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For this new issue of Paris Squash 2023 Daily, I wanted to offer something slightly different. From now on, the whole event will take place at the Palais de Tokyo, and Monday was the last opportunity to visit all the partner clubs and attend the round 2 matches.


My day begun with a little dilemma: go see Victor Crouin or Auguste Dussourd? I opted for the latter, and headed to the Jeu de Paume - a place that I am starting to be familiar with. You've been there before? If so, you know that it is a unique place, which does not really look like the classic squash/sport club. Once there, I see that the Frenchman's supporters - family and friends - who helped him go through round 1 the day before are in the house. And they won't regret it!

Auguste Dussourd's family and friends went through a rollercoaster of emotions on Monday at the Jeu de Paume

Auguste had a good start, but he let four game balls slip and then found himself 2-love down, 12-10, 12-10 against the solid Spaniard Iker Pajares – ranked 20 in the world, one place above him. “At this stage, I knew I had to change something, that's why I was more aggressive afterwards,” he told us after the game, while relaxing in the lounge, comfortably sat in one of the leather sofas. And it paid off since he managed to level at 2-2, before taking the upper hand physically against an opponent who is usually very strong in this area. “I think that as far as the mental side goes, this is the best win in my career. At the beginning of the fifth, I told myself that playing in a glass court in my home town was a once in a lifetime opportunity and I simply could not let it go. Now I have a day off, and let's be honest I am very happy about that because I need it.” On Wednesday at 12:45pm at the Palais de Tokyo, Auguste will face the Black Falcon Mazen Hesham, world No. 7.

Despite being 2-love down, Auguste Dussourd was able to turn the match around against Spain's Iker Pajares


Given the schedule, on paper I could not attend the Sébastien Bonmalais v Leonel Cardenas clash. However, Nour El Tayeb and Lucy Turmel were nice enough to play a long match, and when I arrived at the Stade Français the France v Mexico match had just started. It seemed pretty even at first, but Cardenas made a move at the end of the first game and it was a turning point.

There was a good crowd at the Stade Français on Monday, to watch Bonmalais v Cardenas as well as the other round of 32s

Despite the support of a good crowd, the man from Reunion Island did not find any answer against a very strong opponent, and bowed out in straight games. “Seb wasn't tired after his 5-game round 1 match with Lucas Serme, he was simply outplayed today.” That's the match analysis of national coach Renan Lavigne, who also spent quite a bit of time in the subway on Monday.

Sébastien Bonmalais (in blue) fell to a rock solid Leonel Cardenas


One can't be in two places at once. My goal of the day was to visit all the clubs, so I chose to go to the Montmartre Squash rather than returning to the Jeu de Paume for the match between Grégoire Marche and Marwan ElShorbagy. Apparently the atmosphere was great, the battle went on for 80 minutes and the Frenchman came very close to a big upset. “He truly played a great match, despite the loss I am convinced that it can kickstart his season,” said Renan Lavigne at the end of the day.

The knowledgeable crowd of Squash Montmartre gave a warm welcome to double World Junior Champion Amina Orfi

For weeks, I've heard squash enthusiasts say that they've circled the Paul Coll v Karim Abdel Gawad match on their calendar. It is quite incredible to be able to watch a match between two former world numbers 1s in a club that is as small in size than it is rich historywise. To tell you the truth, I also wanted to see Nele Gilis v Amina Orfi ... When I arrived rue Achille Martinet while Saurav Ghosal and Eain Yow Ng were battling hard on court, there was no surprise: the club was completely packed and finding an empty seat seemed like wishful thiking. Unless you have a partner in crime in the house, and mine was Gabriel Boulanger (for those who don't know him, he's the crazy guy – that should be taken as a compliment by the way – who runs the PSA World Squash Ranking Forecast page, the one which works out the rankings in real time). He agreed to lend me his seat for the women's match on two conditions, that I brought him a beer and I gave his seat back for the Gawad v Coll showdown ... Fine by me, and off we go. On one side we had Belgian Nele Gilis, now ranked 7th in the world thanks to an amazing end of last season, and in the opposite corner there was Amina Orfi, two-time World Junior Champion who already scalped a handful of girls within the top 15. At the very beginning of the game, there were one or two endless rallies, and someone in the audience said "Are there any hotels around here? I might book a room...” As often in squash when the score is 1-1, the match was decided at the business end of the 3rd. The young Egyptian had a 10-6 lead, but her opponent used all her experience to turn the table. "To be honest, I could already see myself booking my ticket home," Gilis told MC Santiago Parra after her 4-game win. “I'm really happy to go through, Amina may be 16 years old but she's already playing top 10 standard and I did not consider myself as the favorite before the match.”

Nele Gilis with a big smile as she is aware she avoided a big banana skin


This was my third and final dilemma of the day. Should I stay in Montmartre to watch Gawad v Coll or should I go to the Palais de Tokyo for Baptiste Masotti v Mohamed ElShorbagy? I went for plan B (and for the record, Coll won in 4 very close games), and when I arrived at Avenue du Président Wilson Hania El Hammamy was 2-love down against Nele Gilis' younger sister Tinne. Like Auguste Dussourd, the world number 3 came back from the brink and won in 5. The crowd was getting ready for the Crunch - for those of you who haven't followed squash for a year, ElShorbagy is now representing England - but Grégory Gaultier's protégé spoiled the party thanks to an impressive display of power and accuracy. For Renan Lavigne, “Mohamed handled the cold conditions very well, and was able to expose Baptiste's weaknesses.” Apart from a good spell in game 2, the Frenchman never managed to unsettle the world number 3 and prevent him to comfortably qualify for the round of 16.

Mohamed ElShorbagy (right) was impressive on Monday night against Baptiste Masotti

So we'll have two French players in the next round. We forgot to tell you, Victor Crouin beat Yahya Elnawasany in 3 games and will play against tall Englishman Adrian Waller on Tuesday night. We don't want to get too carried away, but it's hard not to think about a potential quarterfinal between the French number 1 and world number 1 Ali Farag. While Victor is now used to featuring in that stage in a Platinum event, it would be a first for Auguste Dussourd should he upset Mazen Hesham. As we said before, if you want to help him achieve that you can come and support him at 12:45 pm on Tuesday at the Palais de Tokyo.


📺 Glass court matches are shown for free on Sport en France with commentary in French.

📺 Side court matches are shown on SquashTV.

Results, schedule, venues etc. => live scoring

By Jérôme Elhaïk

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