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11/12/2010
SAUDI MEN'S WORLD OPEN
 

Nick Matthew Wins Historic World Open Title

Reports

Final

Semi Finals
Quarter Finals
Round 3 Top Half
Round 3 Bottom Half
2nd Round Top
2nd Round Bottom
1st Round Top
1st Round Bottom
Qualifying

Saudi PSA World Open 2010
02-10 Dec, Sunset Beach Resort Al-Khobar, $327k
 

Round One
02/03 Dec

Round Two
04/05 Dec

Round Three
06/07 Dec

Quarters
08 Dec

Semis
09 Dec

Final
10 Dec

[1] Nick Matthew Eng)
 11/4, 11/5, 11/6 (35m)
Ryan Cuskelly (Aus)

Nick Matthew
11-5, 11-1, 11-7 (33m)
Shahier Razik

Nick Matthew
11-8, 11-6, 13-11 (49m)
Hisham Ashour
Nick Matthew
11/3. 11/5. 11/2.(38m)
Thierry Lincou
Nick Matthew
11-6, 12-10, 12-10 (59m)
Amr Shabana

Nick Matthew

8-11, 11-6, 11-2, 11-3 (74m)
James Willstrop

[27] Shahier Razik (Can)
12/10, 11/7, 11/6 (44m)
[Q] Joe Lee (Eng)

[12] Laurens Jan Anjema (Ned)
11/5, 11/8, 9/11, 9/11, 11/8 (86m)
[Q] Mohammed Abbas (Egy)

Laurens Jan Anjema
11-7, 11-9, 11-7 (47m)
Hisham Ashour

[24] Hisham Ashour (Egy)
11/4, 11/5, 12/10 (34m)
Chris Ryder (Eng)

[7] Thierry Lincou (Fra)
11/4, 11/4, 11/7 (25m)
[Q] Kashif Shuja (Nzl)

Thierry Lincou
11-6, 11-8, 11-3 (38m)
Omar Mosaad

Thierry Lincou
11-5, 11-9, 7-11, 11-9 (61m)
Alister Walker

[22] Omar Mosaad (Egy)
11/7, 11/5, 4/11, 11/5 (42m)
[Q] Julien Balbo (Fra)

[16] Alister Walker (Eng)
12/14, 12/10, 11/9, 11/9 (80m)
Steve Coppinger (Rsa)

Alister Walker
11-3, 11-4, 11-3 (33m)
Joey Barrington

[29] Joey Barrington (Eng)
11/7, 11/5, 11/6 (49m)
[Q] Alan Clyne (Sco)

[3] Amr Shabana (Egy)
 11/7, 12/10, 11/8 (36m)
[Q] Chris Simpson (Eng
)

Amr Shabana
11-7, 11-1, 11-7 (29m)
Ali Anwar Reda

Amr Shabana
11-4, 11-8, 10-12, 7-11, 11-5 (67m)
Azlan Iskandar
Amr Shabana
6/11, 13/11, 4/0 rtf (57m)
Grégory Gaultier

[28] Ali Anwar Reda (Egy)
11/1, 11/8, 4/11, 11/4 (40m)
[Q] Karim Abdel Gawad (Egy)

[14] Azlan Iskandar (Mas)
w/o
[Q] Jan Koukal (Cze)

Azlan Iskandar
13-11, 11-5, 11-7 (44m)
Mark Krajcsak

[31] Miguel Angel Rodriguez (Col)
11/8, 11/5, 11/4 (40m)
Mark Krajcsak (Hun)

[5] Grégory Gaultier (Fra)
11/3, 11/5, 11/8 (23m)
Mohammed Taher Al-Saif (KSA)

Grégory Gaultier
11-6, 11-5, 11-4 (42m)
Farhan Mehboob

Grégory Gaultier
9-11, 11-7, 11-8, 11-2 (93m)
Grégory Gaultier

[30] Farhan Mehboob (Pak)
 11/6, 11/8, 9/11, 11/5 (41m)
[Q] Muhd Asyraf Azan (Mas)

[10] David Palmer (Aus)
11/3, 11/2, 12/10 (29m)
[Q] Stéphane Galifi (Ita)

David Palmer
11-4, 3-11, 11-7, 10-12, 11-4 (57m)
Jonathan Kemp

[21] Jonathan Kemp (Eng)
11/2, 11/5, 11/9 (11m)
Rafael Alarcon (Bra)

Davide Bianchetti (Ita)
w/o
[18] Stewart Boswell (Aus)

Stewart Boswell
  11/9, 8/11, 11/13, 11/3, 6/0 rtd (88m)
Adrian Grant

Stewart Boswell
11-6, 11-6, 11-9 (56m)
Peter Barker

Peter Barker
11/7, 6/11, 6/7 rtd (45m)
Karim Darwish
Peter Barker
8-11, 14-12, 11-4, 11-8 (87m)
James Willstrop

Renan Lavigne (Fra)
  11/4, 11/9, 12/10 (36m)
[15] Adrian Grant (Eng)

[Q] Robbie Temple (Eng)
 11/6, 11/5, 8/11, 11/6 (58m)
[32] Simon Rosner (Ger)

Simon Rosner
12/10, 11/5, 11/5 (42m)
Peter Barker

Nafiizwan Adnan (Mas)
11/4, 11/3, 11/3
[8] Peter Barker (Eng)

 Aaron Frankcomb (Aus)
11/8, 12/10, 11/8 (52m)
[20] Tarek Momen (Egy)

 Aaron Frankcomb
11/7, 11/6, 11/6 (58m)
Wael El Hindi

 Wael El Hindi
11-4, 11-3, 11-3 (38m)
Karim Darwish

Gregoire Marche (Fra)
7/11, 12/10, 11/9, 11/6 (67m)
[11] Wael El Hindi (Egy)

[Q] Adrian Waller (Eng)
 9/11, 6/11, 11/3, 11/8, 11/5 (56m)
[32] Tom Richards (Eng)

Tom Richards
 11/7, 11/9, 11/5 (40m)
Karim Darwish

Julian Illingworth (Usa)
 11/3, 11/5, 11/13, 11/3 (49m)

