Toronto Beckons Classic Final
world's top two squash players Amr Shabana and Ramy Ashour,
Egypt, will contest a dream final of the
PACE Canadian Classic after felling fellow Egyptians in four games in
the semi-finals of the 5-star PSA Tour event at the Metro Toronto
Convention Centre in Toronto.
beating fourth seed Karim Darwish 11-4, 11-7, 8-11, 11-5 in the first
semi-final, world number two Ramy Ashour admitted that he had guilt
problems, which caused him to throw away the last two points of the third
knew my ball was good, but Darwish was so sure it was down, I began to feel
guilty about taking the point and then hit the next ball into the ground,”
explained the No2 seed and defending champion.
Freudian confessions aside, Ashour was in top form from the very first rally
and took the first game in just six minutes. Darwish admitted later that he
started flat and defensive – “which you can’t do against Ashour who attacks
from the start and is so accurate.”
Darwish picked up his pace in the second game, but Ashour worked his
incredible speed and accuracy to take the game.
score was eight-all in the third when a controversial call occurred,
followed by an animated discussion between the two players. Ashour,
obviously upset, gave away the final game points.
Turning anger into overdrive, 20-year-old Ashour returned after a two-minute
break, delivering a barrage of shots for which Darwish had no answers.
Ashour won the game handily in less than eight minutes, earning his final
berth - his 13th PSA Tour final since November 2004.
Favourite Shabana was sharp and relaxed in his semi-final against Wael El
Hindi, the fifth seed. But, instead of being the killer shot, his
forehand drop was letting him down - hitting the tin and giving El Hindi a
number of lifelines. This allowed the UK-based 27-year-old to keep in touch
with Shabana to nine-all, but a lucky nick at the back put Shabana at game
ball and he was gifted the final point with an error from El Hindi.
building up a two-game lead, Shabana went walkabout in the third game,
allowing El Hindi to take it fairly comfortably. But the 2006 champion went
up a notch in the fourth game, and Shabana clinched the match 11-9, 11-9,
5-11, 11-7 in 60 minutes to claim the 27th Tour final appearance
of his career, and the fifth in a row.
Hindi said later that he should have won that first game.
would have been different if I had not been so loose. I relaxed too much and
you can’t relax against guys like Shabana. Against Shabana and Ashour, you
have to play every point like it’s match point. I haven’t yet learned to
get that level of concentration. With me it comes in waves,” he said,
adding that he felt he had a good tournament.
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Egypt Rules In Toronto
Despite a lapse in the third game, Wael El Hindi of
Egypt took charge of his quarter-final match
against Australian Cameron Pilley to book the final place in the last
four of the PACE Canadian Classic to complete an all-Egyptian
semi-final line-up in the 5-star PSA Tour squash event at the
Metro Toronto Convention Centre in
seed El Hindi cruised through the opening exchanges, controlling the first
game and putting unseeded Pilley, the world No23 who earlier upset
third-seeded compatriot David Palmer, under constant pressure.
Pilley fared a little better in the second game, but was still making
mistakes at crucial points.
the 27-year-old from
won that game, it appeared it was all over - but the third game saw Pilley
take control. The 25-year-old from New South Wales won the long game,
looking as though he could turn the match around.
Hindi upped the pace in the fourth, taking control and winning it easily to
record an 11-5, 11-7, 8-11, 11-5 victory in 75 minutes.
don’t know why I changed the pace in the third game,” El Hindi chided
himself later. “I suppose I relaxed and let the pace slow down. We were in
each others way with a lot of lets. In the fourth game I picked the pace up
and did what I should have done all along."
will now meet world No1 Amr Shabana in the semi-finals. Shabana had a
shortened evening when his opponent, compatriot Mohammed Abbas, had
to retire in the fourth game due a foot problem that occurred two days ago.
in pain the whole time and finally could not continue with my foot in the
shoe,” said a despondent Abbas after his 11-10 (5-3), 11-5, 9-11, 5-0 (ret.)
Meanwhile Shabana joked that it will be like playing in the Egyptian
Nationals – all the semi-final players are Egyptian. “Next year we should
hold the PACE Canadian Squash Classic in
Cairo," quipped the world champion.
Canada’s top player Shahier Razik experienced the full force of
Egypt’s boy wonder Ramy Ashour as he bowed in straight games in an
earlier quarter final.
the match, Razik was asked if he will do anything different next time he
meets the mighty Ashour.
- I’ll take a cup of coffee before the match so I don’t fall asleep in the
first game,” he replied, referring to his 11-1 drubbing in the four-minute
who moved from
to Canada at the age of 12, got up to speed in the second game and needed
all his considerable experience to stay in touch with the 20-year-old world
No2. Although Razik played well, Ashour’s accuracy and speed was too much
for the Canadian who ultimately went down 11-1, 11-8, 11-7 in 35 minutes.
will now meet fellow countryman Karim Darwish after the fourth seed
cruised to an 11-6, 11-7, 11-0 over sixth-seeded Australian Stewart
“Yesterday and today, my opponents were not as competitive as Shabana or
Darwish, so I don’t know if I am back to top form,” explained Ashour, who
returned to match play recently after two months off with a heel injury.
pain yesterday, but not today. Shahier let me get the first game, but then
he played really well – much more than I expected. Fortunately there was no
pain in my foot.”
Punishes Palmer In Pace Upset
No4 David Palmer suffered his first opening round defeat on the
PSA Tour for two and a half years when he was beaten by compatriot
Cameron Pilley in the first round of the PACE Canadian Squash
Classic at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre in Toronto.
In the pair's second
clash this year, 25-year-old Pilley, from New South Wales, beat the former
world champion, also from New South Wales, 11-4, 11-5, 10-11 (4-6), 11-4
in 72 minutes.
later that he had injured his back in training three days ago.
“I spent four hours
today with the physio in an attempt to loosen the back up, but on the
third point of the first game, it locked up,” explained the 31-year-old.
When asked whether it had been wise to carry on, Palmer replied: “I guess
not, but I just hate to lose.”
Pilley goes on to
face Wael El Hindi, the fifth seed from Egypt who beat Canadian
qualifier Shawn Delierre 11-7, 11-8, 11-4.
Shahier Razik, ranked 22 in the world, earned his way to the
quarter-finals with a 3/0 victory over the 29th ranked Miguel Angel
Rodriguez of Colombia. Fellow Canadian Matthew Giuffre, of
Edmonton, lost in straight games to the reigning world champion and world
No1 Amr Shabana of Egypt.
Shabana, playing his
first tournament this year, showed no rusty signs in his first round
match. The 28-year-old from Giza took just 26 minutes to finish Giuffre
with a dazzling array of winners and inch-perfect length that left the
Canadian without any answers.
“I couldn’t handle
his length and accuracy,” Giuffre commented after the match. “It’s
awesome playing the best in the world. I wasn’t shell-shocked because I
used to play Jonathon Power a lot. But I simply don’t get that level of
opposition back in Edmonton.”
When asked to
compare the great Canadian, (now retired from professional squash) and
Shabana, Giuffre said that Power was the more aggressive player. “He hit
the ball harder than Shabana, but Shabana is so incredibly accurate.”
Troubled with a
wrist problem, Shabana has not played a tournament for almost two months.
“I took four weeks
off after the World Team Championships in December and only started
practising a month ago. Right now, I’m relaxed because I am happy to be
playing. When you have an injury you never know if you will play again,”
said the Egyptian who won the PACE Canadian Classic two years ago.