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Nicol David beat Natalie Grinham 9-7, 2-9, 9-7, 9-2


Ramy Ashour beat David Palmer 8-11, 11-9 11-9, 11-6 (66m).

We have seen the future
Once again Ramy Ashour was slow to start. Former all-time great Geoff Hunt saw similarities to the brilliant Brett Martin in his casualness in preparation and the fact that he was going up his laces in the knock-up. Palmer who said he was a little flat in his semi-final, (not flattened) asserted himself here with penetrating length to take the first 11-8 and go 6-2 up in the second. That is a good lead in PAR to 11 but it changed in a hand as the Egyptian came onto his game and Palmer came under real threat with high intensity high risk squash that saw the ball and players flying around the court at extraordinary speed and angles.

Palmer was in sight of a two game lead at 9-7 but then Ramy struck with a series of unplayable winners that left Palmer standing. A weak ball was forced out and Ramy caressed it for the nick with an uncanny deadly accuracy that had it rolling on the floor.

In hindsight that was Palmer chance gone. Ramy persevered with his individual style of high speed action accompanied by a deadly racket and fast hands to take the initiative but Palmer was not done and fought all the way.

“RAMY, RAMY, RAMY” chanted the Arab crowd. We were watching the making of a star.

Ramy had a two game lead within his grasp at 10-6 but Palmer, all credit to him, fought, scored with winners, was fortunate when Ramy received a no let, almost inconceivably, and closed the gap to 9-10. Then the player who reminds you of both Jansher Khan and Qamar Zaman struck with another unanswerable crosscourt drop that nicked and went 2/1 ahead.

It was going to be a Herculean effort for Palmer to get back. He dived down the court, heroically, but just missed the ball. He thrashed Ramy up and down the court, volleying boasts and backwall boasts and smashing his returns into the back for the youngster to miraculous materialize in the back corners, flick of the wall, and push up to the short line to again lunge low into the front corners get his racket under the ball and make the shot safe only for Palmer to smash it away again. The impossible was routine. These were not squash players but acrobats.

Ramy edged ahead 4-3, 7-6 and then struck with balls to break your heart – a dead straight kill, a volley moving away and clinging as it did so to which Palmer had no answer.

Now Palmer one suspects is not a man given to hugging his opponents, unless he is trying to squeeze the air out of them, or delay them a bit in there run for the ball, as he did with El Hindi and which he was rewarded for by the referees, but there was a hug here,right at the end in all the cheering and bedlam – and there was espect. This was some player and you could see that even Palmer agreed with that.

Jahangir Khan said, “He can dominate the game for many years.”

Geoff Hunt said, “Maybe the players will work him out but maybe you will expect him to dominate the game after seeing that.”

“When he is fitter, he will keep the intensity up longer.”
It is hard to imagine.

David tested and passed

Nicol David started in subdued form to allow Natalie Grinham to dominate the women’s final early one.

Natalie was livered later explaining that she felt she had dominated three games – in the first she had lead 6-1, she won the second 9-2 and was 7-5 up in the third but lost it in a hand.

The length and tightness with which she started which really pushed David into a very subdued mode gradually dissolved and one felt that there was a little anxiety in her play.

The second was tight and nicely varied but later she was not able to take David out of the dominant centre position, or rather forgot to, and the speedy world champion was able to cover everything, and turn the pressure back on the Australian.

“In the end I found my game and my rhythm,” said David.

It was her first Qatar Classic win. There was a large enthusiastic Malaysian group there to watch her win it and she acknowledged and thanked for cheering her on.

Natalie said, “I’m very disappointed because I know I was controlling the match. I’ll get her.”


Sublime to the Ridiculous
The men’s semi-finals at the Qatar Classic swung from the sublime to the ridiculous has Ramy Ashour produced a masterpiece to just pip Nick Matthew, who played very well in a performance that earned them a standing ovation. The ridiculous came in the second semi-final in which David Palmer beat Wael El Hindi in an encounter marred my blocking, interference and controversial refereeing decisions. Palmer got through in the end 10-11 (3-1) 11-5, 11-7, 11-9.

Nick Matthew took the first game of his semi-final 11-6, dominating with excellent length and applying pressure from the outset with a superb volleying performance. Ashour was slow to settle and only in the second did he get in front of his opponent at any stage.

When Ashour was 1-3 down the match changed as he got forward and managed to score with beautiful drops dying short played from all parts of the court to beat one the sports finest athletes.