[4] Karim Darwish (Egy)

Omar Abdel Aziz (Egy)
14/12, 6/11, 11/6, 11/8 (63m)
[25] Olli Tuominen (Fin)

Olli Tuominen
11/4, 11/7, 11/6 (40m)
 
Daryl Selby

 Daryl Selby
11-8, 7-11, 11-9, 11-7 (80m)
James Willstrop

James Willstrop
11/9, 11/8, 11/8 (50m)
Mohamed El Shorbagy

Campbell Grayson (Nzl)
11/5, 11/3, 11/5 (37m)
[9] Daryl Selby (Eng)

[Q] Borja Golan (Esp)
11/4, 7/11, 11/9, 11/5 (53m)
[26] Saurav Ghosal (Ind)

Borja Golan
11/6, 11/3, 11/3 (37m)
James Willstrop

Nicolas Mueller (Sui)
 9/11, 11/4, 11/7, 11/2 (42m)
[6] James Willstrop (Eng)

[Q] Mathieu Castagnet (Fra)
11/3, 8/11, 11/9, 11/5 (65m)
[17] Cameron Pilley (Aus)

Mathieu Castagnet
11/6, 12/10, 8/11, 11/9 (58m)
Mohamed El Shorbagy

Mohamed El Shorbagy
11-8, 11-6, 11-8 (33m)
Aamir Atlas Khan

Martin Knight (Nzl)
11/6, 11/9, 11/9 (35m)
[13] Mohamed El Shorbagy (Egy)

[Q] Steve Finitsis (Aus)
11/5, 12/10, 11/5 (30m)
[23] Aamir Atlas Khan (Pak)

Aamir Atlas Khan
11/2 rtd (6m)
Ramy Ashour

[LL] Kristian Frost (Den)
 11/1, 11/5, 3/11, 11/9 (42m)
[2] Ramy Ashour (Egy)


Qualifying at Weybridge
 

Click on Images For Larger View

Final

Nick Matthew Wins Historic World Open Title

Nick Matthew overcame a tired fellow countryman James Willstrop in the final of the $327,500 Saudi PSA World Open Squash Championship in Saudi Arabia to become the first English World Open champion in the 34-year history of the sport's premier event.

The climax of the richest PSA World Tour championship of all-time, at Sunset Beach Resort in the Saudi Arabian city of Al-Khobar, was a repeat of October's Commonwealth Games final in Delhi - and extends Matthew's unbeaten Tour run over his England team-mate and fellow Yorkshireman to nine matches since December 2007.

Matthew, the top seed from Sheffield, reached the final after dethroning title-holder Amr Shabana, the former world number one from Egypt who was in line to win the title for a fifth time.

But Willstrop arguably had a more brutal route to the final, fighting off marathon challenges from two further England team-mates Daryl Selby and Peter Barker in the third round and semi-finals, respectively.

The 27-year-old sixth seed from Leeds started the more impressively, surging ahead from seven-all to take a well-deserved first game lead after 21 minutes - causing Matthew to concede his first game of the tournament.

But Willstrop's earlier toil began to take effect as Matthew began to dominate - drawing level after a further 18 minutes before going on to wrap up the match, and his first World Open title, 8-11, 11-6, 11-2, 11-3 in 74 minutes.

"I only thought about winning the title in the last few rallies, you are only human," said Matthew after the stellar performance which adds world champion to the world number one and Commonwealth Games gold medallist successes the 30-year-old has achieved this year.

"At that stage you are playing against yourself instead of your opponent. You are sort of fighting the demons in your head. You see the finish line and as it comes closer in terms of score it gets further away because you are drifting in your thoughts.

"With every single thought I tried to tell myself 'next rally, next rally'.

"I didn't play badly in the first game but James was just immaculate," continued the beaming new champion. "He was unlucky that he had had those hard matches which took it out of him."

Matthew's success comes after career-threatening shoulder surgery in 2008 which kept him away from the Tour for nine months.

"I never in my wildest dreams thought that all this would happen to me. As for that shoulder injury, it taught me to keep things in perspective - not to get too low on the low points, and not to get carried away either with the high if I am in a big final."

The triumph is expected to take Matthew back to the top of the PSA world rankings in January - replacing Ramy Ashour, the Egyptian who was forced to bow out in the second round with a hamstring injury.

But the Englishman will have to maintain his form in next week's Pun Lloyd PSA Masters, the tenth and final 2010 PSA Super Series event in Delhi where he and Willstrop are also expected to contest the final.

Semi Finals

Matthew & Willstrop In First All-English World Open Final

Yorkshiremen Nick Matthew and James Willstrop will contest the first ever all-English World Open final after prevailing in the semi-finals of the $327,500 Saudi PSA World Open Squash Championship, the richest PSA World Tour event of all-time at Sunset Beach Resort in the Saudi Arabian city of Al-Khobar.

Matthew, seeded to become England's first winner of the title in the premier event's 34-year history, ousted defending champion Amr Shabana, the former world number one from Egypt who was hoping to become a five-time winner of the trophy.

The 30-year-old from Sheffield, 5/7 down in their career head-to-head count before the match, got off to the perfect start, quickly establishing a 6-1 lead before finishing off the opening game with three winning shots.

In the second it was Shabana's turn to take a lead, but Matthew, took five points in a row to draw level. The pair matched each other point for point before Shabana squandering his first game ball to allow Matthew to move two games ahead.

A tense third game saw the score move from five-all through to 10-all with the players winning alternative points before Matthew converted his first match-ball to win 11-6, 12-10, 12-10 after 59 minutes.

"I got off to a very good start in the first game, then I was just hanging on, he was just so tight down the forehand side, he was killing me there," said Matthew, now in his first World Open final.

"I just got the belief from being one up, then two up, I just kept pushing and pushing, there was absolutely nothing in it.

"So proud to have two English boys in the final, but it's not done yet," added the world No2.

Willstrop also secured his first appearance in a World Open final after beating England team-mate Peter Barker. Despite having played each other countless times before - both on the Tour and in numerous junior clashes, including the World Junior Championship final - none can have been as crucial as this.

