it in three.

“[To the crowd] Thank you so much for making this happen. I see a few Cornell supporters, it’s a really nice venue and I’m looking forward to my next match.”

Result
Sivasangari Subramaniam (MAS) bt Enora Villard (FRA) 3-0: 11-7, 11-5, 11-8 (32m)

Mueller Axes Serme

Nicolas Mueller (right) takes on Lucas Serme (left)

Switzerland’s Nicolas Mueller achieved a straightforward win over Frenchman Lucas Serme as he won 11-8, 11-8, 11-4 in 36 minutes.

Mueller, who rose to a career-high ranking of No.15 this month, suffered a 3-0 defeat to Serme in last month’s Manchester Open, but was on his mettle from the first minute as he inflicted a win by that scoreline against the World No.40 at Grand Central Terminal.

Mueller’s reward is a second round fixture against another Frenchman in Gregoire Marche.

“We played each other two weeks ago in Manchester where he beat me 3-0,” said Mueller.

“I felt that the pace was high enough to make it uncomfortable for him and then when I had a 2-0 lead and I was a few points ahead in the third I felt comfortable. I’ve been enjoying squash a lot lately, I’m injury free and I’m moving freely. It’s definitely one of my favourite locations, if not my favourite, playing at Grand Central Terminal doesn’t get better than that.

“I missed this tournament a lot, the hotel is right next to it [the venue], everyone makes you feel welcome and the American crowd is amazing. I’ve even got some friends from Zurich here from my home club, so it’s nice to get some support.”

Result
Nicolas Mueller (SUI) bt Lucas Serme (FRA) 3-0: 11-8, 11-8, 11-4 (36m)

Turmel Claims First Win at ToC

Lucy Turmel in action

World No.23 Lucy Turmel claimed her first ever win at the Tournament of Champions as she saw off the challenge of Hong Kong’s Tze Lok Ho.

Turmel beat Tze Lok 3-0 in January’s Equinox Women’s Boston Open and her start to today’s encounter evoked memories of that comfortable win as she took the first seven points on offer. A mini-fightback from Tze Lok came too late to prevent Turmel from taking a one-game lead.

In the second, Tze Lok managed to find the back corners with greater regularity, which forced Turmel away from the ’T’ and allowed the player from Hong Kong to dominate the middle of the court, showing off some nice touches as she levelled the scores.

Turmel boasted a 7-2 lead in the third, but had to fight off a potential comeback from her opponent who was able to get back to within one point. Turmel was able to hold on to restore her lead, but was off the pace in the fourth as Tze Lok stormed to a 10-6 lead, only for Turmel to rediscover her rhythm to force a tie-break.

Tze Lok kept her cool to finally convert the seventh of her game balls, but the World No.34 needed an injury break after a couple of rallies of the fifth game due to a self-inflicted injury. Turmel refocused and soon found herself 6-1 up, and her resilience then carried her through to the win in five.

“I’m just really happy,” said Turmel.

“Matches like that are sometimes the most rewarding because I felt quite flat in several parts, I’m just happy to win.

“After I lost that fourth I just really concentrated on trying to get the ball into the back, ironically that created more lets. It was the right game plan in the end because I could see she was tiring and it gave me the openings at the front.”

Turmel will go up against Canada’s Hollie Naughton next.

Result
Lucy Turmel (ENG) bt Tze Lok Ho (HKG) 3-2: 11-6, 8-11, 11-7, 12-14, 11-4 (71m)

Ibrahim Takes Out Steinmann

Youssef Ibrahim (right) takes on Dimitri Steinmann (left)

Egypt’s Youssef Ibrahim booked his spot in the last 16 after overcoming Switzerland’s Dimitri Steinmann in straight games.

Ibrahim, the World No.12, had beaten Steinmann back at the 2018 Swiss Open in their only previous PSA meeting and today’s encounter featured some quick-fire exchanges, with both players going short regularly.

Ibrahim settled the quicker of the two to take the opening game, and he soon doubled his advantage, despite Steinmann growing into the match the longer it went on. That was evidenced by an impressive third game performance from the Swiss man, who moved Ibrahim around the court well to establish an 8-6 lead.

