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26/02/2012
NORTH AMERICAN OPEN 2012
 

King James Rules In Richmond

Reports
  Final      Semi Finals      Quarter Finals     2nd Round    1st Round   Preview
North American Open 2012
18-25 Feb, Richmond, Usa, $115k
Round One
  20/21 Feb
Round One
22 Feb 
Quarters
23 Feb 
Semis
2
4 Feb
Final
2
5 Feb
[1] James Willstrop (Eng)
11/9, 11/6, 11/6 (38m)
Nicolas Mueller (Sui)
 James Willstrop
16-14, 11-7, 11-6 (50m)
Thierry Lincou
James Willstrop
11-5, 2-0 retired (12m)
Amr Shabana
James Willstrop
11-9, 6-11, 11-7, 11-5 (97m)
Gregory Gaultier
James Willstrop
11-7, 11-8, 11-7 (51m)
Ramy Ashour
Thierry Lincou (Fra)
11/3, 11/3, 11/8 (30m)
Patrick Chifunda (Zam)
Hisham Ashour (Egy)
11/ 7/11, 11/, 11/3 (29m)
Adrian Grant (Eng)
Adrian Grant
11-8, 11-5, 4-11, 11-6 (59m)
Amr Shabana
[Q] Siddarth Suchde (Ind)
11/3, 11/5, 11/5 (32m)
[6] Amr Shabana (Egy)
[8] Azlan Iskandar (Mas)
11/6, 11/8, 11/5 (45m)
[Q] Campbell Grayson (Nzl)
Azlan Iskandar
11-8, 11-4 retired (26m)
Karim Abdel Gawad
Karim Abdel Gawad
11-6, 11-2, 11-9 (39m)
Gregory Gaultier
Ryan Cuskelly (Aus)
11/8, 11/9, 11/9 (55m)
[Q] Karim Abdel Gawad (Egy)
Saurav Ghosal (Ind)
13/11, 6/11, 11/9, 11/6 (72m)
Shahier Razik (Can)
Shahier Razik
11-1, 11-4, 11-4 (29m)
Gregory Gaultier
 
[Q] Olivier Pett (Eng)
11/5, 11/6, 11/7 (32m)
[3] Gregory Gaultier (Fra)
[4] Ramy Ashour (Egy)
11-8, 11-1, 11-8 (23m)
[Q] Matthew Karwalski (Aus)
Ramy Ashour
11-6, 11-7, 11-9 (28m)
Cameron Pilley
Ramy Ashour
12-10, 8-11, 11-5, 11-3 (56m)
Karim Darwish
Ramy Ashour
12-10, 13-11, 11-3 (52m)
Nick Matthew
Cameron Pilley (Aus)
11-6, 11-8, 9-11, 11-8 (60m)
[Q] Shawn Delierre (Can)
Alan Clyne (Sco)
11-6, 11-3, 11-8 (40m)
[Q] Zac Alexander (Aus)
Zac Alexander
11-5, 11-4, 11-3 (30m)
Karim Darwish
Mathieu Castagnet (Fra)
12-10, 11-6, 7-11, 11-5 (59m)
[5] Karim Darwish (Egy)
[7] Laurens Jan Anjema (Ned)
7-11, 11-8, 8-11, 11-5, 12-10 (70m)
Alister Walker (Bot)
Alister Walker
11-6, 11-6, 11-6 (46m)
Simon Rosner
Simon Rosner
11-7, 11-6, 9-11, 11-6 (63m)
Nick Matthew
Chris Ryder (Eng))
5-11, 11-5, 11-5, 11-9 (57m)
Simon Rosner (Ger)
Julian Illingworth (Usa)
8-11, 11-7, 11-2, 15-13 (55m)
Olli Tuominen (Fin)
Olli Tuominen
11-9, 4-11, 11-8, 11-2 (55m)
Nick Matthew
Miguel Angel Rodriguez (Col)
14-12, 10-12, 11-9, 9-11, 11-5 (92m)
[2] Nick Matthew (Eng)