Willstrop went into the match 10/0 up on their Tour career head-to-head count - but it still took the 27-year-old from Leeds 87 minutes to see off Londoner Barker 8-11, 14-12, 11-4, 11-8 in a tense and closely-contested affair.

"It was on a knife edge again," said Willstrop afterwards. "If I had gone two down against so physical a player as Pete, I would have been in big trouble. I just had to try to get past every hurdle, take it inch by inch, point by point and then move on to the next one.

"I knew I had an opening in the draw with Ramy going out - but seeing it and taking it are different things.

"World Open final: it's what you dream about lying in bed as a ten-year-old .... and for it to be against another Englishman too!

"The pressure's all on Nick tomorrow, he's favourite. I'll just try to do my best."

The pair last met in the Commonwealth Games final in Delhi in October, with Matthew winning gold. Matthew has not lost to Willstrop since December 2007 and goes into the Saudi clash 15/8 ahead on their Tour head-to-head tally.

 

Click on Images For Larger View

Quarter Finals

Barker Leads Historic English Trio Into World Open Semis

In a first for the championship, three Englishmen will contest the semi-finals of the $327,500 Saudi PSA World Open Squash Championship after Nick Matthew, James Willstrop and Peter Barker came through the quarter-finals of the richest PSA World Tour event of all-time at Sunset Beach Resort in the Saudi Arabian city of Al-Khobar.

Londoner Barker claimed his first semi-final appearance in his eighth attempt after Egyptian opponent Karim Darwish, the fourth seed, retired injured midway through the third game.

The Englishman had maintained an advantage throughout the 14-minute first game, but an equally-determined Darwish fought back to take the second with a run of five points from six-all.

But with Darwish leading 7-6 in the third, the Egyptian slipped and took an injury timeout to receive treatment to the back of his left thigh.

After the allotted three minutes had elapsed, the 29-year-old from Cairo went back on court - but, before a ball had been struck, offered his hand in defeat.

"I thought I was playing well and had a good chance to go through," explained a subdued eighth seed Barker afterwards. "But no-one ever wants to do it like that.

"It's a very physical game and when there's a bit of sweat on the court that can happen to anyone. I really feel for Karim and wish him a speedy recovery.

"I'm in the semi-finals of the world open, and I'll get to play Shorbagy or James. If it's James, then I've never beaten him - what better time to do it!"

It was a bitter blow for the in-form Darwish who arrived in Saudi after success in last month's Qatar Classic and October's El Gouna International Open in Egypt - and was runner-up in the 2008 World Open.

Barker's opponent will be Willstrop who, in the final match of the day, defeated rising Egyptian star Mohamed El Shorbagy to ensure that three Englishmen will contest the World Open semi-finals for the first time in the event's 34-year history.

It was a closely-contested affair in which the pair went point for point for three games - the 19-year-old Egyptian holding a single point advantage in each of the three games, but Willstrop finding the necessary impetus to finish each off.

The penultimate rally was one of the best of the tournament, 27-year-old Willstrop moving his opponent from corner to corner before delicately volley-dropping Shorbagy's boast with the Egyptian nowhere in sight.

Then, to finish it off, Willstrop scored with a mishit at the front of the court!

"It's not really good to finish like that," said the Yorkshireman after his 50-minute 11-9, 11-8, 11-8 win. "But a few have gone against me in my time, so I'm happy to take that one."

Willstrop was full of praise for his opponent: "All credit to him, he came out firing, stuck in and his intensity never dropped - good stuff for a 19-year-old. When I was down towards the end of the games he started getting confidence in his shots and I had to dig in - the extra seven or eight years experience probably helped there."

England team-mates Willstrop and Barker have contested countless matches throughout their distinguished junior, and now senior, careers. But their PSA Tour record shows Willstrop 10/0 ahead.

"I'm not thinking about my record against Peter, he's a good man and I know we'll have a good clean match," said Willstrop. "We've played each other a lot and played some tough matches together for England, so there's a lot of respect between us."

Distinguished Egyptian Amr Shabana stands in the way of the event's first English champion. Defending champion and winner of the title a total of four times, Shabana eased his way into the semis for the sixth time in a row after beating French rival Gregory Gaultier.

But, again it was a thigh injury that caused fifth seed Gaultier to concede the match prematurely after winning the opening game.

It was early in the third game that the Frenchman pulled up, stretching forward, and took a short injury break. On the resumption, he quickly went 4-0 down, and fell to the floor clutching his thigh before conceding.

Shabana will face Nick Matthew, the 30-year-old from Sheffield who is seeded to become England's first ever world champion.

Matthew faced Thierry Lincou, the seventh-seeded Frenchman who was champion in 2004. Matthew took the first game and Lincou led briefly in the second. But the Englishman soon resumed control before charging to his 11-3, 11-5, 11-2 victory in 38 minutes.

"I was focused, but he was even more focused," said Lincou. "I didn't play tight enough and he took advantage of all my loose balls, I just couldn't do anything to get him off the 'T'."

The 34-year-old Frenchman, who has played in each event since attempting to qualify in 1997, did not rule out future World Opens though: "I'm playing well enough to reach the quarters, but maybe the last four is a bit of a step up. If I can keep playing like this there's no reason I can't play more World Opens."
 

 

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Round 3 Bottom Half

El Shorbagy Makes Saudi World Open Quarters

In only his third ever appearance in the championship, Egypt's 19-year-old Mohamed El Shorbagy reached the quarter-finals for the second time when he beat Pakistan's Aamir Atlas Khan in the third round of the $327,500 Saudi PSA World Open Squash Championship, the richest PSA World Tour event of all-time at Sunset Beach Resort in the Saudi Arabian city of Al-Khobar.

Before a packed crowd - dominated by Egyptian supporters but with a significant Pakistani faction - the No13 seed from Alexandria took just 33 minutes to overcome his opponent 11-8, 11-6, 11-8. Khan, the 22nd seed from Peshawar, secured his place in the last 16 after the injury retirement of world number one Ramy Ashour midway through their second round match.

"When I went onto court, I'd never seen or played in front of a crowd like that, I was so nervous," said El Shorbagy, the event's youngest seed who made his mark in the championship debut in England in 2008 when he reached the last eight as a 17-year-old.

