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Matthew Marches On In Canberra

CSR Viridian Australian Open 2010
11-15 Aug, Canberra, $142k
Men's Draw

Round One
Tue 10th/11th
Round Two
Thu 12th
Fri 13th
Sat 14th
Sun 15th
[1] Nick Matthew (ENG)
11-4, 11-4, 11-2 (41m)
Joey Barrington (ENG)
Nick Matthew
11-6, 11-7, 11-3
Wael El Hindi
Nick Matthew
4-11, 11-5, 11-9, 12-10
Peter Barker
Nick Matthew
11-7, 11-8, 11-8 (59m)
James Willstrop
Nick Matthew
16-14, 11-7, 12-10 (59m)
Ramy Ashour
[11] Wael El Hindi (EGY)
11-5, 8-11, 11-6, 11-7 (53m)
Simon Rosner (GER)
[8] Peter Barker (ENG)
11-4, 11-5, 11-3 (27m)
Q] Kashif Shuja (NZL)
Peter Barker
11-1, 1-0 ret.
Adrian Grant
[13] Adrian Grant (ENG)
13-11, 11-5, 11-2 (39m)
[Q] Max Lee (HKG)
[3] Amr Shabana (EGY)
11-8, 11-7, 12-14, 11-8 (60m)
Ryan Cuskelly
Amr Shabana
12-10, 11-6, 11-8
Ong Beng Hee
Amr Shabana
11-4, 11-5, 11-7
James Willstrop
[15] Alister Walker (ENG)
11-7, 14-12, 6-11, 6-11, 13-11 (94m)
Ong Beng Hee (MAS)
[6] James Willstrop (ENG)
11-9, 11-6, 11-3 (21m)
[Q] Matthew Karwalski (AUS)
James Willstrop
11-1, 9-11, 11-2, 11-3
David Palmer
[10] David Palmer (AUS)
10-12, 11-6, 11-5, 11-9 (59m)
Saurav Ghosal
Tom Richards (ENG)
8-11, 11-5, 12-10, 8-11, 11-8 (93m)
[9] Daryl Selby (ENG)
Tom Richards
11-7, 11-7, 11-6
Gregory Gaultier
Gregory Gaultier
11-3, 11-4, 8-11, 11-7
Karim Darwish
Gregory Gaultier
5-11, 11-6, 9-11, 11-7, 11-7 (80m)
Ramy Ashour
[Q] Muhd Asyraf Azan (MAS)
11-7, 11-2, 11-2 (28m)
[5] Gregory Gaultier (FRA)
[Q] Campbell Grayson (NZL)
11-9, 11-4, 11-7 (31m)
[14] Mohamed El Shorbagy (EGY)
Mohamed El Shorbagy
11-5, 11-9, 11-6
Karim Darwish
[Q] Campbell Grayson (NZL)
11-9, 11-4, 11-7 (31m)
[4] Karim Darwish (EGY)
[Q] Julian Illingworth (USA)
11-7, 11-8, 11-7 (48m)
[12] Laurens Jan Anjema (NED)
Laurens Jan Anjema
5-11, 11-9, 11-4, 13-11
Thierry Lincou
Thierry Lincou
11-7, 11-6, 11-2
Ramy Ashour
Stewart Boswell (AUS)
7-11, 11-6, 11-9, 11-5 (59m)
[7] Thierry Lincou (FRA)
[Q] Scott Arnold (AUS)
11-8, 11-8, 11-5 (38m)
[16] Cameron Pilley (AUS)
Cameron Pilley
11-7, 11-3, 14-12
Ramy Ashour
Omar Abdel Aziz (EGY)
11-4, 11-5, 11-8 (33m)
[2] Ramy Ashour (EGY)

Qualifying finals:
Julian Illingworth (USA) bt Mohd Nafiizwan Adnan (MAS) 11-6, 9-11, 13-11, 11-13, 11-5 (101m)
Max Lee (HKG) bt Gilly Lane (USA) 11-7, 12-10, 11-6 (44m)
Muhd Asyraf Azan (MAS) bt Martin Knight (NZL) 17-15, 12-10, 7-11, 7-11, 11-8 (89m)
Kashif Shuja (NZL) bt Amr Swelim (ITA) 2-11, 11-8, 11-7, 8-11, 11-9 (66m)
Scott Arnold (AUS) bt Mohammed Abbas (EGY) 15-13, 11-9, 11-7 (38m)
Campbell Grayson (NZL) bt Alan Clyne (SCO) 14-12, 8-11, 16-14, 9-11, 11-5 (85m)
Matthew Karwalski (AUS) bt Aaron Frankcomb (AUS) 9-11, 11-9, 12-10, 8-11, 11-6 (80m)
Zac Alexander (AUS) bt Kamran Khan (MAS) 11-7, 11-7, 11-3 (40m)

