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Greg Grabs Golden Gate City Glory

Netsuite Open 2012
17-23 Oct, San Francisco, Usa, $70k
Round One
19 Oct
20/21 Oct
22 Oct
23 Oct
[1] James Willstrop (Eng)
11-4, 11-9, 11-9 (34m)
[Q] Alan Clyne (Sco)
James Willstrop
11-8, 11-8, 11-9 (53m)
Amr Shabana
Amr Shabana
11-7, 12-10, 11-8 (43m)
Gregory Gaultier
Gregory Gaultier
11-7, 13-11, 11-9 (62m)
Nick Matthew
Amr Shabana (Egy)
11-8, 5-11, 11-3, 11-5 (49m)
Alister Walker (Bot)
Tarek Momen (Egy)
11-7, 11-3, 11-7 (32m)
[Q] Gregoire Marche (Fra)
Tarek Momen
11-4, 11-7, 7-11, 12-10 (58m)
Gregory Gaultier
[3] Gregory Gaultier (Fra)
11-4, 7-11, 11-1, 11-1 (52m)
Nicolas Mueller (Sui)
Hisham Ashour (Egy)
11-6, 11-4, 11-3 (33m)
[4] Peter Barker (Eng)
Peter Barker
11-7, 11-4, 11-4 (47m)
Laurens Jan Anjema
Peter Barker
11-7, 11-5, 6-11, 11-6 (56m)
Nick Matthew
Laurens Jan Anjema (Ned)
11-8, 11-4, 11-9 (48m)
[Q] Chris Simpson (Eng)
Daryl Selby (Eng)
12-10, 11-7, 11-4 (50m)
[Q] Martin Knight (Nzl)
Daryl Selby
11-6, 12-10, 11-4 (53m)
Nick Matthew
Julian Illingworth (Usa)
11-8, 11-9, 11-3 (53m)
[2] Nick Matthew (Eng)

Qualifying finals:
Martin Knight (NZL) bt Siddharth Suchde (IND) 11-6, 11-5, 11-6 (61m)
Gregoire Marche (FRA) bt Matthew Karwalski (AUS) 11-6, 11-7, 6-11, 11-5 (60m)
Chris Simpson (ENG) bt Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) 7-11, 11-8, 11-8, 11-5 (76m)
Alan Clyne (SCO) bt Aamir Atlas Khan (PAK) 11-6, 12-10, 10-12, 11-3 (45m)

Greg Grabs Golden Gate City Glory

"That's probably the best I've ever played when losing 3/0!" was how world number two Nick Matthew described his defeat to lower-ranked Frenchman Gregory Gaultier in the final of the NetSuite Open Squash Championship, the PSA World Tour International 70 event staged on an all-glass court at Justin Herman Plaza in San Francisco, USA.

"'Magnifique' pretty well sums up Gaultier's performance tonight," said tournament spokesman Jay Prince. "The only disappointing part was that when sell-out crowds are witness to a stellar performance, they always want an encore."

Unfortunately for them, Gaultier did not cooperate by not allowing England's former world No1 to earn a single game. Matthew himself was left with little to do but applaud the Frenchman's performance.

Gaultier was simply unstoppable, putting his astounding quickness and relentless attacking style to full effect. From the start, the world No3 from Aix-en-Provence owned the left wall. More specifically, he owned the back left corner where ball after ball found the full depth of the court.

The Frenchman - who boasted a pre-match 10-8 career record over Matthew, but lost their previous meeting this year, in New York - never looked back once referee Mike Riley said "love all". Gaultier raced out to 6-2 and 7-3 up before Matthew began to recover from what had hit him.

"In every game I was always two or three points behind," said Matthew. "When it was my turn I was always able to bring it back level. But then he would go again. I was never ahead in the business end of the games."

In fact, Matthew held a lead just once at any point in the match, and that came when he snuck ahead at 2-0 to open the third. The 32-year-old from Sheffield's best opportunity was in the second game. Gaultier had jumped out early, leading 5-2 and 6-4, but Matthew simply could not find a way to garner a lead.

From 7-7, the pair traded points to 11-11, but once Gaultier had secured the one point cushion at 12-11, he played a masterful drop (a step-back backhand drop that would have made Michael Jordan proud) at the left front, leaving Matthew stumbling - and behind two games to love.

