2021 Platinum Reports REPORTS

R2: Castagnet wins intense battle with Elsherbini

R2:  Mathieu Castagnet (Fra) 3-0 Mohamed Elsherbini (Egy) 11-3, 11-9, 11-7 (42m)

France’s Mathieu Castagnet is first into the last sixteen as he beats Mohamed Elsherbini in straight games …

One of those matches where the score hardly tells how hard the players actually worked and how intense it was.

Mohamed was playing in front of mum and dad, that is always something precious I feel for the Egyptian players in particular. And maybe the pressure got to Mohamed today a bit at the end….

First game, 11/3, you think it was easy. Anything but. 12m of hard, very hard rallies, with the Egyptian in control but just clipping the tin (5 times), with a Mathieu I personally hadn’t seen playing/moving that well since… well, Canary Wharf he won really. He was fit, thinking clearly, in perfect control of the tactic, and moving fluidly. He made it hard for Mohamed at the start and at the end of the game particularly.

The second, much the same to start with, Mathieu now in front and controlling the rallies, 4/1, 6/2, 8/4, 9/5. A huge effort from Mohamed, picking up the pace that Mathieu was keep slow, force an error out of the French racquet, really taking the game to the Warrior and clawed back to 8/9.

Game ball 10/8, huge rally, yet again, a superb kill to finish, and it’s 9/10, pressure on the French now to close it. And that’s what he does, in three shots, forcing his opponent to get the ball off court… 11/9, 17m hard work and 7 winners each…

A little “coup de mou », drop of mental energy from Mathieu at the start of the third, combined with a last push from Mohamed, 6/2 for the Egyptian, beautiful accurate squash, but Mathieu feels the danger, puts the ball a bit deeper, a bit heavier at the back, and again errors start to creep in, along with a few strokes against the Egyptian that he really seriously didn’t like, banging the racquet once, then throwing it away, getting warned at 10/7 match ball, losing the match on another stroke, which again, he didn’t appreciate at all, making his feeling pretty clear to the ref…

Mathieu: “I enjoy fighting at eleven in the morning.

“I’m used to waking up early because my daughter wakes up at seven in the morning. It’s like I’m at home with my wife and my daughter. At 34 it’s more work when you play at eleven in the morning, it’s quite difficult to move.

“I woke up at seven in the morning, had my breakfast at 7:30 then I did a little bit of stretching and tried to activate my body as well. It’s like it’s 3pm right now for me.

“I have to work for the rest of the day. I’m preparing for an exam at the end of April, I would like to be a coach in the future and in France you have to pass an exam. I also have to prepare for a conference with a company, so I have a lot of things to do, it will be a busy day.

“I would like to be at the swimming pool tomorrow but with the COVID-19 pandemic we cannot do it. I’m going to try and work, to see my friends with social distancing of course and try to enjoy my rest day, which I need to prepare for my next round.

I had a relapse of my calves injuries between September and December, and to be honest, I did let myself go. I went up to 83kg, and with my wife Laura, we had a little chat and she told me that I had to pull myself together if I wanted to play a few more years on the Tour.

So with Renan and Philippe (coach and fitness coach), we devised a bespoke plan, attention to details, to what works for me, and only for me. They listen to what I feel, to what I think/know is good for me and my body.

My aim to be honest is to prove to France that I can still do good at my age. Just look at what Gregory Gaultier is doing at 38! It proves that age is just a number, seriously, and that we can inspire new generations maybe to keep working and looking after their bodies…

And with the COVID situation, I feel extremely lucky as I haven’t been personally affected, so it gives me a feeling of being very fortunate and grateful to be performing…