Qualifying finals:
 

Qualifying finals at the Westwood Club, Richmond, Virginia

Matthew Karwalski (Australia) beat Martin Wright (NZ) 12-10, 11-7, 11-4 (36 mins)

Shawn DeLierre (Canada) beat Gregoire Marche (France) 11-5, 9-11, 11-4, 5-11, 11-8 (101 mins)

Siddarth Suchde (India) beat Kamran Khan (Malaysia) 7-11, 11-4, 11-2, 11-2 (54 mins)

Zac Alexander (Australia) beat Chris Simpson (England) 7-11, 11-6, 7-11, 11-8, 11-6 (59 mins)

Karim Abdel Gawad (Egypt) beat Adrian Waller (England) 3-11, 10-12, 11-7, 11-6, 11-6 (65 mins)

Mathieu Castagnet (France) beat Cesar Salazar (Mexico) 11-9, 10-12, 7-11, 14-12, 11-8 (98 mins)

Campbell Grayson (NZ) beat Jan Koukal (Czech Republic) 10-12, 11-3, 11-9, 11-3 (55 mins)

 Olivier Pett (England) beat Omar Abdel Aziz (Egypt) 11-6, 12-10, 7-11, 7-11, 11-9 (64 mins)

1st qualifying round:
 

Martin Knight (NZL) bye

Matthew Karwalski (Aus) bt John Street (USA) 11-2, 11-6, 11-3 (17 mins)

Shawn DeLierre (Canada) bt Andrew Wagih Shoukry (Egypt) 5-11, 11-8, 11-7, 11-4 (60 mins)

Gregoire Marche (FRane) bt Sean Steinour (USA) 11-3, 11-3, 11-2 (18 mins)

Siddharth Suchde (India) bt Yasir Butt (Pak) 12-10, 11-3, 11-5 (40 mins)

Kamran Khan (Malaysia) bt Yann Perrin (France) 14-16, 11-9, 11-2, 11-8 (66 mins)

Chris Simpson (Eng) bt Fred Reid (Canada) 11-7, 11-6, 14-12 (28 mins)

Zac Alexander (Australia) bye

Karim Abdel Gawad (Egypt (bye)

Adrian Waller (England) bt Francis Johnson (USA) 11-4, 11-2, 11-4 (17 mins

Cesar Salazar (Mexico) bt Chris Gordon (USA) 11-9, 11-6, 11-3 (28 mins)

Mathieu Castagnet (France) bt Julien Balbo (France) 7-11, 11-6, 11-2, 11-6 (66 mins)

Jan Koukal (Czech) bt Ryan Donegan (USA) 11-2, 11-7, 11-4 (19 mins)

Campbell Grayson (NZL) bt Joey Barrington (Eng) 11-6, 7-11,11-6, 11-5 (58 mins)

Olivier Pett (England) bt Robbie Temple (Eng) 11-6, 13-11, 11-3 (46 mins)

Omar Abdel Aziz (Egypt) bye


Davenport North American Open presented by Brown’s Jaguar
At the Westwood Club, Richmond, Virginia

 


Pictures Courtesy Of
Andrew Prezioso
Many Thanks To Andrew For His Coverage Of The Tournament

Click on Images for Larger View
 

Final
 

King James Rules In Richmond
By Alan Thatcher

    

England's James Willstrop produced a tactical master-class to subdue Egypt's fiery entertainer Ramy Ashour to win the Davenport North American Open title at the Westwood Club in Richmond, Virginia.

  

Top seed Willstrop admitted that his priority was to contain Ashour's shot-making opportunities, but his own play at the front of the court was immaculate.

  

His volley-drops, especially, worked to perfection on both sides of the court. At 6ft 4in, he is the tallest player competing on the PSA World Tour and Ashour, like so many opponents, struggled to place the ball beyond Willstrop's reach.

