Karim Claims Squash's Richest Prize In Saudi
Claims Squash's Richest Prize In Saudi
rounded off the best year of his career by far when he beat Gregory
Gaultier in the final of the Saudi International to win the
$250,000 PSA Tour Super Series Platinum championship - the richest
tournament in the history of squash - in the Saudi city of Al-Khobar.
It was the pair's
fifth Tour meeting of the year. But, after losing in straight games in last
month's final of the Macau Open, Darwish avenged his defeat in
stunning style - maintaining the fine form he had shown all week to beat the
second-seeded Frenchman 11-9, 11-5, 3-11, 11-8 in 52 minutes.
The victory - which
brought the full house in Al-Khobar to an incredible crescendo - not only
earns the Egyptian the biggest ever winner's cheque, of $37,400, but will
also take the 27-year-old from Cairo to the top of the PSA world rankings
"This is the greatest
moment of my career," Darwish said later. "I've been working really hard
all my life to reach this moment - thank god I should do it in this, the
richest tournament ever, and in front of a crowd like this.
"The crowd were
unbelievable in their support. I was almost in tears even before we went on
- the way they were chanting my name and making so much noise!
"I was a bit up and
down in the first but I managed to come back and win it at the end. I had
to refocus and come out stronger for the second. I couldn't afford to give
him anything loose, especially on a cool court. I had to play deep to the
"It's a fantastic
moment for me, such a great feeling. Thanks to my family who have been
supporting me all my life, my mum and dad, my brother and now my wife
(fellow Egyptian international Engy Kheirallah), and to my coach Amir Wagih."
magnanimous in praise of his opponent: "Congratulations to Karim, on
reaching number one and for the match today. It was a tough game but he's a
to everyone who supported me this week - I know you weren't supporting me
today but I still enjoyed playing in front of such a big and noisy crowd!"
Dunlop PSA Super
(after eight, of nine,
events in 2008):
1 (3) Amr Shabana (EGY) 8056.25
2 (1) Karim Darwish (EGY) 7462.50
3 (2) Ramy Ashour (EGY) 7256.25
4= (6) Gregory Gaultier (FRA) 5081.25
4= (4) James Willstrop (ENG) 5081.25
6 (5) David Palmer (AUS) 4450.00
7 (7) Wael El Hindi (EGY) 3668.75
8 (8) Thierry Lincou (FRA) 3656.25
9 (9) Peter Barker (ENG) 2381.25
10 (10) Adrian Grant (ENG) 2293.75
11 (11) Mohd Azlan Iskandar(MAS) 2118.75
12 (13) Nick Matthew (ENG) 1825.00
13 (12) Olli Tuominen (FIN) 1806.25
14 (15) Ong Beng Hee (MAS) 1687.50
15 (14) Laurens Jan Anjema (NED) 1656.25
16 (-) Cameron Pilley (AUS) 1531.25
 Amr Shabana (Egy)
11/9, 13/11, 11/6 (42m)
Shahier Razik (Can)
11/9, 11/6, 2/11, 11/8 (49m)
6-11, 11-9, 11-5, 11-6
14-12, 11-3, 11-13, 11-6
11-9, 11-5, 3-11, 11-8 (52m)
 Laurens Jan Anjema (Ned)
11/8, 11/8, 11/6 (46m)
Borja Golan (Esp)
 Karim Darwish (Egy)
11/0, 11/1, 11/5 (21m)
Omar Abdel Aziz (Egy)
11/4, 11/4, 11/7 (35m
 Adrian Grant (Eng)
5/11, 11/8, 11/4, 11/8 (42m)
Alister Walker (Eng)
 Ramy Ashour (Egy)
5/11, 11/8, 11/4, 11/8 (42m)
Omar Mosaad (Egy)
14/12, 11/8, 11/8 (35m)
Ong Beng Hee
11-9, 9-11, 11-3, 11-6
 Ong Beng Hee (Mas)
11/9, 11/7, 6/11, 5/11, 11/7 (69m)
Joey Barrington (Eng)
 Nick Matthew (Eng)
7/11, 11/4, 12/10, 11/8 (56m)
Aamir Atlas Khan (Pak)
11/7, 11/9, 8/11, 11/13, 15/13 (79m)