1st qualifying round:
Julian Illingworth (USA) bt Jens Schoor (GER) 11-7, 11-5, 12-10 (43m)
Mohd Nafiizwan Adnan (MAS) bt Wesley Cusick (AUS) 11-2, 11-4, 11-3 (17m)
Gilly Lane (USA) bt Nathan Stevenson (AUS) 11-3, 11-5, 11-5 (28m)
Max Lee (HKG) bt Timothy Manning (AUS) 11-7, 11-3, 11-6 (24m)
Martin Knight (NZL) bt Jamie Mcervale (AUS) 11-6, 11-8, 11-1 (26m)
Muhd Asyraf Azan (MAS) bt Justin Beard (AUS) 11-13, 11-6, 11-9, 10-12, 11-5 (64m)
Amr Swelim (ITA) bt Dick Lau (HKG) 11-4, 11-4, 11-4 (31m)
Kashif Shuja (NZL) bt Kristian Frost Olesen (DEN) 8-11, 6-11, 11-6, 11-9, 11-8 (64m)
Scott Arnold (AUS) bt Rex Hedrick (AUS) 11-8, 11-8, 11-6 (43m)
Mohammed Abbas (EGY) bt Josh Cardwell (AUS) 11-6, 11-4, 11-9 (32m)
Alan Clyne (SCO) bt Neeraj Aggarwal (AUS) 11-3, 11-1, 11-0 (20m)
Campbell Grayson (NZL)
bt Christopher Gordon (USA) 7-11, 11-1, 9-11, 11-5, 11-9 (77m)
Matthew Karwalski (AUS)
bt Steve Finitsis (AUS) 11-6, 11-4, 11-9 (35m)
Aaron Frankcomb (AUS)
bt Peter Taylor (AUS) 11-6, 11-3, 11-7 (35m)
Zac Alexander (AUS)
bt Jeff Bond (AUS) 11-7, 11-5, 11-7 (35m)
Kamran Khan (MAS)
bt Nicolas Mueller (SUI) 11-7, 11-9, 5-11, 4-11, 11-5 (59m)

official website

Matthew Marches On In Canberra

England's Nick Matthew clinched his fifth successive PSA World Tour squash title and showed just why he is ranked number one in the world when he downed Egypt's Ramy Ashour in straight games in the final of the $142,500 CSR Viridian Australian Open, the fourth PSA Super Series championship of the year, in Canberra.

The Yorkshireman stuck with Ashour through the Egyptian's periods of brilliance, then slowly squeezed the challenge out of the world number two as he eased to a 16-14, 11-7, 12-10 victory to become the first Englishman to win the Australian title since Gawain Briars in 1978.

"You have to go through the patches when he's just too good for you," Matthew conceded. "He's brilliant - you just have to get through those moments."

Matthew and Ashour went point for point in the first game until 9-9 when Ashour brought up the first of five game balls.

But every time he took the advantage, usually through an outrageous nick or unbelievable drop, Matthew somehow managed to fight his way back until 14-14 when an Ashour error gave Matthew game ball.

The 30-year-old from Sheffield needed no second invitation and took an epic first game 16-14, then came out firing at the start of the second to seize control of the final.

Matthew wrapped up the second game and fought back from 10-7 down in the third. Although the third was close Matthew always looked the most likely, particularly when Ashour began struggling with a foot injury late in the game.

"I think at the time we could both feel that while (saving five game balls) may not have been a match winning scenario, obviously the first game is so important and then when I got a good start at the second, in hindsight that was a massively crucial part of the game," Matthew said.

"The temptation when he's hit a few good winners is to panic, but you have to really stay patient, because he hits shots no one else can play and he plays at pace.

"You sometimes have to hold your hands up and say 'alright, what can I do better, what can I do to impose my game on him'. I think I managed to do that, but in three games I never got an easy point."

Matthew said he still had plenty of improvement left: "I'm only just 30 and I still feel that although I've not got the attacking game of Ramy, I'm always working and becoming better and better.

"If you stand still other people catch up and overtake you, so you've always got to keep working to improve."

The win marks Matthew's 23rd undefeated Tour match in a row, and his fifth successive title, including the Swedish Open and North American Open in February, the Canary Wharf Classic in March and the Sky Open in Egypt in May.

Top Seeds To Contest Australian Open Final

The world's two leading squash players, Nick Matthew and Ramy Ashour, will fight out the CSR Viridian Australian Open final on Sunday after contrasting wins in the semi-finals of the $142,500 PSA World Tour event - the fourth PSA Super Series championship of the year - in Canberra.

