Amr Shabana Is
US Open Champion
scintillating performance in the final of the Delaware Investments US Open
in Philadelphia saw Egypt's third seed Amr Shabana upset favourite
Nick Matthew to win the PSA World Series squash title for second
time in three years at the Daskalakis Athletic Center at Drexel
32-year-old from Cairo made an excellent start in his first appearance in a
World Series final this year, thrilling the Philadelphia crowd with a series of
winning shots that left world number one Matthew struggling.
from 6-1 down was a tall order, but the Englishman almost made it, getting to
8-9. But after a let decision was turned into a no let following a Shabana
appeal to the video referee, the Egyptian underdog went on to take the game on
another winning volley drop after 19 minutes.
The second was
a carbon copy in reverse - Matthew dominant in the early game, cutting off
Shabana's shots to race to an 8-1 lead, only to see the world No5 fight his way
From 9-4 down,
left-hander Shabana rediscovered his touch to climb back to 8-9 before Matthew
regained the upper hand to draw level.
was totally dominant in the next two games - reeling off winning volley drops
and drop shots almost at will.
There was no
big celebration as Shabana put in one last drop shot to clinch his 11-9, 8-11,
11-2, 11-4 upset after 51 minutes.
a good match, and it's such a relief to win a major tournament again," Shabana
after his first Tour title success since winning his fourth World Open
crown in November 2009.
"It's been a
tough couple of years, at times I thought I might never win again but I've been
playing well this week and my body held up which is the important thing."
The win takes
Shabana's career PSA Tour title haul to 27 - bringing him level with Australian
"I'm just glad
you were all here to witness me winning again and I hope I can carry on playing
well and win some more!" Shabana told the packed crowd.
It was a
disappointing outcome for Matthew in his fifth successive appearance in a PSA
World Series final this year: "I'm disappointed that my body let me down a
little tonight, I was struggling to push off on my foot, but I gave it a good go
and you have to be good enough to cope with these problems.
different from coming off court having given everything you have, but that's not
taking anything away from Amr, he played really well," added the 31-year-old
were firing in from all over tonight, and even at 100% I would have been
struggling to cope with him. He was all over me by the end, and could have
probably played some of those drop shots with his right hand, they were so
number two Ramy Ashour maintains his place at the top of the 2011
Dunlop PSA World Series Standings, just five points ahead of Matthew. But
Shabana is now in third place alone, after pushing England's James Willstrop
down to fourth place.
Karim Darwish, beaten by Mohd Azlan Iskandar in the first round in
Philadelphia, slips out of the top eight - while the Malaysian takes his place
to secure his first appearance in the top eight this year.
Lincou Make US Open Semis
Thierry Lincou and Egypt's former champion Amr Shabana earned places
in the semi-finals of the Delaware Investments US Open after contrasting
quarter-final wins in the fifth PSA World Series squash event of the year
at the Daskalakis Athletic Center at Drexel University in
Dutchman Laurens Jan Anjema was looking for his first Tour win over
Shabana in their fifth meeting since January 2006. And the tall 28-year-old from
The Hague kept a tight rein on his illustrious opponent in the opening game,
maintaining the lead throughout before moving 1/0 ahead.
But as the
second game got underway, the Egyptian seemed to be picking up the pace. Fellow
left-hander Shabana was moving well - and it was Anjema who began to be hurried
level, Shabana was buzzing in the third, moving effortlessly and playing some
amazing shots. The four-time world champion from Cairo moved 2/1 up after two
forced errors from Anjema.
had the lead in the fourth - with Anjema going on to save two match balls before
having a pair of game-balls of his own. But it was a trademark volley into the
nick one final time that clinched the match for Shabana to bring an exhilarating
clash to an end.
things don't happen the way you want - he started well, the crowd got behind him
and got him pumped up, so I needed to focus, regroup and do it all the hard
way," Shabana said after his 5-11, 11-6, 11-4, 15-13 victory in 78 minutes.
"I got back
into it, he changed his game plan so I had to come up with new one myself, it
was like a chess game, but it was very tough at the end," added the world No5.
"Now the crowd
favourite is out, maybe I'll be their favourite tomorrow!"