 Peter Barker (Eng)
11/5, 9/11, 11/2, 11/7 (58m)
Davide Bianchetti (Ita)
Miguel Angel Rodriguez (Col)
11/5, 11/5, 13/11 (41m)
 Wael El Hindi (Egy)
Wael El Hindi
11-6, 11-7, 3-11, 12-14,
12-10, 11-8, 4-11, 12-10
13-11, 15-13, 11-7 (56m)
Naif Abureqah (Ksa)
11/2, 11/5, 11/6 (25m)
 David Palmer (Aus)
Daryl Selby (Eng)
11/6, 11/3, 11/2 (27m)
 Azlan Iskandar (Mas)
11-9, 11-6, 11-7 (39m)
Jonathan Kemp (Eng)
11/6, 11/5, 11/7 (22m)
 James Willstrop (Eng)
Amr Swelim (Egy)
9/11, 11/7, 11/6, 11/5 (40m)
 Lee Beachill (Eng)
11-8, 11-3, 11-9 (25m)
11-9, 11-7, 11-5 (50m)
Mohammed Abbas (Egy)
7/11, 11/9, 11/4, 11/7 (54m)
 Thierry Lincou (Fra)
Cameron Pilley (Aus)
12/10, 11/6, 11/9 (39m)
 Olli Tuominen (Fin)
11-4, 5-11, 11-7, 11-5
Stewart Boswell (Aus)
11/4, 11/7, 4/11, 11/9 (63m)
 Gregory Gaultier (Fra)
Gaultier & Darwish To
Battle For Squash's Richest Prize
Second-seeded Frenchman Gregory Gaultier and Egypt's Karim Darwish,
the No7 seed, will compete for the richest prize in world squash when they
meet in the final of the Saudi International after surviving tough
semi-final battles in the $250,000 PSA Tour Super Series Platinum
championship in the Saudi city of Al-Khobar.
the world No2 from Cairo, followed up his sensational quarter-final victory
over world number one ranked compatriot Amr Shabana with a
hard-fought win over Nick Matthew, the No8 seed from England, to
reach his sixth PSA Tour final of the year - and the 24th of his career.
27-year-old from Cairo saved a game-ball in the first game before going on
to forge a two-game lead - then reached match-ball at 10-8 in the third.
But Matthew fought back to force the match into a fourth game - before
Darwish took control again to close out the match 14-12, 11-3, 11-13, 11-6
after 71 minutes.
first game was crucial," Matthew said later. "I had a couple of chances but
couldn't take them, then I slowed up in the second when I had a drop in
energy and he caught me out with drops and when I started moving forward he
threw in a few good flicks."
was delighted with his performance: "It's a dream come true this week,
getting to number one and getting to the final of a $250k event. I've
played well all week but that was a really tough match. Nick played well
and the support of the crowd was great."
second semi saw second seed Gaultier save game balls in the first two games
against David Palmer before completing a straight games win to take
him into his second Saudi International final.
tough man, big and strong and he has so much experience and gives you no
cheap points," said Gaultier of his fifth-seeded Australian opponent after
the 13-11, 15-13, 11-7 victory. "You have to fight for each rally and
that's what I did tonight.
pushed a lot when I was down in the first two, I had to play my best squash
at game ball down and luckily I was really fast and found my shots at the
the crowd will support Karim tomorrow, but I'm here to win. I'll go on and
focus on my game and my squash, it won't bother me. I beat him 3/0 in the
Macau final a couple of weeks ago, but he's playing much better this week so
it should be a good match."
Darwish, Gaultier is also celebrating his sixth final appearance of the year
- but has now built up 31 career final appearances.
for both players, all previous finals will take a back seat as they do
battle for the biggest cheque of their lives - worth $37,400.