  

Ashour had stunned world champion Nick Matthew the previous evening with a dazzling display containing a succession of outrageous winners, but he had no answer to Willstrop's consistent, measured play.

  

Willstrop had taken 97 minutes to beat Gregory Gaultier the previous evening, but said he felt no ill-effects. "That gave me confidence coming into the match. I knew what to expect with a player of Ramy's abilities and I had to find a way to stop him hitting winners.

  

"He has come back after injury to play here in Richmond and it's good for the game to have him back. I am pleased with my whole week, not just today, and it's great to win the title again again here in Richmond."

  

Willstrop's performances this week have propelled him back to the world number one position in March. He added: "That was a wonderful feeling over Christmas knowing that I was going to be number one for the first time and I was very disappointed to lose it the next month. It made me determined to win it back, and I was pleased to play well enough to get back to number one in March.

 

"However, you don't need extra motivation to play in events like this. This is a superb tournament, brilliantly organised by Gus Cook and his team, and when you are looked after so well it helps you to play your best squash."

 

Willstrop began solidly and moved smoothly into a 5-0 lead, a pointer for the dominance that was to follow. Ashour fought back to 5-8 but Willstrop was too far ahead and closed out the game 11-7.

 

The second was much tighter but from 5-5 Willstrop tightened up to win it 11-8.

 

Ashour led 7-6 in the third and the Richmond crowd were roaring encouragement every time he won a point, especially when he flicked the ball into the nick while off balance, but Willstrop again turned the screw. His immaculate precision produced a crucial run of points as he edged towards the title.

 

Ashour hit a volley into the tin to put Willstrop level at 7-7, and a loose shot from the Egyptian gave Willstrop a simple straight drive winner to the back of the court.

 

Ashour was then unable to scrape a Willstrop shot off the side wall and the tall Yorkshireman moved to match ball with a forehand drop. He clinched the match when Ashour conceded a penalty stroke in the front left corner.

 

World champion Matthew Tweeted: "I don't think many people expected that. James played a tactical master-class and deserved the win."

 

 

Click on Images for Larger View
Pictures Courtesy Of Andrew Prezioso

Semi Finals


Rocket Man Ramy Roars Into Richmond Final
By Alan Thatcher

Egyptian squash genius Ramy Ashour showed he is back on top form by crushing world champion Nick Matthew to reach the final of the Davenport North American Open in Richmond, Virginia.

Ashour, the 24-year-old from strife-torn Cairo, has impressed all week on his comeback after injury. But against Matthew he stepped up a level with a performance that left England’s reigning champion exhausted after two games

Ashour meets top seed James Willstrop in the final and will have another point to prove with the Englishman returning to the top of the PSA world rankings in March.

Willstrop wore down French No.4 seed Gregory Gaultier with a commanding performance in a 97-minute marathon that justified his status. That was impressive enough, but the Westwood Club crowd went wild at Ashour’s high-octane display.

The Egyptian fought back from 10-7 down in the first game to win 12-10 and produced a phenomenal recovery to win the second 13-11 after being 8-4 down. Matthew was demoralized after blowing two crucial leads and fell away badly in the third. Ashour took less than six minutes to win the third and complete victory in 52 minutes.

Diving around the court to retrieve what looked like certain winners, he played shots behind his back and conjured up a succession of astonishing winners that drew admiration from his fellow professionals.

Indian number one Saurav Ghosal Tweeted: “That proves Ramy is an alien – he plays squash from another planet.”

Ashour himself said: “I am so happy to be in the final and playing James. I want to thank everybody back home for helping me to get fit and my brother Hisham for helping me this week.

“It should be a great match against James. He is a fair and honest player and we always have close games.”

Matthew admitted: “Ramy was too sharp tonight. I have got some important lessons to learn from that. It was hard to push on in the third when I could and possibly should have been 2-0 up. I was weak in the third, though. I didn’t help myself with the amount of time I spent on court in the early rounds. I can’t beat Ramy like that. He’s too good.”