World number one Nick Matthew, the top seed, enjoyed a solid 11-7, 11-8, 11-8 win over fellow Englishman James Willstrop before the second ranked Egyptian Ramy Ashour beat Frenchman Gregory Gaultier 5-11, 11-6, 9-11, 11-7, 11-7 in a mercurial semi-final.

Ashour and Gaultier entertained the big crowd at Canberra's Royal Theatre with a spectacular display of squash, mixed in with some highly entertaining interplay with each other, the crowd and the central referee.

"It's more a mental game than a physical one at this level," said Ashour, now in the 26th PSA Tour final of his career. "It's really tough to play Greg - he's such a great player and I knew I had to keep focusing if I wanted to be able to beat him."

Ashour and Matthew have met 10 times in their career with the Egyptian winning six times and Matthew four. However, the Sheffield-based Englishman won their last encounter at the final of the Tournament of Champions in New York in February.

Matthew looked incredibly solid in his win over Willstrop, showing why he is ranked as the world's top player.

He took all the sting out of Willstrop's game, not easy against someone who beat former world number ones David Palmer and Amr Shabana on the way to the semi-finals.

"I'm always happy to win 3/0 and in the semi-final it's all the better really," said Matthew, who recently celebrated his 30th birthday.

"I played well today and got a good start in each game which is crucial and I think at the end I got the big points as well.

"James is one of the gutsiest players on tour and he's very skilful as well, so combine that with his reach you always need to hit those extra three or four shots every rally," added the Yorkshireman whose 35th career PSA Tour final tomorrow will also be his eighth in the last nine events he has played!

It was a disappointing outcome for Willstrop on the eve of his 27th birthday.

Brilliant Willstrop Stuns Shabana In Canberra

Englishman James Willstrop put in a brilliant performance of controlled squash to demolish Egypt's reigning world champion Amr Shabana in the quarter-finals of the CSR Viridian Australian Open in Canberra.

A day after beating former world number one David Palmer in the $142,500 PSA World Tour event - the fourth PSA Super Series championship of the year - sixth seed Willstrop hardly made an error as he raced to an 11-4, 11-5, 11-7 win over Shabana, a four times world champion and also a former world number one.

The upset leads Willstrop to a semi-final against fellow countryman and current world number one Nick Matthew - and the certainty of an English finalist on Sunday.

"I just tried to think it's a different day," Willstrop said after his third win over Shabana, the No3 seed from Cairo, this year. "I tried to get ready the same as yesterday - just because I won yesterday, that's gone and I don't think about that any more.

"But I have to be absolutely on my game tomorrow and, if I am, I can win the tournament," added the former world No2 from Leeds in Yorkshire.

Matthew, also a Yorkshireman, earlier survived a brutal examination from countryman Peter Barker to move into the semi-finals.

The left-hander from London opened brilliantly and raced away with the first game 11-4, but at 5-5 in the second he went off the boil and allowed Matthew to win the next six points to even the match.

Matthew then narrowly won the next two to take the match 4-11, 11-5, 11-9, 12-10 in a quarter-final of exceptional quality.

The England teammates delighted the big crowd at Canberra's Royal Theatre with their superb all-court games, Matthew just getting home on the back of some unforced errors at crucial times from Barker, who had not taken a game off his opponent for the past 18 months.

"I knew he wanted this match and would come out to play," Matthew said. "The last few times he has played me he has come off the back of some tough matches or he has been carrying a niggle so he could not do himself justice."

France's Gregory Gaultier says he is back to his best and enjoying his squash once more after downing fourth seed Karim Darwish 11-3, 11-4, 8-11, 11-7 in a minor upset in evening session on the all-glass court at the Royal Theatre.

Fifth seed Gaultier reached the world number one ranking for a month in November last year, but then immediately hit a form slump and quickly dropped out of the top five.

However the 27-year-old from Aix-en-Provence said that, after training hard over the season break and talking about his problems with his coach and family, he was now approaching the sport with a new attitude.

"I went through a tough period and suffered from depression," he said. "I didn't enjoy playing at all but now I have come back want to do the best I can.

"I believe a career is short and I am already 27. I haven't reached my goals so I decided over the last few months that I would give it everything."

Gaultier will play the mercurial Ramy Ashour, who disposed of Thierry Lincou 11-7, 11-6, 11-2 in another Franco-Egyptian clash between two former world number ones.

The second-seeded Ashour was simply devastating, giving Lincou no chance in one of the most impressive displays of the tournament.

The winner takes on either Nick Matthew or James Willstrop in Sunday's final.

Peter Barker's defeat earlier in the day ensures that the top eight players in the PSA Super Series rankings on the eve of the Australian Open will retain their places - though the final order may change depending on the outcome of the semi-finals and final.