Shabana, the 2009 champion, now takes on sixth seed Thierry Lincou, the
veteran of nine PSA World Series Finals appearances who earned his first
semi-final slot in a 2011 World Series event after beating unseeded Malaysian
Mohd Azlan Iskandar 6-11, 11-5, 11-5, 11-8.
played well enough to take the first game, but the 35-year-old Frenchman is a
known slow starter. Lincou gained the upper hand in the second and third to move
were longer and tougher in the fourth as Iskandar reduced the errors to make the
game more competitive. But it was a final unforced error from the Malaysian that
put Lincou through to his first US Open semi-final since 2003.
"I felt pretty
comfortable in the second and third games," said former world number one Lincou.
"I wasn't sure if something was wrong with Azlan as he was very up and down,
didn't seem really fired up and was giving me a few easy points which boosted my
"I knew I
still had to try to keep the ball as straight as I could though, he's very
explosive on attacking the cross-courts.
better in the fourth, I think I was trying to finish it off a bit too quickly
and froze a little.
"It should be
a good match with Shabana," added the world No10. "Once you get to these later
rounds the pressure is off, you still want to win but you know you've reached
where you should, everything's a bonus after that."
Willstrop Ensure English US Open Finalist
victories by Nick Matthew and James Willstrop in the
quarter-finals of the Delaware Investments US Open will ensure an English
finalist in the fifth PSA World Series squash event of the year at the
Daskalakis Athletic Center at Drexel University in Philadelphia.
Matthew, the 31-year-old world number one from Sheffield, faced rising PSA World
Tour star Mohamed El Shorbagy, the 20-year-old Egyptian who earlier in
the day celebrated a career-high world No8 ranking.
winning 11-5, 9-11, 11-3, 11-6 in 65 minutes, the Englishman later told the
official event website
that the match had made him feel "old and slow"!
the seventh seed's undoing in the early part of the match as he lost the opening
game - but El Shorbagy rallied well in the second - forcing a couple of errors
from the Englishman at the end to draw level.
For the rest
of the match it was the Egyptian who was always behind, under the pressure that
Matthew's pace and early taking of the ball puts his opponents under.
victory avenged the loss to the young Egyptian in their previous meeting - in
the Canary Wharf Classic in London more than two years ago.
"He seemed to
decide he could take me on down the backhand wall, and he got the better of that
battle in the second," admitted Matthew. "But that effort maybe took something
out of him, he wasn't able to press as hard after that.
"He's like all
the Egyptians though, they can score two or three quick points out of nowhere,
whereas we English like to build the rallies more, so you have to be on your
toes all the time," added the Yorkshireman.
"I managed to
keep the momentum for most of the match, and he was having to work harder than
me, but he still managed to make me feel old and slow at times! He'll be around
for a long time, well after I've gone, and he'll be a nightmare to play."
Yorkshireman James Willstrop set up the next instalment in the England
team-mates' career-long rivalry by earning a semi-final clash with Matthew.
The world No4
from Leeds took on another Englishman with whom he also has a long rivalry -
stretching back to their junior days. But since his first Tour meeting with
Peter Barker in February 2003, Willstrop had enjoyed 12 successive victories
- until their most recent, at the Canary Wharf Classic in March, when the
Londoner claimed his first win.
Willstrop made a good start, going 5-1 and then 7-3 up in the first - but
Barker, the fifth seed, struck back with eight points in a row to take the
in the second, it was Willstrop's turn to string points together as he pulled
away from 7-4 to draw level.
maintained the advantage by taking the third, and stemmed a fightback by Barker
in the fourth to close out the match 7-11, 11-5, 11-6, 11-7 after 63 minutes.
"It was just a
tough, hard, game," said Willstrop. "You can't expect to win 3/0 every time so
when I lost the first, I just kept on playing my game.
"You have to
work it out, it's a mental and a physical battle, we were both getting control
of the 'T' at times and matches like that come down to very fine margins but I
managed to take the important points tonight.
pretty fit at the moment, but then we've had a summer's training and the
season's only just begun. If you don't feel fit at the moment you've got no
Punishes Palmer In US Open Upset
Laurens Jan Anjema upset eighth seed David Palmer in the second round
of the Delaware Investments US Open to record his career-first Tour
victory over the Australian veteran in the fifth PSA World Series squash
event of the year at the Daskalakis Athletic Center at Drexel
University in Philadelphia.
