For the first time in the event’s 13-year history, there will be no English players in the semi-finals of the Canary Wharf Squash Classic.
Number seven seed Daryl Selby lost an epic battle to top seed Omar Mosaad, but four-times champion James Willstrop went down in straight games to French ace Mathieu Castagnet.
Willstrop was suffering from a respiratory problem which explained his lack of mobility at the end of each game. From 7-2 up in the third, he was unable to finish off the task as Castagnet’s superior fitness enabled him to reel off the points to complete an unexpectedly quick victory 11-6, 11-6, 11-9.
“The first two games were similar as they went to 5-5 or 6-6 and then he started to get tired,” said Castagnet.
“In the third game, when he was 8-3 up he was playing very good but after a long rally I saw he was tired so I pushed as hard as I could to get back into the game and I’m very happy to come back like that and win.”
Germany’s number two seed Simon Rosner was also feeling under the weather and retired after losing the first two games to Australia’s Cameron Pilley.
A sell-out crowd at the East Wintergarden had hoped to see an enthralling battle between two 6ft 3in tall hard hitters, but Rosner was always slightly off the pace and called it a day as he began to feel sick.
Pilley meets Castagnet in the semi-finals and Mosaad faces Spanish number one Borja Golan, who beat Egyptian outside Fares Desssouki 3-1.
The 6ft 4in tall Mosaad had to battle to get past Selby, who twice fought back to level the match by winning the second and fourth games.
However, from 4-4 in the fifth, Mosaad won six points in a row to advance to match ball. That sixth point was the culmination of the best rally of the match as Selby flung himself around the court to keep the ball in play.
Selby claimed one more point before Mosaad closed out the match to reach the semi-finals for the sixth tournament in succession.
He said: “Playing Daryl here is very hard. I thought it was going to be easy after the first game and I was up in the second as well but he started to play really well. But after coming back from 2-2 I’m very happy to win.”
Mosaad flew into London after a busy tournament schedule, where he was runner-up in Colombia and reached the semi-final in Chicago.
He added: “I played Colombia and Chicago and I know I need to be strong mentally as well as physically. I’m very happy to reach the semi-finals here for the first time. I know it will be a tough match against Borja.”
Selby admitted: “Omar is so powerful. The quality of his length and his hitting has improved dramatically. Before he was powerful, but not 100% accurate, whereas now, he is powerful and accurate.
“It was a case of imposing our game plans. When he was overpowering me, he was winning the game, but when I was imposing my game – taking away the pace and forcing him to create his – I was wining the games.
“It all came down to a few points in the fifth game. I loved it today. It was a great battle. His game has changed and I truly enjoyed playing against him.”
Results and fixtures
PSA M70 Canary Wharf Squash Classic, East Wintergarden, Canary Wharf
(1) Omar Mosaad (Egypt) beat (7) Daryl Selby (Eng )11-4, 8-11, 11-3, 4-11, 11-5
(8) Borja Golan (Spain) beat Fares Dessouki (Egypt) 11-8, 5-11, 11-5, 11-5
(3) Mathieu Castagnet (France) beat (5) James Willstrop (Eng) 11-6, 11-6, 11-9
(6) Cameron Pilley (Aus) beat (2) Simon Rosner 11-7, 11-5 retired
Mosaad v Golan
Castagnet v Pilley