Darwish Prevails Amidst Egyptian Shocks
emerged as the
only Egyptian to make it through to the semi-finals of the Saudi
International after compatriots Amr Shabana and Ramy Ashour
– the world number one and world champion, respectively – suffered shock
defeats in the $250,000 PSA Tour Super Series Platinum championship
in the Saudi city of Al-Khobar.
It was seventh seed
Darwish who dealt Shabana’s blow in the world’s richest squash tournament in
history: Currently number two in the world, Darwish recovered from a game
down to beat Shabana - who has topped the world rankings unopposed since
April 2006 - 6-11, 11-9, 11-5, 11-6 in 50 minutes.
"It's a dream come
true - not only to beat Shabana here in Saudi on this court he loves so
much, but I worked out the rankings before the match and I knew that making
the semis if he didn't was enough to put me at world number one in January,”
"It's always hard to
play Shabana, he's got so much confidence, so many shots. Everything went
for him in the first, but I came better in the second and played really well
from then on.
"I wanted to win this
match so much, I was so focused in the third and fourth. I was getting to
every ball and attacking as well, you can't play Shabana at the back all the
time you have to attack too.
"I'm just so pleased
to win, but now I need to put that out of my mind and concentrate on the
The 27-year-old from
Cairo will now face Nick Matthew – out of action for most of the year
following shoulder surgery - after the No8 seed from England pulled off one
of the best wins of his career to beat recently-crowned World Open
champion Ramy Ashour 11-9, 9-11, 11-3, 11-6.
"That's my best win
since the layoff, for sure, I'm very pleased with that,” said the
28-year-old Yorkshireman. "I had to stay focused and concentrate on every
shot, every rally, one bad shot or if you relax one percent, he can hit a
"I had to play very
good squash to win and I think I did that. I'll enjoy it for an hour, then
refocus for tomorrow - another big match, against an Egyptian again, and
with another big crowd supporting him!”
produced the only non-upset of the day when he beat fellow Frenchman
Thierry Lincou 11-9, 11-7, 11-5.
"It was a tough
match,” acknowledged the second seed from Aix-en-Provence. “Thierry played
well in the first, but I started to get used to it, got warmer and warmer
and started to find my shots.
"I'm really pleased
with the win, there's always more pressure when you play one of your won
countrymen, but we've played each other enough now that we can concentrate
on the match, not the national ranking.”
Tour veteran David
Palmer extended his run of marathon victories over Englishman James
Willstrop when he upset the third seed 12-10, 11-8, 4-11, 12-10.
"I'm more relieved
than anything else, they were tough conditions on there, and that's not the
best way to play but you just have to do what you need to do,” explained the
32-year-old fifth seed who celebrated his 100th successive month in the
world's top ten this month.
"He usually has the
shots and I have to try to get the edge by wearing him down over four or
five games, but on there it's so hard to get the ball going it just came
down to a shootout. Whoever went short first probably had an 80% chance of
winning the rally and to beat a shot player like James on that type of court
is a big bonus,” added Palmer.
Survives Saudi Marathon
champion David Palmer survived a fight-back by ninth seed Wael El
Hindi in the second round of the Saudi International before
taking his anticipated place in the quarter-finals of the $250,000 PSA
Tour Super Series Platinum championship - the richest event in squash
history - in the Saudi city of Al-Khobar.
32-year-old former world number one from Australia, is competing in his 15th
year on the PSA Tour - and this month celebrated his 100th successive month
in the world's top ten.
And the fifth seed
opened up a two-game lead over his Egyptian opponent, before El Hindi, the
world No8 from Giza, battled back to take the match into a fifth game
But Palmer dug deep to
restore his supremacy, coming though to win 11-6, 11-7, 3-11, 12-14, 11-2 in
"I played really well
for two games, then got a poor start to the third," Palmer explained. "As
the match went on it got colder and the ball became deader, which suits him
more. In the third and fourth I tried to keep the rallies longer but it was
difficult. He surprised me how strongly he came back, all credit to him for
The US-based Aussie
now faces English rival James Willstrop, the world No5 whom he beat
in the final of the British Open in May. The pair met later in the
World Open quarter-finals in October - with Palmer winning his fourth
successive five-game marathon over the Yorkshireman.