28-year-old from The Hague and fellow non-seed Mohd Azlan Iskandar, of
Malaysia, will join Frenchman Thierry Lincou, Egyptian pair Amr
Shabana and Mohamed El Shorbagy, together with English trio Nick
Matthew, James Willstrop and Peter Barker in the
quarter-finals of the long-established event which is being staged in
Philadelphia for the first time since 1993.
Palmer in a play-off match in the World Team Championship in Germany in August,
but the 35-year-old Aussie had always had the edge over the Dutchman in PSA
eight in the world, controlled proceedings to take the opening game, looking set
to continue his Tour run. But, from 2-5 down in the second, Anjema began to take
the upper hand. After winning the second, the Dutchman romped to a 7-0 lead in
the third en-route to moving 2/1 ahead - and built up a 7-2 lead in the fourth.
vastly-experienced Palmer dug deep, and slowly brought the score back to
seven-all. The Aussie saved one match-ball at 10-9 before Anjema chanced his arm
to hit the nick with the second to raise both arms in celebration of his
long-awaited 7-11, 11-5, 11-3, 11-9 victory after 76 minutes.
tried to play my own game and not panic after losing the first," Anjema
afterwards. "I was pleased to have recovered so well, but it was nerve-wracking
at the end, getting those last five points.
"He was one of
my idols when I was growing up, so to beat him for the first time in PSA is
pretty special," added the world No12. "It was a mental victory tonight, I
decided to take a risk at the end and thankfully it came off. I hope I can be a
bit steadier for the whole match next round."
now face fourth seed Amr Shabana. The 2009 champion from Egypt repeated
his victory over fellow left-hander Adrian Grant in a rerun of his
encounter with the Englishman at the quarter-final stage of the British Grand
Prix a week ago. The Egyptian won that one in three close games, Grant
threatening to take each one - but this time the Londoner did more than
threaten, as he took the lead 11-6.
however, Shabana showed why he is a four-time world champion. Controlling the
play without looking overly troubled or hurried, Shabana took the next three
games to claim his fourth successive quarter-final berth in the event following
his 6-11, 11-6, 11-5, 11-7 win.
"I just played
him a few days ago, and he upped his pace right from the start which took me a
little by surprise," said 32-year-old Shabana. "He has good touch too, so it's
tricky to hold him off, so it was good to be able to take those three games.
trying to stay healthy and listen to my body. I'll take the rest day tomorrow
and hopefully be ready for the rest of the tournament."
compatriot Mohamed El Shorbagy also booked his place in the last eight
with an 11-2, 11-6, 8-11, 11-4 win over rising English star Tom Richards.
20-year-old No7 seed will now face top seed Nick Matthew, the world
number one from England who eased to an 11-8, 11-3, 11-5 victory over tall
Egyptian Omar Mosaad.
23-year-old from Cairo fully tested the favourite in the opening game, holding a
few points' lead before Matthew finally closed it out with some typically solid
play in the final few points.
game was long and drawn out - he came with a strategy and stuck to it well,"
said Matthew. "It wasn't physically demanding as such, more a mental battle with
lots of slow rallies. I was a bit sluggish at the start and left too many things
hanging out on his forehand. I managed to claw back the few points lead he had
and was more comfortable after that."
team-mates and career-long rivals Peter Barker and James Willstrop
will line up in a clash which will guarantee an English semi-finalist. Fifth
seed Barker despatched Egyptian Hisham Mohamed Ashour 11-9, 11-6, 11-4,
while Willstrop, the No3 seed, brushed aside fellow countryman Daryl Selby,
the reigning British national champion, 11-7, 11-5, 11-6.
hampered by an injury midway through the second game, Ashour saw out the match.
Barker later paid tribute to his opponent in carrying on where many would have
Frenchman Thierry Lincou earned his first appearance in the last eight of
a PSA World Series event this year following his 7-11, 11-6, 11-4, 13-11 victory
over Colombian Miguel Angel Rodriguez.