"At 4-0 down, I told myself I just had to ignore it and start playing my own game. Once I got into the match, the crowd became more of a support than a pressure, and I started to really enjoy it.

"I'd talked with Jonah [Barrington] about how to play him, and knew that if I kept the pace fast enough he wouldn't be able to cope with it, and that if I got ahead it could get to him.

"I'm so pleased to be in the quarters of the World Open for a second time. When I saw the draw I thought 'oh my God, Cameron Pilley second round then Ramy', but they're both out! I feel sorry for them, but it's an opportunity for me and I have to take it," explained El Shorbagy, who is a University student in Bristol in the UK.

The youngster will now face England's James Willstrop, the sixth seed who survived the longest match of the day in overcoming England team-mate Daryl Selby, the 9th seed, 11-8, 7-11, 11-9, 11-7 in 80 minutes.

"James is a fair player, a gentleman on court," added El Shorbagy. "He beat me 3/1 in Kuwait, but we'll just have a fair and enjoyable squash match tomorrow."

The English marathon was the pair's sixth Tour clash - and their third in Saudi in the past three years. But, whilst Willstrop had never before lost to his older opponent, it was the longest that Selby had kept him on court.

"It was a real battle," said Willstrop. "He gave me little to play with and I had to dig, dig, dig. I was a bit disappointed about that, but perhaps I shouldn't have been. It's still good that I could win this way.

"Daryl played so well, I don't think I've ever played anyone as accurate as he was tonight, particularly down that backhand side."

The other quarter-final line-up decided will also throw together an Egypt/England clash - between fourth seed Karim Darwish (right) and Londoner Peter Barker, the No8 seed.

Darwish, winner of last month's Qatar Classic, despatched fellow countryman Wael El Hindi 11-4, 11-3, 11-3 in just 38 minutes, while Barker saw off Australia's Stewart Boswell 11-6, 11-6, 11-9 in 56 minutes to make the last eight for the second year in a row.

"Everything was good for me today, apart from my drops!" said Barker. "It's quite satisfying in a way, to be able to win three-nil with some improvements still to make for the next round.

"There's a lot of pressure out there, it's the biggest tournament of the year - every round is massive," added the left-hander. "I'm in the quarter-finals of the World Open, I don't mind who I play now!"

Darwish, runner-up two years ago, made up for the disappointment of failing to make the last eight last year. "It's always tough to play Wael," said the 29-year-old from Cairo. "He's a determined, talented player and he knows my game well. I knew I had to be focused right from the start of the match, and I'm pleased with how I kept my concentration to win three-nil.

"This is the most important tournament of the year. I'm playing well at the moment, and these four days are probably the most important of my life.

"I have to make sure I'm properly prepared for them, mentally and physically."

 

Click on Images For Larger View

 
Round 3 Top Half

Gaultier Survives Palmer Marathon In Saudi World Open

Twice former runner-up Gregory Gaultier survived a 93-minute marathon in the $327,500 Saudi PSA World Open Squash Championship to reach the quarter-finals of the richest PSA World Tour event of all-time at Sunset Beach Resort in the Saudi Arabian city of Al-Khobar.

The 27-year-old Frenchman was facing two times champion David Palmer in a repeat of the 2006 final won by the Australian. The 34-year-old from New South Wales is making his 11th successive appearance in the event since his debut in 1998.

There was little to choose between the two PSA Tour stalwarts in the 25-minute first game, but at nine-all Palmer got a lucky nick at the back of the court and Gaultier's boast into the tin on the next point gave the Australian the lead.

The Frenchman took the second to draw level and Palmer came close in the third - but Gaultier had the upper hand in the fourth to beat the tenth seed 9-11, 11-7, 11-8, 11-2 in 93 minutes, the longest match of the tournament so far.

"He was really sharp today," said a relived Gaultier afterwards. "When I arrived to warm up he was already here, so I knew he was going to give it a big push.

"I was trying to keep it tight and keep the pace high, but he was making the pace even faster," explained the fifth seed from Aix-en-Provence. "You have to keep the ball really tight and keep running otherwise he eats you alive - like he'd eat his dessert - I did a lot of running today!

"I can't believe how fit he is for 34: I feel I'm getting old, you think 30, 32 you'll stop playing, but he makes me want to go on and keep on playing too."

Palmer was not unduly unhappy with his game: "I don't think I did too much wrong tonight," said the US-based 2002 and 2006 champion. "I got the start I wanted, backed it up with a good second too.

"I went a bit negative when I thought I might have him tired in the third, then I got a run of points at the end but couldn't finish it from there.

"In years past, I probably would have won from there - I brought him to the breaking point but just couldn't push on.

"All things considered though I'm happy with how I'm playing - it's top eight standard, I think, and as long as I can produce to that level I'll carry on playing."

After a rest day, Gaultier will now meet third seed Amr Shabana (right), the defending champion from Egypt looking to win the Tour's most prestigious title for the fifth time.

Shabana took the opening two games against Mohd Azlan Iskandar - then squandered four match-balls from 10-6 in the third to let the 14th seed from Malaysia back into the game. The former world number one from Cairo soon found himself in a fifth game decider - but the mercurial left-hander romped to an 8-2 lead before serving for the match at 10-3.

The top-ranked Malaysian saved two match-balls, but Shabana clinched the third to claim his long-awaited 11-4, 11-8, 10-12, 7-11, 11-5 victory after 67 minutes - and reach the quarter-finals for the eighth year in a row.

Top seed Nick Matthew secured the only straight games win of the day, beating Egypt's Hisham Mohd Ashour 11-8, 11-6, 13-11 in 49 minutes. The 30-year-old from Sheffield is bidding to become the first ever English winner of the title - a prospect which was boosted 24 hours earlier when Hisham's younger brother Ramy Ashour, the world No1, was forced to exit the event with a hamstring injury.

"I can't overstate how difficult a player his is to play," said Matthew after his third round win. "He's unique - well, him and Ramy I suppose - and with Ramy coaching him in between games, it felt like I was playing both of them!

