Shabana Out Just
Open champion Amr Shabana lost his title when he was beaten by his
predecessor David Palmer in an enthralling quarter-final in which the
Australian made an improbable recovery from two games down and the
Egyptian took the contest to a tie-break after taking a three-minute
injury break at match point down.
Palmer, who beat Shabana in four games in the British Open final at
Nottingham last month, this time escaped from trouble to win by
6-11,7-11,11-2,11-8,12-10. “I thought I was going to be on the golf
course tomorrow,” said Palmer.
“He played some fantasic squash and if he had gone on like that he would
have won in straight games. I was surprised he let the third game go so
easily. But he had a lot of pressure on him, defending the title. I know
what it´s like to have that.”
Shabana, who has been suffering from a cold may have been cutting his
losses after slipping to an early third game deficit, and he certainly
picked up the pace again in the fourth and fifth games.
But by then Palmer, whose accuracy was not all that it might have been
early on, began to get the feel of the condiitions and became far harder
Shabana was self-critical of how he eased off. “I shouldn´t have done
it,”´ he said. “Now they will say that Shabana is not strong enough in
the head. It bothers me because it is perfectly true.”
“But I want to prove them wrong. I shall do that by working hard to
become world number one. At least I can relax now with the pressure off
me. Yes, I was feeling the pressure.”
Neverthless Shabana led by 7-6 in the fourth game and 9-7 in the fifth,
often making winners at the front but unable to shake off Palmer´s
tenacious retrieving and counter-attacking.
As tension grew, so did dialogue between both of the players and the
referee, with Shabana twice being told to watch the (physical) contact
and once receiving a formal conduct warning for swearing.
But the match was played in good spirit, even during a hectic climax.
This saw Shabana injure an achilles tendon while diving fruitlessly for
a shot at 9-9 and leaving the court for three minutes treatment.
On resumption he saved a match point brilliantly with a volley kill, but
followed it with a volley drop shot down. He was then powerless on the
second match point to prevent Palmer making a fast forehand boast
He now plays Lee Beachill, the top-seeded Englishman who beat his
compatriot James Willstrop 11-7, 11-4, 11-9, but whom Palmer beat during
the British Open.
The other semi-final is between Thierry Lincou, the second seed from
France, who overcame Anthony Ricketts of Australia by 12-10, 11-7, 7-11,
8-11,1 1-3, and Graham Ryding, the surprise survivor.
Ryding, the unseeded Canadian number two overcame Peter Nicol, the
third-seeded world champion from England, 11-5, 11-7, 9-11, 11-3, with
one of the best performances of his life.
The pace at which he played was tremendous and when he does that he
usually makes some mistakes but “today he didn´t,” said Nicol, who had
beaten his arch-rival Jonathon Power, the former world champion from
Canada, the day before.
“I’m disappointed, but I understand the reasons,” said Nicol, who has
been unable to train for long periods of time all year and has only just
recovered from an ankle injury.
“Two hard matches in two days was beyond me, but I still think I’m good
enough to get back to win big titles - and I still have the desire,”
added the 31-year-old.
In the second round the top four seeds came through
to the quarters largely untroubled: Beachill in 36 minutes over Kneipp,
Palmer in 44 minutes over Grant, Lincou, dropped the second, after a
tight start, to Gregory Gautlier and Nicol, in the crunch match of the
day, beat Jonathon Power in four games.
The upset of the day, if you can call it that, was by James Willstrop
the no.12 seed who put out Karim Darwish, the no.8 seed, in 54 minutes.
Shabana dropped a game to Abbas. but was back on form, Ryding went
through 3/0 and the Finn Olli Tuominen pushed Ricketts to five games.
REPORT: Round 2:
Nicol 's Revenge
Nicol, who unexpectedly lost his Commonwealth title in Manchester to
Jonathon Power two years ago, went some way towards making amends by
avenging himself upon the Canadian and reaching the quarter-finals of
the World Open in Doha.