Matthew’s English rival Willstrop was also in outstanding form as he completed his fourth consecutive victory over Gaultier to reach his first Richmond final since winning here in 2008, against the Frenchman.

After the opening two games took almost an hour to complete, the 6ft 4in Willstrop’s superior strength was clearly evident as he dominated the third and fourth. Seven inches taller than Gaultier, Willstrop appeared to physically intimidate his opponent, who complained to tournament referee Mike Riley that his path to the ball was being blocked.

However, in the later stages of the match the issue was fitness and conditioning, and that’s where committed vegetarian Willstrop had the edge.

A year ago, Willstrop was left exhausted by the enormous demands of endless matches and gruelling travel schedules.

He admitted: “I suffered a bit of a meltdown when all the matches and the flights caught up with me. Since then I have tried to be a bit smarter with the way I do things.”

Willstrop, who beat Gaultier in the 2008 final, added: “I am very satisfied to beat the world number three and looking forward to the final.

“It’s been a long time since my last one. It’s great to have Ramy back in action this week, hitting nicks from everywhere and entertaining the crowds.”

 

Click on Images for Larger View
Pictures Courtesy Of Andrew Prezioso

 
Quarter Finals


Willstrop Returns To World Number One

By Alan Thatcher
 

England's top seed James Willstrop returned to the top of the PSA world rankings for March after reaching the semi-finals of the Davenport North American Open in Richmond, Virginia.

 

Willstrop's opponent, Egypt's Amr Shabana was forced to concede the match early in the second game because of a knee injury.

 

By reaching the last four, Willstrop earned enough ranking points to regain the world number one position from his great English rival, Nick Matthew, the world champion from Sheffield.

 

Willstrop, who topped the rankings for the first time in his career after three major event wins in Hong Kong, Kuwait and India at the end of 2011, said: "It's great news to be back on top but I would find it very difficult to celebrate because nobody wants to win a match that way."

 

Willstrop meets French ace Gregory Gaultier in the semi-finals, a re-run of the 2008 final which Willstrop won. Gaultier overcame young Egyptian qualifier Karim Abdel Gawad, winning 11-6, 11-2, 11-6 in 39 minutes.

 

Afterwards he said: "I am feeling good this week. When you are well looked after, and feeling relaxed, and nothing is going on to upset your brain, then you can play well."

In the other semi-final, Matthew meets Ramy Ashour in a re-run of the last three NAO finals. Ashour won in 2009 but Matthew has won the last two events and is hunting down a hat-trick of titles this year.

 

Ashour confirmed his return to peak fitness with a devastating victory over fellow Egyptian Karim Darwish. After the first two games were shared, Ashour wore down his opponent and powered through the third and fourth, making Darwish look demoralised at the end.

 

Ashour said: "It's never easy to beat Karim. We had breakfast together aand spent a lot of time together during the day, but as soon as reached the court we know that we have a job to do and try to be as professional as possible."

 

Matthew, who had struggled to hit top form in the first two rounds, beat battling German Simon Rosner in four hard games.

 

Matthew dominated the opening two games and seemed set to wrap things up quickly as he led 8-4 in the third, but Rosner recovered to win a succession of breathtaking rallies. He won the game 11-9 but the effort clearly took its toll as Matthew stayed in front throughout the fourth.

 

Matthew said: "I started well in those first two games but I need to step up another notch against Ramy. He is playing very well this week. It will be strange playing him in the semis after meeting him in the past three finals."

 

Click on Images for Larger View
Pictures Courtesy Of Andrew Prezioso

 
2nd Round


Top Seeds Through To Quarter Finals in Richmond

By Alan Thatcher

Top seed James Willstrop endured a fierce onslaught from former world champion Thierry Lincou before reaching the quarter-finals of the Davenport North American Open.

He weathered the storm to complete a straight-games victory over the former world number one, who is still performing at a phenomenal physical level at the age of 35.