The eight players are Nick Matthew, Ramy Ashour, James Willstrop, Karim Darwish, Gregory Gaultier, Amr Shabana, Thierry Lincou and Wael El Hindi.

Willstrop Shatters Palmer's Australian Open Dreams

David Palmer's dreams of a second Australian Open title are over for 2010 after he was beaten in four games by sixth-seeded Englishman James Willstrop in the second round of the $142,500 PSA World Tour squash event in Canberra - the fourth PSA Super Series championship of the year.

A trio of Englishmen and Egyptians, together with a pair of Frenchmen, have made it through to the last eight of the CSR Viridian-sponsored championship - but the defeat of New South Welshman Cameron Pilley in the final match of the day means that local interest in the biggest squash event in Australia since 1991 has now evaporated.

David Palmer, the 34-year-old from New South Wales who has hinted he may retire at the end of the year, was unable to complete a fairytale return to Australia as Willstrop powered to an 11-1, 9-11, 11-2, 11-3 win and a quarter-final clash with third-seeded Egyptian Amr Shabana.

Palmer looked out of sorts for much of the match and Willstrop took full advantage.

"I played well but I had to play well," said the 26-year-old from Leeds in Yorkshire. "I don't think there are any reasons for what happened, apart from I played better. I mean he's played better than me enough times, so I'm happy to get one over him."

The match was the 16th Tour meeting between the two players, but the first since March 2009. Palmer, the tenth seed, had won 11 leading in, with Willstrop not having beaten the Australian since September 2007.

In that time Palmer had beaten Willstrop in the finals of two of Britain's biggest tournaments, the 2008 British Open and the 2009 Canary Wharf Classic.

"We used to seem to meet all the time and in England he's beaten me in some big tournaments," said Willstrop after avenging four successive losses to the Australian in England.

"He's had it over me a few times so to come to Australia and get a win over him is very, very special."

Shabana reached the quarter-finals when he beat Malaysian Ong Beng Hee 12-10, 11-6, 11-8.

In the first match of the day top-seeded Englishman Nick Matthew continued his impressive form when he downed colourful Egyptian Wael El Hindi in straight games.

Matthew looked every inch the world number one as he withstood everything El Hindi could throw at him to win 11-6, 11-7, 11-3.

"I set my stall out from the word go to give him nothing, but not to be too negative," Matthew said. "It's not an easy balance but I think I found it quite well.

"Wael started playing when he was snookered, when he was seven, eight points down. If he'd played like that from the start it would have been brutal"

Yorkshireman Matthew now plays England team-mate Peter Barker, who had an easy passage into the final eight when fellow countryman Adrian Grant was forced to retire ill while trailing 11-1, 1-0.

Egypt's Ramy Ashour threw down the gauntlet to English rival Nick Matthew and ended local hopes of a male winner when he beat Cameron Pilley 11-7, 11-3, 14-12.

After a tight first game Ashour steamed through the second with some brilliant shot making before Pilley came back in the third, only just losing the game in a tiebreaker.

Ashour's form looks just as good as that of Matthew, the Englishman who succeeded him as world number one in June.

However lurking in the wings are a host of ex-world number ones including French duo Gregory Gaultier and Thierry Lincou - and Egyptian pair Karim Darwish and Amr Shabana.

Gaultier looked like he was back to his best as he downed Englishman Tom Richards 11-7, 11-7, 11-6 in the first match of the evening session.

Richards had surprised countryman Daryl Selby in the first round but had no answer to Gaultier as the Frenchman cruised to a comfortable win and a quarter-final against Darwish, who impressively beat fellow Egyptian Mohamed El Shorbagy 11-5, 11-9, 11-6.

Gaultier had never played Richards before but said he knew he was one of the fastest improving players on the tour. "He has started to get into the main draw of the big tournaments and I've seen him at those, and also I watched him yesterday," said the 27-year-old from Aix-en-Provence.

"So I knew what to expect and I knew that I would have to play a big match to beat him. I've been back in France putting in six to seven weeks good training and I am happy to be here playing in a tournament again.

"I've got my motivation back for the big tournaments."

Lincou made it two French into the last eight when he came from a game down to beat a fired up Laurens Jan Anjema 5-11, 11-9, 11-4, 13-11.

"He was very solid from the start," Lincou said of his Dutch opponent. "I knew I had to break his momentum and his pace, so I had to stay with him in the rallies.

"I had very good patches, especially in the third, other than that it was very tense."

Richards Knocks Out Ninth Seed Selby In Canberra Upset

England's Tom Richards caused the biggest upset so far in the CSR Viridian Australian Open when he outlasted fellow countryman Daryl Selby in five games in today's (Wednesday) second day of first round action in the $142,500 PSA World Tour squash event in Canberra - the fourth PSA Super Series championship of the year.

