Masters Matthew To Claim Second Richmond
Egyptian maestro Ramy Ashour mastered the
tenacious challenge of England's Nick Matthew to win the
Davenport North American Open.
Ashour, appearing in his fifth consecutive
final of the tournament, continued his long unbeaten run to
delight the full-house crowd of almost 1,000 spectators at
the Westwood Club in Richmond, Virginia.
Matthew, who had beaten Ashour in the 2010
and 2011 finals, produced a spirited recovery to win the
third game, but Ashour turned on the style again to clinch
a second Richmond title.
His previous win in Virginia had also been
against Matthew in 2009.
11-8, 5-11, 11-7 victory was achieved after 65 minutes of
high-quality squash from both players.
After an even start to the first game, Matthew hit back from
5-3 down to lead 7-6, but Ashour's electrifying array of
winning shots produced four points in a row to take the
He opened up a 7-3 lead in the second, and held game ball at
10-6 before weathering a late revival from the 32-year-old
number two seed from Sheffield.
Matthew made a powerful start to the third and established a
6-1 lead with some stunning winners of his own.
His powers of retrieval are simply phenomenal and both
players covered every inch of the court as the crowd roared
After winning the third game with a degree of comfort,
Matthew led 3-1 at the start of the fourth before Ashour
elevated the quality of his play to new heights.
He moved ahead to 7-4 and, at 9-5, when Matthew was awarded
a penalty stroke following a video review, the Egyptian
responded with a dazzling kill shot, slamming his service
return into the nick to move to match ball.
After completing his 31st consecutive victory in his ninth
PSA final in a row, he kissed the floor of the Westwood Club
and thanked his opponent for a tremendous match.
Ashour said: "Nick is a great player and we seem to feed off
this rivalry. We have met in so many finals and, whoever
wins, the other one gets back to work to raise their game to
meet the challenge.
"We are both inspiring each other to work even harder. He
plays great squash in all four corners of the court and you
have to be playing your best squash to beat him.
"Once again the crowd here in Richmond was fantastic, the
tournament is organised brilliantly, and I think the whole
show this week proves that squash should be in the Olympics.
players love coming to Richmond and the Jefferson Hotel is
the best we stay at anywhere in the world so we all look
forward to coming back next year."
Matthew added: "I have played well all week and didn't
really do anything wrong tonight in the final but it shows
how well Ramy is playing that you can be playing your best
and he can still win these big matches.
"He is on a long winning run at the moment and playing some
Alan Thatcher Reports
Ashour Meets Matthew in Richmond Final
Ramy Ashour gained revenge
for his defeat in last year's Davenport North American Open
final by beating reigning champion James Willstrop in four
games of electrifying squash.
Egyptian world number one meets old rival Nick Matthew in
the final for the fourth time in five years after the
Englishman overcame French ace Gregory Gaultier, also by a
Ashour played high-octane,
attacking squash throughout this semi-final at the Westwood
Club in Richmond, Virginia.
Willstrop looked slightly
subdued in the opening two games as a succession of stunning
winners flowed from Ashour's racket.
He lost the first game in
just under seven minutes and was in deep trouble at 9-5 down
in the second. He fought back to 8-9 but Ashour closed out
the game with less than 17 minutes on the clock.
positively in the third and a run of three points from 4-4
put him in a commanding position.
Ashour suddenly hit a purple patch and a quick victory
looked on the cards as he pulled back to 9-9. However,
Willstrop finished strongly to win it 11-9 to delight the
crowd, who were clearly expecting a closer match.
Willstrop maintained that
form to lead 3-1 at the start of the fourth but Ashour again
surged through a run of points to lead 8-4. He soon held
match ball at 10-5 but Willstrop then produced one of the
most outrageous and flamboyant shots ever seen in the game
with a double feint winner that even had Ashour applauding.
Willstrop pulled back to 8-10
but Ashour finally closed out the match to reach his fifth
consecutive Richmond final.
After both players had
received a deserved standing ovation, he said: "Playing
James, it’s like a beast versus a mouse.