Shots from Ramy Ashour's fast hand gave him the second game 11-9 and by the third he was onto his game – a rolled backhand swung crosscourt but the racket face opened and cut across the ball propelling it straight as if it was the most natural thing in the world … Jahan-like kills stung short where normal … deception from his remarkably short backswing power with wrists of steel was standard … and when Matthew, and one could imagine his frustration, fired a shot too close to Ashour trapped on the side wall and was warned by the referee there was just a big smile. The third was won 11-7 as Matthew maintained his impeccable length and volleyed at every opportunity. Indeed there were whole successions of volleys with Ashour’s explosive hands killing the ball at great speed or providing the finest of touches.

This was a match for the connoisseur, a privilege to watch. The crowd was engaged entirely with collective intakes of breath, groans and cheers. Here was a star in the making and he was getting better before our very eyes.

Matthew tested him with long rallies, as much pressure as he has ever mustered, shots to move his young opponent up and down the court and up and down again. He talked to him, he worked on him mentally, he tried everything and had never played better than this but he could not shake his opponent.

Later he was to say. “I am delighted with how I played. He is a fantastic player. We have to find a way of stopping him becoming a legend.”

In the fourth Ramy started to take Matthew apart. A whole succession of crosscourt volley nicks, one after the other, finally scored and at 4-0 he looked invincible. Perhaps then he became overconfident, for the length slipped and his shot failed to move Matthew over the distance.

He later disputed the view that it was overconfidence, “I am only human,” said the nineteen-year-old, “it was not over-confidence sometimes you just play in patches.

So he was not perfect, and Matthew to his credit kept fighting, got to 8-6 but fell to an Ashour winner that gave the Egyptian matchball 10-8. Then with little pushes he floated the ball. The match seemed his at last. It looked a little flash (again he disupted this view) and he made three errors that suddenly let Matthew level the game scores.

Could the youngster keep this high intensity squash up against one of the sports top athletes with years of training behind him?

“It was anyone’s game. The last game was edgy,” said Ashour. “The key was the volley.”

It was all close, dramatically close. Ramy now is the sports great risk-taker. You never knew what was coming next. Edging ahead 7-6 he dived headlong to the front corner scrapping up a ball that even his brilliant foot speed could not retrieve and as Matthew was straight onto his return and stung it severely down short in the opposite front corner Ramy remarkably materialized there, retrieved again and again and then with the most sublime of touches got on top in the rally and scored himself to thunderous applause.

Still Matthew fought back and again he levelled to the full-throated cheers of the privileged audience. A superb drop takes Ashour onward, Matthew is desperate and hits the tin and then he flashes at an Ashour crosscourt flying out of his reach that tips the end of his racket and runs after it to reply again and realised that was his last chance as Ashour takes the match 6-11, 11-9, 11-7, 10-11 (2-1) 11-8 I 81 fantastic minutes.

“I enjoyed it,” said Ramy. Everyone else did as well.

What does that add up to?

In the second men’s semi-final the three referees in the panel system had hatched a plan for Wael El Hindi and he was not going to get past that. The system does rather neuter a referee’s authority and in previous matches El Hindi had perhaps escaped censure for his penchant for moving into his opponent’s line, especially after his superb volley drops, to the frustration of both Anthony Ricketts and Lee Beachill. Now the referees were ready for El Hindi. He was punished not just for this match but for all that had gone before. Some observers thought that David Palmer had been given licence to run directly into his opponent at any stage and receive a stroke.

Every rally seemed to end in controversy. El Hindi retaliated with a little barging of his own and in one bizarre incident he was given a stroke (that is his opponent was penalised a stoke for not clearing), then he was penalized with a ‘conduct stroke’ for barging and then when he remonstrated with Referee Waters a ‘conduct stroke’ for abuse of an official.

“What does that all add up to?,” said Palmer.

What it basically added up to was that El Hindi was refereed out of this match (and many could have said good job although there was much dissatisfaction in the crowd and shouts of unfair.

There were innumerable strokes but we cannot give you the exact tally, as the referee’s sheet was clear of any decisions!

“I’ve had worse,” said Palmer. “I’ve played Jonathon Power and Ahmed Barada and he is a pussycat in comparison.”

One was left with the feeling that all this was a bit unsatisfactory and there could be a better way of handling the situation.

Top two to clash

In the women’s competition Natalie Grinham had to change her game to come back from a game adrift to go past her sister Rachael into the final.

She is confident in her fitness, her speed is in evidence and she is the one player to challenge the very accomplished Nicol David.

