Seville Spanish Open 2003
24-29 June, Seville, Spain, $45k

Amr Shabana (Egy) bt Karim Darwish (Egy)
15-13, 13-15, 15-14, 8-15, 15-13  (84m)


Fritz Borchert reports from Seville

Favourites found Seville a difficult place to be in, as Anthony Ricketts and Peter Nicol found out to their cost. It was no different in the final.

The much fancied Karim Darwish was under pressure from his countryman from the very first rally. In a match where fortunes changed quicker than the wind on this draughty market place court, Amr Shabana emerged as the surprise winner in this rejuvenated Spanish Open after 84 minutes with a score line of 15-13, 13-15, 15-14, 8-15 15-13.

What looked likely to be a friendly encounter between two fellow countrymen turned out to be a bruising battle. Soon it was clear that no quarter was to be given here. Many times on the approach to retrieve a ball at the frontcourt, the old Egyptian elbow came out. 91 decisions kept the match officials busy. The first two games were both close, and were shared

Shabana was a deserving winner for his skilful shots and speed around the court. In the 3rd game he confidently called 'set one' at 14 each, and took it with a forceful volley from the back of the court to go two-one up.

His antics with the match officials and his opponent however, as well as his high number of unforced errors and periodic loose play might, on another day, have been his downfall. Darwish played solid squash, but was unable to raise his game to a level, to put Shabana under pressure. Particularly in the opening, as well as in the final game, he could have changed the course of the match.

Darwish levelled at two games all, only to fall short in the fifth. He missed a great chance to further improve his position in the world rankings.

After the match the new Spanish Open Champion could not stop talking: ”I am so happy. This is my first tournament win for a long time," said Shabana.

"I have been away studying and have played only a few events. It was Darwish who was nervous. He was the favourite. I had nothing to lose but much to prove. Many had me already written off. Everyone only talks of Darwish. My next aim is to reach the top five in the world.”

Seville Snaps from Fritz Borchert

Photos from Fritz Borchert
Seville Snaps from Fritz

Spanish Open 2003
1st Round
Thu 26th
Fri 27th
Sat 28th
Sun 29th
[1] Peter Nicol (Eng )
15-6, 15-7, 17-15
[Q] Ben Garner (Eng)
Peter Nicol
15-9, 15-9, 15-4
Joseph Kneipp
Peter Nicol

15-13, 8-15, 9-15, 15-14, 15-13

Karim Darwish

Karim Darwish

15-13, 13-15, 15-14, 8-15, 15-13

Amr Shabana

[5] Joseph Kneipp (Aus)
15-6, 15-9, 15-6
Borja Golan (Esp)
[3] Karim Darwish (Egy)
15-8, 15-10, 15-13
Stephen Meads (Eng)
Karim Darwish
12-15, 15-9, 15-7, 15-7
James Willstrop
[8] Nick Taylor (Eng)
15-12, 14-17, 15-9, 15-3
[Q] James Willstrop (Eng)
Mohammed Abbas (Egy)
15-13, 15-10, rtd (groin injury)
[7] Mark Chaloner (Eng)
Mohammed Abbas
8-15, 15-11, 15-17, 15-13, 15-10
Ong Beng Hee
Ong Beng Hee

15-13, 15-12, 5-15, 15-12

Amr Shabana

[Q] Shahier Razik (Can)
15-10, 16-17, 16-17, 15-9, 15-12
[4] Ong Beng Hee (Mas)
[Q] Moh'd Azlan Iskandar (Mas)
15-8, 12-15, 15-13, 6-15, 15-11
[6] Simon Parke (Eng)
Moh'd Azlan Iskandar
15-13, 15-11, 15-9
Amr Shabana
Amr Shabana (Egy)
15-9, 10-15, 15-13, 15-10
[2] Anthony Ricketts (Aus)
top of page
RESULTS & Reports


28 Jun 03

K.Darwish bt P.Nicol 15-13, 8-15, 9-15, 15-14, 15-13
A.Shabana bt O.Beng Hee 15-13, 15-12, 5-15, 15-12


Peter Nicol said yesterday after his easy quarterfinal win that tomorrow’s match would be much harder. How true that was. In the end, he left the glasscourt in Seville’s Town centre, losing to Karim Darwish in the semi-final, having had match ball in the 4th game.