The Egyptian wasn’t to be denied though and found his winners when he needed them to close out the win in three.

Ibrahim is currently studying at Princeton University and has exams coming up, meaning he is having to balance competition with studying this week in New York, and he discussed the effect that is having on him.

“It’s a pretty busy week because I have finals, but I’m happy to play here and distract my mind with something else,” Ibrahim said following the match.

“What better venue to play than Grand Central, it’s my first time playing on the show court and it’s a pleasure.

“Three years ago, I was a freshman, and it seems like an age ago. The crowd is busy from the first day and it inspires you to play better and better. I’m happy to win so I get to play here one more time.

“I will try to study a little bit tonight and tomorrow and will hopefully try to play a little bit on the glass court too.”

Result
[8] Youssef Ibrahim (EGY) bt Dimitri Steinmann (SUI) 3-0: 11-9, 11-8, 13-11 (42m)

Alves on Form to Beat Lobban

Melissa Alves in action

World No.30 Melissa Alves moved through to the second round of the Tournament of Champions for the first time in her career after an impressive showing against Australia’s Donna Lobban.

The Frenchwoman – making her comeback from injury after last appearing on the PSA Tour in November – was on top from the beginning of the match and sealed an 11-5, 11-8, 11-6 victory in 27 minutes to set up a last 16 encounter with USA No.3 Olivia Clyne.

“I was out for a while, so I had a lot of time to train and get stronger,” said Alves.

“I was so excited for tonight, I’ve been waiting for this moment and what a venue to play my first match [back from injury], I’m very excited.

“Donna is a strong player, so to get the win in three games tonight is a good start to the tournament. I couldn’t have hoped for a better start, I had some friends that came to watch, so thanks to them, and I’m just excited for the next round.”

Result
Melissa Alves (FRA) bt Donna Lobban (AUS) 3-0: 11-5, 11-8, 11-6 (27m)

Willstrop Scores Comfortable Victory Over Lobban

James Willstrop (left) takes on Greg Lobban (right)

2010 champion James Willstrop began his Tournament of Champions title challenge with a straightforward 3-0 win against World No.33 Greg Lobban.

Lobban only just made it to New York in time for the match, with travel issues preventing him from travelling out yesterday, and the Scot only touched down around four hours before his fixture with Willstrop.

The less than ideal preparation clearly had an effect on Lobban, who never truly got settled in the early stages of the match against his experienced opponent.

For Willstrop’s part, the Englishman displayed the kind of masterful control and skill that have been hallmarks of his glittering 22-year career, and ‘The Marksman’ moved into a two-game lead, while he looked in complete control as he moved into an 8-4 lead in the third game.

A tenacious Lobban drew on his energy reserves though and battled his way back into contention as he halved the deficit. However, he was unable to prevent Willstrop from closing out the match in the fourth to set up a second round match against top seed Ali Farag.

Willstrop is making his 18th appearance at the Tournament of Champions – more than any other player – and he was honoured with a special presentation at the end of the match.

“I’ve had some incredible experiences here and some of the best of my career,” said Willstrop afterwards.

“When I think of not being here each year, it’s pretty upsetting to me, so I don’t know how I’m going to cope. It just shows the regard in which the players hold this event, we’ve all flown over from Eindhoven [after the European Team Championships]. Greg’s done an amazing thing today having to fly and then play, I don’t know how he’s done that and he played so well, it was an incredible effort.

“The one thing with age is that you get to know a squash court better every week and every month. You start slowing down, probably, but you start to understand the strategies. I’m doing a bit of coaching now, so I’m having to think about other people for once in my life, which is an interesting situation.

“You know the squash court, you’ve been on it so many times, which helps a little bit. I love playing. It’s truly an incredible venue, there’s nothing like it playing here, and the atmosphere was unbelievable tonight, it’s such a thrill.”

Result
James Willstrop (ENG) bt Greg Lobban (SCO) 3-1: 11-3, 11-5, 8-11, 11-2 (46m)

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