David was not greatly troubled by Tania Bailey who was pleased enough with her week.

“Mentally it was so tough,” she said of the experience of playing David. “You have to do something exceptional to get her so far out of position to have a chance of scoring a point.”

Whether Rachael Grinham can muster the pressure and tactical nonce to so trouble David we will see but she is certainly up for the physical confrontation.


Doha Ready
Men's Draw
Women's Draw


Qatar Classic 2006
Men's Draw
11-17 April 2007, $120k
Round One
Apr 13
Round Two
Apr 14
Apr 15
Apr 16
Apr 17
[1] Amr Shabana (EGY)
11/2, 11/3, 11/3 (24m)
[Q] Renan Lavigne (FRA)
Amr Shabana
11-7, 11-8,
2-11, 11-8
 Peter Barker
Peter Barker
9-11, 11-10
(3-1) 11-9,
Nick Matthew

Nick Matthew
6-11, 11-9, 11-7, 10-11 (2-1), 11-8
Ramy Ashour

Ramy Ashour

8-11, 11-9
11-9, 11-6 (66m).

David Palmer
[14] Peter Barker (ENG)
11/4, 11/3, 11/3 (25m)
 Abdul Rahman Al-Malki (QAT)
[5] Nick Matthew (ENG)
11/4, 11/9, 11/4 (31m)
Bradley Ball (ENG)
Nick Matthew
11-8, 11-6,
 Omar Mosaad
[16] Azlan Iskandar (MAS)
4/11, 4/11,11/6, 11/3, 11/9 (61m)
 [Q] Omar Mosaad (Egy)
[3] Ramy Ashour (EGY)
11/7, 11/8, 5/11, 12/14, 11/0 (44m)
Hisham Ashour (EGY)
Ramy Ashour
11-5, 10-11 (0-2) .
11-4. 11-9
Olli Tuominen
Ramy Ashour
11-4, 11-7, 11-7 (31m)
 James Willstrop
[15] Olli Tuominen (FIN)
11/5, 14/16, 11/9, 11/6 (46m)
 [Q] Jonathan Kemp (Eng)
[6] James Willstrop (ENG)
11/5, 11/5, 4/11, 11/7 (54m)
 Joey Barrington (ENG)
 James Willstrop
11-7, 11-10 (2-0) 9-11, 11-6
Adrian Grant
[12] Adrian Grant (ENG)
11/8, 7/11, 7/11, 11/8, 11/6 (79m)
 Laurens Jan Anjema (NED)
[Q] Alister Walker (Eng)
11/6, 8/11, 12/10, 7/11, 11/5 (69m)
[LL] Stacey Ross (Eng)
Alister Walker
11-5, 11-7, 11-8
Lee Beachill
Lee Beachill
11-10 (2-1), 8-11,
11-10 (3-1), 11-4 (80m)
Wael El Hindi

El Hindi
10-11 (3-0), 11-5, 11-7, 11-9
David Palmer

[Q] Shahid Zaman (Pak)
11/2, 11/4, 11/4 (21m)
[8] Lee Beachill (ENG)
[Q] Tarek Momen (Egy)
11/8, 11/6, 11/2 (21m)
[10] Wael El Hindi (EGY)
Wael El Hindi
3-11, 11-8, 10-11 (0-2) 11-4, 11-7
Anthony Ricketts
 [Q] Daryl Selby (Eng)
11/5, 11/9, 5/11, 11/9 (41m)
[4] Anthony Ricketts (AUS)
Cameron Pilley (AUS)              
7-11, 11-7, 11-4, 9-11, 11-4 (71m)

[9] Stewart Boswell (AUS)
Cameron Pilley
11-4, 11-5, 11-5
Karim Darwish
Karim Darwish
11-8, 11-9, 11-7
David Palmer
 [Q] Yasser El Halaby (Egy)
11/3, 11/9, 10/12, 11/2 (31m)
[7] Karim Darwish (EGY)
 Borja Golan (ESP)
8/11, 11/8, 9/11, 11/8, 11/5 (73m)
[13] Ong Beng Hee (MAS)
Ong Beng Hee
11-7, 11-9. 11-4
David Palmer
 Davide Bianchetti (ITA)          
11-5, 11-8, 9-11, 9-11, 11-7 (86m)
[2] David Palmer (AUS)


