R1: Gregory Gaultier 3-1 Pajares Bernabeu

Form, they say, is temporary but class is permanent.

This statement proves quite true on Sunday as Gregory Gaultier of France, the 2011 champion, gave a commanding performance which belied his 38 years of age. The Frenchman trounced his much younger opponent, Spain’s Iker Pajares Bernabeu,  3-1 (10-12, 11-3, 11-9, 11-8) to advance into the second round of the PSA Men’s Platinum event.

It wasn’t just only the age that separated the two opponents as there was also a gulf in rankings between them. While Gaultier is ranked 56 on the global standings and he is playing in Doha courtesy of his wildcard entrant, Pajares Bernabeu, on the other hand, is playing like the World No. 29 at the prestigious tournament.

Pajares Bernabeu was quick out of the blocks as he outlasted the ‘The French General’, who became the oldest World No.1 of all time when he took the top spot in the rankings in April 2017, in the battle of grits in the first game. The game which lasted 16 minutes saw the points bouncing back and forth between the two before a tie-breaker ended in favor of the Spaniard.

The next three games saw a resurgent Gaultier, who makes a return from injury, dominating his opponent as he took the match in style.

“It has not been easy coming back from several months of not playing due to injury. Today, I had to raise my game after I lost the first game. I told myself that I needed to put more effort and take the game point by point, even if I have to lose. Fortunately, I managed to get my rhythm back, and from 2-1 up I had a bigger mental advantage, and I took it on from there,” Gaultier, who will be up against Marwan ElShorbagy in the next round, said.

He thanked the Qatar Squash Federation for allowing him to play again after several months out.

“I’ve always played well in Qatar, and I’ve enjoyed all my visits here. I’ve been coming here for several years now. Though I missed the last two events due to injury, I’m pleased to be here again. I am grateful to the Qatar Squash Federation for giving me the wildcard to play at this tournament. I was out for about 40 months, and my rankings went from No.1 to No. 600. I’m grateful to Qatar for the opportunity to play otherwise, I won’t be here,” he added.