Shabana Sets Sights on Bermuda
Amr Shabana pulled of a stylist and confidence boosting win in the Qatar
Classic when he beat the third seed Gregory Gaultier 11-4, 8-11 11-6, 11-5
in 52 minutes to move into pole position to regain the world title in
It was all easy for Shabana in the first, although later he was to say ‘we
were both nervous’, but he played straight length and picked his winners
with ease taking the game with seven winners to Gautlier’s none. The
difference between Shabana’s play and those of his colleagues who are fine
attacking players, and who work the ball well, is that Shabana finds the
nick with ease. Drops are not hit to the front corner but aimed for the nick
and roll regularly.
The nicks rolled easily enough for him in the first 11-4 but he lost his way
at the start of the second. Gaultier was off court disputing a stoke against
him, with some justification, at the start of the second and one suspects
that Shabana’s concentration just faltered a bit. He played well, his
hitting his there, his anticipation brilliant, nimble in movement, beautiful
variations of pace and shot but at times he makes it too complex, and at
times his concentration goes. Overall this was a good performance and if you
wanted to criticize it you would say that mentally his performance
fluctuated a bit.
Gaultier came onto his game in the second started to find a few winners as
Shabana’s length became indifferent to go ahead 6-3. Shabana leveled with
fine kills but mistakes on easy balls and a harsh stroke disrupted his
concentration for Gaultier to level the game scores.
The crux of the match was in the third. It was all very tight at 5-all.
Gaultier was impeded by Shabana received a no let, he disputed, was ordered
to play on, and with several excited crowd outbursts during rallies (Gaultier
fired the ball into the roof on one serve in frustration as he asked for a
let for distraction) his concentration was disrupted and he was unable to
score again except for one nick smashed off serve in frustration.
So it was 11-6 to Shabana to go 2/1 up. Gautlier’s mental demeanour did not
improve in the fourth. He imploded mentally briefly at 1-3, with a whole
series of errors that put Shabana ahead 8-1, out of reach, and the match was
finally secured 11-5 in 52 minutes.
This was a fine match for Shabana. He can play better but it is all there.
The hands and feet are working well. The head is not bad and if he gets that
together someone will have to play very very well to deprive him of a world
title in Bermuda.
“In the first game I was focused and up for it,” he said. “But he came out
firing in the second and it went haywire. There is a thin line between being
very focused and getting obsessed.”
“It wasn’t the best of matches, we were both nervous.”
“Everyone has been talking about Ramy coming up. I wasn’t really thinking
about it but I knew I had to start winning tournament again. Really I had to
starting playing my best, just trying to play my best really and let the
results speak for themselves.”
“If you worry about the general picture too much it doesn’t help. You need
to focus on playing well in tournaments.”
The tour now moves to Hong Kong, with an event in Pakistan and then Bermuda.
Shabana is the form player at the moment but there is still some way to go.
“In Hong Kong we start again, another fight, another war,” said Shabana.
The war will be over in Bermuda in December, briefly then there is the world
team title to play for.
David back on top
Nicol David won the women’s title in Qatar 9-6, 9-4, 10-9 to go back to the
top of the women’s game. In truth she could have won it more easily but gave
Grainger an opening on game ball.
Grainger play fluctuated. She was 6-4 up the first and lost it quickly in a
hand. It was close at the start of the second but David established a 6-2
lead catching her opponent out with boasts and saw the game out 9-4. At 8-3
up in the third is had been largely one way traffic but then unencumbered
Grainger started to play brilliantly and suddenly David realized she had not
won it. At 9-8 game ball after much good work Grainger muffed a really easy
drop opening and David went through 10-9.
Not quick a world title but she and all her Malaysia fans were very happy.
