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Darwish Conquers Gaultier To Win Sky Open

Sky Open 2009
Sky Petrosport Club, Cairo, Egypt
17-23 Sep, $147k
Round One
19 Sep
Round Two
20 Sep
21 Sep
22 Sep
23 Sep
[1] Karim Darwish (Egy)
11/4, 11/5, 11/3 (38m)
Omar Mosaad (Egy)
Karim Darwish
11/3, 11/4, 11/7  (29m)
Ali Anwar Reda
Karim Darwish
8-11, 11-8, 11-8, 11-4 (54m)
Cameron Pilley
Karim Darwish
11-8, 11-2, 11-6 (40m)
Alister Walker
Karim Darwish
11-6, 7-11, 6-11, 11-9, 11-3 (72m)
Gregory Gaultier
[13] Stewart Boswell (Aus)
11/8, 2/11, 11/9, 11/9 (69m)
[Q] Ali Anwar Reda (Egy)
[5] Nick Matthew (Eng)
11/4, 11/3, 11/2 (29m)
Karim AGA Samy (Egy)
Nick Matthew
12/10, 11/6, 10/12, 13/11 (90m)
Cameron Pilley
[16] Cameron Pilley (Aus)
11/8, 11/8, 6/11, 11/2 (63m)
Ong Beng Hee (Mas)
[4] Amr Shabana (Egy)
9/11, 11/7, 11/9, 11/4 (60m)
[Q] Renan Lavigne (Fra)
Amr Shabana
11-7, 11-6, 11-5 (45m)
Laurens Jan Anjema
Amr Shabana
11-3, 11-6, 4-11, 11-8 (42m)
Alister Walker
[11] Laurens Jan Anjema (Ned)
11/6, 5/11, 11/3, 11/4 (54m)
[Q] Saurav Ghosal (Ind)
[8] Adrian Grant (Eng)
11/7, 11/5, 3/11, 11/4 (77m)
[Q] Campbell Grayson (Nzl)
Adrian Grant
 9/11, 11/7, 11/9, 4/11, 12/10 (121m)
Alister Walker
[12] Alister Walker (Eng)
10/12, 11/7, 11/7, 11/8 (60m)
[Q] Tom Richards (Eng)
Farhan Mehboob (Pak)
9/11, 7/11, 11/9, 11/5, 11/7 (71m)
[10] James Willstrop (Eng)
James Willstrop
8/11, 12/10, 7/1 ret inj.
Peter Barker
James Willstrop
11-9, 11-6, 11-7 (52m)
Ramy Ashour
Ramy Ashour
11-8, 9-11, 8-11, 11-5, 11-9 (70m)
Gregory Gaultier
Hisham Ashour (Egy)
11/7, 7/11, 11/7, 3/11, 11/9 (78m)
[6] Peter Barker (Eng)
[Q] Mark Krajcsak (Hun)
11/6, 11/8, 11/2 (34m)
[14] Azlan Iskandar (Mas)
Azlan Iskandar
13/11, 11/3, 4/11, 11/6 (38m)
Ramy Ashour
[Q] Jonathan Kemp (Eng)
7/11, 11/4, 12/10, 11/4 (30m)
[3] Ramy Ashour (Egy)
[Q] Omar Abdel Aziz (Egy)
11/5, 11/7, 9/11, 11/7
[9] Wael El Hindi (Egy)
Wael El Hindi
11/5, 13/11, 13/15, 13/11 (110m)
Thierry Lincou
Wael El Hindi
11-9, 11-6, 11-7 (52m)
Gregory Gaultier
Miguel Angel Rodriguez (Col)
11/7, 11/4, 11/8 (45m)
[7] Thierry Lincou (Fra)
Olli Tuominen (Fin)
11/3, 11/ 8, 15/13 (41m)
[15] Mohamed El Shorbagy (Egy)
Mohamed El Shorbagy
11/9, 12/10, 11/5 (49m)
Gregory Gaultier
Tarek Momen (Egy)
11/5, 8/11, 11/1, 11/8 (59m)
[2] Gregory Gaultier (Fra)

Darwish Conquers Gaultier To Win Sky Open


Karim Darwish endorsed his status as the world's top squash player when he edged out second-ranked Gregory Gaultier in a dramatic Sky Open final in Egypt to win the $147,500 PSA World Tour Super Series Platinum event title at Sky Petrosport Club in Cairo.


The pair's career head-to-head record before the final stood at six wins apiece - but Frenchman Gaultier was in the ascendancy, after winning the three most recent meetings since December.


And it was the 26-year-old from Aix-en-Provence who stormed into the lead after the first three games - suggesting that this Egyptian opponent might suffer a repeat home final defeat for the second year.