"I don't think I played at my best - I've got better each day so far and there's another rest day now to prepare for the real crunch part of the tournament."

Matthew will face 2004 champion Thierry Lincou, the No7 seed from France who beat England's 16th seed Alister Walker 11-5, 11-9, 7-11, 11-9 in 61 minutes.

"Ali's my best mate on the tour, so it's always difficult when we play each other," said the 34-year-old from Marseille. "He had nothing to lose today, I didn't feel much pressure on me, but I was just a little nervous.

"I had to really dig deep and concentrate hard, especially at the end of the match.

"We all feel really comfortable here, the atmosphere is relaxed, we can enjoy the temperature and the sun. The tournament is perfect, it's always a pleasure to come here.

"I don't think about winning - there's so many good players in the draw, you can't predict what's going to happen," added the oldest player in the championship. "But, trust me, I'll be giving everything I can."
 

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2nd Round Bottom Half
 

Ramy Ashour Forced To Quit In Saudi

It took just six minutes for world number one Ramy Ashour to give up his bid to reclaim the world title when a hamstring injury caused the Egyptian to concede his second round match in the $327,500 Saudi PSA World Open Squash Championship, the richest PSA World Tour event of all-time at Sunset Beach Resort in the Saudi Arabian city of Al-Khobar.

"I'm very sad. I don't know what to say. It means so much to me," said the 23-year-old from Cairo, close to tears. "I felt it first in training back in Egypt a week ago. I was going to hospital every day, every day, and I hoped it would be all right when I got here. There was no way I was going to miss the World Open."

Ashour was facing Aamir Atlas Khan, the No22 seed. After losing the first game 11-2 in six minutes, the second seed offered his hand to the Pakistani to signal the sad end to his 2010 World Open campaign.

"I really wanted to play and stay world number one," added the 2008 champion. "But when I was here I felt it go again. I somehow managed to get through my first match (against Kristian Frost Olesen of Denmark) and I thought that with a rest day, if I prepared carefully, I might get through another one.

"It was no good - I just couldn't move."

Khan, the world No23, becomes the first Pakistani to reach the event's last 16 since 2002. The 20-year-old from Peshawar will now face Mohamed El Shorbagy, the Egyptian to whom he lost the World Junior Championship final in 2008.

In only his third appearance in the event, 13th seed El Shorbagy defeated French qualifier Mathieu Castagnet 11-6, 12-10, 8-11, 11-9.

Australian Stewart Boswell also claimed an unexpected place in the third round when 15th seed Adrian Grant (right) conceded their match after 88 minutes. The left-hander from London was 2/1 up when he requested an injury timeout.

Clearly hampered in the fourth, he persevered, but early in the fifth, Grant called it a day - handing victory to the Australian with the score at 11-9, 8-11, 11-13, 11-3, 6-0.
"It's the same groin injury I got in the Commonwealths," explained the Yorkshire-based 30-year-old afterwards. "I tweaked it in the third. I could probably play on with that, but I was having trouble swinging my left shoulder too, so it didn't make any sense continuing. I might just have made things worse."

But three Englishmen did make it through to the last 16, with two meeting in the third round to guarantee English presence in the quarter-finals. Ninth seed 
Daryl Selby earned his third successive appearance at same stage with an 11-4, 11-7, 11-6 win over Finland's Olli Tuominen, whilst England team-mate James Willstrop, the sixth seed, ended Borja Golan's run, beating the Spanish qualifier 11-6, 11-3, 11-3.

Willstrop and Golan have had numerous battles in the past: "We've been playing since junior days and there have been some tough matches, especially the last couple," admitted the Yorkshireman after easing through the latest chapter to set up a meeting with Selby.

Golan is on a comeback trail after some 18 months out of the game recovering from knee surgery. "I'm in decent shape while he's been off court for a long time," said Willstrop. "And that probably made the difference tonight.

"I'd be happy to play again tomorrow, but it's been a long hard season so I'm happy to take the rest days when they come. All the players owe a debt of gratitude to Ziad (Al-Turki) for how we're being looked after here - we're all hoping we can put on a tournament worthy of it all."

Selby was pleased with his win: "Olli's one of the hardest guys to play, he puts in 100% every single time and you have to be mentally prepared to play him.

"That's two good matches I've played now, and with a rest day, and the facilities and relaxing atmosphere Ziad's given us the best possible chance of playing well - and you can see that the top players are responding, they're all playing well."

"It's the same groin injury I got in the Commonwealths," explained the Yorkshire-based 30-year-old afterwards. "I tweaked it in the third. I could probably play on with that, but I was having trouble swinging my left shoulder too, so it didn't make any sense continuing. I might just have made things worse."

But three Englishmen did make it through to the last 16, with two meeting in the third round to guarantee English presence in the quarter-finals. Ninth seed Daryl Selby earned his third successive appearance at same stage with an 11-4, 11-7, 11-6 win over Finland's Olli Tuominen, whilst England team-mate James Willstrop, the sixth seed, ended Borja Golan's run, beating the Spanish qualifier 11-6, 11-3, 11-3.

Willstrop and Golan have had numerous battles in the past: "We've been playing since junior days and there have been some tough matches, especially the last couple," admitted the Yorkshireman after easing through the latest chapter to set up a meeting with Selby.

Golan is on a comeback trail after some 18 months out of the game recovering from knee surgery. "I'm in decent shape while he's been off court for a long time," said Willstrop. "And that probably made the difference tonight.

"I'd be happy to play again tomorrow, but it's been a long hard season so I'm happy to take the rest days when they come. All the players owe a debt of gratitude to Ziad (Al-Turki) for how we're being looked after here - we're all hoping we can put on a tournament worthy of it all."

Selby was pleased with his win: "Olli's one of the hardest guys to play, he puts in 100% every single time and you have to be mentally prepared to play him.

"That's two good matches I've played now, and with a rest day, and the facilities and relaxing atmosphere Ziad's given us the best possible chance of playing well - and you can see that the top players are responding, they're all playing well."
 