Richards was handed the marathon match in dramatic fashion when Selby, the ninth seed, conceded the point on match ball when his drop shot hit the tin and the referees called the ball good.

Selby immediately indicated the ball had fallen short to give his opponent the 8-11, 11-5, 12-10, 8-11, 11-8 victory.

"That really shows his class," said Richards after his shock 93-minute win. "He's one of the fairest, if not the fairest, player on tour - it's a pleasure to play against someone like him."

The 24-year-old Richards later said the win over his English Premier League St George's Club team-mate was the best of his career.

"I feel like I've been pushing the top 10 guys last season. I did a hard summer's training and now I feel like I can really compete with them."

Brisbane's Zac Alexander looked like causing another shock when he took the opening game against 14th seed Mohamed El Shorbagy.

But El Shorbagy, playing in his first PSA Super Series event of the year, fought back to equal the contest and then just managed to win the crucial points to take the match 6-11, 11-6, 12-10, 11-8.

"I'd never seen him play before and he really surprised me," El Shorbagy said. "I didn't know what he was going to do but he played at a really fast pace so I had to find a Plan B and I tried to slow it down.

"The first match is always the hardest to find you rhythm and I am very pleased to have won it."

There were no such worries for France's former world number one Gregory Gaultier, who demolished Muhd Asyraf Azan of Malaysia 11-7, 11-2, 11-2, or fourth-seeded Egyptian Karim Darwish, an 11-9, 11-4, 11-7 winner over New Zealand's Campbell Grayson.

Frenchman Thierry Lincou ended the hopes of local hero Stewart Boswell when he beat the Canberra-born defending champion in four games.

Boswell played superbly to win the first game but the world number seven lifted several gears thereafter and eased away with the match 7-11, 11-6, 11-9, 11-5.

Both players provided a host of entertainment in a high quality match but Lincou just shaded Boswell with his movement around the court and his deft touch at the front.

"Thierry was just too good," Boswell conceded. "After the first game he started putting the ball in the corners I played well in the first game but then he found something else."

The 31-year-old Boswell said he was disappointed he hadn't been able to give the big home crowd the win they were cheering for.

"I never thought that a tournament like this would happen in my home town during my squash life," he said.

"I've never played a first round match like this with so many people supporting me. I just wish I was coming back for the second round."

Lincou will take on Dutchman Laurens Jan Anjema, who beat US qualifier Julian Illingworth 11-7, 11-8, 11-7.

Cameron Pilley joined fellow Australian David Palmer in the second round when he beat another Australian, former training partner Scott Arnold, in straight games 11-8, 11-8, 11-5.

"We're both tall men but we move around the court well and it's always very fair," said the 16th seeded Pilley. "It was a good solid hit out to start the tournament, but against Ramy Ashour I'll have to lift it several levels for the next round."

The second-seeded Ashour reached the second round with a brilliant display of attacking squash against fellow Egyptian Omar Abdel Aziz.

Ashour was in total control throughout as he cantered to an 11-4, 11-5, 11-8 win, even giving his opponent one of his own rackets after Aziz had broken strings in the three rackets he had with him.

"I'm feeling better as the week goes on and I get over my jetlag," said the 22-year-old from Cairo. "Maybe if I make the final my body clock will be back to normal by then."

Palmer Overcomes Slow Start To Beat Birthday Boy Ghosal

Australian David Palmer, the tenth seed, overcame a slow start to beat India's Saurav Ghosal in four games in the first round of the $142,500 Viridian Australian Open, the fourth PSA Super Series squash event of the year, in Canberra.

Ghosal, the unseeded world No26 celebrating his 24th birthday, came out of the blocks firing to open a 9-2 lead in the first game and although Palmer recovered he couldn't save the first game, the Indian number one taking it 12-10.

But Palmer, the 34-year-old world No10 leading home hopes in the biggest squash tournament in the country for almost 20 years, soon hit his stride as he came back to win the next three games and the match 10-12, 11-6, 11-5, 11-9.

The win takes former world number one Palmer into a second round clash with arch-rival James Willstrop of England.

"I felt okay physically throughout the match but I struggled to get any rhythm," Palmer said. "A slow start wasn't ideal and he got away and got on a bit of a roll and he was tough to pull back.

"Eventually my game started to take a little bit of effect on him midway through the second, but it still wasn't easy.

"I thought at stages he was tired and would drop off a bit but he kept pushing and surprised me a little bit."

World number six Willstrop had earlier defeated Australian qualifier Matthew Karwalski 11-9, 11-6, 11-3 and said he was looking forward to playing Palmer once again.