It was a highly encouraging win which Nicol scored by
7-11,11-8,11-5,11-4. Not only did he achieve it on a court he has
previously found difficult the one on which Power beat him in the 1998
World Open final - it also helped set aside the 31-year-oldy´s doubts as
to whether he any longer good enough to win the world title back.
had some doubts as to whether I could get back to my old standard of
said the former world
number one, who had been suffering from an ankle injury prior to his
Power in the Canadian
Classic two weeks ago.
I think I can put those aside now. I
am pleased with
the way I played I can still play a bit and I do have some touch with
Nicol added, referring to
the way he has adapted his once very physical style to cope with the
However Power started off well, taking the first game in only 11
minutes, producing some nice disguises, and looking capable of carrying
on where he left off two weeks ago.
But Nicol started the second with a fine cross court drop shot winner
and soon showed that he had worked out a way to play on a court which
can be unforgiving upon anyone who plays anything loose. He moved the
ball forwards and backwards and down the walls with such accuracy that
it quickly became clear he was going to win.
There were just a few moments when it seemed Power might get back into
it in the third game when he briefly took a 5-4 lead. But Nicol won
seven points in a row and it gradually became evident that the long
back injury which has troubled Power has taken a toll of his mobility.
be able to shape a match on a court like this is pretty demanding,"
have put in a lot of work since Canada, and this is a bit of a relief
It also put Nicol 22-18 ahead of Power in a rivalry which is the best
since the days of the great Pakistanis, Jahangor Khan and Jansher Khan,
though there were signs that it may not last a great deal longer. Power,
so entertaining at his best, faded as the match went on, his movement
less resilient than it used to be.
Nicol now plays another Canadian, Graham Ryding, who beat Alex Gough,
the former World Open semi-finalist from Wales, and two other Englishmen
also made the last eight where they meet each other.
They are the top-seeded Lee Beachill, who won 11-10,11-6,11-4 against
Joe Kneipp of Australia - who became embroiled in a testy dialogue with
Ulster referee Jack Allen after a ´no let´ decision at game ball in the
first game - and James Willstrop, the former world junior champion who
brought down the eight-seeded Egyptian Karim Darwish in four games.
However another Egyptian, Amr Shabana, the defending champion, came
through safely, winning 11-7,11-5,5-11,11-6 against his compatriot
It earned Shabana a meeting with David Palmer, the fourth-seeded 2002
world champion from Australia, who is out to beat his successor as he
did three weeks ago in the British Open final in Nottingham.
The other quarter-final will see Thierry Lincou, the second-seeded
Frenchman who was last yeary´s runner-up, play Anthony Ricketts, the
14th seeded Australian, who has reached the last eight for the second
ROUND 1: (DAY
Both the fifth and seventh seeds Nick Matthew and
John White crashed out of the World Open in their first match in Qatar.
White was shocked by the Finn Olli Tuominen and never recovered after
losing the first game tie-break going down
11/10 (2-0), 11-5, 11-2 in just 30 minutes.
Matthew lost to the inform Graham Ryding when the Canadian came back
from a 2/1 deficit to win in 71 minutes.
ROUND 1: (DAY 1)
Beachill & Shabana Through
Shabana, the titleholder, played spasmodically against Mark Chaloner in
Doha as he launched the defence of his World Open title. There were
bursts of talent that most players would not even have the audacity to
dream of but he lapsed and when that happened Chaloner came back at him
each time. This was a serious performance from Chaloner but after a high
intensity 51 minutes it was Shabana’s shots that took him through
At the British
Open Shabana had said, ”I am not fit mentally.” He then produced a
brilliant overall tournament performance. If he is to seriously defend
his title here however he will need to get fit in that department
Shabana will face Mohamed Abbas who was comfortable
against Wael al Hindi.
seed Lee Beachill went through in a sparky match against the passionate
Italian Davide Bianchetti 11-4, 11-5, 11-10 (15-13). Bianchetti came
onto his game in the third and took on not just Beachill but the
referee. Conduct warns abounded - one for racket abuse, another for
decent. It was tough with Bianchetti playing exceedingly well while
Beachill, ice cool, controlled the rallies. The Italian could not for
all his assault however take it into a fourth and Beachill was through
in 51 minutes.