Nicol commanded the first period of the opening game, before his opponent responded with a series of 5 points. At game-ball, Nicol hit the tin. A self-assured Darwish came out strongly in the second, taking the first few points, but this merely served to awaken the fighting spirit of the world number one. Driving forcefully to good length, Nicol took the next two games.

The 4th game was the high point in this encounter. Nicol was on his way to a place in the final, leading 13-9, when the Egyptian mustered an astounding comeback. With two drop shots at 12-13, he went ahead 14-13. At this point he was denied a certain stroke, which left Players watching outside, as well as the one inside the court, stunned in amazement. Two rallies later, when Darwish elected set one, Nicol had match ball, but hit the tin. The deciding 5th game was also close , but a now aggressive Egyptian took the match, after 1 hour and 33 minutes.

The delighted Darwish said ” I knew I had to get in front of Peter, to dictate the rallies. But I am happy now. This was my 1st win over Peter. I am looking forward to tomorrow's game. I have a good chance.”

A rueful Nicol said:” I should have won in the 4th game. I had my chance, but he played very well and I made too many mistakes.”

In the other semi-final qualifier Amr Shabana was too good for Ong Beng Hee. Seldom leaving the front court position and moving very fast, Shabana put the Malaysian under constant pressure. Only in the 3rd game did Beng Hee find some consistency in his game, sparking off anticipations of another 5 game match, following his previously two, this week.

But Shabana killed off such thoughts early in the fourth game, and completed his four game victory.

”My game plan was attack, attack," said a beaming Shabana. "I could not let Bengy play his game. In the 3rd I got very tired, but I recovered. I should improve my ranking after this tournament. It should be a good final.”


Fritz Borchert reports from Seville

K.Darwish bt J.Willstrop  12-15, 15-9, 15-7, 15-7
P.Nicol bt J.Kneipp  15-9, 15-9, 15-4
O.Beng Hee bt M.Abbas   8-15, 15-11, 15-17, 15-13, 15-10
A.Shabana bt M.A.Iskandar 15-13, 15-11, 15-9

A stern challenge from Junior World Champion Jamie Willstrop in the opening game of the first Quarterfinal match on the glasscourt in Seville’s market square, was not enough to unsettle Egyptian Karim Darwish.

From halfway in the 2nd game, Willstrop began to slow down dramatically. This was the signal for his opponent to attack, and that he did. Relentless he took charge, and stroked the ball deep into the corners of the court for the English man to chase - with little success. From there on the 3-1 win was never in doubt.

Darwish said after the match :” The match score between us was one each, but now I am in the lead. My match plan was to move him around the court and it worked well. He is a big lad and I don’t think he is really fit.”

In the following match Peter Nicol dispatched Joe Kneipp in just 44 minutes . As early as the beginning of the 2nd game the Australian became dispirited and offered limited resistance to the ruthlessly performing World No. one.

Slightly puzzled by the performance of his opponent Nicol said:” I was surprised that Joe was dispirited so early in the game. We all go through bad patches during the match, but you have to work your way through it."

Nicol knows that Darwish will present him with a real challenge though: "Tomorrow's match will be much harder. Darwish is up for it and wants it desperately ... and so will I.”

Ong Beng Hee followed his tradition here in Seville with another 5 game match, which he narrowly won against Mohamed Abbas. Only when the much taller Egyptian slowed down, could Ong secure his victory.

The relieved Malaysian said ”I have always hard matches with Abbas, we battled as juniors. He is a good player. I am so glad I won.”

In the last match of the evening, around midnight,  Amr Shabana scored a straight 3-0 win over Moh’d Azlan Iskandar, to secure his place into tomorrow's semi-final.

Qualifiers progress in Seville

Fritz Borchert reports from Seville
The opening of the evening session on the glasscourt in the town centre of Seville started the 1st. round matches with a sensational outcome.

