France’s Lucas Serme overcame a first-game loss to Englishman Tom Richards 3-1 (9-11, 11-9, 11-9, 11-6) as he booked a place in the last-16 of the Qatar Classic on Tuesday.
World No. 38 Serme went into the match against the 34th-ranked Richards trailing 1-2 in head-to-head starts with the Englishman having the upper hand the last time they met – the qualifying finals of the 2017 JP Morgan Tournament of Champions.
This time, however, it was the Frenchman who emerged the last man standing in the closely contested match as he reached the third round of a Platinum level event for the first time since the 2019 Allam British Open.
“I have had a few games, in Egypt and Manchester, where I felt good physically, and that I could go to five games easily. Now it is all about my squash, my technique, my tactics, it has to come into place,” Serme said. “It was hard to go six months without competition. It is good to have already had a couple of tournaments, so to come here, I knew what to expect from myself. Every match, I am learning, and I feel like I am getting stronger.”
A couple of unforced errors from Serme enabled Richards to take the first game which witnessed some exciting rallies.
Serme was able to flip the game on its head in the second and third games – winning by the same scoreline (11-9) before having a much more comfortable ride in the fourth, winning 11-6 in less than eight minutes.
Serme, a finalist at the 2019 Growthpoint S.A. Open in Cape Town, will next face a top 12 ranked player, in either Mohamed Abouelghar or Joel Makin.