 

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2nd Round Top Half

Champions Charge Into Last 16 In Saudi

Defending champion Amr Shabana and former champions David Palmer and Thierry Lincou - who boast seven world titles between them - took their anticipated places in the last 16 of the $327,500 Saudi PSA World Open Squash Championship after contrasting second round wins in the richest ever event on the PSA World Tour at Sunset Beach Resort in the Saudi Arabian city of Al-Khobar.

Tenth-seeded Australian David Palmer, the two-time champion who is making his 11th successive appearance in the championship since 1998, twice squandered leads before overcoming England's 20th seed Jonathan Kemp 11-4, 3-11, 11-7, 10-12, 11-4 in 57 minutes.

"I won the first game quite easily," explained the US-based 34-year-old. "Not by doing much, just moving the ball around and he made the errors. He cut them out in the second, and I just kept doing the same thing and he was picking them off for winners."

Kemp, the 29-year-old world No27 who is making a comeback after hip surgery, recovered from 4-6 down in the fourth game to force a decider. But, after winning the opening point, the English left-hander hit the tin six times - all unforced - as Palmer romped to victory.

"I should have won the fourth really," added Palmer, the 2002 and 2006 champion. "So it got a bit too close for comfort, but I got there in the end. I would have taken 3/0, but I've had a good run-out."

Egyptian title-holder Amr Shabana, bidding to become only the third player in history to win the world title five times, defeated compatriot Mohd Ali Anwar Reda 11-7, 11-1, 11-7 in just 29 minutes.

"It's great for us to have so many good youngsters coming through in Egypt," said the 31-year-old 'elder statesman' of Egyptian squash after his first ever Tour clash with Reda. "You can't afford to relax with them pushing us, so it keeps us older ones on our toes."

Reda threatened the third seed in the first game, but at six-all Shabana stepped on the gas as only he and a couple of others can. But the 21-year-old from Cairo showed enough that he may soon be posing a stiffer challenge to the top players.

"He just needs to work hard and get a few more matches against the top guys," advised Shabana. "But with the likes of him, Mosaad, Shorbagy and others coming through, it's looking good for the future."

2004 champion Thierry Lincou was one of two Frenchmen to establish their positions in the third round when he beat Egypt's Omar Mosaad 11-6, 11-8, 11-3.

"That was much better than in Chicago," said Lincou, who had lost to the 22-year-old from Cairo in the recent US Open. "There it was cold and dead and I just couldn't get him off the 'T' - but here it was bouncier: I could get him moving more."

Asked about his prospects about a second world title, six years after his first, Lincou was coy. "I don't think about the end of the tournament, I just try to keep focused on the match of the day, and that's when I play my best," said the 34-year-old No7 seed from Marseille. "It's great to have the French support team here before, during and after the match, it really helps me to stay relaxed."

Egyptian Hisham Mohd Ashour (right) produced the day's only upset when he beat 12th seed Laurens Jan Anjema 11-7, 11-9, 11-7 - just four days after the Dutchman made his debut in the world's top ten.

"That's what I've been trying to do all my life," said the delighted 23rd seed, older brother of world No1 Ramy Ashour. "I used to feel heavy, so although I knew I could kill the ball, retrieving was a problem and I had to go for winners too soon.

"Now I've trained hard, lost weight, and I feel I can retrieve for as long as I want to, so I don't have to go for winners. I'm even more motivated for the next round now, I want to show all the people that believed in and helped me that I'm good - I want to pay them back!"

Ashour senior will now face England's Nick Matthew, the top seed from Sheffield who is bidding to become the first ever English winner of the title. Matthew despatched veteran Canadian Shahier Razik, the 26th seed from Toronto, 11-5, 11-1, 11-7.
 

 

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1st Round Bottom Half

Castagnet Culls Cameron In Saudi Surprise

Australia's world No15 Cameron Pilley will play no further part in the $327,500 Saudi PSA World Open Squash Championship after crashing out of the first round of the richest ever event on the PSA World Tour at Sunset Beach Resort in the Saudi Arabian city of Al-Khobar.

It was a determined and inspired effort from French qualifier Mathieu Castagnet that led to 17th seed Pilley's demise - a 10-1 lead in the opening game paving the way for an 11-3, 8-11, 11-9, 11-5 victory by the 24-year-old from Le Mans.

"For a while now, I have been losing a bit of motivation, especially after my defeats in Egypt and Qatar," explained Castagnet afterwards. "And my last two tournaments, where I drew the top seed each time didn't help to get my confidence back!

"Today I got on court without any pressure, and I was lucky that Cameron didn't play his best squash. I'm really happy, and I'm now going to prepare for my match in two days."

Borja Golan became the second qualifier to make the second round after an assured 11-4, 7-11, 11-9, 11-5 victory over rising Indian star Saurav Ghosal, the 25th seed.

But Spaniard Golan is a former world No10 making a comeback after a long layoff following a knee injury - and had to play at his best to overcome the new world No22 from Chennai in 53 minutes.

Golan will now face England's James Willstrop after the sixth seed recovered from a game down to beat Swiss number one Nicolas Mueller 9-11, 11-4, 11-7, 11-2.

"After I lost the first, I had to tackle the match in small steps," explained Yorkshireman Willstrop. "First get level, then take the lead, then finish it. That's what I'm trying to do for the whole tournament, in the past I maybe thought too much about reaching the final or winning it too soon.

"Now I'm just concentrating on smaller targets. It's a long week, or two weeks hopefully, you can't afford to think about these things all the time."

The last match of the day was almost the most dramatic, as second seed Ramy Ashour (left), winner in Saudi last year and many people's choice to regain the world title he lost last year, came close to falling at the hands of last-minute 'lucky loser' Kristian Frost Olesen.

There was no hint of trouble in store as world number one Ashour raced through the first game, delighting the crowd and confusing his opponent with a bewildering array of winners.

The second game started in the same manner, and an early night seemed on the cards, as Ashour raced to a two-game advantage.

But the Egyptian soon seemed to be in trouble. At 2-8 down, and bending over, holding his leg, Ashour was asked by the referee if he required an injury timeout.

The offer was gratefully accepted - but on his return Ashour's movement was still severely hampered and Frost took full advantage to reduce his arrears.