Elevated to number two seed after the withdraw of Super Series Finals winner Jonathon Power, Anthony Ricketts was scheduled to meet Peter Nicol in Final, but found himself dumped out of the tournament by Amr Shabana.

The in recent weeks much improved Australian was caught on a bad day. Difficult playing conditions, an opponent playing well above his ranking position and doing his best to destroy all concentration what there still was within Ricketts.

So much so that, when he came of the court having lost the 3rd game, he asked the referee to take control of the match. Then followed wilt:” I'm trying to play a game of squash here, but he (Shabana) never stops talking.”

Too many errors, particular in front of the court, were Ricketts' downfall, while his Egyptian opponent did some spectacular retrieving, as well as strong volleying.

A delighted Shabana after the match :” It the first time I have played him. I was very nervous, that is why I complained to the referee so often. I haven’t played many matches recently. I have been training in Egypt with the National Coach. This result will bring up my ranking position.”

The following matches stood in the shadow of the opening encounter and went all to plan as per seeding with Peter Nicol, Joseph Kneipp and Karim Darwish all claiming quarter-final places with 3/0 wins.

The afternoon session though, also started with an unpredicted result. The first match in the first round provided the first casualty of the tournament. Mark Chaloner struggled through two games with a groin injury before retiring, with his opponent Egyptian Mohamad Abbas leading 2-0.

But thereafter a small but knowledgeable crowd around the show court of one of Spanish finest squash club, the Antares, were handsomely compensated for the short opener, with two five game matches and a battle royal between two Englishmen.

Malaysian Ong Beng Hee needed 1hour 51minutes to win in 5 games, 15-12 in the fifth against Canadian Shahier Razik. Not to be outdone by his fellow countryman, Mohamed Azlan Iskandar following with a surprise 5 game win over Simon Parke. The afternoon's proceeding were closed with the match between James Willstrop and Nick Taylor, which Willstrop a 3-1 win.

So, three seeds falling in the first round and two qualifiers in the quarters, which present us with the mouthwatering matchup between James Willstrop and his predecessor as world junior champion Karim Darwish.

Two England players survived the qualifying finals - and were immediately paired up with English opponents in the first round. Yorkshire's World Junior Champion James Willstrop swept to a 15-13 15-8 15-9 win over Italian No1 Davide Bianchetti to earn a first round clash with his Manchester English National League team-mate Nick Taylor, the eighth seed. Ben Garner will face top seed Peter Nicol, the world No1 from London, after his 7-15 15-13 15-13 15-12 victory over Welshman Gavin Jones.

Qualifying finals:
Shahier Razik (CAN) bt Lee Drew (ENG)  13-15, 15-4, 15-8, 15-3
Ben Garner (ENG) bt Gavin Jones (WAL)  7-15, 15-13, 15-13, 15-12
Moh'd Azlan Iskandar (MAS) bt Lars Harms (SUI)  17-14, 15-7, 15-11
James Willstrop (ENG) bt Davide Bianchetti (ITA)  15-13, 15-8, 15-9

1st qualifying round:
Shahier Razik (CAN)  bye
Lee Drew (ENG) bt Victor Montserrat (ESP)  11-15, 9-15, 15-8, 15-4, 15-10
Gavin Jones (WAL) bt Oriol Salvia (ESP)  15-7, 16-17, 17-15, 15-3
Ben Garner (ENG) bt Tommy Berden (NED)  15-13, 17-15, 14-17, 13-15, 15-10
Moh'd Azlan Iskandar (MAS) bt Iago Cornes (ESP)  15-3, 15-8, 15-6
Lars Harms (SUI) bt Jago Nardelli (ENG)  15-9, 15-6, 15-8
Davide Bianchetti (ITA) bt Andrew Whipp (ENG)  15-10, 15-5, 10-15, 15-9
James Willstrop (ENG) bt Constantino Casas (ESP)  15-8, 15-11, 15-8

Australia's World No7 Anthony Ricketts is delighted to be upgraded to second seed for this week's Seville Spanish Open Squash Championship - but disappointed that stories emanating from his homeland suggest that he is less than fit.