Renan Lavigne (Fra) bt Dylan Bennett (Ned)12/10, 11/9, 11/4 (41m)               
Daryl Selby (Eng) bt Saurav Ghosal (Ind) 11/13, 7/11, 11/7, 11/8, 11/8 (83m)   
Shahid Zaman (Pak) bt Jean-Michel Arcucci (Fra) 4/11, 7/11, 11/6, 11/7, 11/5 (53m)     
Alister Walker (Eng) bt Omar Abdel Aziz (Egy)  11/9, 11/4, 11/8 (38m)                 
Tarek Momen (Egy) bt Mansoor Zaman (Pak) 11/8, 5/11, 11/7, 10/11, 11/9 (61m)  
Omar Mosaad (Egy) bt Amr Swelim (Egy) 11/9, 5/11, 11/4, 9/11, 11/8 (57m)    
Yasser El Halaby (Egy) bt Eric Galvez (Mex) w/o                                             
 Jonathan Kemp (Eng)bt  Stacey Ross (Eng) score to follow              


1st qualifying round:

Dylan Bennett (NED) bt Muhammad Faheem Khan (PAK)  11-2, 11-3, 11-2

Shahid Zaman (PAK) bt Yasin Amjad (PAK)  11-5, 11-7, 11-6

Jean-Michel Arcucci (FRA) bt Tariq Manzoor (UAE)  11-4, 11-8, 11-7

Mansoor Zaman (PAK) bt Omar Elborolossy (EGY)  11-9, 9-11, 11-7, 11-9

Tarek Momen (EGY) bt Mohd Ali Anwar Reda (EGY)  11-8, 8-11, 11-7, 11-6

Eric Galvez (MEX) bt Bilal Zaman (PAK)  11-7, 11-9, 11-6

Yasser El Halaby (EGY) bt Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL)  11-7, 11-9, 5-11, 11-5

Saurav Ghosal (IND) bt Khawaja Adil Maqbool (PAK)  11-4, 11-9, 11-7

Daryl Selby (ENG) bt Jan Koukal (CZE)  11-10 (3-1), 11-0, 11-8

Omar Abdel Aziz (EGY) bt Alex Ingham (ENG)  11-7, 11-6, 11-8

Amr Swelim (EGY) bt Kashif Shuja (NZL)  11-10 (3-1), 11-8, 11-8

Omar Mosaad (EGY) bt Christopher Gordon (USA)  11-7, 11-7, 11-9

Stacey Ross (ENG) bt Philip Nightingale (ENG)  11-2, 11-5, 11-8

11/12 Apr:
Renan Lavigne (Fra), Jonathan Kermp (Eng), Alister Walker (Eng), Liam Kenny (Irl), Mansoor Zaman (Pak), Eric Galvez (Mex), Daryl Selby (Eng), Shahid Zaman (Pak), Omar Mosaad (Egy), Dylan Bennett (Ned), Saurav Ghosal (Ind), Jean-Michel Arcucci (Fra), Stacey Ross (Eng), Tarek Momen (Egy), Omar Abdel Aziz (Egy), Miguel Angel Rodriguez (Col), Kashif Shuja (Nzl), Jan Koukal (Cze), Amr Swelim (Egy), Yassel El Halaby (Egy), Omar Elborolossy (Egy), Chris Gordon (Usa), Mohd AA Reda (Egy), Arthur Gaskin (Irl), Adil Maqbool (Pak), Bilal Zaman (Pak), Phil Nightingale (Eng), Tariq Manzoor (Uae), Yasim Amjad (Pak), Muhammad Faheem Khan (Pak)


Qatar Classic 2007
Women's Draw  11-17 April, $82k
Round One
Apr 13
Round Two
Apr 14
Apr 15
Apr 16
Apr 17
[1] Nicol David (Mas)
9/1, 9/4, 9/4 (29m)
Jaclyn Hawkes (Nzl)
Nicol David
9-3, 9-0, 9-3
Annelize Naude
Nicol David
9-1, 9-0, 9-3
Omneya Abdel Kawy