Still struggling with his movement in the fourth, and at times in obvious pain, Ashour relied on his shot-making to keep him just ahead of an opponent. And, after a tense game which could have gone either way, Ashour delighted the crowd with a return of serve straight into the nick to claim an improbable 11-1, 11-5, 3-11, 11-9 win after 42 minutes.

The second day of first round World Open action in Saudi saw the end of the distinguished career of Frenchman Renan Lavigne. The former world No17 from Marseille faced England's 15th seed Adrian Grant. Lavigne battled for 36 minutes before the left-hander from London secured his predicted 11-4, 11-9, 12-10 win.

"I haven't played a PSA event for a while, but I entered because the closing date was in August and it looked like I would make the main draw," explained the 36-year-old who turned pro in 1996. "Since then I've asked PSA to take my name off the ranking list.

"I trained well in September and October, then got injured so this is my first match in a month, and it showed. I've never been injured before, but I guess I'm training less and the body is less able to cope with the stresses at my age.

"There's a few things changing in my life now, I've started studying again and I have my first child due in June, different reasons to get up at 6am!"

Late arrival Aaron Frankcomb caused a notable upset when he beat Egypt's Tarek Momen, the 19th seed, 11-8, 12-10, 11-8 in 52 minutes.

"I'm pretty tired," explained the 25-year-old Australian. "I had a 48 hour journey to get here, with flights being cancelled and delayed from Leeds then Manchester, and got here at 5am this morning.

"I slept for five hours, had a 20-minute knock, had breakfast and then went on for my match. I told myself I just had to deal with it, and I think that helped me in some ways, I was moving surprisingly well."
 

 

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1st Round Top Half

Champion Shabana Charges Into
Second Round In Saudi

Amr Shabana (right) confidently began his bid to become only the third player in history to win five World Open titles by beating English qualifier Chris Simpson in the first round of the Saudi PSA World Open Squash Championship at Sunset Beach Resort in the Saudi Arabian city of Al-Khobar.

The $327,500 PSA World Tour championship, the richest ever in world squash, is being staged in Saudi Arabia for the first time, after five successful years of the Saudi International.

Shabana, the defending champion from Egypt, had to work hard to finish off Simpson in three games, especially after falling 5-0 behind in the third.

"I didn't play well here last time, so I'm happy to get through the first match," said the third seed from Cairo after his 11-7, 12-10, 11-8 win in 36 minutes. "I've been watching him for a few years - he's one of those who has good technique so it's difficult to be relaxed against him. I tried not to go short too much, when I did he was putting it away.

"These days I'm just happy to be healthy and not injured. I'm not quite that yet, but I'm getting there!"

Nick Matthew, seeded to become the first English winner of the title, also overcame his first hurdle in straight games. The 30-year-old world No2 from Sheffield never looked in any real danger, but neither could he afford to relax against Ryan Cuskelly - ultimately beating the Aussie left-hander 11-4, 11-5, 11-6 in 35 minutes.

It was an Englishman that produced the quickest win of the day: Jonathan Kemp, the 20th seed from Halifax, despatched Brazilian Rafael F Alarcon 11-2, 11-5, 11-9 in just 11 minutes.

Having torn his calf muscle on Friday, the 33-year-old from Sao Paulo simply went for everything - except rallies! The first two games were over in a flash: Alarcon fared a little better in the third, and led 9-7 - but Kemp finished it off, to smiles all round.

"Three nil or three-two, it's all the same," said the Brazilian after losing one of the shortest World Open matches on record.

The day after reaching the world top ten for the first time, Laurens Jan Anjema looked to be on course for an energy-saving victory over Mohammed Abbas - but the experienced Egyptian, a qualifier, had other ideas as he stormed back to equalise.

At five-all in the decider, though, it was the Dutchman who found the extra gear - storming through to win 11-5, 11-8, 9-11, 9-11, 11-8 after 86 minutes.

"Never in doubt," was coach Lucas Buit's tongue-in-cheek assessment.

Top-ranked Hungarian Mark Krajcsak pulled of the day's only upset by beating Colombia's Miguel Angel Rodriguez, the 30th seed, 11-8, 11-5, 11-4.

"I was as surprised as anyone to win that - especially in three," admitted the 26-year-old from Budapest. "I hadn't played him before so I don't know if it was me playing well or him playing badly, but I'll take that for sure."

Gregory Gaultier - twice a World Open runner-up - played the first match on the all-glass court, against local wildcard Mohammed Taher Al-Saif. Ranked 460 in the world, Al-Saif may have been overawed by the occasion, but kept the Frenchman - now ranked 456 places higher - on court for 23 minutes before Gaultier claimed his anticipated victory 11-3, 11-5, 11-8.

Matthew Seeded To Win First World Open Title In Saudi

Despite competition from three former champions and the reigning four-time champion, England's Nick Matthew is seeded to become the world squash champion for the first time in next month's Saudi PSA World Open Championship at Sunset Beach Resort in the Saudi Arabian city of Al-Khobar.

It will be the 32nd staging of the premier annual PSA World Tour event which was first held in 1976 - but its first time in Saudi Arabia. The championship, featuring 64 players from 23 countries, boasts a $327,500 prize fund - making it the richest of all-time.

Matthew, the 30-year-old world number two from Sheffield, is hoping to become the first Englishman to win the sport's coveted title. No stranger to breakthrough successes in the sport, Matthew became the first true Englishman for 67 years to win the British Open trophy in 2006 - and earlier this year became the country's first world number one for six years.

The Yorkshireman has enjoyed the best year of his career so far: He followed PSA Super Series title triumphs in the North American Open, the Sky Open in Egypt and the Australian Open in Canberra by winning two gold medals in last month's Commonwealth Games in India.

Matthew begins his 2010 World Open campaign against Australian qualifier Ryan Cuskelly, and is expected to face France's 2004 champion Thierry Lincou in the quarter-finals, before a likely semi-final clash with Amr Shabana.

It was last year, in the event's maiden appearance in Kuwait, that distinguished Egyptian Shabana clinched his fourth title in seven years - becoming only the fourth player in history, after Australia's Geoff Hunt and Pakistanis Jahangir Khan and Jansher Khan, to win four World Open crowns.