“I feel like a little mouse
every time I play him. He is so big that I am always running
round him, trying to find a gap to run through to get to the
"He is not doing it
deliberately but he is such a big guy that he is tough to
play. He is always fair and we are happy to put on a great
match for this wonderful Richmond crowd.
"The way promoter Gus Cook
and his team look after us, especially physio Sara Heretick,
it makes it easy to play.
"We always have great games
and whoever I play in the final I am sure it will be another
"I just need to learn how to
finish off these games when I am ahead because James kept
coming back at me tonight.
"That shot he played at the
end was incredible."
Matthew meets Ashour in the
final after a magnificent win over Gaultier.
Matthew surged ahead from 4-4
in the first game to win it 11-6, and was even more
devastating as he advanced from 4-3 to 11-3 in a second game
lasting just eight minutes.
The drama began to unfold in
the third game as Gaultier fought back from 5-2 down to
dominate a large phase of the match..
He moved 9-6 ahead and
successfully repelled Matthew’s late challenge.
After a cautious start to the
fourth game, the 32-year-old number two seed from Sheffield
won five points in a row from 4-4 to put himself within
touching distance of a place in the final.
After another flurry of
points from Gaultier, a delighted Matthew clinched victory.
He said: “I have lost to Greg
a couple of times recently so it was good to get the win.
Greg had started well against me last time we played and won
the first game 11-3 in the final of the Swedish Open so I
was determined to make a good start myself.
“From 5-2 up in the third
Greg suddenly turned it on and I was glad to get back on top
in the fourth, and especially pleased to hit some Ramy shots
at the end.
“I’m looking forward to the
final because we’ve played each other plenty of times here
over the years. It’s an interesting contrast in styles and
should be a great match.”
Once again the Richmond crowd
gave both players a standing ovation.
With the top two seeds in
such excellent form, the final promises to be a classic.
Alan Thatcher Reports
Gaultier Hungry For first Richmond Title
French ace Gregory Gaultier is on
the trail of a first success in the Davenport North American Open.
Runner-up to James Willstrop in
2008, the 30-year-old world number four advanced to the semi-finals with a
polished performance to beat Egypt's Amr Shabana in just 34 minutes.
Winning 11-4, 11-4, 11-3, Gaultier
continued his run of impressive form in recent weeks.
too tight, too accurate and too consistent for Shabana.
tournament moved into the closing stages, so Gaultier moved up to a new level of
ball cleanly and matching Shabana for inventiveness at the front of the court,
he booked his place in the semi-finals with a third consecutive straight-games
It was too
one-sided to be a classic, but Gaultier was generous in his praise of his
He said: "Amr
is without doubt the best squash player in the world. He is the one you always
look to if you are having some difficult moments, because watching him helps you
to get things right in your own mind.
"I will always
watch him on TV. He is the player you should watch if want to learn how to hit
the ball correctly."
Gaultier now faces rival Nick
Matthew full of confidence after beating England's former world champion in
straight games in the final of the recent Swedish Open.
Matthew overcame spirited
resistance from England team-mate Peter Barker to win 11-6, 11-7, 11-5 in 49
The 32-year-old Matthew
admitted to a few lucky mis-hits in the final game, saying: "I
was amazed at the number of winning mis-hits I hit in that third game so I ought
to apologise to Peter for that."
Matthew was being unnecessarily polite, because his all-round game was solid.
showed excellent court coverage, producing some astonishing retrievals, and at
the front of the court they showed that Egypt does not have a monopoly on
his opponent in the early stages of each game, but it was Matthew who finished
strongly on each occasion.
added: "It was a really tough game. Peter has been out with an injury and I
think that was the probably the main reason I was able to push through from
something like 6-6 in each game.
hasn't had the court time you need to build up your levels of fitness but he
played very well and will only get better in the coming weeks and months."
Top seed Ramy Ashour also overcame
spirited resistance from the unseeded Simon Rosner before clinching his place in
the last four.
