Frenchman Mathieu Castagnet mounted one of the most impressive comebacks in Windy City Open history as he came from 2-0 down against an in-form Ali Farag, saving two match balls in the process, to emerge victorious in a punishing 71 minute first round battle at the University Club of Chicago earlier today.
Farag came into the tournament off the back of the biggest win of his career last month where he defeated the World No.1 and No.3 to triumph at the Motor City Open and he got off to a promising start against World No.8 Castagnet, puling away at the end of a closely contested opening game to secure the crucial points and open up an early advantage on the scoreboard.
Castagnet looked shell shocked at the start of the second game and struggled to play with any precision as he quickly found himself 3-8 down before shaking the fog clear to demonstrate why he’s considered one of the toughest competitors on the PSA World Tour. The 29-year-old mounted a strong comeback as he clawed his way back to 7-9 before a sloppy error handed game ball to Farag, which he wasted no time in accepting.
But the Frenchman’s tenacious work-rate proved to be the turning point as he continued to play with a ferocious determination, pushing himself to extend every rally and force Farag into an attritional battle, and it paid dividends as he managed to take the game and extend the match into a fourth where he saved two match balls to break Farag mentally and physically going into the fifth.
The decider proved to be a one-way street as Castagnet stormed ahead unopposed to take it 11-1 and secure a hard-earned second round spot.
“I don’t know how I did it,” said Castagnet. “I was in very good shape today and I worked hard on getting the right tactics with the coach Ranan Lavigne for the third, fourth and fifth games and i’m very, very happy that it worked.
“We have played a few times and I remember a match a few years ago and he had 7 match balls and I saved them to win in five. So when I saved them today I was sure he would think about that match and I was confident I could pull it off so I’m delighted.”
 Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) bt Ali Farag (EGY) 3-2: 8-11, 7-11, 11-6, 13-11, 11-1 (71m)