Ramy Masters Mumbai
Egypt's Ramy Ashour
significantly boosted his chances of becoming world number one next month for
the first time when he beat Englishman Nick Matthew in four games in
today's (Thursday) final of the Punj Lloyd PSA Masters, the $152,500
PSA World Tour Super Series squash event at the Bombay Gymkhana in
Fourth seed Matthew is
enjoying the form of his life and arrived in the final of the penultimate PSA
Super Series event of the year without dropping a game. Meanwhile Ashour, still
smarting from his straight games loss in last month's World Open final in
Kuwait, had avenged that defeat by beating fellow countryman Amr Shabana
in the semi-finals - and was ready to tip the scales in his pre-final three-all
head-to-head count against the Englishman.
The 22-year-old from Cairo
led from the outset in the opening skirmishes soon moved a game up. But it was
Yorkshireman Matthew who was in the ascendancy throughout the second game and
levelled the score after 41 minutes.
It was neck and neck
throughout third Ė with Matthew mostly in the lead. But, a point away from game
ball at 9-7, Matthew saw the third seed romp away with four points in a row to
reclaim the advantage.
Ashour maintained the
momentum to go 3-0 ahead in the fourth Ė but Matthew led twice thereafter at 5-3
and 7-5. The Englishman went on to save two match balls from 7-10 down Ė but
Ashour converted his third attempt to record his 11-6, 9-11, 11-9, 11-9
title-winning triumph after 79 minutes.
The win marks Ashour's
first Super Series success of the year, but the 13th PSA Tour title of his
career - of which, remarkably, eight are Super Series!
"Iíve got great respect for
Nick - he played so well tonight, heís really improving his attacking game, and
he mixed up his pace really well," Ashour said afterwards. "I think Nick and I
really play well together, we seem to have a complementary game, and to keep
pushing each other up.
"This is my first win of
the year - Iím so happy and I hope Iíll just keep on playing like that in Saudi,
and after that. Win or lose, I just want to play well."
Matthew, who reached a
career-high world No4 last month, is widely being tipped as a future world
number one back in his home country: "I guess there was a lot at stake today -
the PSA Masters title, the world number one. It was a lot to handle, and maybe
I was thinking about it too much," admitted the 29-year-okd from Sheffield.
"Iíve learnt from this, and
Iíll be keeping challenging for the number one spot.
"But he was playing better
squash than me today, thatís about it. Iím disappointed with my performance, my
movement to the front was not good enough, and of course, all credit to Ramy,
who was 80% responsible for it - his racquet skills, his movement, his shots.
"But I still lost 20% of
it, and that made the difference."
Ashour & Matthew To Meet In Mumbai
the third seed from Egypt, and Nick Matthew, the No4 seed from England,
will contest the final of the Punj Lloyd PSA Masters after coming through
testing semi-finals against fellow countrymen in the $152,500 PSA World Tour
Super Series squash event at the Bombay Gymkhana in Mumbai,
Matthew is celebrating the
biggest final of his career Ė just two weeks after winning his biggest Tour
title at the Qatar Classic in Doha. But England team-mate Barker, the
eighth seed from London, built up a commanding 8-3 lead in the opening game and
had three game-balls from 10-8 before world No4 Matthew raised his game to take
a first game lead.
Matthew, 29, from Sheffield
led throughout the second - and in the third Barker twice had to fight back to
draw level. But the England number one mounted a mighty push to win the next
six points in a row to claim his 13-11, 11-6, 11-5 victory after 55 minutes.
"I thought he was hungrier
that I was in the first game - he really came out firing, which I expected as
the last two times we played really didnít do him any justice," Matthew said
afterwards. "And at the time, I was just pushing the ball around, not much
purpose in my shots. So way down in the game, I started playing with more
thoughts, and I got lucky to just sneak in that game.
"Peter reminds me a lot of
me: we were both good juniors, but not the best, we had to work extremely hard,
and we started to meet in semis. Soon, I know, it will be in the finals,
because there is only one way Peter is going Ė up!
"Iím so glad for England
Squash at the moment, with the girls doing so well, and Peter, Daryl (Selby) and
Ali (Walker) also going really strong. Hopefully, we can keep it going," added
Matthew, on the eve of the 29th Tour final of his career Ė and the seventh of
"This is a great venue - we
are all loving it. The crowd is amazing, and I just hope that theyíll keep on
giving me support tomorrow."
The last time Ramy Ashour
played senior compatriot Amr Shabana was in Kuwait, where the 30-year-old
left-hander romped to a straight games win in the final to secure his fourth
World Open title.