German matched Ashour's genius for long spells of the match and fought back
superbly in the third to stop the Egyptian winning in straight games, hitting
three superb winners at the front before trapping his opponent in the back right
Ashour took a
huge tumble but returned to the court to continue.
gasped in admiration at the quality of the squash and the stupendous retrieving.
faces Willstrop in the semi-finals after the Englishman enjoyed a rest day
following the withdrawal of Karim Darwish through injury.
"That was a great game and there are lots of guys around who are capable of
playing top-quality squash. Simon is obviously one of them.
"James is a
great player and I'm looking forward to another good match. We always enjoy
putting on a great show for this wonderful crowd in Richmond."
featured in the last four finals, winning in 2009, losing to Matthew in 2010 and
2012, and finishing runner-up to Willstrop last year.
Alan Thatcher Reports Rosner
Meets Ramy After Winning Battle Of The Giants
Simon Rosner meets top seed Ramy Ashour in the quarter-finals of the Davenport
North American Open after winning a battle of the giants against No.8 seed Omar
6ft 3in tall, and Egyptian Mosaad an inch taller, there was little room to spare
on court at the Westwood Club in Richmond, Virginia.
(Right and Above with Alan Thatcher) produced a performance of enormous physical
commitment and tactical intelligence to deliver the first major upset of this
PSA World Series tournament.
With two such
tall athletes, there were frequent collisions in mid-court caused by access
problems to the ball, mainly on the left-hand wall.
his powerful frame to good effect with a solid opening game but Rosner hit back
to take the next two.
seven-time German national champion attempted to close in on the fourth, Mosaad
finished strongly to take the match into a fifth game.
strongly and kept in front all the way, fending off a desperate late revival by
the Egyptian to book his place in tomorrow's quarter-finals.
tactics worked soundly. His straight lines were accurate, his crosscourts forced
a heavily-built opponent to twist and turn, and his drop shots were effective.
and clashes caused a tension throughout the match, but the frown disappeared and
a huge smile crossed his face as a delighted Rosner finally clinched victory
after 82 minutes.
He said: "I
lost to Omar in Mexico in November, and that finished 11-9 in the fifth, so I
knew what to expect today.
"He's a big
guy to get round and there were a lot of traffic jams in the middle of the
"It's always a
good feeling to beat a seeded player and reach the quarter-finals of a
tournament like this."
He faces a
tough assignment against Ashour, who was in mesmerizing form as he beat
Australian Cameron Pilley.
Ashour won the
match in straight games but Pilley had the opportunity to win the third when he
held game ball at 10-8, but the Egyptian maestro finished strongly to take the
produced moments of breathtaking genius from various parts of the court, but
Pilley was equally impressive with some incredible pick-ups and stunning
In the end, he
will reflect on a few tins too many at crucial times.
Ashour said: "Even though this is my job, you can't think like that. You have to
love the game, and respect every part of it.
"I love coming
here to Richmond and playing in front of this great crowd."
leg was encased in a surgical stocking but it did not seem to impair his
He said: "It's
just a precaution. No single player is ever 100 per cent fit. We all have little
niggles and have to deal with a lot of small injuries all the time. That's just
part of the game and you have to deal with it.”
Hisham lost one of two all-Egyptian battles, going down to number five seed
In the other,
it was a case of the sorcerer and the apprentice as 33-year-old Amr Shabana
overcame Karim Abdel Gawad, a talented opponent 12 years his junior.
Willstrop and Gregory Gaultier all won in straight games ,with Willstrop
particularly dominant as he crushed Colombian Miguel Rodriguez 11-1 in the third
seed Peter Barker overcame battling Finn Olli Tuominen to set up a quarter-final
clash with England team-mate Matthew.
overcame Trek Momen, who been kept on court for almost an hour and a half the
previous evening by American Chris Gordon.
“Chris and I share the same coach, David Pearson, and I discussed tactics with
him when he was drawn against tarek. But it’s one thing to offer advice and
another to follow it yourself.
doesn't do Tarek justice. It was a very hard-fought match and it's not easy to
get a three-love against such a good player.
"I was pleased
for Chris last night. I told him not be content with just qualifying for the
main draw and he took it on board.