Throughout the match, Gaultier kept Matthew's strength - cutting the ball off at mid-court - at bay, while simultaneously controlling his own tempo.

"I managed not to play too fast all the time; to mix the rhythm by hitting some high balls to take control of the T," said the newly-crowned champion, now winner of 21 PSA Tour titles. "I tried to take a few things out of his game as well. It's always interesting to watch all the guys play and see how they play tactically. I was happy to do it."

When asked about Gaultier's ability to neutralise his typical dominance at the middle of the court, Matthew simply said: "He's always really deadly when he's attacking on the left side. But that's the best he's played against me in terms of his defensive work," conceded the Englishman.

Perhaps the most impressive difference with Gaultier was his ability to maintain his composure - not only when referee decisions didn't go his way but, in particular, when Matthew succeeded in closing gaps midway through each game. He credits a new perspective on life after becoming a father for the first time eight weeks ago.

"I realise life is not only squash, and that was all my life before," explained the 29-year-old Frenchman. "I always put squash into one box and it was only it. And when you win life is beautiful, and when you lose it's the end of the world. So now it gives me a great balance.

"There's other things important in life. It gives me wings and has changed my attitude as well. It makes me more calm on court. I'm a really happy dad, and my girlfriend is really doing well. As long as Nolan is healthy, I'm happy. It's an amazing feeling."

So a fabulous week by the Bay comes to a close, with players loving what for most of them has been their first visit to San Francisco. "It's been a great week. You know, you get to a stage where you play the same tournaments year in year out, and you come to somewhere new, it's been one of my most enjoyable weeks on tour for a long time," said Matthew.

For full details, visit the event website www.netsuiteopensquash.com


Gaultier & Matthew Make NetSuite
Open Final In San Francisco

England's world No2 Nick Matthew and Frenchman Gregory Gaultier, the world No3, will contest their sixth PSA World Tour final at the NetSuite Open Squash Championship after taking out their semi-final opponents in the PSA International 70 event staged on an all-glass court at Justin Herman Plaza in San Francisco, USA.

Gaultier, playing tight squash to take away the angles that are favoured by Egyptian Amr Shabana, dominated their three-game semi. Gaultier's court coverage neutralized the four-time world champion's attacking short game, and his length was just good enough to keep Shabana trapped in the back corners.

"Two nights ago, Shabana looked fluid in his movement in the cold Bay Area conditions, but tonight he was a step slow, despite building a small cushion of 8-6 and 10-8 in the second game," explained tournament spokesman Jay Prince. "Gaultier, showing patience and precision, scratched his way back to draw even at 10-all before finishing off the game 12-10."

It was more of the same in the third. Neither player appeared too eager to draw points out, but instead chose to attack short off the volley. An early lead by Gaultier to 3-1 was quickly erased and became a 5-3 advantage for Shabana in a single hand. From there, Gaultier drew even and they exchanged points to eight-all before Gaultier slammed the door, 11-8.

In 18 career meetings on the PSA Tour, Matthew has dropped just a single match to his good friend and fellow Englishman Peter Barker. That single loss came in the Hong Kong Open in 2010. Prior to that, Matthew had strung together eight-straight wins, and has since rattled off nine more.

"Make that ten after tonight!" added Prince.

The world No2 and second seed in San Francisco had little trouble securing the first two games, though he needed 32 minutes to do it. In both games, Barker held his own until the midway point then watched Matthew run away from him. Matthew played error-free and utilized his wing span at the mid-court to prevent Barker from ever getting comfortable - 11-7 and 11-5 to Matthew.

The third, however, was totally out of character for Matthew who prides himself on keeping his errors to a minimum. But up 5-2, the former world number one committed three unforced errors and had three consecutive stroke decisions against him to carry Barker all the way to 9-5 in a single hand. Another pair of tins from Matthew in the front court after he had reached 6-9 and the game was Barker's.

With renewed focus, Matthew quickly put the London left-hander away in the fourth. Matthew punished Barker with pace and length, perhaps anticipating the downpour of rain that let loose in San Francisco just minutes after the match ended. Barker, too, apparently was ready to put an end to his nightmare fourth game - committing three straight unforced tins to hand Matthew the game 11-6.

With the bleachers covered for the night, crews will have their work cut out for them in the morning if the rain continues to fall.