Nicol David (left) and Natalie Grainger
go head to head in Qatar Final
Qatar Classic 2007
Men's Draw $120k 28-Oct to 03-Nov
Amr Shabana (Egy)
11/6, 11/6, 11/8 (29m)
Borja Golan (Esp)
7/11, 12/10, 11/5, 11/7 (38m)
11-8, 11-7, 11-7
Ong Beng Hee
11-5, 11-6 (47
11-4, 8-11 11-6, 11-5
Mohammed Abbas (Egy)
11/3, 11/9, 11/1 (29m)
[Q] Mohamed El Shorbagy (Egy)
Wael El Hindi (Egy)
4/11, 13/11, 8/11, 12/10, 11/5 (101m)
Alister Walker (Eng)
Wael El Hindi
11/8, 7/11, 12/10, 9/11, 14/12 (112m)
Ong Beng Hee
Stewart Boswell (Aus)
9/11, 11/4, 11/8, 7/11, 11/4 (72m)
Ong Beng Hee (Mas)
11/6, 11/6, 11/7 (41m)
[Q] Omar Mosaad (Egy)
11/3, 11/8, 9/11, 11/8 (65m)
4-11, 11-7, 11-7,
3-11, 11-8 (74m)
13/11, 6/11, 9/11, 12/10, 11/5 (111m)
Cameron Pilley (Aus)
James Willstrop (Eng)
11/7, 9/11, 11/6, 10/12, 11/4 (60m)
[Q] Jonathan Kemp (Eng)
11/8, 11/8, 11/8 (37m)
11/5, 9/11, 12/10, 11/4 (49m)
[Q] Dylan Bennett (Ned)
Omar Abdel Aziz (Egy)
11/4, 11/1, 11/2 (27m)
Peter Barker (Eng)
10/12, 11/7, 11/6, 11/4 (77m)
11-10 (2-0), 9-11,
11-10 (2-0), 6-11, 11-9 (83m)
7-11 11-10(2-0) 11-8 8-11
Renan Lavigne (Fra)
11/7, 11/8, 12/10 (60m)
Nick Matthew (Eng)
Laurens Jan Anjema
11/7, 11/9, 4/11, 7/11, 11/9 (84m)
 Lee Beachill (Eng)
10/12, 11/1, 11/6, 11/6 (53m)
Mansoor Zaman (Pak)
11/6, 11/6, 11/1 (20m)
Gregory Gaultier (Fra)
11/5, 11/4, 1/0 red inj
 Azlan Iskandar (Mas)
11/4, 11/5, 11/7 (31m)
11-5, 11-7, 8-11,
9-11, 11-9 (85m)
[Q] Bradley Ball (Eng)
7/11, 11/4, 11/13, 11/8, 11/8 (87m)
Thierry Lincou (Fra)
Hisham Ashour (Egy)
11/9, 11/6, 11/3 (34m
Karim Darwish (Egy)
14/12, 11/2, 4/5 rtd inj (41m)
Chris Ryder (Eng)
11/6, 11/4, 12/10 (27m)
 Ramy Ashour (Egy)
Renan Lavigne (Fra) bt Jesse Engelbrecht (Rsa) 11/2, 11/6, 11/5
Mohamed El Shorbagy (Egy) bt Omar Elborolossy (Egy) 11/7, 4/11, 11/5,
Jonathan Kemp (Eng) bt Tarek Momen (Egy) 11/6, 7/11, 8/11,
11/9, 11/7 (50m)
Dylan Bennett (Ned) bt Amr Swelim (Egy) 11/7, 6/11 11/6, 17/15 (64m)
Omar Mosaad (Egy) bt Chris Simpson (Eng) 8/11, 11/6, 9/11, 11/7,
Omar Abdel Aziz (Egy) bt Davide Bianchetti (Ita) 9/11, 11/7, 13/11,
Chris Ryder (Eng) bt Saurav Ghosal (Ind) 11/7, 8/11, 11/4, 7./11,
Bradley Ball (Eng) bt Bader Al Hussaini (Kuw) Bye
Jesse Engelbrecht (Rsa) bt Adil Maqbool (Pak) 9/11, 11/6, 8/11, 11/8, 11/7 (61m)
Mohamed El Shorbagy (Egy) bt Aaron Frankcomb (Aus) 12/10, 9/11, 11/9, 11/9 (66m)
Tarek Momen (Egy) bt Bilal Zaman (Pak) 11/5, 11/9, 11/7 (26m)
Dylan Bennett (Ned) bt Ali Miski (Leb) 11/5, 11/9, 11/7 (15m)
Amr Swelim (Egy) bt John Rooney (Irl) 11/5, 9/11, 11/7, 11/9 (44m)