But 22-year-old Ashour was
after revenge Ė and he achieved his goal in style with an 11-9, 13-15, 11-8,
11-2 upset over the second seed in 44 minutes.
"Iím really happy with my
mental focus today," said the 2008 World Open champion later. "I nearly got
really annoyed with the refs one more time, and I could have really lost it,
slipped out of the match tonight. But I didnít - I stayed mentally strong,
which Iím very proud of.
"Also, Iím really happy
with the way I handled my squash today. The way I hold the racquet, the way I
run, the way I played tactically. Iím really proud of what Iíve done," added
world No5 Ashour - now in his 21st career final, and his fifth of the year.
Matthew and Ashour's career
head-to-head record stand at three wins apiece Ė with the Englishman successful
in the first of their two meetings this year, in the Tournament of Champions
semi-finals in New York in January Ė and Ashour triumphant in a 91-minute
marathon a month later in the final of the North American Open in
Mumbai Heralds Anglo-Egyptian Masters
Peter Barker claimed an unexpected place in the semi-finals of the Punj
Lloyd PSA Masters to ensure that the final of the $152,500 PSA World Tour
Super Series squash event at the Bombay Gymkhana in Mumbai,
India, will be an Anglo-Egyptian affair.
In the last quarter-final
of day, Barker secured the semi-final slot that was expected to be taken up by
top seed Gregory Gaultier - until the world number two from France
crashed out in a major first round shock.
Barker, poised at a
career-high world No7, faced 13th seed Laurens Jan Anjema - but needed
more than an hour to beat the Dutchman 11-8, 11-7, 11-5.
"Today, my concentration
was good," the left-hander said afterwards. "I think I was able to nullify LJ,
keeping him at the back of the court. He is so dangerous when he volleys.
"Yesterday he beat Daryl
(Selby) - and Daryl was playing very well, but LJ played better.
"Itís my second Platinum
event semi in two weeks, after Qatar last week," added the exuberant Englishman.
Barker will now face
England team-mate Nick Matthew, the fourth seed who defeated an
out-of-sorts Thierry Lincou, the No7 seed from France, 11-8, 11-7, 11-4
in just 40 minutes.
"I feel really lucky
tonight, because Thierry had a very long match yesterday, and it was also the
first time he was playing on the glass court. I have the greatest of respect
for what he brought to the game," said the world No4 from Sheffield.
Australian Tour veteran
David Palmer and rising Egyptian star Ramy Ashour treated the crowd
to an earlier 78-minutes clash described by tournament spokesman Gary
Nitschke as "a brilliant match and best of the tournament so far".
Third seed Ashour took the
opening game, but an impressive performance by Palmer saw the indefatigable
33-year-old take the second 18-16 - and then the third 11-9. However, it was
the 22-year-old from Cairo who ultimately prevailed, winning 11-8, 16-18, 9-11,
11-4, 11-8 to earn his third successive semi-final appearance on the PSA Tour.
"I got incredibly tired in
the fourth and, for the first time ever, I let a game go - but I needed ten
minutes to recover and freshen up really," conceded the former world number one
and twice world champion from New South Wales.
"He is so good, you can put
him under pressure, and force a few errors out of him, but people donít realise
how fast he is, and that he is the best of the world to pick up shots!
"We came here last in í97,
and for a first time tournament, itís amazing really," added Palmer. "Iím about
to retire next year - but for the other guys, I hope this tournament keeps going
for many years. Itís really a great setting."
Ashour will face senior
compatriot Amr Shabana, the rejuvenated 30-year-old second seed who won
his fourth World Open tile in Kuwait last month.
Despite suffering a mild
gash to his face after an accidental clash with his opponent's racket, second
seed Shabana resisted fellow countryman Mohamed El Shorbagy, beating the
18-year-old 12th seed 11-5, 5-11, 12-10, 11-7 in 53 minutes.
Teenager El Shorbagy Masters Willstrop In
Mohamed El Shorbagy, the youngest player in the world's top 20, upset
England's James Willstrop in the second round of the Punj Lloyd PSA
Masters to reach the quarter-finals of the $152,500 PSA World Tour Super
Series squash event at the Bombay Gymkhana in Mumbai, India.
It was a dramatic five-game
encounter which finished two hours and 20 minutes after it began - but included
an injury break of more than an hour as sixth seed Willstrop recovered from a
gash on his forehead.
And after 18-year-old El
Shorbagy led 2/1, Willstrop regained the advantage to lead 5-1 in the fifth game
decider, then have two match-balls to attempt to clinch his anticipated victory.
