2021 Platinum Reports REPORTS

R2: Gaultier’s still got it

R2:  Gregory Gaultier (Fra) 3-0 Youssef Soliman (Egy) 11-7, 11-8, 15-13 (65m)

Gregory Gaultier continues to roll back the years as he beats Youssef Soliman in straight games.

Chapeau pépère. Sorry guys, it’s a mixture of Egyptian and French. But basically, hat to the Old Man.

He is 38, still the bust straight and perfectly balancing to allow him to not fall to the front, always ready to change direction, still controlling most of the rallies, still full of beans.

First game, the French in control, 3/1, 7/3, 8/5, getting 3 strokes as his opponent is pushed around and struggles to find his accuracy, 10/6, 11/7 in 19m.

Surely, 38 years old, 19m first game, you think he is going to slow down in the next game. Well yes, he sort of did. Went down 3/1, caught up 3/3, down 5/3 but levelled again 5/5, 6/6. Took the lead like in the previous game, 9/6, 10/7, 11/8 in again 17m.

A 3 min injury break – the calf still causing him worries – I remember it from Channel Vas more than a year ago – Greg has got a bit more time to recover I feel. Although he’ll say that it bothered his focus and that his body got a bit cold but I feel it was beneficial.

3/1 Greg, 3/3, 5/3 Greg 5/5, 6/6. And then Youssef finding some sublime winner, putting the French out of his comfort zone finally, and we all think this is going to a 4th, maybe more. 8/6, 9/7 Youssef, but Greg doesn’t want to play a 4th game, so he digs in big time 9/9, match ball 10/9.

Some sublime rallies, Youssef is pushing as hard as possible, redropping, counterattacking, making the court as big as possible. He manages to set 3 game balls, but won’t be able to close any of them. And it’s Greg, finally, on his second attempt, 15/13.

Last game alone, 26m.

As previously stated, Chapeau pépère.

Greg: “I’m not going to dance too much, I don’t want to be cooked. I need to keep some energy for tomorrow, but I am just dancing to do some recovery for a couple of minutes!”

“I felt really sharp and good the first two games. My movement was great for me, I felt okay and comfortable. It was boiling inside [the court], the ball was very bouncy so I was just trying to with little pace, not to rush for all the shots or volley too much. I just tried to hit my targets to then get the openings and make him move around.

“A very clean match, played in a good spirit. His movement is superb of fluidity, and his backhand was so accurate, we had a great battle for the domination on that side actually.

“He’s got a great stroke as well, and I knew that it was going to be complicated, gave him all the due respect. I love the way he plays, the way he moves. Good game.

“After the second game, he had the injury break and I switched off with the five-minute break. I didn’t stay warm so even if I had started positively, that made me feel weird during the third game. It was weird because he had an injury break but then he played normal, so it gets into your head. He hung in there better in the third but then it was a nice winner at the end and I am happy to win in three.”