Frenchman Gregoire Marche booked his place in the last 16 of the CIB Black Ball Squash Open after coming through a tricky first round fixture against England’s Nathan Lake.
The pair had just one previous meeting on the PSA World Tour, with Marche winning that clash in straight games over a best-of-three games format on home soil at the Open de France last year.
And it was one-way traffic in the first game as Marche found his rhythm, hit clean lines and played at a fast pace which Lake had no answer for.
After putting just two points on the board in the opener, Lake finally established himself in a 28-minute second game. Both players held game balls, with the Frenchman converting to double his advantage, but Lake wasn’t to be denied in the third after forcing his opponent into some acrobatic retrievals.
Lake looked spent though in a one-sided fourth game, which Marche closed out after dropping just two points to complete an 11-2, 15-13, 7-11, 11-2 win in 64 minutes.
“I’ve been playing well since September, so I just need those big wins to get a bit more confidence,” said Marche.
“‘I’m still happy with my game since the first few tournaments we had this season. I knew I was going to be ready for this one, I started pretty well in the first game, lost my focus at the end of the second and then had a bit of a lack of energy and couldn’t find my length.
“At the beginning of the fourth I was just think about putting the ball in the back first and trying to be a bit more accurate. He’s quite dangerous when he is in the middle and volleying, so I’m happy with the performance today.
“Even if things don’t go well, I’m trying to stay a bit more relaxed than I usually am. Mentally, I feel a bit stronger at those crucial times, so let’s hope it’s going to better the next day.”
Marche will line up against either No.8 seed Mohamed Abouelghar or compatriot Lucas Serme in the last 16.
Shortly before Marche took to court, the news broke about the tragic passing of compatriot and former PSA player Enzo Corigliano.
Speaking about the emotional impact of the news, Marche said: “Emotionally, today was very difficult as I heard as I was stepping on the shuttle to come here that one of our French former juniors, Enzo Corrigliano, who was studying in the States, passed away. He was 23 and that affected us terribly.
“We were very good friends, all my thoughts [go out] to the family and to his friends. We are all devastated and today, when things were not going well for me, I thought about him and that put me right back on track.”
 Gregoire Marche (FRA) bt Nathan Lake (ENG) 3-1: 11-2, 15-13, 7-11, 11-2 (64m)