He now faces another squash legend, Amr Shabana, in the last eight.

Lincou held game balls at 10-8, 12-11 and 14-13 in the first game but Willstrop dug deep to win it 16-14 in 27 minutes.

The Frenchman led 6-5 in the second game but Willstrop finished strongly to win 11-7. The tall Englishman built a strong lead in the third but at 9-2 down Lincou continued to compete for every ball and made the scoreline more respectable with some superb winning shots.

Willstrop finally completed a 16-14, 11-7, 11-6 victory in 50 minutes and afterwards he paid tribute to his opponent, and the man he faces in the quarter-finals, Shabana.

Willstrop said: “We are fortunate to have such great players in our game, men who are fantastic competitors, gentlemen both on and off the court and act as superb role models and ambassadors in our sport.

“Thierry has always been an inspiration for the way he plays the game and conducts himself, and the way he is still competing deserves enormous respect.

“As for Amr, he has won four world titles and is still continuing to operate at the highest levels. Some people attempt to write off these guys, simply because of their age, but that is just a number, nothing more. They continue to inspire but I have just beaten one of them and have a job to do tomorrow and will have to be at my best to win again.

“Fortunately I am feeling strong and winning long games gives you the confidence to push through.”  

World champion Nick Matthew again made life difficult for himself but finally forced his way through to the quarter-finals. Matthew struggled against Finland’s Olli Tuominen before winning 11-9, 4-11, 11-8, 11-2 in 55 minutes.

He admitted: “I was actually thinking too much and couldn’t get my head straight. It’s not what I wanted with all these long matches on the midnight shift, having seen guys like Greg and Ramy winning quickly in the afternoon matches.

“I know I will need to play better against Simon Rosner. He is playing well and looking relaxed. We played each other in the World Team Championships in Paderborn and it felt like the whole of Germany was against me.”

The 6ft 3in Rosner again impressed as he overcame Botswana’s Alister Walker, winning 11-6, 11-6, 11-6 with a consistent display of solid hitting and confident court movement.

Gregory Gaultier powered his way through to the quarter-finals by overwhelming Canadian Shahier Razik in just 29 minutes. The French maestro looked very shaarp indeed as he won 11-1, 11-4, 11-4.

After the match he said: "I am feeling good and learning how to look after my body a lot better than I used to."

Ramy Ashour was ten minutes late on court but attacked right from the start against Cameron Pilley. He won 11-6, 11-7, 11-9 in just 28 minutes.

Both players produced fast, attacking squash but Ashour was always likely to be the man hitting more winners. Pilley fought hard at the finish and had Ramy diving all over the court in to one rally, only to hit the ball back to himself to concede a penalty stroke.

Ashour, who is returning to action after injury, echoed Gaultier's comments about diet and fitness. He said: "I love the food here in Richmond so I have to be very careful about what I eat and how much.

"I always enjoy playing Cameron. He is a great professional and hits the ball very well. I treat every player with respect."

In the quarter-finals, Ashour meets fellow Egyptian Karim Darwish, who beat Australian qualifier Zac Alexander 11-5, 11-4, 11-3 in 30 minutes.

Darwish said: "Zac is a very strong player and improving all the time. I am looking forward to playing Ramy. He is one of my best friends. All the Egyptian players are very close. The last time I played him, I lost 3-2 in Hurghada. We always have close matches."

Number eight seed Azlan Iskandar conceded his match against young Egyptian Karim Abdel Gawad because of a thigh injury. The Malaysian world number ten stayed in his chair after losing the first two games and said: “I have been suffering for a few days and trying to play through it. The adductor muscle is causing the problem and it started bruising badly.”

Gawad now meets Gaultier in the quarter-finals, a huge challenge for the skilful 20-year-old from Alexandria. He said: “I have always wanted to beat a top ten player. Now I am in the quarter-finals but my thoughts are with Azlan. I hope he gets better soon.”

