Top-seeded South African Shaun le Roux received the birthday present he did not want when he lost in straight games to Canada’s Dane Sharp in the opening round of the Madison Open, the PSA World Tour Challenger 10 event in its fourth year at Madison Squash Workshop in Madison in the US state of Wisconsin.
“Sharp was on the ball quicker and put it into the nick at will sometimes,” reported event promoter Damon Bourne. “Le Roux, on the other hand, seemed flat and couldn’t seem to get himself in any sort of flow.”
Sharp, the 28-year-old world No. 80 from Toronto (pictured), denied world No. 51 Le Roux the ideal 27th birthday celebration with his shock 11-2, 11-6, 13-11 upset.
“I felt like I played well,” said the 28-year-old world No. 80 from Toronto. “I was getting down to the ball and played tough. I felt confident going into the match as I lost in five to Shaun in December, and I’ve improved a lot thanks to the work I’ve put in with my new coach, Keith Griffiths.
“I feel like I can play at a top-50 level, and it feels good to prove it out there,” added Sharp. “Looking forward to the weekend.”
Sharp will now meet fellow non-seed Joel Hinds after the Englishman, ranked 87 in the world, beat France’s Geoffrey Demont 11-5, 11-3, 2-11, 11-6.
New Zealander Martin Knight, seeded to reach his fourth PSA Tour final this month, dropped the first game to Nathan Lake but recovered to beat the Englishman 5-11, 11-3, 11-5, 12-10—fighting back from 6-10 down in the final game.
The No. 2 seed from Auckland, New Zealand, progresses to meet South African Clinton Leeuw, who defeated Mexico’s Arturo Salazar 11-7, 11-5, 11-9.
Fourth seed Charles Sharpes also overcame Mexican opposition with an 11-3, 11-7, 13-15, 11-6 win over Erik Tepos Valtierra.
“Happy to win today,” said the 21-year-old Englishman who was runner-up to Knight in last week’s Charlottesville Challenger. “Bit disappointed to let it go to four in the end. I lost concentration in the third game, but I am happy to get through and progress in the tournament.”
Another English success was provided by Ben Coleman, the unseeded 22-year-old from Essex who twice stemmed fight backs by Argentina’s Gonzalo Miranda to win 11-6, 7-11, 11-9, 7-11, 11-5.
“I am relieved to have won, actually,” said world No. 85 Coleman following the match. “He played very well and it was just a really tough match. I feel good now—but don’t ask me about tomorrow!”
Dane Sharp (CAN) bt  Shaun le Roux (RSA) 11-2, 11-6, 13-11
Joel Hinds (ENG) bt Geoffrey Demont (FRA) 11-5, 11-3, 2-11, 11-6
Peter Creed (WAL) bt [WC] Anthony Graham (ENG) 11-8, 11-8, 11-9
 Charles Sharpes (ENG) bt Erik Tepos Valtierra (MEX) 11-3, 11-7, 13-15, 11-6
 Karim Ali Fathi (EGY) bt Paul Coll (NZL) 11-8, 12-14, 11-6, 12-10
Ben Coleman (ENG) bt Gonzalo Miranda (ARG) 11-6, 7-11, 11-9, 7-11, 11-5
Clinton Leeuw (RSA) bt Arturo Salazar (MEX) 11-7, 11-5, 11-9
 Martin Knight (NZL) bt Nathan Lake (ENG) 5-11, 11-3, 11-5, 12-10
Dane Sharp (CAN) v Joel Hinds (ENG)
 Charles Sharpes (ENG) v Peter Creed (WAL)
 Karim Ali Fathi (EGY) v Ben Coleman (ENG)
 Martin Knight (NZL) v Clinton Leeuw (RSA)
Article and image courtesy of the Professional Squash Association