"Since playing my last PSA World Tour event in Qatar in May, I have been training hard at my new UK base near Reading and am now in great condition and eager to get back to action on the international circuit here in Seville," said the 24-year-old from Brisbane on his personal website

"Contrary to reports I've heard from Australia, I am fully fit and keen to build on the great run I have had on the PSA Tour over the past year and improve further on my world ranking," Ricketts added. 

"I am now seeded to meet world No1 Peter Nicol in the final.  Of the past five PSA ranking events I have played, I have won one and lost in the other four to Peter, so I have got to know his game pretty well by now and am ready to get my first win over him!"

Ricketts begins his quest for glory in Seville with a first round match against Amr Shabana, the world No20 from Egypt.

Canada's world No4 Jonathon Power has withdrawn from this week's Seville Spanish Open Squash Championship following a back injury sustained during training.

"Jonathon is devastated by this setback and wishes your tournament all the best," said the Canadian's manager Jason Matthison in a message today to Spanish Open promoter Jonas Gornerup.

Power was seeded to meet English favourite Peter Nicol, the world No1, in the final of the $45,000 event which takes place in Seville from 26-29 June - marking the return after ten years of one the PSA Tour's leading events.

In a redraw, Australia's world No7 Anthony Ricketts is elevated to No2 seed and now faces Egypt's Amr Shabana in the opening round. England's Simon Parke, the world No12 from Nottingham who upset Nicol in last week's BSPA Grand Prix Finals in England - a non-ranking event - is separated from the top seed in the revised draw. Originally expected to meet his compatriot in the quarter-finals, Parke now becomes the sixth seed and faces a qualifier in the first round in the lower half of the draw.

The 2003 Spanish Open, a four star event, will be staged on an all-glass court in the main town square in Seville during the week before the town hosts its traditional annual fiesta.

Nicol & Power Set
For Seville Clash
England's Peter Nicol and Canada's Jonathon Power are set to add another chapter to their long-standing duel, according to the draw for the Seville Spanish Open Squash Championship which was announced today.

World No1 Nicol and Montreal-based Power, who has slipped to a six-year low of No4 in the world, are the top two seeds in the $45,000 event which takes place in Seville from 26-29 June - marking the return after ten years of one the PSA Tour's leading events.

The pair last met in May's final of the Brit Insurance Super Series Finals in London - where the Canadian won in five to take a 17-16 lead in their career head-to-head tally.

The 2003 Spanish Open, a four star event, will be staged on an all-glass court in the main town square in Seville during the week before the town hosts its traditional annual fiesta.

Spanish Open Returns - In Seville

The Spanish Open, one of the biggest events on the men's international squash circuit a decade ago, boasting both Jahangir Khan and Jansher Khan as former champions, makes its welcome return to the PSA Tour in June 2003.

The Spanish Seville Open will be a four star event, staged on an all-glass court in the main town square in Seville from 26-29 June, the week before the town hosts its traditional annual fiesta.

Jonas Gornerup, Technical Director of the Spanish Squash Federation, is the driving force behind this new initiative: "Since losing out to Madrid as the Spanish bid city for a future Olympic Games, the city of Seville has refocused its attention on a bid for the World Games and has also made a five-year commitment to squash which will include the men's Spanish Open and probably also a women's tournament and subsidiary events such as coaching conferences in the future," said the former Swedish world top 30 player.

"This is a real breakthrough for the sport in Spain, which at last gives us the opportunity to do something really big," enthused Gornerup. "The Spanish Seville Open promises to be a fantastic championship, bringing together our expertise in squash with Seville's tradition of staging spectacular events - and we hope to confirm a significant TV commitment soon."

PSA Executive Director Gawain Briars, himself a former international player in the Gornerup era, added: "Since my own days of playing, the Spanish Open was always one of the 'majors' on the international circuit, so I'm really pleased to see it return to the PSA Tour as a top flight event. I know Jonas, his team and the Spanish Federation have worked really hard to place this tournament again and I wish them the very best of success for this year and, hopefully, as an annual event."

top of page

 CONTACT:  SP Webmaster     Magazine Editor