But Darwish is made of sterner stuff and, despite carrying the ankle injury that caused him to withdraw from last week's British Open mid-match, the Cairo-based 28-year-old battled back.


And after 72 minutes, it was the Cairo king who raised his arms in pure delight after recording his 11-6, 7-11, 6-11, 11-9, 11-3 victory - the 16th PSA Tour title of his career and his third Super Series crown.


"This is the first big tournament I've won in Egypt," Darwish said later.  "I was not 100%, so I had no pressure for this tournament - I took it match by match.  But then, when I came to the final, I had full confidence in myself, and really wanted to win.


"I think Greg and I played a good game, but the difference came probably from my motivation to win," added the world number one.  "I lost last year, and I really DIDNíT want to lose this year.  And winning a tournament is such a great feeling!"


Gaultier was inevitably downcast:  "I'm really disappointed with myself, but I guess that I had to beat so many top guys to get to the final - Karim had an easier draw, and was fresher than I was tonight.


"Still, we played a good game - fast paced and really tight."


Darwish & Gaultier To Contest Cairo Climax


The world's top two squash players Karim Darwish and Gregory Gaultier will meet in the final of the Sky Open after surviving contrasting semi-finals of the $147,500 PSA World Tour Super Series Platinum event at Sky Petrosport Club in Cairo.


Local hero Darwish, the world number one from Cairo, faced England outsider Alister Walker, the No12 seed who recorded a life-time best win by beating Egypt's three-time world champion Amr Shabana in the quarter-finals.


But this was one match too far for the 26-year-old world No12 from Leeds.  Darwish played like the globe's leading player that he is to win 11-8, 11-2, 11-6 in 40 minutes - and reach the 26th PSA Tour final of his career.


"Itís always great to get a 3/0 win in the semis, to be fresh for the final," Darwish siad later.  "I still have my ankle to be careful about, but my body is fresh, now.


"I really want to win this event, and Iím so looking forward to tomorrow," added the 28-year-old who lost out in last year's final.


Second-seeded Frenchman Gregory Gaultier took on Egypt's Ramy Ashour, the No3 seed, in the other semi-final.  With six previous meetings since December 2005, the pair's head-to-head tally was level at three-all - but Ashour was in the ascendancy with three successive victories since November 2006.


And the 21-year-old former world champion from Cairo moved 2/1 ahead after losing the first game.


But Gaultier, 26, from Aix-en-Provence, fought back to draw level - then maintained his focus to beat the local star 11-8, 9-11, 8-11, 11-5, 11-9 after 70 minutes to reach his fourth Tour final of the year.


Walker Shocks Shabana In Sky Open Upset


England's Alister Walker recorded the best win of his career when he beat three-time world champion Amr Shabana in the Sky Open to reach the semi-finals of the $147,500 PSA World Tour Super Series Platinum squash event at Sky Petrosport Club in Cairo.


Walker, the No12 seed, made his breakthrough in the previous round by upsetting higher-ranked England team-mate Adrian Grant in a 121-minute marathon.


After taking the first two games in the quarter-final against the fourth seed for just nine points, Walker allowed Egyptian maestro Shabana - the 30-year-old from Giza who held the world number one ranking for 33 months - back into the game.


But the 26-year-old Englishman, who was already celebrating his first ever quarter-final appearance in a Super Series event, reclaimed the upper hand to close in on his historic 11-3, 11-6, 4-11, 11-8 victory in 42 minutes. 


It was Walker's first win over Shabana in five meetings since November 2004 - and revenge for his four-game loss to the left-hander in last week's British Open.


"I played him last week in Manchester, and I watched the game on video," Walker explained to www.squashsite.co.uk later.  "I changed a few things about my game.  I guess he was expecting a slow start, but thatís the best squash Iíve ever played in terms of being positive, sharp, severe with my attacks.


"Sooner or later, he was bound to find some great squash, and thatís what he did in the third and fourth, but I thought that if I could just hang in there, he could maybe make a couple of errors, and become edgy," added the Botswana-born world No12.


"And thatís what happened in the fourth.  He lost more points than I won, I would guess, and for that, Iím truly grateful.  Iím still in shock, I canít take much in right now."


Walker will now meet Shabana's compatriot Karim Darwish, the world number one who ended Cameron Pilley's impressive run, beating the 16th seed from Australia 8-11, 11-8, 11-8, 11-4.


A later Anglo/Egyptian clash also almost ended in an upset:  James Willstrop, the 10th seed from England, faced Egypt's No3 seed Ramy Ashour - and the Englishman, who was runner-up in last week's British Open, took the opening game, then fought from behind to get the fourth to force the match into a fifth-game decider.


And, for the second time in just over a week, Willstrop saw his chance of victory disappear in a tie-break as Ashour clinched an 8-11, 11-6, 11-7, 7-11, 12-10 win in 60 minutes.