The NetSuite climax sees Gaultier celebrating his 47th Tour final, with Matthew marking his 51st. The clash will be the pair's 19th PSA Tour meeting - and sixth in the US, two of which were also finals. Gaultier holds a slight 10-8 edge over their career rivalry.


English Finalist Assured In San Francisco

Straight games victories by Nick Matthew and Peter Barker in the quarter-finals of the NetSuite Open Squash Championship will ensure English representation in the final of the PSA World Tour International 70 event staged on an all-glass court at Justin Herman Plaza in San Francisco, USA.

Despite falling behind compatriot Daryl Selby in the second game of the first quarter-final, world No2 Matthew never looked to be out of control of the match. The 32-year-old from Sheffield simply did what he does best - play error-free squash with commanding court presence by driving the ball deep to both corners to force Selby into scramble mode.

In that second game, Matthew ran the table with five consecutive points to erase the deficit built by his fellow countryman and good friend, taking the game 12-10.

The opening game was Matthew's from the start. With long rallies, neither player appeared to be eager to take the ball short. The cold conditions suited Matthew's reach across the mid-court, and he ran out to a comfortable 5-3 lead before extending it to 8-4. Midway through the game, Matthew started taking the ball short on the backhand side, and Selby could not answer.

The third and final game was never in doubt. Matthew needed just nine minutes to finish Selby off, 11-6, 12-10, 11-4 in 53 minutes.

The nightcap showed off Londoner Barker's short game and total court control in despatching Dutchman Laurens Jan Anjema in a methodical 11-7, 11-4, 11-4 47-minute encounter.

Afterwards, when asked about the cold San Francisco evening air, fourth seed Barker acknowledged that the conditions are more suited to his game than Anjema's. "Obviously with the court playing more dead, I like to attack the front of the court," commented the world No6.

Jessica Winstanley, interviewing Barker, noted that steam was rising off his warm body. The bundled capacity crowd got a good laugh watching the steamy man his friends call Spider Man.

Anjema, spent the majority of the match trying to solve the puzzle of how to get Barker out of the middle of the court. When successful, Anjema capitalised by taking the ball early with sharp drops. Barker, however, was moving fluidly and reaching virtually every length Anjema placed without much difficulty.

Shabana Shocks Willstrop In NetSuite Upset

After reaching at least the semi-finals in 14 successive appearances on the PSA World Tour since September last year, England's world number one James Willstrop crashed out of the NetSuite Open Squash Championship quarter-finals - overwhelmed in straight games by Egypt's Amr Shabana in the PSA International 70 event in San Francisco.

For the eleventh time since 2004, Willstrop and Shabana squared off in a PSA quarter-final, with the Englishman holding a slight edge (6-4) before the opening NetSuite Open match on the spectacular McWil Courtwall glass court at Justin Herman Plaza in San Francisco, California.

"In Philadelphia a week ago, Shabana looked as lean and fit as he's been in the last five years," said tournament spokesman Jay Prince. "And it showed tonight as he took out the No1 seed in three straight—11-8, 11-8, 11-9."

The chilly San Francisco air favoured the 33-year-old Egyptian's attacking style, mixing knee-bending boasts from the back and mid-court with inch-perfect length.

When asked about the conditions, world No7 Shabana said: "I actually don't like the cold. It does help with control of the court, but I'm not used to it and worry about getting injured. So I never stop moving around."

Willstrop, a finalist in nine Tour events in the past 13 months and winner of four titles, just never seemed to get going. After dropping the opener with several errors and strokes against him, the tall Yorkshireman pulled himself together early in the second game while building a sizable lead, 7-2

But Shabana, the four-time world champion from Cairo, simply kept making the court longer and wider, while also drawing gasps from the capacity crowd with eye-popping court coverage.

"In essence, this was Shabana's match from the start," added Prince. "Willstrop appeared to be suffering from a cough, though earlier in the day he was excited to get going."

In the second quarter-final, Gregory Gaultier of France hammered away at Egypt's Tarek Momen to run away with the first two games. There were relentless lengths on both sides of the court, made possible by the supreme quickness and balance of Gaultier who seems to be able to reach any ball on the court.

In the third, Momen played a more free-flowing game, attacking short—particularly on the left side—with positive effect. Drop exchanges were going Momen's way for the duration and the 24-year-old from Cairo cut Gaultier's margin to 2/1.