QUALIFYING DAY 2:
Gough Survives Qualifying
Marathon In Qatar
Welshman Alex Gough survived an 80-minute marathon against England's
Joey Barrington - including a tie-break which went to 10-8 - to earn a
place in the first round of the Qatar Men's World Open Squash
Championship, which gets underway tomorrow (Sunday) in the Qatar capital
Gough prevailed 11-10 8-11 11-6 11-6 and is now drawn to meet Egypt's
15th seed Omar Elborolossy. Two other Egyptians made it through the
qualifying finals - Mohamed Essam A Hafiz and Wael El Hindi. Hafiz
needed more than an hour to overcome England's Peter Barker 11-9 10-11
11-7 11-10 while his compatriot twice had to come from behind before
conquering France's Stephane Galifi 10-11 11-2 9-11 11-10 11-9 in 68
Hafiz now faces England's third seed Peter Nicol, a former champion,
while El Hindi takes on fellow countryman Mohammed Abbas, the 16th seed.
In the first qualifying round of the Women's Qatar Classic, Dianne
Desira conceded just two points to Dagmar Vermeulen, but the Dutch
player kept the Australian on court for 65 minutes before Desira was
able to claim her 9-0 9-0 9-2 win.
QUALIFYING DAY 1:
Peter Wins Barker Family Duel In Qatar
A family duel between two squash-playing brothers from Upminster in
Essex took on added significance when England's Peter Barker beat his
older brother Phillip Barker in a fight for a place in the qualifying
finals of the Qatar Men's World Open Squash Championship in Doha,
Phillip, 23, took time off from the international squash circuit to
study for a Sports Science degree at the University of Wales in
Cardiff, while Peter, 21, went full-time on leaving school and now
boasts a world number 31 ranking - 32 places above his older brother.
Cruelly drawn to meet other in the first qualifying round of the most
important event on the PSA Tour, the pair forgot their family
loyalties as each tried to outdo the other. The result supported the
ranking list as Peter prevailed 11-9 1-11 11-9 11-3.
Beachill Top Seed For World Open
For the first time in the 28-year history of
the event, an Englishman is seeded to win the title when the Qatar Men's
World Open Squash Championship gets underway in the Gulf state capital
Doha on Sunday (28 November). Lee Beachill, the world No1 from
Pontefract in Yorkshire, is the event favourite for the first time in
his career - and is seeded to meet France's world No2 Thierry Lincou in
the final at the Khalifa Squash Complex on Friday 3rd December.
Since the inaugural Men's World Open in 1976, its winners have included
four Australians (Geoff Hunt, Rodney Martin, Rodney Eyles and David
Palmer), two Pakistanis (Jahangir Khan and Jansher Khan), and New
Zealander Ross Norman, Canadian Jonathon Power, Scot Peter Nicol (who
later transferred his allegiance to England) and, last December, the
first Egyptian Amr Shabana.
Shabana, who reached the final of the British Open earlier this month,
begins his defence of the title in Doha against former England captain
Mark Chaloner, while Beachill begins his bid for success against Italian
Davide Bianchetti. The star-studded field includes six current or
former world number ones (Beachill, Nicol, Power, Lincou, Palmer and
Scot John White) and four former champions.
The $120,000 event is the second World Open to be held in Doha. The
1998 Championship was staged on the city's famous permanently-sited
all-glass court - and won for the first time by Jonathon Power.
In an announcement made by the Qatar Squash Federation (QSF) President
Nabil Ali bin Ali - the man responsible for advancing the squash cause
in Doha through generous QNOC support - the tournament will award the
winner of the 2004 Qatar World Open a prize of $16,000, while the losing
finalist will get richer by $12,000.
Alongside the World Open, the QSF will also stage its annual Qatar
Classic for women. The world No1 Rachael Grinham of Australia will lead
the women's field, challenging for a top prize of $12,000 in what will
be the fourth edition of the Qatar Classic. With Grinham will be
England's world No2 Cassie Jackman, the Netherlands' world No3 Vanessa
Atkinson, Natalie Grainger of the USA (ranked four) and the world No5
Natalie Grinham, of Australia.