Nicol David
9-7. 9-4, 9-0
Tania Bailey

Nicol David

 9-7, 2-9,
9-7, 9-2
Natalie Grinham
[15] Rebecca Chiu (Hkg)
9/5, 7/9, 9/6, 9/5 (55m)
Annelize Naude (Ned)
[7] Omneya Abdel Kawy (Egy)
9/4, 9/4, 9/1 (28m)
Raneem El Weleily (Egy)
Omneya Abdel Kawy
10-8, 8-10, 5-9,
9-6, 9-3 (84m)
Laura Lengthorn
[10] Laura Lengthorn (Eng)
9/1, 9/0, 9/0 (15m)
Nicolette Fernandes (Guy)
[4] Tania Bailey (Eng)
9/1, 9/1, 9/1 (20m)
[Q] Orla Noom (Ned)
Tania Bailey
9-3, 9-7, 2-9,
9-3 (53m)
Shelley Kitchen
Tania Bailey
7-9, 9-3, 9-5, 9-1
Vicky Botwright
[14] Shelley Kitchen (Nzl)
9/1, 9/0, 9/1 (23m)
[Q] Christina Mak (Hkg)
[5] Vicky Botwright (Eng)
9/1, 9/4, 9/0 (23m)
Sharon Wee (Mas)
Vicky Botwright
9-0, 9-4, 9-2
Jenny Duncalf
[12] Jenny Duncalf (Eng)
9/3, 9/2, 9/2 (38m)
[Q] Aisling Blake (Irl)
Dom Lloyd-Walter (Eng)
8/10, 3/9, 7/9, 9/2, 9/6 (92m)
[13] Engy Kheirallah (Egy)
Engy Kheirallah
9-4, 9-6, 9-2
  Natalie Grainger
Natalie Grainger
9-7, 9-7, 10-8
Rachael Grinham

3-9, 9-3,
9-3, 9-3
Natalie Grinham

Isabelle Stoehr (Fra)
10/8, 9/0, 9/5 (34m)
[6] Natalie Grainger (Usa)
[Q] Tenille Swartz (Rsa)
9/0, 9/3, 9/2 (31m)
[16] Kasey Brown (Aus)
Kasey Brown
9-2, 9-3, 9-0
Rachael Grinham
[Q] Line Hansen (Den)
9/2, 9/0, 9/3 (21m)
[3] Rachael Grinham (Aus)
Tricia Chuah (Mas)
9/2, 9/2, 9/1 (26m)
[9] Madeline Perry (Irl)
Madeline Perry
9-2, 9-3, 9-5
 Vanessa Atkinson
Vanessa Atkinson
9-2, 9-0, 8-10,
Natalie Grinham
Sarah Kippax (Eng)
9/1, 9/4, 9/6 (33m)
[8] Vanessa Atkinson (Ned)
[Q] Suzie Pierrepont (Eng)
9/3, 9/4, 9/5 (24m)
[11] Alison Waters (Eng)
Alison Waters
4-9, 9-5, 9-4, 9-0
Natalie Grinham

Becky Botwright (Eng)
9/3, 9/1, 9/0 (19m)
[2] Natalie Grinham (Aus)


Christina Mak (Hkg) v Lauren Siddall (Eng)
Tenille Swartz (Rsa) v Dipika Pallikal (Ind)
Line Hansen (Den) v Carlene Rossel-Reed (Rsa)
Suzie Pierrepont (Eng) v Jenna Gates (Eng)
Orla Noom (Ned) v Adel Weir (Rsa)
Aisling Blake (Irl) v Eman El Amir (Egy)



Beachill bundled out
In a controversial performance that will take him into the top ten Wael El Hindi ousted Lee Beachill 11-10 (2-1), 8-11, 11-10 (3-1) 11-4 in 80 minutes.

This was a highly charged match with incident and controversy in virtually every rally that keep the three referees trialing the new three refereeing voting panel system fully employed for most of the match.

El Hindi played superbly establishing tight rallies down the backhand and intercepting with long volleys and occasional sharp volley drops that had both players in frequent clashes. The Egyptian by repute does not clear the path was well as he should from his volleying position and this lead to frequent clashes between the players that marred the match.

Referee Massarella was forced to plead with the players to stop the discussions and decent and continue with the play. The crux of the match was the third game with Beachill holding gameball 10-8 before El Hindi came back with a succession of brilliant recoveries and then threw himself foreword for a fantastic forehand volley kill winner. On a high, winners took him to 11-10, an initiative he lost to a penalty ‘stroke’ but he played a superb volley drop and was then able to leap in the air in celebration as Beachill tinned to give him the crucial game 13-11. Confidence up he raced away with fine drops to take the fourth and the match.

“My backhand worked well but the match was decided in the third game tiebreak. I broke him a bit there and I said to myself to get the lead in the fourth.”

“I’m very pleased with this win. I want to thank Jonah Barrington for the work he has put into me on my fitness. It is paying off. I’ll sleep, eat and be ready for it again.”

Beachill was gutted and reiterated the view of the English players. “He’s a nice guy of court but I don’t think he is playing squash on there,” he said of El Hindi’s reputation to block. “This is a match that needed a strong referee and we didn’t have it.


