R3: Zahed Salem (Egy) 3-1 Mathieu Castagnet (Fra) 6-11, 11-6, 11-7, 11-6 (59m)
Egypt’s Zahed Salem comes from a game down to beat Frenchman Mathieu Castagnet.
Excellent start of the day with a very intense match of two halves. First half, controlled by the French Warrior, slowing the pace down and managing to keep Zahed contained at the back of the court, taking his volleying away from him pretty well, 2/2, 3/3, 4/4, 5/5, then all about Mathieu, 10/5, 11/6, forcing errors out of the Egyptian racquet, 17m hard work.
Good start in the second game for the Frenchman, 5/2. A huge rally, crucial time, Zahed, normally very calm is arguing very hard with the ref, frustration high level after a no let. But quickly, the Egyptian calmed down as let and strokes floated his way (4 strokes in that game alone). Zahed turned the table round, and he takes a crucial second 11/6 in 16m.
From that point on, Mathieu suffered from lack of oxygen really! All credit to Zahed that took him to the throat and never let go… From a slow medium pace in the first game and a half we went to frantic and all attacks in the front corners. And Mathieu today just didn’t have the lungs or legs to sustain such a pace.
Twelve minutes third game, 7/2, 9/5, 11/7, and errors coming out of the Frenchman racquet in the 4th, as he was trying to give it a last push, 5/0, 8/2, 9/5, 11/6 in 10m.
Mathieu: “I was up 1/0 and 5/2 and we had a huge rally and I just couldn’t breathe anymore! It’s very hot today.. I would say it’s about 5° more than my first two rounds, it’s incredible!
“But he just never let me catch my breath back, he was relentless from the middle of the second game, all credit to him. Only time he relaxed a bit was when he had a big lead at the end of games.”
“Mathieu is a very tough player, he’s a former World No.6 and he always had very tough games. It’s my first time to beat him, I think he’s beaten me four times – I’m happy to get the win today.
“Today is the first time I have played this well in Egypt especially. I always lose in the first round or maybe second round, I’ve never had a good performance in Egypt, but I’m proud to win and get through and play tomorrow in the quarters.
“I have changed coach as Reda moved to the states, so I am now working with Mohamed ElKeiy and I can see the improvement. Also, I got engaged last month, and I find that I am more stable…”
𝙏𝙝𝙖𝙩 𝙬𝙞𝙣𝙣𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙛𝙚𝙚𝙡𝙞𝙣𝙜 🙌
— PSA World Tour (@PSAWorldTour) March 22, 2021