25-year-old from Bogota had earned the nickname 'The Cat' after his spectacular
upset over higher-ranked Egyptian Mohd Ali Anwar Reda in the previous
dropping the first game, sixth seed Lincou restricted the Colombian's
opportunities by pinning him to the back corners, and opened up a 2/1 lead.
managed to eke out an advantage in the fourth though, and Lincou had to save
five game balls before finally taking the match on his own first opportunity,
putting in a clinging drop-shot that Rodriguez's racket could only brush into
"He's a very
unusual opponent," said a relieved Frenchman. "So fast and such an exciting
style of play. You think you've hit a winner and it comes back, you have to
start all over again, and you have to be alert all the time, on every shot. I
really had to use my experience to counter him."
take on Malaysian Mohd Azlan Iskandar, the 11-6, 11-7, 11-3 winner over
Swiss qualifier Nicolas Mueller.
"Hats off to
him, he's improved a lot in the last year and is beginning to really push the
top guys," Iskandar said of his opponent. "But I went in with a game plan and
stuck to it."
Races To Remove Reda
Miguel Angel Rodriguez celebrated his first Tour meeting with Mohd Ali
Anwar Reda in the first round of the Delaware Investments US Open by
beating the higher-ranked Egyptian in a dazzling performance in the fifth PSA
World Series squash event of the year at Drexel University in
some extraordinary running, retrieving, leaping, diving and unorthodox
shot-making, the world No30 from Bogota got the better of Reda, ranked six
places higher, in a magical five-game match.
It seemed that
the 22-year-old from Cairo had weathered the storm as he edged the second to
level the match and eased through the third.
But there was
no stopping Rodriguez: "I particularly loved his 360-degree spins, and the drop
shot he plays while running backwards, having dashed to the front after his
opponent's high boast before engaging reverse gear," said event spokesman
went on to win 11-9, 11-13, 3-11, 11-5, 11-5 in 82 minutes to earn his first
appearance in the last 16 of a PSA World Series event this year.
Bryan Ramona was also clearly impressed by Rodriguez: "We'll have to call
you 'the Cat' after that display."
now face Thierry Lincou after the sixth-seeded Frenchman dashed home
hopes by beating New York-born wildcard Christopher Gordon 11-9, 11-5,
But there was
disappointment for Egypt's Karim Darwish when the second seed was forced
to retire against Mohd Azlan Iskandar with an ankle injury. The Malaysian
went into the match 8/0 down in a career head-to-head record since 2003 - but
after leading 2/1 and 7-2 in the fourth, the Sarawak-born 29-year-old celebrated
his maiden success when Darwish conceded the match.
now meet Nicolas Mueller after the Swiss number one became the only
qualifier to claim a place in the second round when England's Jonathan Kemp
was forced to pull out with a back injury.
Australian number one David Palmer made sure of his last 16 place with a
straight games win over fellow countryman Ryan Cuskelly. But despite
coming through two tough qualifying matches, the world No42 put up a good show
against experienced eighth seed Palmer, three times a finalist and winner of the
US Open title in 2002.
"I knew he'd
keep fighting," said Palmer after his 11-8, 11-9, 11-9 victory in 51 minutes. "I
was a couple of points behind in the second but managed to his some winners at
the end, which was crucial, and I probably relaxed a little after getting a good
lead in the third, but I thought I played pretty well to get to that point.
"If he keeps
on playing with an attitude like that, it will go well for him in the future.
afford long matches," added the former world number one. "At 35, I need to win
3/0 when I can, so it was good in the end and I'm looking forward to coming back
now take on last year's runner-up Laurens Jan Anjema, the Dutch number
one who defeated English qualifier Chris Ryder 11-6, 11-7, 11-5.
"Chris is very
clever tactically," said Anjema. "So I had to try to get the upper hand early
and try to put him under pressure physically.
"It was a bit
too chaotic for my liking at times, but I'm happy with how I played and pleased
to get off with a three-nil win."
Amr Shabana and Adrian Grant will meet for the second time in 10
days when they line up in the second round. Fourth seed Shabana, the 2009
champion, came through against fellow Egyptian Wael El Hindi 11-7, 11-4,
9-11, 11-5, while Englishman Grant overcame Canadian qualifier Shawn Delierre
12-10, 11-5, 11-4.
unorthodox and hard to read - it took me a game and a half to work him out,"
admitted Londoner Grant after ending Delierre's run in his first World Series
appearance since 2008.