Chris Simpson (Eng) bt Mohamad Mosaad Abouzid (Egy) 11/6, 11/2, 11/7 (24m)
Omar Abdel Aziz (Egy) bt David Vidal (Esp) 11/5, 11/3, 11/4 (20m)
Chris Ryder (Eng) bt Steve Coppinger (Rsa) 11/13, 11/9, 11/6, 11/9 (63m)
Saurav Ghosal (Ind) bt Mohamed Reza Sadeghpur (Irn) 11/3, 11/2, 11/2 (19m)
Bader Al Hussaini (Kuw)bt Bradley Hindle (Aus) 6/11, 11/9, 11/8, 12/10 (17m)
| Nicol David (Mas)
9/3, 9/3, 9/3 (49m)
Samantha Teran (Mex)
9/0, 9/7, 9/4 (40m)
9-7, 9-1, 9-2
9-7, 0-9, 2-9,
9-5, 9-1 (56 min)
| Isabelle Stoehr (Fra)
9/7, 10/9, 9/6 (47m)
Louise Crome (Nzl)
| Omneya Abdel Kawy
2/9, 9/0, 4/9, 9/4, 9/4 (61m)
Jaclyn Hawkes (Nzl)
9/0, 9/5, 9/2 (25m)
| Alison Waters
9/3, 9/2, 9/3 (26m)
[Q] Carla Khan (Pak)
| Rachael Grinham
9/7, 9/4, 9/0 (34m)
Sarah Kippax (Eng)
9/4, 9/6, 9/2 (37m)
1-9, 9-5, 9-3, 9-5
| Shelley Kitchen (Nzl)
9/4, 9/3, 9/4 (35m)
Dominique Lloyd-Walter (Eng)
| Vicky Botwright
9/1, 9/4, 9/0 (24m)
Aisling Blake (Irl)
8/10, 9/3, 9/6, 9/6 (61m)
| Kasey Brown (Aus)
9/1, 9/0, 9/1 (36m)
Manuela Manetta (Ita)
|[Q] Tenille Swartz
2/9, 9/3, 9/6, 8/10, 9/5 (52m)
Annelize Naude (Ned)
9/4, 9/3, 9/7 (24m)
7-9, 10-9, 9-1, 9-2
1-9, 0-9, 9-6,
9-4, 9-1 (60 min)
|[Q] Emma Beddoes (Eng)
9/4, 9/10, 9/2, 7/9, 9/1 (54m)
 Vanessa Atkinson (Ned)
|Lauren Briggs (Eng)
9/2, 9/2, 4/9, 4/9, 9/4 (70m)
 Engy Kheirallah (Egy)
9/5, 9/2, 9/2 (37m)
|Line Hansen (Den)
9/2, 9/0, 9/4 (25m)
 Tania Bailey (Eng)
Christina Mak (Hkg)
9/0, 9/1, 9/5 (28m)
 Laura Lengthorn-Massaro (Eng)
9/5, 8/10, 9/4, 9/7 (61m)
9-7, 9-5, 9-4 (35m)
Raneem El Weleily (Egy)
9/0, 9/1, 9/5 (23m)
 Natalie Grainger (Usa)
|[Q] Laura Mylotte
9/5, 9/0, 9/7 (29m)
 Jenny Duncalf (Eng)
9/1, 9/1, 9/1 (30m)
|Margriet Huisman (Ned)
9/2, 9/3, 9/0 (27m)
 Natalie Grinham (Aus)
Tenille Swartz (Rsa) bye
Laura Mylotte (Irl) bt Adel Weir (Rsa) 9/2, 9/6, 9/5 (34m)
Carla Khan (Pak) bt Lauren Siddall (Eng) 9/5, 9/5, 2/9, 9/3 (50m)
Emma Beddoes (Eng) bt
Orla Noom (Ned) 9/2, 9/4, 9/2 (30m)
David  beat Rachael Grinham 
9-7, 0-9, 2-9, 9-5, 9-1 (56 min).
Natalie Grainger  beat Tania Bailey  1-9, 0-9, 9-6, 9-4, 9-1
Shabana  beat David Palmer  11-6, 11-5, 11-6 (47 min).
Gregory Gaultier  bt Karim Darwish
7-11 11-10(2-0) 11-8 8-11 11-5 (68m)
Classy Shabana Lays Down Gauntlet
No one had the gumption to go and ask David Palmer what he felt about his
chances of hanging onto his world title in Bermuda after his semi-final
against Arm Cabaña but the Egyptian had sent him a pretty clear message here
‘That title is mine,’ Cabaña could have said.
