Conquers Gaultier To Win Sky Open
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
"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.
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
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.
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.
the No12 seed, made his breakthrough in the previous round by
upsetting higher-ranked England team-mate Adrian Grant in a
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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!"
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.
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.
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
"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.