"This is a dream come true," said 22-year-old Frenchman Gregoire Marche after qualifying for his very first J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions in a gruelling 99-minute match against Hong Kong's Max Lee at the Princeton Club in New York. "Since I was 10, I have watched the great players, like Gregory Gaultier, win this tournament."
After winning the first game in the qualifying finals of the first PSA World Series event of the year, Marche quickly dropped the next two to his higher-ranked opponent - but revived in the fourth. The fifth was nip and tuck all the way as the lead changed hands on almost every single point until the Frenchman closed out the match 11-2, 6-11, 2-11, 11-6, 12-10.
The match that followed was only eight minutes shorter and equally intense as Ryan Cuskelly became the only Australian to qualify after defeating Egypt's Mohd Ali Anwar Reda 11-3 in the fifth. The play was fast, furious and physical.
Pakistan's Yasir Ali Butt will make his first appearance on the glass court at Grand Central Terminal after producing the day's biggest upset - displaying great tenacity in his five-game win over Marwan El Shorbagy, the world No27 from Egypt. Down two games to love, the Pakistani was persistent in his ball retrieval. A few key mistakes in each of the last three games from El Shorbagy turned the match around, with Butt winning 6-11, 6-11, 11-8, 11-8, 11-9 to secure his place in the main draw.
Lee, who dismissed the qualifying event's highest-ranked player Alan Clyne in the previous round, later received a place in the main draw as 'lucky loser' after the withdrawal of Alister Walker, the world No15 from Botswana.
England's Chris Simpson took a decisive two-game lead against Abdullah Al Muzayen. But just as he had in his five-game victory the previous night, the young Kuwaiti came alive in the fourth and with several winning shots kept his hopes of a Grand Central appearance alive. The Englishman had other ideas, however, and reasserted himself to win the fourth game, 11-3, with relative ease.
Simpson was later joined in the main draw by compatriot Adrian Waller. At one-all, Waller was down 4-10 in the third against Mohd Nafiizwan Adnan of Malaysia. After coming back to win 13-11, Waller attacked relentlessly in the fourth to take his place in the main draw.
It has been seven years since Canadian veteran Shahier Razik had to qualify for the Tournament of Champions. The 35-year-old from Toronto needed four games and 85 minutes to fend off 26-year-old Frenchman Mathieu Castagnet.
"My heart keeps me going. I love to play," explained a tired but happy Razik after the match. "And tonight, what kept me going was that I wanted to play in Grand Central again."
Campbell Grayson (NZL) bt Joe Lee (ENG) 14-12, 11-7, 11-6 (62m)
Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) bt Mohd Ali Anwar Reda (EGY) 6-11, 11-8, 13-11, 7-11, 11-3 (91m)
Gregoire Marche (FRA) bt Max Lee (HKG) 11-2, 6-11, 2-11, 11-6, 12-10 (99m)
Adrian Waller (ENG) bt Mohd Nafiizwan Adnan (MAS) 11-7, 6-11, 13-11, 11-8 (63m)
Shawn Delierre (CAN) bt Julian Illingworth (USA) 11-6, 11-6, 11-7 (70m)
Chris Simpson (ENG) bt Abdullah Al Muzayen (KUW) 11-4, 11-3, 8-11, 11-3 (38m)
Shahier Razik (CAN) bt Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) 5-11, 11-4, 11-4, 11-9 (85m)
Yasir Ali Butt (PAK) bt Marwan El Shorbagy (EGY) 6-11, 6-11, 11-8, 11-8, 11-9 (66m)
Updated 1st round draw:
 James Willstrop (ENG) v Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL)
Tarek Momen (EGY) v [Q] Shawn Delierre (CAN)
Adrian Grant (ENG) v Cameron Pilley (AUS)
 Peter Barker (ENG) v Stephen Coppinger (RSA)
 Omar Mosaad (EGY) v Nicolas Mueller (SUI)
Ong Beng Hee (MAS) v [Q] Campbell Grayson (NZL)
Simon Rosner (GER) v [Q] Yasir Ali Butt (PAK)
 Ramy Ashour (EGY) v [Q] Adrian Waller (ENG)
 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) v Hisham Mohd Ashour (EGY)
Tom Richards (ENG) v Todd Harrity (USA)
Olli Tuominen (FIN) v [Q] Gregoire Marche (FRA)
 Mohamed El Shorbagy (EGY) v Laurens Jan Anjema (NED)
 Karim Darwish (EGY) v [Q] Ryan Cuskelly (AUS)
Saurav Ghosal (IND) v [Q] Shahier Razik (CAN)
Amr Shabana (EGY) v [Q] Chris Simpson (ENG)
 Nick Matthew (ENG) v Joe Lee (ENG)