It was a classy performance from the world no.1. Today he had another gear
to the world champion and completed his destruction with ease – deadly
kills, not fine drops but deadly drops that nicked, straight and crosscourt,
that gave you no change no matter how hard you ran. It was annoyingly easy
for him, and even when Palmer momentarily got on top and smashed the ball
into space eh was able to run it down or flick it off the back and then
conjure some little piece of magic and baffled his opponent. The score says
it all 11-6, 11-5, 11-6.
Survival and Revenge
It was survival rather than revenge at the Kalifa Squash Centre in Doha in
the semi-finals of the women’s event at the Qatar Classic when Nicol David
turned a disasterous position around in the fourth game to defeat Rachael
Grinham, the player who has taken her British Open and World titles.
David took the first 9-7 but then lapsed into a type of passivity, almost
mesmerized; as her opponent took control of the game with brilliant floated
lobs and drops. The second went quickly 0-9, the third almost as quickly as
her opponent struck with exquisite straight drops and intercepted volley
drops, interspersed with fine variations of faded crosscourt drops and
volley drops and high floating lobs from the forehand. Whenever David
ventured onto the forehand Rachael Grinham struck with winning straight
drops or floated crosscourt. In truth there was plenty of opportunity and
Grinham used them superbly as the world no.1 struggled to get length, apply
any pressure on the volley and ventured short with telegraphed shots far too
often. Harsh to say but true. Grinham canned her. For half of this five set
match – from the beginning of the second game until half way through the
fourth David scored just three points!
How did he turn it around from 2/1 and 5-1 down? Well as she said later she
didn’t give up.
“I new I had to keep pushing. I was a struggling. Her shots were
unbelievable. She was working the court so well. All of a sudden we were at
5 all and I kept that momentum and carried it into the fifth.
David did get better length – really this was poor for a world no.1 – she
volleyed more to get the middle and tried to keep in front. She still went
short far too often but now Grinham was speeding to the front from further
back in the court and David had made the commitment to stand up the court
“It was cooler on there today so Rachael’s shots died well. I hadn’t
adjusted,” said David. The air conditioning level has been crucial for this
event. Not high enough to absorb enough moisture to stop the floor becoming
slippery as Palmer complained and Ramy found out, but not high enough to
provide a bouncy ball that David could wack into the back corners.
Once David had adjusted and got to 5 all in the fourth Grinham’s game fell
apart. She only really adjusted when matchball 8-2 down, when she controlled
a superb long rally, and didn’t take any risks – she could not afford to –
but it was a bit late for she should have tried to build rallies earlier
rather than counter punching from unlikely positions. A fine kill from David
and an unfortunate stroke and it was all over 9-7, 0-9, 2-9, 9-5, 9-1 in 56
“It’s a big win after the Worlds,” said David. “I’m now looking forward.”
Grinham In Qatar Breakthrough
US champion Natalie Grainger
celebrated her long-awaited 'world top three scalp' when she defeated
Australia's world No2 Natalie Grinham in straight games in the
quarter-finals of the Qatar Classic, the $77,000 women's WISPA
Gold squash event in Doha, Qatar.
Egypt's Karim Darwish pulled off
his second successive upset in the men's championship when he removed
fifth-seeded Frenchman Thierry Lincou to reach the semi-finals of
the $120,000 Super Series Platinum event.
It is more than a year - and 14 events -
since Natalie Grinham last failed to reach a WISPA World Tour semi-final.
But last week's Madrid World Open runner-up, unbeaten by Grainger
for two and a half years, went down 9-7, 9-5, 9-4 in 35 minutes to the
Pan American Games gold medallist in just 35 minutes.
The former world number one from
Washington DC now faces England's Tania Bailey for her first
appearance in a WISPA Gold final since April 2005. Bailey, the fourth
seed from Lincolnshire, maintained the brave form she showed in Madrid to
beat Vanessa Atkinson, the No8 seed from the Netherlands, 7-9,
10-9, 9-1, 9-2.