"Any round of 16 match will be tough, but David and I have had some great matches in big tournaments over the years," said the 26-year-old Yorkshireman.

Former world number one Amr Shabana of Egypt saw off promising Australian Ryan Cuskelly in four games in the first match of the evening session.

The third seed from Cairo took a two-game lead, then withstood a comeback from Cuskelly before winning 11-8, 11-7, 12-14, 11-8.

"It was a good game - he's a young player coming up and he gave me a run for my money for sure," a relieved Shabana said.

Cuskelly said he was getting closer to the top 10 players and a breakthrough win was not far away.

"He's just so experienced - one of the first two games I thought I could have got," Cuskelly said.

"In the first I just made a couple of errors. If I had got that game it could have been a little bit different but I thought I played pretty good.

"It's just so hard because he hits the ball so accurately and makes you do a lot of work."

The New York-based 23-year-old said he fought as hard as he could to win the third game but then suffered some cramps in the fourth and couldn't match Shabana.

"But overall I'm pretty happy."

Shabana plays Malaysian Ong Beng Hee, who caused the first surprise of the tournament when he upset 15th seed Alister Walker of England in a five-game marathon 11-7, 14-12, 6-11, 6-11, 13-11.

Ong took the opening two games against a sluggish Walker, who then found his touch and struck back to level the match.

The decider was a see-sawing battle in which first one player, then the other had the advantage.

Walker had match ball at 10-9 but Ong saved before taking the game 13-11 to wrap up the win after 94 minutes.

"It was his first match of the season, whereas I had the Malaysian Open two weeks ago so I think he had a very bad start," the Malaysian said. "I played very well but it was a slow start for him.

"As soon as he got going he put me under a lot of pressure in the third and fourth and in the fifth at the end, I was very lucky he made two mistakes at 11-all.

"There was nothing in it, I just think today was my day."

Zac Alexander Storms Into Australian Open Main Draw

Brisbane's Zac Alexander stormed into the main draw of the Australian Open with a straight games win over Malaysia's Kamran Khan in the qualifying finals of the $142,500 PSA World Tour squash event in Canberra - the fourth PSA Super Series championship of the year.

Alexander was the most impressive of all the final qualifiers as he cruised past Khan, son of Pakistan legend Jansher Khan, 11-7, 11-7, 11-3 - and into a first round clash with Mohamed El Shorbagy, the 14th seed from Egypt.

The 21-year-old was one of a trio of Australians who qualified for the main draw - including Sydney's Scott Arnold who stunned classy Egyptian Mohammed Abbas 15-13, 11-9, 11-7, and Matthew Karwalski, a 9-11, 11-9, 12-10, 8-11, 11-6 winner over fellow Australian Aaron Frankcomb.

"That's seven Australians in the main draw," a delighted Australian head coach Byron Davis said. "And we could have as many as 10 in the women's draw after their qualifying so it's a great day for Australian squash."

Alexander has risen to number 70 in the world and is certain to go higher now he has reached the main draw of a PSA Platinum tournament for the first time.

"I'm really happy - Kamran obviously played really well yesterday to take Nicolas Mueller out, and that helped me in a way because I was a lot more confident against Kamran than I would have been against Mueller," he said.

"I've played him four or five times and I've had the edge on him so I knew how to play against him.

"This is just massive."

Alexander has won two smaller tournaments on the Australian Squash Tour, in Darwin, Melbourne and Sydney, and said he knew he was in form heading into Canberra.

"I've been getting the confidence up in the smaller tournaments and now I get to test myself against the big boys so we'll see how I go - the first round should be interesting."

Arnold said he had never played better than during his win over former top 15 player Abbas, and credited his good form to a move back to his former coach Sue King in Sydney.

"When I came back from New York I was playing terribly but she was so patient and now I'm feeling a lot better about my squash."

Arnold will have to keep his form going as he goes up against fellow New South Welshman Cameron Pilley, while Karwalski plays Englishman James Willstrop.

Two of the three New Zealanders progressed after gruelling five game battles.

Kashif Shuja downed Italian Amr Swelim 2-11, 11-8, 11-7, 8-11, 11-9 while Campbell Grayson beat Scotsman Alan Clyne 14-12, 8-11, 16-14, 9-11, 11-5.

However the third Kiwi in action, Martin Knight, fell after yet another five game tussle with Muhd Asyraf Azan, the Malaysian winning 17-15, 12-10, 7-11, 7-11, 11-8.

Shuja, runner-up in 2008, was pushed to five games for the second day in a row.

"I tried my best not to go to five but Amr's a very good player and he's had the edge over me in the last couple of matches," Shuja said.

"I knew it was going to be a hard one. My body was a bit tired from yesterday and it took a while for me to warm up.

"I knew I was strong enough to push through. I was really feeling the pressure, but so was he."

