Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) def [Q] Alan Clyne (SCO) 9-11 11-9 14-12 11-3 (66-min)
The French Musketeer, Mathieu Castagnet has been dealing with a recurring calf injury for over a year. Just last month, in his debut event of the new season, he retired from his Quarterfinal match in Nantes, then fell to Mohamed Abouelghar in the opening round of the US Open. Over the past year, he’s dropped from the top-10 to World #32.
With Ramy Ashour’s withdrawal from the Qatar Classic, Castagnet was spared from Doha qualifying. Meanwhile Alan Clyne – now the World #25 – was forced to qualify, defeating Qatar’s Abdulrahman Al-Malki and Malaysia’s Eain Yow Ng to reach the Main Draw.
Castagnet. A frustrating nagging injury
Mathieu spent the entire 2015-16 season ranked inside the top-10, and reached a career-high ranking of #6 in the World. He’s an extremely aggressive player, often seen flying prone across the glass court, reaching for shots seemingly out of reach. When he injured his calf at the 2016 US Open, results began to slide, as did his ranking. Still, he’s one of the most exciting draws on the PSA World Tour because of his all-or-nothing playing style.
Clyne. A working Clydesdale
Alan is no slouch. He’s a work horse who plays with similar grit and determination. The 6-time Scottish Nationals champion comes into this year’s Qatar Classic with a career-high ranking, despite early exits in his first five events of the season. Based on he and Mathieu’s history, he knew he’d have to suffer for the win. Three years ago, Castagnet and Clyne played a 2-hour and 9-minute deciding-game match in Montreal that featured three tie-breaks. Today was a different story…
The Musketeer in 4. The first 3 could have gone either way
Game-1 lasted 21-minutes. The two traded serve throughout the game, neck-and-neck the entire way. Alan Clyne escaped with the win on his first game ball. The second featured quicker rallies, but again – the two traded serves through 9-all before Castagnet leveled the match.
Game-3 was a classic. Down 5-10, Castagnet saved five consecutive game balls, forcing extended play. Down 10-11, he erased a sixth. Finally, after 17-minutes, the French Muskateer took a 2-game lead to the bench, earning the win 14-12. Clutch performance.
Frustrated with himself, Clyne disappeared in the fourth and Castagnet ran away with it 11-3. (FULL MATCH RECAP)
Mathieu Castagnet: The third game was very special. I’ve had a few injuries over the past few years so to be on court and moving well takes me happy and to come back from 10-5 down is something I can really enjoy about today. We always use our strength in squash and mine is physical, so I always fall back on that.
At 10/5 down, I think oh well, with the injuries I went through, the fact I lost 25 places in the ranking, the fact I’m here, on the glass court, on SquashTV, in Doha where the atmosphere is truly unique, might as well give it a try, if I miss that return of serve, I’m in for a 5 setter. And it worked…”