World number one Nicol David will
face world champion Rachael Grinham in the other women's
semi-final. David, the top seed from Malaysia, despatched England's 12th
seed Alison Waters 9-7, 9-1, 9-2 while Australian Grinham claimed
her 16th WISPA Tour match win in a row when she recovered from
a game down to beat England's No6 seed Vicky Botwright 1-9, 9-5,
After upsetting second seed Ramy Ashour
in the previous round, Karim Darwish took full advantage of his surprise
appearance in the last eight by surviving an 85-minute marathon against
Thierry Lincou to beat his French rival 11-5, 11-7, 8-11, 9-11, 11-9.
"It's always hard to play against Thierry,
he is so strong mentally and physically," Darwish said afterwards. "In
the first two games I was confident, relaxed, and it was a bit
comfortable. Then at 8-4 in the third, I starting thinking that I was
winning, and that, I shouldn't be against somebody like Thierry!
"But then, after losing the third and the
fourth, I reminded myself of the match against Shabana in Saudi, where I
was up 2/0 and I lost. And I knew that I couldn't lose another match like
that, it would have killed me.
"We both couldn't move at the end. It
could have gone either way, but I'm so glad to be in the semis."
The 26-year-old from Cairo will take on
Lincou's compatriot Gregory Gaultier, the British Open
champion who survived another marathon against US Open champion
Nick Matthew to beat the Englishman 11-10 (2-0), 9-11, 11-10 (2-0),
The other men's semi-final will feature
Egypt's top seed Amr Shabana and third-seeded Australian David
Palmer. In the only straight games win of the day in the men's event,
world number one Shabana eased to an 11-8, 11-7, 11-7 win over unseeded
Malaysian Ong Beng Hee while world champion Palmer toiled for 74
minutes to overcome Englishman James Willstrop 4-11, 11-7, 11-7,
"When you play James, you know you just
have to play the ball and concentrate on your squash, and I think that for
big fellows, and the way we move around the court, and the way we play, so
early on the ball, we are moving around each other quite well!" explained
"It's for that kind of match that I keep
on playing squash. There was no discussion, no blocking, no getting in
the way of each other, no arguments with the referees, a good, fair and
square match. And if I was James right now, I would be very, very
Willstrop concurred: "I was so up for
this match, I so wanted to win. I am really really, really, unhappy. I'm
very disappointed, but all credit to both of us, it was a fair game of
squash, no messing about.
"In an hour or two, I'll look at it in a
positive vein, and take the positive out of it - I played well in
patches. There is some good; I only lost 11-8 in the fifth. But it's a
quarter final. I don't want to keep losing in quarter finals, I've got to
learn, and learn, and learn how to win those matches!"
Crashes in Qatar
Challenge in Doubt
Ramy Ashour crashed out of the 2007 Qatar Classic, at the Khalifa Stadium
in Qatar, with a twisted ankle that has stalled his sensational assault on
the top spot in world squash and raises doubts over his participation in
the World Open in Bermuda at the end of the month.
Ramy, who has had difficulties with a long-term knee problem played
throughout the recent Saudi Open with a ankle brace. He reached the final
there but lost to the World No.1 Amr Shabana. Ramy who staged his assault
on the top spot with wins in the Kuwait Open in April, the rescheduled
2006 Qatar Open also in April, and won the Super Series Finals in August,
faulted in the US Open where he lost to Nick Matthew in the semis and in
Qatar he has crashed out in the second round.
Ramy was comfortable enough in the first round against Chris Ryder in
Qatar winning 11-6, 11-4, 11-10 (2-0) to go through and face his
compatriot Karim Darwish in the second.
Against Darwish the first game was desperately close with plenty of all
court action but both players ended up on the floor on separate ocassions
with the floor-sweepers on court frequently.
Darwish was the first to 10-9, in the fast action packed game with plently
of close contact – their were 17 lets and no lets in this game alone. The
scores levelled at 10, 11, 12 and 13 before Darwish sealed what proved the
decisive encounter 15-13. In the second Darwish could do no wrong, was
away to 8-1 and then 11-2 as his opponent let the game go. In the third
Darwish again set the pace with a 4-1 lead closed down by Ramy to 4-5 but
he then slipped, maintained his balance but
retired in pain in powerthe 41st minute..
There was much constination and Ramy was in genuine distress. It is too
early to say how serious the injury is but it cannot but affect his
preparations for Qatar. It also raises doubts over whether he will play in
next week’s Hong Kong Open.