"With so many
important tournaments in the States it's good to see a US player contributing so
much and engaging the crowd as he did last night. It's certainly good for the
Last Stand As He Enjoys Momen In The Spotlight
Momen clinched a second round clash with No.2 seed Nick Matthew but he had to
overcome a phenomenal fightback from American Chris Gordon in the Davenport
North American Open.
leading by two games to love, and seemingly in control, Gordon stepped up the
pace, improved his accuracy and reduced his error count.
He won the
third 12-10 and saved five match balls in an astonishing fourth game before
winning it 21-19.
It was raw,
compelling drama all the way through this PSA World Series battle.
crowd at the Westwood Club in Richmond, Virginia, cheered every rally Gordon won
but Momen stuck to his task in the fifth and powered home 11-5 after 85 minutes
of superb sporting entertainment.
director Gus Cook said: “We need American television executives, and every IOC
official in the States, to see a tape of this match to understand the excitement
and energy that squash can bring to the TV screen and the Olympic Games.”
match a relieved Momen said: "I played Chris here six years ago and that was a
3-2 win, and that was at the back of my mind the whole time.
coming back and played a great match.
"Plus, he had
the support of a fantastic home crowd, and I just hope they can cheer for me
tomorrow against Nick Matthew."
said he had stumbled around the court like a primate during his qualifying final
victory against Zac Alexander, added: "I feel I may have evolved a little over
the past two days.
"It was a very
special occasion, playing on the glass court in a major world tournament here on
American soil, and the crowd were simply amazing.
"Tarek is a
superb squash player, but from my point of view I think I played well and felt
that I deserved to be here on a world-class stage.”
Richmond champion in 2010 and 2011, had earlier powered his way past Dutchman
Laurens Jan Anjema, winning 11-4, 11-3, 11-3 in 40 minutes.
admitted he was determined to avoid the mistakes that cost him so dearly in last
year's tournament, when he was kept on court for too long in the early rounds
and ran out of steam when he faced Ramy Ashour in the semi-finals.
This time he
meant business from the word go, playing his usual high-pace attack with
firm drives and tight drops all found their target as he overwhelmed a
He said: "LJ
is a very dangerous opponent and I wanted to avoid the mistakes I made last year
when I spent so much time on court in the early rounds.
Willstrop and Ramy Ashour seem to be good at getting their matches over and done
with quickly and I need to do the same more often.
that, no tournament is ever won in the first couple of days but it can easily be
lost, so you have to be careful when you come up against opponents like LJ.
"This is a
great tournament and it always seems to build momentum as the week goes on, so
there's plenty of work still to be done."
All of the
leading seeds looked in fine form, with comfortable victories for Gregory
Gaultier, Amr Shabana and Peter Barker.
Karim Abdel Gawad recovered from a worrying head injury to return to court to
beat Pakistan’s Yasir Ali Butt.
Leading 9-6 in
the fifth game, Butt struck Gawad in the face with his elbow in an accidental
21-year-old lay motionless on the floor for several minutes but recovered after
treatment to win the game 11-7 and clinch a place in tomorrow’s draw against
compatriot Shabana, the four-time world champion.
Alan Thatcher Reports
Ramy Ashour Safely Through In Richmond
Egyptian maestro Ramy Ashour rekindled his love affair with Richmond in a hugely
entertaining match against determined English underdog Chris Simpson.
The advertising campaigns say Virginia is for lovers. Well, the Virginians
certainly love having Ramy in town for the Davenport North American Open, one of
the elite group of PSA World Series events which has rocked up in Richmond for a
tenth anniversary tournament this year.
(right) has a genius that can't be coached, a touch and feel for the ball that
not only his fans in the crowd wish they could emulate, but so too do most of
the leading professionals who share the court with him.
Having won the North American Open back in 2009, and lost the last three finals,
Ashour returns as world champion, world number and top seed for a week of high-calibre
squash on the glass court at the Westwood Club.
He threatened to roll aside English challenger Chris Simpson as he won the
opening game 11-4 as Simpson nervously mis-hit three clear openings for winners.
However, the crowd got behind Simpson as the two 25-year-olds locked horns in
the second game.
