Eltayeb survives on opening day in Nantes
The Open de France got under way in Nantes with early first round matches at the Maison du Squash, and the evening’s two Glass Court matches at Hangar 24.
In the first match on the glass court, Egypt’s Salma Eltayeb came through a thrilling three-game battle with compatriot Kenzy Ayman, saving several match balls to win deep into a third-game tie-break to make it into the second round.
The pair had met in the semi-finals of the WSF World Junior Championships, also held in France, earlier this year, with Eltayeb taking the victory that day, but it was Ayman who started the stronger of the two in their first round clash at the PSA World Tour Bronze level event in Nantes, winning the first game 11-8 with some quick attacks.
Eltayeb was able to turn that around in the second game, taking the lead early on and being able to hold it through to the end of the game. She won it 11-9, and then led 10-5 in the third game, serving with five match balls.
However, Ayman then proceeded to save all five to take the third game into a tie-break, one that would decide the match. She then saved a further two match balls at 11-10 and 12-11, before going on to have four in a row herself in the tie-break. Eltayeb had to save all of them, eventually saving six herself before taking the game 21-9 to secure her spot in the second round in Nantes, where she will play Swiss No.1 Cindy Merlo.
“Kenzy is a very good player. I said this at the World Junior Championships. We just played two weeks ago and Kenzy has always been beating me in Egypt, but here and at the World Champs, I have beaten her! It is never an easy game with her!” Eltayeb said of her compatriot.
“I was in the lead in the third game 10-5 and then she came back to be up in the tie-break. That proves how good she is and I am so happy I got the win. We are both good players, so it is always 50/50.
“It is so different playing here, because you are with so many good players, so you want to perform to be at their level. That is what I am aiming for, that is my mission as I finish my junior career, to be there, or to compete against the top players on the PSA World Tour.”
The English duo of Nick Wall and Charlie Lee both caused first round upsets on the opening day at La Maison du Squash, getting the better of Egypt’s Yahya Elnawasany and Spaniard Bernat Jaume.
Lee had to fight his way through against the Spaniard in three games, after seeing Jaume win the second game to level their first round contest. Meanwhile, Wall was the victor over World No.44, taking two tight games to win 2-0, and set up a clash with top seed Marwan ElShorbagy on Tuesday.
“It was my first tournament playing best-of-three, so that was interesting, I think it suits me because I like to play quite explosively, also, putting pressure on with longer rallies. First match of the season as well for me, you don’t know really where your level is. I tried to find my foundation and basics,” Wall explained.
“Tomorrow, it’s going to be a tough one against Marwan obviously, but the pressure is off a little bit more, hopefully, I can let my arm go and really try and take it to him, see what I can do.”
Elsewhere, Auguste Dussourd delighted the home crowd on the glass court with a straight games victory over Scotland’s Rory Stewart, and he will now face compatriot and second seed Gregoire Marche in the last 16 of the Bronze level competition.
The second day will see the seeded players take to the court at both La Maison du Squash and Hangar 24. The action will get underway at 12:00 (GMT+2) and all the action will be live on SQUASHTV.