Ashour, the world No4 from Cairo, now takes on Gregory Gaultier for a place in the final.  The second-seeded Frenchman despatched Egypt's defending champion Wael El Hindi 11-9, 11-6, 11-7 in the final match of the day.


Pilley Powers Past Matthew In Major Cairo Upset


Australian Cameron Pilley pulled off a major upset in the second round of the Sky Open in Egypt when he defeated England's fifth seed Nick Matthew - winner of the British Open title last week - to reach the quarter-finals of the $147,500 PSA World Tour squash event at Sky Petrosport Club in Cairo.


Matthew, the world No5 from Sheffield, arrived at the first Super Series Platinum championship of the year in Cairo in the form of his life - after dismissing Pilley in straight games in Manchester en-route to winning the prestigious British Open trophy for the second time in four years. 


Pilley, the 16th seed from New South Wales, took the opening two games before the Englishman reduced the deficit by taking the third after a tie-break.  The fourth game also went the full distance before world No17 Pilley emerged the 12-10, 11-6, 10-12, 13-11 victor after 90 minutes.


"This is the best he ever played against me, and as he was injured last week when I played him, I didn't expect such a game I guess," Matthew admitted later.  "He had confidence in his shots today.  When he gets everything together, body and mind, he is pretty dangerous.


"Still, I can't use winning a tournament as an excuse really, and I'd rather win one and lose the next one in the sixteenth than play two semis!"


There were further notable upsets - none more so than the career-first win by defending champion Wael El Hindi over Frenchman Thierry Lincou, the former world number one and world champion.  El Hindi, the ninth-seeded Egyptian who has failed to live up to expectations since winning the Sky title last year, took 110 minutes to overcome Lincou, the No7 seed, 11-5, 13-11, 13-15, 13-11.


Alister Walker, the 12th seed, survived the longest match of the day - beating higher-ranked England team-mate Adrian Grant for only the second time in his career 9-11, 11-7, 11-9, 4-11, 12-10 in 121 minutes.  Eighth seed Grant had match ball at 10-9 in the fifth game.  After seven lets, Walker finally won the point before going on to take the match.


English rivals James Willstrop and Peter Barker also fought out an evenly-contested battle - but 10th seed Willstrop ultimately prevailed when Barker, the sixth seed, conceded the match at 7-1 down in the third, suffering with blisters on his foot.


Reda & Aziz Boost Home Interest In Sky Open


Egyptians Mohd Ali Anwar Reda and Omar Abdel Aziz boosted home interest in the Sky Open after surviving the qualifying finals of the $147,500 PSA World Tour squash event - the first Super Series Platinum championship of the year - at Sky Petrosport Club in Cairo.


Reda, the 20-year-old world No43 from Cairo, beat South African Stephen Coppinger 11-6, 3-11, 15-13, 11-9 in 62 minutes - and later was drawn to meet Australia's 13th seed Stewart Boswell in the main draw.


His Cairo compatriot Aziz, ranked one place lower, despatched England's Robbie Temple 11-9, 11-5, 11-7 and will now face fellow countryman Wael El Hindi, the defending champion who is seeded nine.


But the toughest qualifying battle was staged by Mark Krajcsak and US number two Gilly Lane.  In a marathon 93-minute encounter, Hungarian number one Krajcsak fought back from 2/1 down to beat Lane 11-6, 10-12, 7-11, 11-6, 11-6.  


The 25-year-old from Budapest will now meet Mohd Azlan Iskandar, the 14th seed from Malaysia, in the first round.

Farag Fights Into Cairo Qualifying Finals


Egyptian teenager Ali Farag pulled off a remarkable win in the Sky Open in his home country to earn a surprise place in the qualifying finals of the $147,500 PSA World Tour squash event - the first Super Series Platinum championship of the year - at Sky Petrosport Club in Cairo.


Ranked 316 in the world and in his first year as a PSA member, 17-year-old Farag stemmed a fightback by Aaron Frankcomb to beat the world No39 from Australia 13-11, 11-6, 8-11, 10-12, 11-7 in 76 minutes.


"This is my best win ever," Farag said afterwards. 


The teenager will now face Campbell Grayson after the world No53 from New Zealand comfortably beat Egyptian Ahmed Hawas 11-3, 13-11, 11-4.


Grayson's fellow countryman Martin Knight suffered at the hands of another young Egyptian in the other upset on the opening day of qualifying action in Cairo. 


Knight, the world No51 from Wellington - who, like Campbell, qualified for last week's internationalSPORTgroup British Open in England - took the opening game against Omar Abdel Meguid


But the 21-year-old from Giza, ranked more than 150 places lower, battled back to beat the Kiwi 9-11, 11-4, 11-5, 11-6.


Meguid will now face England's Tom Richards for a place in the main draw.