But devastating play by the
young 12th seed finally enabled El Shorbagy to play a winning shot which
Willstrop was unable to retrieve - and the Egyptian claimed his place in the
last eight with a shock 7-11, 11-5, 11-4, 5-11, 13-11 triumph.
The win followed early
exits in both the World Open and Qatar Classic last month -
confidence-draining defeats which led the Alexandria-born youngster to seek
advice from his long-time English coach Jonah Barrington at Millfield
School in Somerset.
"Jonah worked with me,
especially on the mental side," El Shorbagy said later. "He understands how my
head works, we had some very useful sessions - with Ian Thomas as well, his head
coach there - and I got my confidence back. But I came here with no expectation
- my only goal was to make it as hard as possible for the top guys, and then, it
suddenly all came together today!
"Iím so happy! I needed a
win to get my confidence back, and now, Iím back!"
El Shorbagy will now face
compatriot Amr Shabana for a place in the last four. Second seed Shabana,
the previous winner of the PSA Masters title in Bermuda, ended local hopes in
the event when he beat unseeded Indian Saurav Ghosal, the world No32 from
Chennai, 11-6, 6-11, 11-5, 12-10 in 48 minutes.
"He's a legend already, so
it's an honour to be able to play him in front of my home crowd," said
23-year-old Ghosal of his opponent, winner of his fourth World Open title
in Kuwait last month. "I thought I played well - I did the right things and
proved I could stay with him for most of the match - so it bodes well for the
giant-killing run came to an end when the
unseeded Englishman went down 11-7, 9-11, 11-9, 11-5 in 82 minutes to Dutchman
Laurens Jan Anjema, the 13th seed.
disappointed, but not disappointed to lose against LJ, the way he played today,"
said Selby, who claimed the biggest scalp of his life 24 hours earlier when he
beat world No2 Gregory Gaultier. "He played a great match, hard and
fair, with a great respect for his opponent. He fully deserved this win, and I
still enjoyed it very much."
Selby Sees Off Top Seed Gaultier
England's Daryl Selby
secured the best win of his career when he upset event favourite Gregory
Gaultier in five games to move into the last 16 of the Punj Lloyd PSA
Masters, the $152,500 PSA World Tour Super Series squash event at the
Bombay Gymkhana in Mumbai.
While the 27-year-old from
Essex is enjoying a sensational run of form towards the end of the year,
Gaultier seems to be experiencing the opposite effect since becoming world
number one for the first time in November.
The Frenchman failed to
progress beyond the second round of last month's Qatar Classic - thereby
dropping back to No2 in the December rankings - while unexpected title success
in November's Dutch Open saw Selby soar to a career-high world No11 this
After recovering from the
loss of the first game in Mumbai, Gaultier moved ahead to lead 2/1 - but the
tenacious English underdog battled back to regain control before raising his
arms in delight after 83 minutes in celebration of his shock 12-10, 1-11, 11-13,
11-6, 11-6 victory.
"This is my best win ever,
for sure," Selby told
afterward. "Greg is such an amazing player, when he gets confident, he gets in
a roll, and we could see in the second how good he can be, and he showed there
why he was number one last month.
"Youíve got to be pretty
gutsy to play on that court against Greg. Iím sure heíll say he was not 100%,
but thatís in his head. Iím sure too that heíll agree thatís the weakest point
of his game, as the squash is close to perfection really. I just tried and get
in his head tonight.
"What made the difference
tonight? The mental side of things, no doubt about that," concluded the
Selby will now go on to
face 13th seed Laurens Jan Anjema, the Netherlands number one who was
forced to retire against Selby in the Dutch Open semi-finals. With no sign of
the troubled right knee, Anjema despatched Italian number one Davide
Bianchetti 11-5, 11-3, 11-4.
Daryl Selby was one of five
Englishmen to earn second round slots at the Bombay Gymkhana - and two of the
four will be certain of reaching the following round! England number one
Nick Matthew, the fourth seed, beat Frenchman Renan Lavigne 11-9,
11-5, 11-7 and will face England team-mate Adrian Grant, the No9 seed who
needed 54 minutes to overcome compatriot Chris Ryder 6-11, 11-7, 11-3,
The other all-English
second round line-up will feature 10th seed Alister Walker and Londoner
Peter Barker, the eighth seed. Walker defeated local hero Ritwik
Bhattacharya, the former world No38 from Mumbai and one of the tournament
organisers, 11-4, 11-5, 11-3, while Barker dismissed US number one Julian
Illingworth 11-4, 11-6, 11-4.