"Once I found
my feet I managed to present my game to him and I felt more and more confident,"
meeting El Hindi for the 15th time on the Tour since 2001: "It's always
difficult playing someone you know so well," said the 32-year-old four-time
world champion. "Wael hasn't played a lot of squash in the last six months, and
is just coming back, but he still made it pretty difficult for me at times."
Comeback Denies Boswell
runner-up Stewart Boswell was denied a place in the second round of the
2011 Delaware Investments US Open when Egypt's Mohamed El Shorbagy
recovered from two games down to beat the Australian on the opening day of first
round action in the fifth PSA World Series squash event of the year at
Drexel University in Philadelphia.
33-year-old from Canberra who made his US Open debut in 2000 and reached the
final two years later, thoroughly deserved his two-game lead at the
Daskalakis Athletic Center.
But it was
almost one-way traffic for the next three games as seventh seed El Shorbagy, 13
years younger than his opponent, took advantage of the tiring Australian.
"This is only
my second World Series tournament of the year, and I was quite nervous at the
start," admitted El Shorbagy after his 8-11, 9-11, 11-7, 11-5, 11-4 win in 64
"After a slow
start I started to play better from the middle of the second, and I could have
won that but he played better than me at the end of it," explained the two-time
world junior champion, now ranked nine in the world.
"I was pleased
with my performance to come back and take the last three games."
20-year-old now faces Englishman Tom Richards, a 7-11, 11-3, 11-9, 13-11
winner over Egyptian qualifier Tarek Momen.
"It should be
a tough match with Tom tomorrow," added El Shorbagy. "I've beaten him a couple
of times but he's a much better player now and I think we're going to have quite
a few hard matches over the next few years."
several meetings as juniors, it was only the second time that 25-year-old
Richards had faced Momen, aged 23, on the PSA Tour.
It was the
Egyptian who made the better start, pulling clear from seven-all to take the
first game. But Richards struck back to draw level.
Englishman took the third, the fourth game was level all the way with both
players fighting hard and moving swiftly around the McWil all-glass court. It
was on his third match-ball that Richards finally clinched victory after 61
used to beat me in juniors," said the world No25 from Surrey afterwards. "So he
probably had a psychological advantage going into the match. But I knew the way
I wanted to play and I thought I executed it pretty well, apart from losing a
bit of discipline in the middle.
"But I got
through it and it worked out ok - I'm pretty pleased to win that one."
Englishmen prevailed in comfortable fashion. Favourite Nick Matthew faced
surprise opponent Zac Alexander, a 22-year-old Australian who earned a
last-minute place in the qualifiers, then survived two tough battles against
"I'd heard of
Zac as an upcoming player for a while, but never played him before," said world
number one Matthew after his 11-4, 11-5, 11-8 win. "Coming out of the AIS I knew
he'd move well and be a clean striker of the ball, so I wanted to make sure I
started out strongly."
Londoner Peter Barker beat Finland's Olli Tuominen 11-3, 11-2,
11-9 while James Willstrop, the No3 seed from Leeds, saw off former
England international Alister Walker, now representing Botswana, 11-9,
are never easy these days - and scorelines often don't reflect the nature of the
match, like this one," said Willstrop later. "We know plenty about each other -
we've been playing since we were 12."
Yorkshireman now faces current England team-mate Daryl Selby, the
reigning British national champion who stopped German qualifier Simon Rosner
7-11, 11-5, 11-9, 11-3.
similar story with Daryl next round," Willstrop continued. "We've had some heavy
matches so I'm looking forward to a rest day and getting as well prepared for
that as I can."
Hisham Mohamed Ashour gained revenge for his defeat by Alan Clyne in
their only previous meeting in Malaysia when he beat the Scottish qualifier
11-8, 12-10, 9-11, 11-4.
happy with how I played," said Ashour. "He's a very tough opponent who can give
anyone in the top 20 a lot of trouble. There was a bit of revenge on my mind for
Malaysia, too, I knew I had to be 100% focused from the start and not give
"I haven't won
for the last two tournaments so I need to do well in this one and hopefully the
wins will keep on coming," added the 29-year-old from Cairo.
In a match
between two of the tallest players in the game, Omar Mosaad became the
third Egyptian to book a place in the last 16 when he beat Australian Cameron
Pilley 11-9, 11-8, 11-8.