This will be the 20-year-old’s first appearance in a World Series quarter-final. He is already used to the glass court on the big stage, having led Egypt to success in the Under-21 World Cup earlier this month in Chennai, India.

 

Click on Images for Larger View
Pictures Courtesy Of Andrew Prezioso

1st Round
 

World Champion Matthew Survives Richmond Scare
By Alan Thatcher

Bottom Half of Draw
Reigning Richmond champion Nick Matthew survived a first round scare last night before beating Colombian outsider Miguel Rodriguez in the first round of the Davenport North American Open at the Westwood Club.

Matthew squeezed home 14-12, 10-12, 11-9, 9-11, 11-5 in a 92-minute marathon.

The Englishman, who is bidding for a third consecutive NAO title, said: "Miguel is capable of giving all the top guys a scare and I was almost ready to get on the plane home at the end of the fourth game. Fortunately I got a good start in the fifth and I'm glad to get through. Mentally, that's one hurdle over and I've got to get it out of my system and get ready for the next match."

Matthew faces Finland's Olli Tuominen, who withstood a fierce fightback from American national champion Julian Illingworth.

Tuominen held match ball at 10-5 in the fourth game but Illingworth produced a spectacular spell of attacking squash to draw level. Then it was his turn to waste two game balls before Tuominen clinched victory by a 15-13 margin.

Ramy Ashour, runner-up to Matthew for the past two years, returned to action after an injury break and overwhelmed Australian Matthew Karwalski in just 23 minutes.

The Egyptian said: "I don't want to talk about my injuries any more. That's all I have talked about for the past few months and all I want to do is concentrate on playing squash. I am so happy to be back, and especially here in Richmond.”

His opponent, Karwalski, admitted: “That was just like going to squash school and being given a lesson. It didn’t matter what I did, Ramy had an answer for it. Even if I hit a good ball past him and sent him to the back of the court, he would just run past me and hit a winner.

“In fact, he hit winners from anywhere and everywhere. He hit some shots I have never even seen before. At times I just had no idea what to do. There is no doubt that, when he is free from injury, Ramy is the best player in the world.”

Ashour, the No.4 seed this week, posed for pictures in a Jaguar parked next to the court in the Westwood Club in Richmond, Virginia, and joked: “I am not worried about the prize money. I’ll just take the Jaguar.”

Ashour now meets another Australian, Cameron Pilley, who won a colourful clash with Canadian Shawn De Lierre. The match ended in controversial fashion as De Lierre was punished with two conduct strokes for audible obscenities, the second coming on match ball.

The biggest casualty of the day came when Alister Walker of Botswana removed number seven seed Laurens Jan Anjema of The Netherlands. Walker also wasted five match balls from 10-5 up in the fifth game before finally clinching it 12-10.

Top seed James Willstrop, who temporarily took over the world number one slot from Matthew in January, meets French veteran Thierry Lincou.

Whirlwind Richmond Makes Rapid Start In Richmond
By Alan Thatcher

Top Half of Draw
Top seed James Willstrop made a lightning start in the Davenport North American Open, presented by Brown’s Jaguar, beating rising Swiss star Nicolas Mueller in straight games.

Mueller is a hugely talented prospect, but Willstrop imposed his own style on the game to win 11-9, 11-6, 11-6 in 38 minutes.

Willstrop said: “Nic is already a very dangerous and although it’s nice to get off court quickly in the early rounds I am just happy with the win. He is already giving top ten players a difficult time, so winning quickly against him was simply a bonus.”

Willstrop meets French veteran Thierry Lincou in the second round. Lincou played the fall guy as he met wild card Patrick Chifunda, who attracted a full-house gallery to the Westwood Club.

The crowd cheered their local hero to the rafters as he dived around the court and every winner earned a raucous standing ovation.

Lincou sportingly engineered an entertaining straight-games victory, allowing Chifunda to go tantalisingly close in the third game before he clinched victory 11-3, 11-3, 11-8.