Simpson matched Ashour's artistry at the front of the court and held game ball
But the Egyptian hit back and thought he had won the game, only for Simpson's
video review appeal to overrule the referee's decision.
The Englishman closed out the game 14-12, the crowd roared and the smile
disappeared from Ashour's face for the first time in the match.
Back on court, he ruthlessly set about his business in the third game, attacking
at every opportunity to win it 11-4 in quick time.
Simpson battled heroically throughout the fourth, but Ashour's skill level was
in another galaxy as he clinched victory in 43 minutes.
The delighted Ashour told the Richmond crowd; "It's great to be back but I might
have to avoid the wonderful hospitality on offer this week because I need to
keep in shape and stay focused.
"A lot of great players are in this tournament and Cameron Pilley will be a
tough test in the next round. He is a very good player and I have to take it one
match at a time.
"It's great to be back at number one but a lot of stresses and issues come with
that, and I need to keep the demons at bay."
Ashour’s brother Hisham also booked a place in the second round against fellow
Egyptian Karim Darwish with a surprise win over the younger and fitter Indian
number one Saurav Ghosal.
The 30-year-old Ashour looked a little rusty but still managed to produce a
succession of blindingly powerful shots to overcome Ghosal.
Darwish heaved a sigh of relief after seeing off an immense
challenge from French qualifier Mathieu Castagnet for the second year in a row
in this tournament.
Castagnet won the second game and the scoreline illustrates just
how hard he worked and how tantalizingly close he came to scoring a major upset.
Reigning champion James Willstrop looked in dazzling form as he won a Battle of
Britain clash against Scottish number one Alan Clyne in straight games in just
Australian Pilley was even quicker as he blitzed his way past Egyptian qualifier
Ali Anwar Reda oin just 27 minutes.
Yorker Chris Battles Into First Round
Alan Thatcher Reports From Richmond
New Yorker Chris Gordon fought through to the first round of the Davenport North
American Open after a brutal qualifying triumph at the Westwood Club in
Gordon battled back after trailing by two games to one to level the match
against Australian Zac Alexander and then had to mount an astonishing recovery
from 7-2 down in the fifth before clinching his place in the main draw.
Afterwards he admitted he had begun the fifth game “stumbling around the court
like a primate” as Alexander opened a commanding lead.
Gordon (right) worked his way back into the match, Alexander lost his control. The last
seven points won by Gordon told the story. Alexander hit the tin five times,
Gordon simply crushed a straight backhand kill, and when match ball arrived
Alexander lost the point (and a place in the first round) by conceding a penalty
Gordon’s reward was a place in the first round on Tuesday against talented young
Egyptian Tarek Momen, who is ranked #11 in the world.
After the match
Gordon was still trying to work out how he rose to the occasion at the end of
the fifth game.
admitted: "At 6-1 down, I was conscious of only one thing, my feelings towards
referee Mike Riley for having the ball cleaned between games.
was just stumbling around the court like a primate, trying to keep the ball in
play as Zac showed how capable he is of destroying you.
still don't know how I pulled it back but it's a great feeling to reach the
first round. I guess I managed to stay calm and kept chipping away.”
another sensational fightback, featuring a second massive Australian collapse,
Pakistan’s Yasir Butt recovered from 10-5 match-ball down In the fourth game to
beat Matthew Karwalski.
French players Mathieu Castagnet and Gregoire Marche suffered contrasting
fortunes. Castagnet overpowered Hong Kong’s Leo Au but Marche failed to repeat
his heroics of last month, when he reached the second round of the Tournament of
Champions from qualifying.
Here in Richmond he let slip a 6-0 lead in the fourth game as New Zealander
Campbell Grayson regained control to win the game 13-11 and the match 3-1.
Another player to suffer a spectacular collapse was Indian Siddarth Suchde, who
held match ball against Ali Anwar Reda before the Egyptian hit back to book a
first round clash with Australia’s Cameron Pilley.