In the fourth, Momen again ran away with the game while Gaultier became frustrated and made a handful of errors that he can be prone to make when he becomes distracted by referee decisions with which he disagrees.

But down 10-6 and staring straight into the headlights of a deciding fifth game, the wheels came off for Momen. Coupled with a pair of errors and Gaultier stepping forward to attack with higher pace, the 29-year-old Frenchman, ranked three in the world, rattled off six straight points to punch his ticket into the semi-finals where he will face Shabana.

Willstrop & Matthew On Course In
San Francisco

England's James Willstrop and Nick Matthew, seeded one and two respectively in the NetSuite Open Squash Championship, took the first step towards meeting for the 46th time in the last 11 years — a rivalry that has been dominated by Matthew with 35 wins to his credit.

The world No2 has not lost a PSA World Tour match to Willstrop since 2007, a run that includes 15 straight. But Willstrop got off to a solid start in the first round of the PSA International 70 event in San Francisco in his quest to reverse the trend with Matthew, should the pair reach the final.

Since February 2004, England's James Willstrop and Egyptian Amr Shabana have faced each other 30 times, with Shabana holding a slight edge, 16-14. In that first encounter, at the Swedish Open, Shabana was world No5 and seeded one in the event; Willstrop was world No13 and the eighth seed. On Saturday, on an all-glass court at Justin Herman Plaza on the San Francisco waterfront, the illustrious pair will meet again after both secured their places in the quarter-finals of the NetSuite Open.

Up first at the San Francisco Bay Club, the 6' 4" Willstrop took on a 5' 8" qualifier in the form of Scotland's Alan Clyne. In a fast and furious display of volleys, drops and attacking boasts from both players, the first game went to Willstrop. But Clyne kept things close in the second, ultimately falling 11-9. The third game is where things got interesting: With nothing to lose, Clyne stepped up the attack by cutting balls off and sending Willstrop to the front court repeatedly, racing out to a seemingly commanding lead. Willstrop, however, recovered and put his world No1 experience to work, rattling off nine consecutive points, to take the match 11-4, 11-9, 11-9.

Shabana was next on court, taking on a feisty Alister Walker of Botswana. Despite beating Shabana just once in seven career meetings, Walker has only fallen in three games once. Shabana plays the game with style, putting on a textbook show of fluid, classic strokes. Both are phenomenal movers on court, and the crowd was mesmerized by their ability to retrieve even the most deftly placed shots. Though close to the end, Shabana took the opener, but then nearly disappeared in the second, falling 11-5 quickly. The Egyptian snapped out of it after a few tins early in the third, using near-perfect length to run away with the third. The fourth brought a bit of controversy after Shabana apparently requested a "non-audible let." Once sorted out, Shabana found his focus and rolled into the quarterfinals with a convincing 11-8, 5-11, 11-3, 11-5 win.

After failing to qualify for the Delaware Investments US Open in Philadelphia a week ago, Frenchman Gregoire Marche booked his place in the main draw of the NetSuite Open by upending Australia's Matthew Karwalski in the qualifying finals in San Francisco. Unfortunately for Marche, he drew Egyptian Tarek Momen in the main draw. Momen's surgical precision from the word go was simply too much for Marche who fell 11-7, 11-3, 11-7 in just 32 minutes.

Momen will have his hands full on Saturday evening when he seeks to win for just the second time in six attempts against the third-seeded world No3 Gregory Gaultier of France. Though Gaultier's first two games in the opening round with Switzerland's Nicolas Mueller were hotly contested, with Gaultier taking the first 11-4 but dropping the second 11-7, Gaultier never looked back in the final two games, dropping just a single point in each.

With four matches on the docket at Stanford University, England's Daryl Selby, seeded No7, kept the evening on schedule with a solid 50-minute win over New Zealand qualifier Martin Knight. But it wasn't easy by any stretch: Selby and Knight traded points throughout the opening game with good use of length and drops that stayed tight to the walls. All square at 10-10, Knight chastised himself, saying, "I've got to hit the ball away from the middle."

Problem was, the tin got in the way in each of the succeeding two points, handing the game to Selby, 12-10.

