World No.67 Nick Wall has reached the last 32 of the Allam British Open for the second year in succession after the tournament wildcard upset World No.21 Victor Crouin at Hull’s Allam Sport Centre.
Wall, 22, overcame veteran Daryl Selby in the opening round of last year’s British Open and he claimed an even bigger upset this time around as he clipped the wings of the in-form Frenchman Crouin to claim an 11-3, 7-11, 11-9, 10-12, 11-8 victory in 62 minutes.
Crouin had beaten World No.1 Paul Coll at the GillenMarkets Canary Wharf Classic just a fortnight ago but was put under serious pressure by Wall right from the off. There was little to separate the two after Crouin won a fourth game tie-break to send the match into a tense decider, but Wall shook off a slight injury problem and kept his nerve to claim his spot in the second round.
“Victor is such a great player, he is so solid and he doesn’t give you anything. I really just had to take my chances when I got them. When the opening came, I was really making sure that I was going to do something with the ball and not being passive.
“I think I dropped off after the first game because I tried to go out as hard as I could in the first, and really try to take the pace, so I dropped off naturally with my movement. Then I seemed to tweak my hamstring in the front corner, and then I slipped at the back which exaggerated it. Hopefully, I can do everything I can tonight, and my aim is to be back tomorrow and to show what I can do again.”
Wall will take on top seed and 2021 runner-up Ali Farag in the last 32. Farag, who lost to Coll in last year’s final, has the chance to reclaim top spot in the rankings this week if he can match or surpass Coll’s results in Hull this week.
England No.2 Patrick Rooney will join Wall in the last 32 after he got the better of compatriot Declan James, taking out the World No.43 in four game.
“I have always been a chaser, wanting to beat the players who are higher ranked, but now sometimes I am the higher seeded player [in the first round],” Rooney said.
“The pressure is on me now, so I have to put these players away. Dec is no mug, he is a really good player. Anything can happen, so I have to stay mentally switched on to win, it is the first round but I still go into it thinking it is really important.”
The men’s England No.1 Adrian Waller survived a five-game battle with Switzerland’s Dimitri Steinmann, while there were also wins for Englishmen George Parker and Nathan Lake.
Meanwhile, the women’s event opened with a five-game battle as Canada’s Danielle Letourneau came back from a 2-0 deficit to get the better of wildcard Katie Malliff.
18-year-old Malliff, who sits at a career-high ranking of No.110, started confidently and showed no nerves, but World No.20 Letourneau worked her way into the encounter and kept her composure to overturn the disadvantage.
“It was a little scary, she came out playing positively, attacking and burying me in the back,” said Letourneau, who will play Egypt’s Nada Abbas in the next round.
“At the beginning, I think I was a little passive and doubting what I was doing, but then you realise you have nothing to lose, you’re 2-0 down, you just have to find a way. Once I found a plan, I stuck to it.”
Malliff’s fellow Englishwoman Lucy Turmel was victorious on the showpiece glass court erected inside the Allam Sport Centre as she claimed a comfortable 3-0 win against Egypt’s Sana Ibrahim. The 22-year-old will take on New Zealand’s No.5 seed Joelle King for a place in the third round.
“The game plan was simple,” Turmel said.
“To get in front and keep the ball tight so she wasn’t able to hit any angles, which she likes to do. Then I am in front of her, I was feeling good with my short stuff, and I was able to attack her.”
The Allam British Open continues tomorrow (March 29) as the likes of Coll and women’s No.1 seed Nouran Gohar begin their events. Play begins at 12:00 (GMT+1). All of the action from the glass court will be shown live on SQUASHTV.