Third seed Willstrop
earned his place in the last eight in just 39 minutes - beating compatriot
Daryl Selby, a qualifier, 11-9, 11-6, 11-7.
"It's been a long wait
for both of us, after quick first round wins and a rest day, we both needed
to get on court," said the 25-year-old afterwards. "I was a bit slow to
start, a little 'rabbit in the headlights', but from mid-game I put some
good spurts in, took the first and got a good lead in the second and there
was no looking back after that."
quarter-final clash set up on the second day of second round Saudi action
sees the third Tour meeting this year between Frenchmen Gregory Gaultier
and Thierry Lincou.
Gaultier, the second
seed, ended unseeded Cameron Pilley's run by beating the Australian
11-4, 5-11, 11-7, 11-5, while sixth seed Lincou, a former world number one,
despatched Englishman Lee Beachill - also a former world number one -
11-8, 11-3, 11-9.
"It's very cold on
there now and the ball's quite dead, so it was tough," said Lincou after his
victory. "You're tempted to go short too early and you can get punished for
"As usual I'm looking
forward to playing Greg. He's been beating me for two years now and he's
the second seed, so he's the favourite!"
Egyptians Excel In Second Round In Saudi
It was a good day for Egyptians on the first day of second round action in
the Saudi International after Amr Shabana, Karim Darwish
and Ramy Ashour - the top three players in the Dunlop PSA World
Rankings - moved into the quarter-finals of the $250,000 PSA Tour
Super Series Platinum championship in the Saudi city of Al-Khobar.
World number two Karim Darwish was in excellent form as he despatched
'giant-killer' Alister Walker, the English qualifier who had reached
the last sixteen after ousting 14th seed Adrian Grant in the first
round. The 27-year-old from Cairo's 11-4, 11-4, 11-7 win over Walker takes
Darwish into a quarter-final against compatriot Shabana.
"I felt pretty comfortable there today, but I knew I had to be focused right
from the start," Said Darwish. "Ali's made great progress in the last year
and if you let him in he's very dangerous."
Two times defending champion and world number one Shabana met unseeded
Borja Golan, the in-form Spaniard. Though the 25-year-old from Santiago
pushed Shabana close, the top-seeded Egyptian won 11-9, 11-6, 2-11, 11-8 to
go through to set up an all-Egyptian quarter-final.
"For him it was a bit up and down, I tried to be steady and concentrate all
the match - but at this level that's very difficult," said Golan. "But I
enjoy every moment on court with him, it can only help me improve my game.
I'm very proud to play him, it's always such a good, fair game with him."
Last year's runner-up Ramy Ashour, now the World Open
champion, faced top Malaysian Ong Beng Hee. The pair provided great
entertainment for the crowd in a fast, attacking match - but fourth seed
Ashour had too much firepower and beat the No10 seed 14-12, 11-8, 11-8.
The remaining quarter-final place settled on the first day of second round
action in the world's richest squash tournament was secured by Nick
Matthew. But the eighth seed was taken the full distance before beating
fellow Englishman Peter Barker, the 12th seed, 11-7, 11-9, 8-11,
11-13, 15-13 in 79 minutes.
"To be honest I feel like I lost that at the moment - at 2/0 up I thought I
had it won, then missed those match balls," rued Matthew after beating the
opponent currently ranked one place higher in the world.
"All credit to him for coming back - I played really well for two games and
felt in complete control. Then he came out attacking in the third and
completely changed the game.
"We're good mates, it's a shame that someone has to lose a match like that,
but in this tournament a couple of points makes a lot of difference in prize
money, so I'll take it," concluded the 28-year-old from Sheffield.
