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Iskandar Claims Bluenose Classic Crown

Bluenose Classic 2011
01-06 Feb, Halifax, Nova Scotia, $50k
Round One
03 Feb
04 Feb
05 Feb
06 Feb
[2] Azlan Iskandar (Mas)
11-2, 11-5, 11-7 (49m)
[Q] Nafiizwan Asnan (Mas)
Azlan Iskandar
11/9, 11/8, 4/11, 11/9 (49m)
Nicolas Mueller
Azlan Iskandar
11-6, 11-5, 11-3 (44m)
Gilly Lane
Azlan Iskandar
11-8, 8-11, 11-9, 11-7 (53m)
Hisham Ashour
Borja Golan (Esp)
11-9, 3-11, 5-11, 11-5, 11-6 (69m)
Nicolas Mueller (Sui)
[Q] Shawn Delierre (Can)
11-9, 11-13, 11-5, 11-3 (75m)
[Q] Gilly Lane (Usa)
Gilly Lane
11-9, 11-8, 11-4 (33m)
Mohamed Abbas
Mohamed Abbas (Egy)
11-5, 7-11, 11-9, 11-5 (73m)
[4] Shahier Razik (Can)
[3] Hisham Ashour (Egy)
13-11, 11-6, 8-11, 11-7 (58m)
Chris Ryder (Eng)
Hisham Ashour
11-8, 8-11, 11-7, 11-7 (44m)
Miguel Angel Rodriguez
Hisham Ashour
14-12, 11-9, 14-12 (72m)
Julian Illingworth
Miguel Angel Rodriguez (Col)
) 8-11, 15-13, 11-6, 11-5 (101m)
Aaron Frankcomb (Aus)
David Phillips (Can)
11-3, 11-2, 11-3 (23m)
Julian Illingworth (Usa)
Julian Illingworth
11-7, 11-7, 14-12 (65m)
Laurens Jan Anjema
[Q] Martin Knight (Nzl)
11-6, 11-6, 11-1 (41m)
[1] Laurens Jan Anjema (Ned)

Iskandar Claims Bluenose Classic Crown

Malaysia's Mohd Azlan Iskandar claimed the second biggest title of his career when he beat Egypt's Hisham Mohd Ashour in the final of the Bluenose Classic, the PSA World Tour International 50 squash event in its sixth year at St Mary's University in Halifax in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia.

It was the pair's sixth Tour meeting in the last six years, with the 28-year-old from Kuala Lumpur boasting a 4/1 lead. But third seed Ashour has enjoyed the best phase of his career since their previous clash in March 2009, and now boasts a career-high world No17 ranking - just four places below Iskandar.

After the first two games were shared, second seed Iskandar moved ahead after winning the third.

"To start game four, it was all Iskandar as he quickly mounted a 6-2 lead as Ashour's aggressiveness was causing many of his shots to clip the tin," said event spokesman Jon Boody. "Over the next three points, Ashour was awarded a stroke and hit two off-speed backhand winning drives to pull within one point at 5-6. A crosscourt slam from Iskandar put the score at 7-5.

"The next two rallies were dominated by Ashour to tie the game at 7-all. With the score even, Iskandar took control of the game as his unrelenting retrieval abilities contributed to long rallies over the next four points which ended in a front left corner kill shot and three Ashour balls into the tin."

Iskandar's 11-8, 8-11, 11-9, 11-7 victory in 53 minutes gives the Asian champion the 14th Tour title of his career - but his first in Canada.

Iskandar & Ashour Dash US Hopes In Nova Scotia

Hopes of the first all-US Bluenose Classic final in Canada were dashed when both Julian Illingworth and Gilly Lane crashed out of the semi-finals of the PSA World Tour International 50 squash event in its sixth year at St Mary's University in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Lane, a qualifier from Philadelphia, made his breakthrough in the previous round when he ousted highly-rated Egyptian Mohammed Abbas, a former world No13.

But the 25-year-old world No66 was unable to reproduce his giant-killing prowess against second seed Mohd Azlan Iskandar - though it took the world No13 from Malaysia 44 minutes to beat the US number two 11-6, 11-5, 11-3.

"Early in the third game, Lane appeared to have tweaked something in his left leg and began limping around with a painful expression," explained tournament spokesman Jon Boody. "Iskandar sensing control, brutally moved Lane around the court with tight drops and pounding drives. Lane scrambled about retrieving, digging, and even diving at a couple of balls to sustain the rally, but it was doing little to either tire Iskandar or present an opportunity to score any points.

"Iskandar scored eight unanswered points to close the game 11-3 and the match 3/0."

Unseeded Illingworth, winner of a record six US national titles, removed top-seeded Dutchman Laurens Jan Anjema in the previous round in his maiden win over the world No11.

The New Yorker's next opponent was Hisham Mohd Ashour, the third from Egypt who is enjoying the form of his life. Illingworth, ranked 40 in the world, pushed world No17 Ashour to two lengthy tie-break games - but it was the 28-year-old from Cairo who ultimately emerged triumphant after 72 minutes, winning 14-12, 11-9, 14-12.

Illingworth was full of praise for his Egyptian opponent: "His length is really good, his width, his cross-courts," explained the 27-year-old afterwards. "He hits all those flashy winners, but he sets them up with good width."

US Stars In Bluenose Breakthrough

US squash stars Julian Illingworth and Gilly Lane pulled two of the best results of their careers in the Bluenose Classic in Canada to claim unexpected places in the semi-finals of the PSA World Tour International 50 event in its sixth year at St Mary's University in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Unseeded Illingworth, winner of a record six US national titles, had never before beaten Dutchman Laurens Jan Anjema, the event's top seed and 2008 champion, in four previous Tour meetings.

But the 27-year-old from New York played the game of his life to beat world No11 Anjema 11-7, 11-7, 14-12.

And Gilly Lane, a qualifier from Philadelphia and the lowest-ranked player in the draw, earned the first semi-final slot after upsetting Egypt's Mohammed Abbas. The 30-year-old from Giza, a former world No13, is mounting a major comeback drive after being out of action for almost a year with a foot injury.

It was the pair's first Tour clash, but after the first game was nip-and-tuck through to six-all, Lane pulled away and ultimately clinched his surprise 11-9, 11-8, 11-4 win after 33 minutes.

Lane, ranked 66 in the world, now faces Mohd Azlan Iskandar, the No2 seed from Malaysia who defeated fellow countryman Mohd Nafiizwan Adnan 11-2, 11-5, 11-7.

Third seed Hisham Mohd Ashour, a 28-year-old from Cairo who is making rapid strides up the world rankings, claimed his anticipated place in the last four after conquering Colombian Miguel Angel Rodriguez 11-8, 8-11, 11-7, 11-7.

Ashour will face Illingworth in the pair's third Tour meeting since December 2006 - with the head-to-head tally currently standing at one-all.