Ramy untested
Ramy Ashour cruised into the semi-finals, untested, by a below par James Willstrop who went down 11-4, 11-7, 11-7 in just 31 minutes.

Willstrop had made know his displeasure at being forced to play twice on the plaster courts (on which play is totally different to the glass) while Ashour had had two outings on the glass. Perhaps like Shabana he is tired and has just had enough but whatever the reason it was a fine workout for Ashour shots. He did not have to bother too much with length but kept firing the ball in short – Sometimes loose, often deadly, held cut down and dying short, frequently unpredictable. A long arm would intercept with a stop volley played with fine touch … a sharp kill would be fired down from deep, surprise and die short … a volley boast off a crosscourt would twist his opponent and die at an unexpected angle. Ramy read it easily but it was a demoralized performance from his opponent.

Amr Shabana, the top seed, had told Ashour that he was after revenge for his defeat by the youngster in Kuwait but he went out to Peter Barker in the second round and now Ashour faces Matthew. Interestingly he has never played him before.

“I have watched him, I enjoy watching him, he is dangerous around the T,” said Ashour. “I have to move him around the court or he will kill me,” said Ashour.

Matthew Through

Nick Mathew got through against Peter Barker but it was a close run thing. Barker played well, he was not happy just to be out there, he was trying to win and he looked like he was trying to win.

“There were just a few points in it,” he was able to say at the end with perhaps a bit of disappointment at the loss. “I had opportunities to win in every game. The crowd were excited. This was fast attaching squash with Barker providing much of the enterprise and exciting finish for the rallies.

Matthew was moving beautifully. “Best I’ve ever moved,” he said. So the British Open champion is now 100 percent over his injury problems but he was not quite happy with his attack. That meant extending the rallies a bit and keeping a rampant Barker back in the court.

“I’m pleased to get through,” said Matthew on his 9-11, 11-10 (3-1) 11-9, 11-9 win. “I could easily have lost that. I think he probably deserved it. He was taking it in better than me. I wasn’t confident on my attack. It’s my first game on the glass.”

“I’m in the semi-final and have not yet played my best squash. If I can now combine my movement with better shots I’ll have a good tournament.

Sisters to Clash

Second seed Natalie Grinham, dropped the third to Vanessa Atkinson but otherwise was totally in control in her 9-2, 9-0 win that has put her into the semi-finals.

“I changed my plan to try and hit winners rather than extend the rallies. I didn’t really refocus after the second,” she said.

Perhaps it had all been a bit comfortable but when she was matchball 8-6 down Atkinson struck with superb faded drop shots as if she had suddenly woken up to the urgency of the situation while Natalie tinnned a few anxoius shots.

Atkinson’s short burst took her to 4-2 in the fourth but her opponent went through in a hand from there.

Natalie, says she is taking one match at a time but is now a serious challenger to world no.1 Nicol David while Atkinson is trying to fight her way back to the top.

“I have improved my strength and fitness with my fitness coach. Playing a five setter is easy compared with what he puts me through,” she said. “Nicol and I play a similar game. We could play all day and have done at times.”

Natalie will have to get past sister Rachael to have that opportunity again. Rachael came through a close straight games battle with a new super trim Natlie Grainger 9-7, 9-7 10-8.

At the top of the draw the top seed Nicol David will battle Tania Bailey who overcame her compatriot Vicky Botwright in four games.


Round Two:

Barker Defeats Shabana
In Dramatic Upset

England's Peter Barker has thrown the Qatar Classic into turmoil with a stunning 11-7, 11-8, 2-11, 11-8 win over the top seed and world no.1 Amr Shabana.


Barker jumped to the early lead, 5-1 in the first, and in his second hand secured game ball before wining 11-7 and went on to go two games up. Only in the third did an out of sorts Shabana really fire.

"In the third he jumped up the court and surprised me," said Barker.


However Barker got back on top in the fourth and edged ahead with good length, while Shabana fell foul of the referee for destroying his racke and, tinned two vital intercept attempts, one of his most important weapons, to let Barker through to take the match.


"He played well and I didn't," said Shabana to Squash Player as he raced from the building.  "He deserved to win I didn't.


"I wasn't up for it.  I'm mentally and physically tired. I spent the day in bed. I've had enough."


Perhaps Shabana's performance in Kuwait, in which he lost to the new Tour sensation Rami Ashour had been hindered by the serious blister that was observable on his foot but he made no mention of injury or illness here.


 "That was another tournament. I want to go home," he said.