Qualifiers Lead Upsets In Saudi
Alister Walker and Daryl Selby led a series of upsets on the
opening day of action in the Saudi International which caused the
downfall of four seeds in the $250,000 PSA Tour Super Series Platinum
championship in the Saudi city of Al-Khobar - the richest event in
Daryl Selby was
responsible for the highest-seeded scalp. The 26-year-old world No35 from
Essex defeated Mohd Azlan Iskandar, the 11th seed from Malaysia,
11-6, 11-3, 11-2 in just 27 minutes.
Alister Walker faced
compatriot Adrian Grant, the 14th seed. The 26-year-old from Leeds
battled for 51 minutes to conquer left-hander Grant, the world No11, 11-6,
2-11, 13-11, 11-8.
"A really good win,
I'm very pleased with that," Walker said afterwards. "He played his game
too well in the second but I managed to keep the pace up and get him out of
his comfort zone in the others."
While Walker now faces
Egypt's world No2 Karim Darwish, Selby will take on fellow countryman
James Willstrop, the third seed who beat English qualifier
Jonathan Kemp 11-6, 11-5, 11-7.
In his first ever win
over the Finn, Australia's unseeded Cameron Pilley upset 16th seed
Olli Tuominen 12-10, 11-6, 11-9 to claim a surprise place in the last
sixteen. The 26-year-old from New South Wales - who rose above Tuominen to
No18 in the December world rankings - will now face second seed Gregory
Pilley will be the
Frenchman's second Australian opponent after Gaultier beat former world No4
Stewart Boswell, from Canberra, 11-4, 11-7, 4-11, 11-9.
Golan was the first unseeded player to earn a place in the second round
after beating Dutchman Laurens Jan Anjema, the 15th seed, 11-8, 11-8,
"It wasn't easy, but I
managed to stay ahead in the first two games rather than him getting his
usual fast start, and that seemed to unsettle him" said Golan, the world
Saudi Arabia Hosts World's Richest Event
The world's leading
squash players head for Saudi Arabia this weekend where the Saudi
International will offer the biggest prize in the sport's history.
The winner of the
$250,000 PSA Tour Super Series Platinum event, from 14-19 December in
the Saudi city of Al-Khobar, will receive an unprecedented $37,400.
Egypt's world number
one Amr Shabana is seeded to secure the title for the third
successive year. The 29-year-old from Giza heads a star-studded field which
includes three former world number ones, and his two compatriots Karim
Darwish and World Open champion Ramy Ashour - who this
month combined to establish the first ever all-Egyptian world top three.
International also completes the year's Super Series calendar - the leading
events on the PSA Tour from which the eight players earning the most points
qualify for the ATCO Super Series Finals championship. The PSA's
flagship event will take place for the first time at the prestigious
Queen's Club in London next March
Shabana tops the
latest Dunlop Super Series Rankings following his victory in last
month's Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Open, the eighth and penultimate
event of the year. Runner-up Gregory Gaultier, the world No4 from
France, moves up to equal fourth place - with England's James Willstrop
- behind Qatar Classic champion Karim Darwish and World
Open winner Ramy Ashour.
The remaining players
who will be keen to consolidate their top eight positions in Al-Khobar are
Australian David Palmer, the 2002 Super Series Finals champion;
Egyptian Wael El Hindi, the world No8; and Frenchman Thierry
Lincou, three times a finalist and winner of the title in 2004.
But just outside the
elite group are Peter Barker and Adrian Grant - Englishmen who
will be seeking Saudi success in order to earn debuts in next year's
Finals. But Egyptians seem to stand in the pair's way in Saudi - Barker
looking as if he would have to beat Darwish in the quarter-finals in order
to help his cause, and Grant heading for a predicted showdown with Ashour to
have the chance of a top eight finish.
the 32-year-old British Open champion from New South Wales who marked
up his 50th PSA Tour final appearance earlier this year, has now achieved a
further remarkable milestone on the eve of the Saudi championship. The
former world number one reached No8 in September 2000 - and this month
celebrates his 100th successive month in the world's top ten.
"I am proud to have
achieved this and it shows how consistent I have been over the years," said
Palmer from his US base before departing for Saudi. "Hopefully I can keep
up there for another few more years and keep competing at the high level."