From there, the Englishman asserted his control of the court, forcing Knight to retrieve balls to the point of near exhaustion in the middle of the third game. Selby finished off the match in style, with a dominant third game, 11-4.

Up next for Selby, on Sunday, will be compatriot Nick Matthew. Selby has only come out on the winning end of two clashes with Matthew, and both required five games that lasted over 80 minutes. Standing in Matthew's way at Stanford was American Julian Illingworth.

Currently 28 in the world, the 8-time US National Champion jumped out to a solid start, taking a 6-3 lead over Matthew. A nick that moved Illingworth to 7-3 seemed to get Matthew going as he levelled the game at seven, then took advantage of four errors by the American, ultimately taking the game 11-8.

In the second game, both used high volleys to good effect while attacking and defending, but the difference in the game was a number of unforced tins from Illingworth from the mid-court area while Matthew played error-free - securing the game 11-9.

Matthew took control of the final game at two-all when Illingworth lost some of his sharpness. Not to pass up an opportunity, Matthew finished off the match 11-3.

The sole qualifier from England, Chris Simpson, faced a formidable task in the first round when meeting world No9 Laurens Jan Anjema of the Netherlands. Anjema, fresh off several weeks of training in Colorado, put his elevated stamina to excellent use by playing tight drives mixed with sharp balls to the front corners to win the 15-minute opener - after which he stepped on the accelerator.

The second game was noticeably quicker in pace, with Anjema putting his southpaw reach to good effect, forcing Simpson into hurried recoveries and riskier shots. The result was a methodical 11-4 for Anjema.

It was more of the same to 7-5 in the third in favour of Anjema, when Simpson let everything go in a desperate attempt to stay alive. That approach worked, temporarily, when Simpson garnered a 9-8 advantage - at least until Anjema woke up and finished off the match with three quick points, 11-9.

The second shortest match of the night featured England's Peter Barker who jumped all over Egyptian Hisham Mohd Ashour in just 33 minutes. Ashour, like his younger brother Ramy, is creative on court. But tonight, that creativity caused him more harm than good. Barker, seeded No4, dominated the early stages, racing out to a 7-1 lead before Ashour showed any resistance. After surrendering a handful of points, Barker played near flawless squash, using a combination of length and drops to finish the game off, 11-6.

From there it was all Barker. Ashour simply offered little hope in the final two games, dropping them 11-4, 11-3.

Willstrop & Matthew Eye Up Latest Clash - In San Francisco

Englishmen James Willstrop and Nick Matthew - the world's top two squash players - are scheduled to meet for the fourth time in a PSA World Tour final this year in the NetSuite Open in the USA.

The latest PSA International 70 event - which has attracted 11 of the world top 20 - gets underway today on an outdoor all-glass court on the San Francisco waterfront, on the south lawn at Justin Herman Plaza, opposite the Ferry Building.

World number one Willstrop, from Leeds, will get his campaign underway against qualifier Alan Clyne. The Edinburgh-based Scot earned his place in the main draw at the Olympic Club, where he defeated Pakistan's Aamir Atlas Khan 11-6, 12-10, 10-12, 11-3 in the qualifying finals.

Matthew, who like Willstrop will be keen to make up for a surprise semi-final exit from last week's US Open in Philadelphia, takes on US wild card Julian Illingworth in the first round.

English interest in the main draw was boosted to five after Guernsey-born Chris Simpson pulled off a qualifying finals win at Stanford University, beating Australian Ryan Cuskelly 7-11, 11-8, 11-8, 11-5 in a 76-minute marathon.

The 25-year-old world No38 now meets Dutchman Laurens Jan Anjema.

In the opening qualifying final match at the San Francisco Bay Club, New Zealand's world No45 Martin Knight put an end to Indian Siddharth Suchde's hopes of reaching the main draw. The Kiwi responded to Suchde's relentless attacking to win 11-6, 11-5, 11-6 in 61 minutes.

Knight now lines up against Englishman Daryl Selby, the world No11.

The fourth qualifying slot went to Gregoire Marche, also at the Bay Club. Frenchman Marche made it a disappointing day for Australians when he ousted New South Welshman Matthew Karwalski 11-6, 11-7, 6-11, 11-5 in exactly an hour.

Marche, doubling up French interest in the main draw behind third seed Gregory Gaultier, will take on rising Egyptian star Tarek Momen, the world No13 from Cairo.