Gregory Gaultier, Amr Shabana and Azlan Iskandar all marched forward with straight-game victories, but there was a major shock when world No.11 Hisham Ashour collapsed to England’s Adrian Grant.

The Londoner played fast, direct squash and moved superbly to work his opponent out of position to win 11-7, 11-6, 11-3 in 30 minutes.

He now meets fellow left-hander Shabana and he admitted: “My target for this year is to get back up to the world top ten. My body is still holding up well and I felt good on court tonight.”

 

Click on Images for Larger View

Pictures Courtesy Of Andrew Prezioso
Preview

Karwalski Thanks Legend Palmer

 

The hottest place in Virginia yesterday was the glass squash court in the Westwood Club, Richmond, during the qualifying competition for the Davenport North American Open, presented by Brown's Jaguar.

 

As a heavy snowstorm enveloped the region, temperatures rose on court on court in a succession of brutally-contested marathon matches as players battled for a place in the first round of this PSA World Series tournament.

 

The longest match of the day, between Canadian Shawn DeLierre and Frenchman Gregoire Marche, lasted 101 minutes and contained 52 refereeing decisions as both players became entangled in the middle of the court.

 

DeLierre finally squeezed home 11-8 in the fifth game and was rewarded with a tie against Australian big-hitter Cameron Pilley, who holds the world record for striking a squash ball at 175mph.

It was a good day for Australians as Matthew Karwalski and Zac Alexander claimed places in the main draw.


Chris Simpson is bent double in pain as he is struck by a fierce shot from Australia's Zac Alexander. It struck a tender part of his anatomy (let's say the lower abdominal area).

Adding insult to injury, the penalty stroke gave Alexander match ball as he fought back from 2-1 down to win a place in the main draw


 

 

Karwalski, the world No.58, overcame New Zealand’s Martin Wright, ranked 18 places higher, to claim a first round berth against Egyptian superstar Ramy Ashour, who is making a return to action in Richmond after a recent hamstring injury.

 

However, Ashour’s arrival was delayed as his flight from New York was cancelled during the blizzards that wreaked havoc along America’s east coast yesterday.

 

Alexander had to fight back from 2-1 down to beat England’s Chris Simpson. His prize is a first round tie against Scottish No.1 Alan Clyne.

 

Karwalski thanked Australian squash legend David Palmer for his support after his win over Wright.

 

Karwalski has spent a lot of time training with former world champion Palmer in Orlando, Florida. He was on the phone to his mentor straight after his victory and said: “I am very grateful to David for his advice, support and guidance. He has given me tremendous help to prepare for this tournament, working on fitness, tactics and mental preparation.

 

“In the past I may have lost concentration when something has gone against me and lost a string of points in quick succession, but David has helped me to become mentally stronger.

 

“This is my first appearance in a major World Series event since the Australian Open and I decided to play this rather than a smaller tournament in Brisbane. If I am serious about squash then this is where I have to be.”

 

The lone English winner, Ollie Pett, from Sussex, was drawn to meet former world No. 1 Gregory Gaultier after beating Egyptian Omar Abdel Aziz in the last match of an extended day’s action.

 

Their game was scheduled to start at 5pm but was delayed by four hours because of the duration of so many earlier matches. With such a late finish, Pett’s scheduled 12 noon start against Gaultier was quickly switched to 4pm by organisers to allow the young Englishman time to recover.

 

In the second longest match of the day, Mathieu Castagnet of France beat Mexican Cesar Salazar in a tempestuous battle lasting 98 minutes.

 

Castagnet now faces former world No.1 Karim Darwish of Egypt.

Salazar Slays Gordon In Richmond

Home hopes were dashed in the Davenport North American Open when Christopher Gordon failed to advance through the qualifying competition of the second PSA World Series squash event of the year.

The New York-born US number two was beaten in straight games by talented Mexican Cesar Salazar in the first round of the qualifying draw at the Country Club of Virginia in Richmond.