Matthew is expected to renew his rivalry with another Egyptian, 2008 champion Ramy Ashour, in the final. The 23-year-old from Cairo wrested back the world number one ranking from the Englishman in September - and went on to build up an unassailable lead at the top of the 2010 PSA Super Series Rankings after winning his third Super Series title of the year at last week's Kuwait Open.

Ashour begins his Saudi campaign against top-ranked German Simon Rosner - and is expected to line up against compatriot Karim Darwish, the fourth seed and runner-up in 2008, in the semis.

Darwish will arrive in Saudi fresh from title triumphs in two Super Series events this year - including the most recent, the Qatar Classic in Doha where he beat fellow countryman Amr Shabana in the final to win the established title for the second time in three years.

Australia's David Palmer is a dark horse lurking in the middle of the draw. The 34-year-old tenth seed is a two times winner of the title - in 2002 and 2006 - and one of three players celebrating an 11th successive appearance in the championship. Palmer opens against Italian qualifier Stephane Galifi before a likely last 16 clash with fifth-seeded Frenchman Gregory Gaultier, runner-up in 2006 and 2007.

 

 

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Qualifying

Saudi PSA World Open
, Weybridge, England

Finitsis Flies Into Maiden World Open Appearance

Australian Steve Finitsis claimed the biggest upset in the qualifying finals of the Saudi PSA World Open Squash Championship when he beat Mexican Arturo Salazar to earn his first appearance in the premier event on the PSA World Tour which will be held at Sunset Beach Resort in the Saudi Arabian city of Al-Khobar in December.

Players from 20 nations met at St George's Hill Lawn Tennis & Squash Club in Weybridge, England, to compete for 16 qualifying places available in the $327,500 event - the richest international squash championship of all-time.
 


Local favourite Joe Lee breezes past Gilly Lane at St. George's Hill to qualify for the World Open in Saudi Arabia in December
 

It took only 16 minutes for Queenslander Finitsis, the Netherlands-based 27-year-old world No73, to qualify when Salazar, ranked 24 places higher, retired injured after two games - with the score standing at 11-4, 11-3 in the Australian's favour.

Egyptian Karim Abdel Gawad, Malaysian Muhd Asyraf Azan and Englishman Adrian Waller will also be making their World Open debuts after St George's success. In one of the longest battles of the day, 19-year-old Gawad, from Cairo, recovered from 2/1 down to beat Dutchman Piedro Schweertman 11-8, 10-12, 15-17, 11-5, 12-10 in 78 minutes.Waller, a 20-year-old left-hander from Enfield, fought back from a game down to overcome France's Gregoire Marche 8-11, 11-5, 11-3, 11-1, while Azan was leading Arthur Gaskin 10-12, 11-8, 11-9, 8-1 when the Irishman was forced to retire with an injury.

Joe Lee fully exploited home advantage when he caused the only other qualifying upset. Son of the club's head coach Danny Lee, the 20-year-old world No74 defeated US opponent Gilly Lane, ranked 50 in the world, 11-1, 4-11, 11-6, 14-12 in exactly one hour to earn his second successive appearance in the World Open main draw.

Italian Stephane Galifi, the highest-ranked player in the draw, was taken the full distance in the opening match of the day. The 31-year-old world No48 needed 70 minutes to defeat Mexican Cesar Salazar - the twin brother of Arturo - 11-7, 6-11, 7-11, 11-6, 11-7.

Two established players on the PSA Tour will return to World Open action after injury lay-offs. Mohammed Abbas, the 29-year-old former world No13 who has been suffering with a long-term foot injury, beat South African Clinton Leeuw 8-11, 11-9, 11-9, 11-2 to earn his eighth appearance in the championship since 2002.

Top-ranked Spaniard Borja Golan, who was out of action for eight months following major knee surgery, battled to an 8-11, 11-3, 10-12, 11-1, 11-8 win in 92 minutes over India's Siddharth Suchde to secure his fourth World Open appearance, but his first since 2008.

Qualifying finals:
Stephane Galifi
(ITA) bt Cesar Salazar (MEX) 11-7, 6-11, 7-11, 11-6, 11-7 (70m)
Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) bt Piedro Schweertman (NED) 11-8, 10-12, 15-17, 11-5, 12-10 (78m)
Julien Balbo (FRA) bt Ivan Yuen (MAS) 11-7, 11-4, 11-9 (39m)
Borja Golan (ESP) bt Siddharth Suchde (IND) 8-11, 11-3, 10-12, 11-1, 11-8 (92m)
Joe Lee (ENG) bt Gilly Lane (USA) 11-1, 4-11, 11-6, 14-12 (60m)
Kashif Shuja (NZL) bt Kristian Frost Olesen (DEN) 11-5, 11-2, 3-11, 11-8 (51m)
Mohammed Abbas (EGY) bt Clinton Leeuw (RSA) 8-11, 11-9, 11-9, 11-2 (52m)
Alan Clyne (SCO) bt Max Lee (HKG) 8-11, 11-6, 12-14, 11-8, 11-7 (84m)
Adrian Waller (ENG) bt Gregoire Marche (FRA) 8-11, 11-5, 11-3, 11-1 (46m)
Mohd Nafiizwan Adnan (MAS) bt Charles Sharpes (ENG) 11-2, 11-7, 11-8 (34m)
Jan Koukal
(CZE) bt Dylan Bennett (NED) 8-11, 6-11, 13-11, 11-8, 11-9 (66m)
Chris Simpson (ENG) bt Christopher Gordon (USA) 11-5, 11-3, 11-7 (35m)
Muhd Asyraf Azan (MAS) bt Arthur Gaskin (IRL) 10-12, 11-8, 11-9, 8-1 ret. (48m)
Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) bt Laurence Delasaux (ENG) 11-6, 14-12, 12-10 (50m)
Robbie Temple (ENG) bt Aqeel Rehman (AUT) 3-11, 11-6, 11-4, 11-7 (43m)
Steve Finitsis (AUS) bt Arturo Salazar (MEX) 11-4, 11-3 ret. (16m)