French qualifier Gregoire Marche claimed an unexpected place in the quarter-finals of the EBS Dayton Open after upsetting England's Chris Ryder in the opening round of the PSA World Tour International 35 squash event in its ninth year at the Dayton Squash Center in Dayton, Ohio, USA.
Ryder, a former World Universities champion and once ranked 33 in the world, is now 32 years old and slipping down the rankings - whilst 22-year-old Marche, who had to battle for 76 minutes to topple Canadian Shawn Delierre to make the main draw, is in the early stage of his career and regularly taking experienced scalps.
And since the draw was made, the Frenchman has overtaken Ryder in the PSA world rankings. The new world No40 was keen to prove the computer correct - and did so in his 11-9, 11-9, 11-6 dismissal of the world No48-ranked Englishman to become the only qualifier to progress.
Marche will now face defending champion Alister Walker, the second seed from Botswana who had to come back from two games down to overcome Mexican qualifier Cesar Salazar 9-11, 7-11, 11-0, 11-7, 15-13.
"It was the 88-minute final match of the night between Alister, last year's EBS champion and world No13, against qualifier Cesar, the world No52, that thrilled the packed crowd," said tournament organiser Charlie Johnson.
"Salazar had looked strong in the qualifying draw and continued his quick and aggressive play tonight and took Walker to a place that few top athletes can return from," Johnson continued. "Salazar was quick, Salazar was accurate, Salazar anticipated and he hit nicks almost at will. After the first two games, Walker found himself down two games and facing a quick exit from Dayton.
"With a change of strategy, changing the pace, lobs from the front instead of drops, and better shot selection, Walker got himself back in the match winning the third game 11-0.
"Now down 1/2, the second seed had some soul searching to do. Salazar needed a rest in game three, the change of strategy had worked, but with a 1/2 deficit, Walker still faced a challenge and although Walker was playing well, Salazar seemed to have an answer for every question on the court. What would game four produce?
"It was almost a repeat of game two except this time Walker won. Salazar continued to try to "shoot" to victory and who can blame him as he'd played two matches prior to meeting Walker tonight. The tin, however, proved to be his enemy in this game as he had to risk the volley short from the back of the court due to fatigue. At the end of this game where now Walker had battled back from 0-2 to 2-2 veteran players sitting with me spectating said 'he's done' - meaning Salazar.........far from the truth.
"After being down 0/2 in games, now two-all, Walker made some really bad unforced errors in game five to find himself down 1-8 in the decider. Turning to the glass back-wall at this point, he seemed determined to believe he could come back and you could see it in his eyes. Salazar, playing like a true champion all night, sensing this might be his moment to break into the elite tried to close.
"What happened over the next 13 minutes is the most intense fifth game of squash I've ever seen," said Johnson. "Walker faced four match balls before he won 15-13!"
Egyptian favourite Omar Mosaad took 49 minutes to take care of business against Zac Alexander of Australia, winning 6-11, 11-6, 11-5, 14-12 in the first match of the evening.
But Frenchman Mathieu Castagnet's victory over Campbell Grayson of New Zealand took 108 minutes - with Grayson taking the opening 40-minute first game!
World No36 Castagnet clinched victory 11-13, 11-7, 11-7, 11-4 - and will now face Mosaad for a place in the semi-finals.
RESULTS: PSA International 35 EBS Dayton Open, Dayton, Ohio, USA
 Omar Mosaad (EGY) bt Zac Alexander (AUS) 6-11, 11-6, 11-5, 14-12 (49m)
Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) bt [Q] Campbell Grayson (NZL) 11-13, 11-7, 11-7, 11-4 (108m)
Marwan El Shorbagy (EGY) bt Aurangzeb Mehmund (PAK) 11-5, 11-8, 11-7 (40m)
 Borja Golan (ESP) bt Siddharth Suchde (IND) 11-7, 11-1, 11-5 (30m)
 Cameron Pilley (AUS) bt Shahier Razik (CAN) 9-11, 11-2, 11-2, 11-6 (43m)
Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) bt [Q] Yasir Butt (PAK) 11-5, 11-7, 8-11, 11-6 (52m)
[Q] Gregoire Marche (FRA) bt Chris Ryder (ENG) 11-9, 11-9, 11-6 (34m)
 Alister Walker (BOT) bt [Q] Cesar Salazar (MEX) 9-11, 7-11, 11-0, 11-7, 15-13 (88m)
 Omar Mosaad (EGY) v Mathieu Castagnet (FRA)
 Borja Golan (ESP) v Marwan El Shorbagy (EGY)
 Cameron Pilley (AUS) v Ryan Cuskelly (AUS)
 Alister Walker (BOT) v [Q] Gregoire Marche (FRA)
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