Earlier in the day David Palmer slipped on the blue painted floor of the
Khalifa Stadium show court and requested that the air conditioning be
turned up immediately to absorb some of the moisture in the warm air.
“It is too warn in here,” he said. “We are going to keep slipping. The air
conditioning needs to go up.”
is to be held later this month.
Darwish Dashes Ashour's
the 20-year-old Egyptian who had reached at least the semi-finals in all
nine PSA Tour events in which he had competed so far this year,
crashed out of the Qatar Classic after retiring injured in the second
round of the $120,000 Super Series Platinum squash event in
second seed was stretched to a lengthy tie-break in the first game, then
only managed two points in the second against compatriot Karim Darwish,
the No9 seed.
Already carrying a minor wrist injury, Ashour crashed to the floor midway
through the third game clutching his left ankle - immediately taking off his
shoe and clearly in considerable pain.
Darwish's 11-10 (5-3), 11-2, 5-4 (ret.) victory takes the 26-year-old from
Cairo into a quarter-final against fifth seed Thierry Lincou after
the Frenchman beat England's Joey Barrington 11-4, 11-5, 11-7.
maintained his giant-killing Doha run by beating Egypt's No8 seed Wael El
Hindi 11-8, 7-11, 11-10 (2-0), 9-11, 11-10 (4-2) in a 112-minute
marathon. The unseeded Malaysian had earlier upset 10th seed
Stewart Boswell to reach the last sixteen.
"This was my lucky day today, I was match ball down, and I win," Beng Hee
said. "A bit stop-and-start all the way, but I’m happy with my win, very
Hee now takes on top seed Amr Shabana, the world number one from
Egypt who defeated compatriot Mohammed Abbas 7-11, 11-10 (2-0), 11-5,
championship, Alison Waters brought the giant-killing run of unseeded
Jaclyn Hawkes to an end - beating the New Zealander 9-0, 9-5, 9-2.
only her second WISPA Gold quarter-final this year, the No12 seed from
England now faces top seed Nicol David. In a repeat of their first
round match in last week's Madrid World Open, the Malaysian world
number one beat France's Isabelle Stoehr 9-0, 9-7, 9-4.
started well, I found it good watching Beng Hee playing before as when I
found out he won I had an extra bit of motivation from the start," said
David. "I'm pleased with my match today."
Seeds Dismissed On
Opening Day In Doha
There were surprises
in both the men's and women's events in the Qatar Squash Classic on
the opening day of main draw action in Doha,
Stewart Boswell was the highest-ranked player to fall in the men's
$120,000 Super Series Platinum event. The tenth seed from Canberra
took the opening against Ong Beng Hee, but the unseeded Malaysian
fought back to clinch a notable 9-11, 11-4, 11-8, 7-11, 11-4 victory in 72
Beng Hee's win was
countered by the unexpected defeat of compatriot Mohd Azlan Iskandar.
The No14 seed was forced to retire injured at the start of the third
game against unseeded Joey Barrington, with the Englishman claiming
an 11-5, 11-4, 1-0 ret. win after just 29 minutes.
Barrington will now
face fifth seed Thierry Lincou after the Frenchman survived a scare
against English qualifier Bradley Ball before winning 7-11, 11-4,
10-11 (1-3), 11-8, 11-8 in 87 minutes.
"I'm lucky to get
away with a victory today," said former world number one Lincou said.
"It's a great warning for the rest of the tournament."
Jan Anjema also secured an unexpected place in the last sixteen. The
24-year-old from The Hague stemmed a comeback by 11th seed
Lee Beachill before upsetting the Englishman 11-7, 11-9, 4-11, 7-11,
11-9 in 84 minutes.
heroine in the $77,000
The 24-year-old New Zealander celebrated her return to the world's top 20
by defeating seventh seed Omneya Abdel Kawy 2-9, 9-0, 4-9, 9-4, 9-4
in 61 minutes.
Hawkes will now face
England's 12th seed Alison Waters, a 9-3, 9-2, 9-3
victor over Pakistan qualifier Carla Khan.
Malaysia's top seed
Nicol David began her Qatar campaign in confident style. Putting
the disappointment of last week's second round World Open exit
behind her, David despatched Mexico's Samantha Teran 9-3, 9-3, 9-3
and will now meet France's Isabelle Stoehr in a repeat of last
week's first round clash in Madrid.