Four Englishmen in Quarters

While round 2 off the Qatar Classic was overshadowed by the departure of top seed Amr Shabana, with fourth seed Anthony Ricketts joining him on the sidelines, the seeds got relatively.

Nick Mathew spelt out what it was like in professional squash to the nineteen-year-old Omar Mossad but the younster kept trying and was not too far adift as the Englishman started to come into form 11-8, 11-6, 11-9.

James Willstrop dropped a game to Adrian Grant in a close match, Lee Beachill was comfortable with Alister Walker as was Karim Darwish with the Australian Cameron Pilley.

So there are four Englishmen in the quarters of this Platinum $120,000 event with important ranking points at stake. Willstrop faces Ramy Ashour who put in a rather laboured and distracted performance against his brother Hisham in the first round before opening up in the fifth game and put out Olli Tuominen 11-5, 10-11 (4-6), 11-9, 11-6 in the second. This is a big match for both players with Willstrop trying to fight his way back up the rankings and Ramy, now with the world no.1 out, wanting to take the opportunity to follow-up on this Kuwait win (over Shabana) and continue his challenge for the top spot.

Ricketts fell to Wael El Hindi in an engrossing encounter 3-11, 11-8, 10-12, 11-4, 11-7. Much of this match was played to good length down the backhand with both players looking to poach volleys and at times whole successions of the play was on the volley. As El Hindi explained afterwards they were just using half the court and there were traffic problems. Ricketts frustration increased as they went on and in the climatic fifth game verged on exploding as he received conduct warnings for racket abuse and decent.

El Hindi kept cool during much of the disruption and at one stage after receiving a harsh no let informed the referee that he should ‘Relax, Relax.’

“It was a tough match, and I was trying to keep cool. I was saying relax to myself and I thought the referee needed that advise too,” he said.

“It was difficult for the referee. We were both hitting on the left.

El Hindi got a poor start but at the end he was playing clinging drives and some fine volley drops.

“Everyone has been saying that Ricketts is injured but he moved so well from the beginning I was shocked. It rocked my concentration. However I started to slow the game and rally. Unfortunately we were just playing down the backhand in half the court and there was a lot of contact between us.

“At the end I go a couple of important points and got the match.”

In the quarters El Hindi faces Beachill.


Round One:
Pilley Punishes Compatriot
In Qatar Classic Upset

Cameron Pilley pulled off the most notable upset on the opening day of action in the Qatar Squash Classic when he beat fellow Australian, ninth seed Stewart Boswell, in the first round of the men's PSA Super Series Platinum event at the Khalifa International Tennis & Squash Complex in Doha.
The 24-year-old from Yamba in New South Wales, ranked just outside the world's top 20, stretched top ten player John White to five games in last week's Kuwait Open, but was unable to make the breakthrough in Kuwait City.
"It's about time I got to win one of those five-setters," Pilley said after his 7-11, 11-7, 11-4, 9-11, 11-4 triumph in 71 minutes over Boswell. "I played better than against Whitey last week, I was more consistent and my length was better.
"I'm really happy with how I played and it's great to get a half-decent win at last," added the UK-based Pilley, who goes on to face Egypt's No7 seed Karim Darwish.
Egyptian teenager Omar Mosaad also claimed an unexpected place in the last sixteen after ousting Malaysia's 16th seed Mohd Azlan Iskandar. The 19-year-old British Junior Open champion fought back from two games down to defeat the world No19 4-11, 4-11, 11-6, 11-3, 11-9 in 61 minutes.
"It's my best win ever," admitted Mosaad, who goes on to meet England's British Open champion Nick Matthew. "I'm delighted to reach the second round.  Nick Matthew is a great player, but I hope to do as well again."
There was much interest in another battle featuring an Egyptian teenager - in which 19-year-old Kuwait Open champion Ramy Ashour took on his older brother Hisham Mohd Ashour. Ramy raced to a 2/0 lead, but the tables were turned when Hisham drew level. But sibling affection was cast aside in the decider when Ramy whitewashed his brother to win 11-7, 11-8, 5-11, 10-11 (2-4), 11-0 in 44 minutes.
"I pulled a muscle playing Bengy (Ong Beng Hee) last week, so I've had five days with no exercise and hotel food, so I was struggling at the end," said Hisham. "Against Ramy you have to run, and I couldn't do that to my best today.  I think I did all I could, but I'm very proud of my little brother, I hope he'll soon be number one very soon."
In the women's WISPA World Tour Gold event, Dutch player Annelize Naude caused the only upset of the day when she beat Hong Kong's No15 seed Rebecca Chiu 9-5, 7-9, 9-6, 9-5 in 55 minutes. The 30-year-old from Amsterdam now faces top seed Nicol David.
Fresh from her success in last week's Kuwait Open, the world number one from Malaysia dismissed New Zealander Jaclyn Hawkes 9-1, 9-4, 9-4.