Following his 11-9, 11-6, 11-3 victory in just 28 minutes, Salazar now meets Mathieu Castagnet of France in the qualifying finals - which will be played on the glass court across town at the Westwood Club. Castagnet took 66 minutes to beat fellow Frenchman Julien Balbo 7-11, 11-6, 11-2, 11-6.

In another battle lasting the same time, another French competitor Yann Perrin lost to Kamran Khan of Malaysia. Khan's 14-16, 11-9, 11-2, 11-8 win takes the 21-year-old from Kuala Lumpur into a qualifying final against Siddharth Suchde.

UK-based Suchde, a 27-year-old Indian from Mumbai, scored a notable first round win when he beat in-form Pakistani Yasir Butt - runner-up in last week's Windy City Open in Chicago - 12-10, 11-3, 11-5.

Top qualifying seed Martin Knight of New Zealand meets Matthew Karwalski of Australia, and No2 seed Omar Abdel Aziz of Egypt faces Olivier Pett of England.

Pett, the world No66 from Sussex, scored an impressive domestic success when he upset fellow countryman Robbie Temple, ranked six places higher, 11-6, 13-11, 11-3.
 

Willstrop Is Top Seed In Richmond

James Willstrop, the Englishman who became world number one in January, is top seed in a PSA World Series event for the first time in his career at next week's North American Open, the second World Series event of the year at The Westwood Club in Richmond, Virginia, from 20-25 February.

Willstrop leads a star-studded field featuring six former world number ones and five former champions of the event which is being staged in Virginia for the fourth year in a row.

The 28-year-old from Leeds - who has been combining preparation for the event with the launch of his book Shot and a Ghost - is expected to meet fellow Yorkshiremen Nick Matthew in next Saturday's final.

Matthew, the world No1 throughout 2011 who reclaimed his top ranking this month, successfully retained the NAO title last year and is now looking to win it for a third time in a row.

The English pair contested last month's final of the JP Morgan Tournament of Champions - the first PSA World Series event of the year in New York - with Matthew clinching the title for the first time.

Willstrop will begin his Richmond campaign against Switzerland's Nicolas Mueller, while Matthew faces Colombian Miguel Angel Rodriguez in the first round.

The 2012 North American Open will signal the long-awaited Tour return of Ramy Ashour, the 24-year-old Egyptian who has been sidelined with a hamstring injury since December.

Ashour, the No4 seed, finished as runner-up to Matthew in both the 2010 and 2011 finals - but this year is scheduled to face the world No1 in the semi-finals. Ashour, the 2009 champion, will take on a qualifier in the first round.

Mohd Azlan Iskandar, the Malaysian who became the event's eighth seed on the withdrawal of England's Peter Barker with a knee injury, won the title in 2007 in San Francisco. A quarter-finalist last year, Iskandar meets a qualifier in the opening round.

 


NAO EVENT HISTORY: RECENT RICHMOND FINALS

2004:

Rodney Durbach (South Africa) beat Jan Koukal (Czech Republic)

15-8, 15-10, 15-11

2005:

Shahid Zaman (Pakistan) beat Bradley Ball (England)

11-5, 5-11, 11-4, 11-9

2006:

John White (Scotland) beat Adrian Grant (England)

11-9, 11-6, 11-9

2007:

Anthony Ricketts (Australia) beat Lee Beachill (England)

11-8, 11-7, 12-10

2008:

James Willstrop (England) beat Gregory Gaultier (France)

11-6, 6-11, 11-9, 8-11, 11-4

2009:

Ramy Ashour (Egypt) beat Nick Matthew (England)

11-8, 13-11, 10-12, 5-11, 11-8

2010:

Nick Matthew (England) beat Ramy Ashour (Egypt)

11-9, 16-14, 5-4 retired

2011:

Nick Matthew (England) beat Ramy Ashour (Egypt)

11-9, 11-5, 8-11, 8-11, 11-6