Grayson was also left exhausted after his second long match in a row against one of the fittest players on the tour.

"I really wanted to win and that's what got me through," he said.

"He gets a lot back and he gets to the front really fast - I knew I had to be smart, and I knew it was going to be painful for both of us."

Azan, another who was taken the distance two days in a row, said he had to overcome a severe bout of nerves after letting a two game lead slip.

"In the first two games he didn't really know my game, but after the first two he began to work it out," Azan said.

"Then he got to two-all and I knew I had to play well - I had to focus on every single point.

"I was scared, I mean I was terrified the first three or four points of the fifth game but after a while I said to myself to try my best and not to be overcome."

However the longest match honours went to US number one Julian Illingworth, who overcame a tenacious Mohd Nafiizwan Adnan 11-6, 9-11, 13-11, 11-13, 11-5 in one hour, 41 minutes.

Illingworth thought he had blown it after letting three match balls slip in the fourth game.

"Once I lost that game I had to refocus and come out for the fifth game," he said. "The ball had gone really dead so I requested a new ball which I think helped me just to get it bouncing around and get some length and rhythm back in the game.

"The pressure's off once you make the main draw," he added. "Qualifying is so tough. If you lose you don't get any money, you don't get many points, so once you get in the first round the pressure's off.

"You get a chance to have a shot at one of the big boys and you get excited to see the glass court."

Fellow American Gilly Lane failed in his bid to join Illingworth in the main draw when he was surprised by Hong Kong's Max Lee 11-7, 12-10, 11-6.

The 22-year-old Lee said he tried not to think about making the first round.

"Before the match I didn't think about what would happen if I won," Lee said. "He's a good player who plays his shots - I knew I had to stay focused and keep moving well.

"This is the second time I've made it into a big tournament and it's a good opportunity for me."


Frankcomb Leads Four Aussies Into Canberra Qualifying Finals

Hobart's Aaron Frankcomb set up an all-Australian clash with New South Welshman Matthew Karwalski after the first day of qualifying for the Australian Open Squash Championship, the $142,500 PSA Super Series event in Canberra.

World number 44 Frankcomb looked in great touch as he downed young Queenslander Peter Taylor 11-6, 11-3, 11- 7.

He now faces Karwalski, who sprung a surprise when he beat higher ranked compatriot Steve Finitsis 11-6, 11-4, 11-9, justifying his decision to move to Manchester after the Australian Open in a bid to improve his ranking.

"It's hard being based in Australia like I have been," Karwalski said. "I'm 24 now and have decided to make a real go at squash. Until now I've been part time on the tour - training five days a week but not really playing the tournaments."

Frankcomb and Karwalski were joined in the qualifying finals by Queensland's Zac Alexander, an 11-7, 11-5, 11-7 winner over veteran Jeff Bond, and Scott Arnold, who beat Melbourne's Rex Hedrick 11-8, 11-8, 11-6.

Alexander takes on Malaysian Kamran Khan, an upset 11-7, 11-9, 5-11, 4-11, 11-5 winner over Switzerland's Nicolas Mueller, while Arnold plays classy Egyptian Mohammed Abbas.

It was a good day for the Kiwi contingent as all three New Zealanders in action progressed to the second round.

Martin Knight cruised through his opening match against young Queenslander Jamie McErvale 11-6, 11-8, 11-1, but fellow countrymen Kashif Shuja and Campbell Grayson did it the hard way as they battled their way through five game marathons.

Shuja came from two games to one down and trailing 2-8 in the fourth to overhaul Denmark's Kristian Frost Olesen 8-11, 6-11, 11-6, 11-9, 11-3, while Grayson also came from 2/1 down to beat Christopher Gordon, of the USA, 7-11, 11-1, 9-11, 11-5, 11-8.

Shuja admitted later he had to stop making it so hard for himself: "Usually I play a lot better when I'm down but not that far down," he said.

"I knew that if I stayed patient and constructed the rallies well I would have a chance so I just gave it my best. I think I've had the most five-setters out of anyone on the PSA!

"It's a focus thing really and something I've been working on, that I should try and play the same from start to end, but it hasn't quite happened yet."

Shuja plays Italian Amr Swelim for a place in the main draw and Grayson must try and recover in time to take on rising Scottish star Alan Clyne, who demolished Melbourne's Neeraj Aggarwal 11-3, 11-1, 11-0.

"It was quite comfortable so I saved my legs," the Scotsman said. "I only arrived a couple of days ago and it was a long trip -- I'm trying to get over the jetlag."

Despite Gordon's loss it was a still a good day for the Americans with both Julian Illingworth and Gilly Lane impressing in straight games wins.