Doha Welcomes World's Best For Qatar Classic

Days after doing battle in the world's richest squash tournament of all-time in Kuwait, the world's best men and women players will contest the second biggest event of the year in the Qatar Classic which gets underway today (Friday) at the Khalifa International Tennis & Squash Club in Doha.


Egyptians and Englishmen led the charge through the men's qualifying finals with Tarek Momen, Yasser El Halaby and Omar Mosaad from Cairo claiming places in the main draw, together with three England players Daryl Selby, Alister Walker and Jonathan Kemp


The last-minute withdrawal of Egypt's 11th seed Mohammed Abbas - who is languishing in hospital in Kuwait with suspected chicken pox - means that a further Englishman Stacey Ross also secures a place in the first round as a 'lucky loser'.


France's sole qualifying finals survivor Renan Lavigne picks up the unluckiest qualifying slot by being drawn to face top seed Amr Shabana.  The world number one from Egypt battled in vain in Wednesday's Sheikha Al Saad Kuwait Open final, losing to 'boy wonder' compatriot Ramy Ashour.


The teenager who picked up the sport's biggest ever winner's cheque will have his work cut out in his Doha opener:  the 19-year-old's opponent is older brother Hisham Mohd Ashour, the world No26 who will no doubt want to exert some sibling authority!


The women's qualifying finals produced six winners representing six different nations.  Suzie Pierrepont, appearing on the WISPA World Tour for the first time since sustaining a heel injury in November's World Open in Belfast, survived her all-English battle with Jenna Gates - winning 9-2, 9-0, 10-9 to set up a first round meeting with compatriot Alison Waters, the No11 seed.


Nicol David is seeded to win her ninth successive Tour title since last July.  The world No1 from Malaysia will be bidding to extend her international match-winning run to 44 as she takes on New Zealand's Jaclyn Hawkes in the first round.

Egyptians Excel In Qatar Qualifiers
There will be five Cairo-based players seeking qualifying places in the first round of the Qatar Squash Classic after resounding Egyptian successes in the first qualifying rounds of the PSA Super Series Platinum event in
Doha, Qatar.

But only one of the eight slots available is certain to end up in Egyptian hands when 19-year-old Omar Mosaad takes on 22-year-old Amr Swelim in Thursday's qualifying finals.

Stiff competition will come from four Englishmen, a pair of Frenchmen and Pakistanis, and an Indian, a Dutchman and a Mexican.

Doha ready to welcome the world's best players to new-look Khalifa Squash Complex
After spending monumental sums of money to completely upgrade the famous Khalifa Squash Complex, Doha is now ready to welcome the world's best players to this Gulf state capital for the Qatar Classic 2007, which will be held from April 13 to 17.

Last year, the Qatari government spent huge sums to renovate the Khalifa Squash Complex for the Asian Games that were held in Doha in December 2006. The entire exercise was taken to stage the squash events at the two-week Asian Games held in the Qatari capital.

The 2006 Asian Games came and went and now the time is for real squash action to commence at the Khalifa Squash Complex, which now boasts of eight side courts and one state-of-the-art all-glass court. The seating capacity of the all-glass centre court is 1,200 fans whereas 200 people can catch the action at each of the side courts of the Khalifa Squash Complex.

Names like world number one Amr Shabana of Egypt, world number two Gregory Gaultier of France and world number three David Palmer of Australia will lead the star cast at next week's Qatar Classic 2007, which was postponed from last year because of the 2006 Asian Games, which Doha hosted four months ago.

The top players on WISPA computer will also be seen in action in Doha next week. Names like world number one Nicol David of Malaysia and Grinham sisters from Australia, Nathalie and Rachael, who are ranked number two and three respectively, will do battle for the top prize.

The total prize money for the prestigious squash event is US$185,000. The winner of the men's event will pocket nearly US$17,000 while the top player in the women's category will walk away with a cash boost of US$12,000.

The tournament proper starts on April 13 following two days of qualification matches to be held on the 11th and 12th of April, an official of the Qatar Squash Federation has confirmed. The Doha event will have 32-player fields in both categories.