Illingworth downed recently-crowned NSW Open champion Jens Schoor 11-7, 11-5, 12-10 and Lane was too good for Queensland's Nathan Stevenson 11-3, 11-5, 11-5.

"Today was a good day - I played pretty well so I can't complain," Lane said.

The American number two has been training in Yamba with Cameron Pilley and said the hard work had paid off.

"I had two weeks off in Yamba training so I've been kicking to get going and get back into it," he said.


Favourable Draw For Locals In Australian Open

Australia's top women squash players have received a generally favourable draw for the 2010 Australian Open, the $56,000 WISPA World Tour Gold event to be played in Canberra from 10-15 August.

Second seed Rachael Grinham will play a qualifier first up as she bids to win a second title and add to her 2006 triumph.

However, if the former world number one and world champion wins her opening match she would likely next play defending champion Joelle King of New Zealand, one of the few players on the tour to have a winning record against the 33-year-old Queenslander.

In their previous three encounters King, 21, has won twice, including in the final of the Texas Open in Houston in April - and it is a battle that Grinham will not relish.

Sixth seed Kasey Brown takes on Victorian Amelia Pittock in an all-Australian clash with the winner also probably facing a Kiwi, ninth ranked Jaclyn Hawkes.

New South Wales's Donna Urquhart takes on a qualifier, while Queenslander Lisa Camilleri has a real chance of upsetting the higher-ranked Irishwoman Aisling Blake.

"That's a good draw for me," said Camilleri, who has now won six women's professional tournaments in succession.

"I lost to her last year in Malaysia - but it was really close and I am playing much better now than I was then. I'm really happy with the draw - it could have been a whole lot worse."

Melbourne's Melody Francis has drawn one of the more daunting first round opponents, fifth seed Laura Massaro of England.

There are a number of mouth-watering clashes in the first round draw, none more so than right at the top where top seed Jenny Duncalf, the world number two from England, takes on recently-crowned world junior champion Amanda Sobhy of the USA.

The 2008 champion, Hong Kong's Annie Au, faces India's great hope Dipika Pallikal, the 18-year-old from Chennai who is almost as famous in India for her Bollywood style glamour as she is for her squash.

Londoner Alison Waters heads English interest in the lower half of the draw where she is the third seed.

Palmer To Face India's Ghosal In Australian Open First Round

Australia's former world number one and 2008 champion David Palmer will get his 2010 Australian Open campaign underway with a tricky clash against India's Saurav Ghosal when the PSA Super Series squash event begins in Canberra on August 10.

Palmer, the two-time world champion and winner of four British Opens, will be favoured to beat the 23-year-old Ghosal, and would then probably move on to face fierce rival James Willstrop of England in the next round.

The draw for the $142,500 Australian Open, the fourth PSA Super Series 2010 event and the biggest squash tournament to be held in Australia since the 1991 World Open in Adelaide, was released by organisers in Canberra.

With 18 of the world's top 20 heading to the Royal Theatre in Canberra for the 2010 Open, there was never a chance of an easy passage to the later stages for any player in the main draw.

Palmer, the Florida-based former world number one from New South Wales, is now ranked 10th in the world but must still be considered one of the favourites to take out the first Super Series event of the season.

However, he first has to get past Ghosal, the 23-year-old from Kolkata who has risen to number 26 on the world rankings.

"I have been working hard over the break," Palmer said. "I feel that I have a good chance even though I am outside the top eight."

Tenth seed Palmer is joined in the main draw by fellow Australians Cameron Pilley, Stewart Boswell and wildcard Ryan Cuskelly.

Pilley faces a qualifier in the opening round, followed by a probable second round clash with Egypt's world number two Ramy Ashour.

Ashour is up against fellow countryman Omar Abdel Aziz in what is sure to be a thrilling first round match.

"I think the tournament is quite open to be honest," Pilley said. "The fact the event is the first major tournament of the season, there may be a few players who are match rusty which may open opportunities for upsets.

"I think all the Australian players will be very tough to beat down there in Canberra too."

Boswell, the defending champion, opens against seventh-seeded Frenchman Thierry Lincou while Cuskelly will be cursing his luck after drawing Egypt's third seed Amr Shabana.

World number one and top seed Nick Matthew begins his quest to become the first Englishman to win the Australian title since Gawain Briars in 1979 with an all-English clash against Joey Barrington.

Such is the strength of the 2010 Australian Open that, apart from Cuskelly, the last direct entry into the main draw was German Simon Rosner, the world number 33.

The 32-strong qualifying draw is headed by US number one Julian Illingworth.

Fifteen Australians will be lining up for the qualifying tournament, from which eight players will win their way into the main draw.

The women's draw will be made closer to the tournament, which begins on August 10 and runs until August 15.