Adding more North American flavour to the tournament, Canadian Shawn Delierre
overcame Denmark’s Kristian Frost in straight games in a hugely physical
Home Hopes Alive In Virginia
Christopher Gordon kept home hopes flying when he staged a thrilling
comeback to beat England's higher-ranked Adrian Waller in the first
qualifying round of the Davenport North American Open, the second PSA
World Series squash event of the year, in Virginia.
two games to one, the 26-year-old from New York hit back to win the fourth game
and then clinched a dramatic fifth by a 12-10 margin after 80 minutes of brutal
squash on the new courts at the Atlantic Coast Athletic Club in Short
finals of the championship, which is celebrating its tenth anniversary in
Richmond, move to the glass court at the Westwood Club in Richmond -
where Gordon meets Australia's Zac Alexander, who overcame Fred Reid
of Canada in just 21 minutes.
Canadian who was dismissed in straight games was Andrew Schnell, who
suffered traumatic travel difficulties because of a North American blizzard.
After several missed flights, he arrived just in time to lose to England's
Joe Lee in 36 minutes.
all-Australian clash ended abruptly when world No29 Ryan Cuskelly was
forced to retire against Matthew Karwalski because of an ankle injury.
ranked 56 in the world, meets US-based Pakistani Yasir Ali Butt, who
fought back from two games to one down to beat higher-ranked South African
Shaun le Roux.
a double success when Mathieu Castagnet beat England's Robbie Temple
in straight games, and Gregoire Marche removed Sergio Lopez of
Mexico in just 21 minutes.
Kristian Frost Olesen battled for almost an hour to upset New Zealander
Martin Knight 12-10, 11-7, 11-3 to earn a surprise place in the qualifying
ensured that there will be Kiwi interest in the final qualifying round, however,
when the 26-year-old from Auckland beat Czech number one Jan Koukal 11-6,
squash star Ramy Ashour is seeded to reach his ninth PSA World Tour
final in a row next month at the 2013 Davenport North American Open in
With a record
unequalled since the eras of Pakistan legends Jahangir Khan and
Jansher Khan, Ashour made the final of each Tour event he competed in last
year - winning five, including the Australian, US and Hong Kong Opens,
and the PSA World Championship in December.
25-year-old from Cairo began 2013 in dazzling style by winning the Tournament
of Champions in New York after powering back from two games down to beat
world No4 Gregory Gaultier in the final at Grand Central Station.
The new world
champion, now back at number one in the world, is the top seed for a week of
explosive squash at the $115,000 PSA World Series event which is
celebrating its tenth anniversary at the Westwood Club.
England's James Willstrop spending 11 months of 2012 as world number one,
it was Ashour who was voted PSA 'Player of the Year' - a year he finished in
style by winning his second World Championship title in Qatar after overcoming
compatriot Mohamed El Shorbagy in the final.
reached the last four Richmond finals, beating Nick Matthew in 2009 but
then losing to the Englishman two years running.
another Englishman stood in his way of glory, as the tall, methodical, Willstrop
produced an immaculate performance of disciplined squash to stop the usual flow
of winners from Ramy's racket.
Ashour has been the dominant player on the PSA World Tour, beating Willstrop in
the El Gouna International final, the British Open semi-finals,
the Hong Kong Open final, and the Tournament of Champions
semi-finals in New York.
"I am excited
to be back again in one of my favourite tournaments of the year," said top seed
Ashour. "The effort Gus Cook, the sponsors and the enthusiastic squash community
in Richmond put in year after year just makes it so special and thrilling for us
- besides the truly amazing hospitality we get there.
well-prepared, well-organised and very comfortable for players to get themselves
mentally just right to bring their best game on court.
"I am also
glad that the NAO is going to be my first tournament playing officially with
Prince rackets after we have officially signed earlier this month," added the
world number one. "Hopefully there will be more success for both of us to come
in the near future.
"I wish myself
(!) and all the rest of the players the best at the tournament," Ashour
concluded. "I am looking forward to a big exciting elegant event in Richmond
this year - may the best player win!"
Virginia, Willstrop again finds himself in the same half of the draw as Ashour,
with Matthew seeded to meet Gaultier in the other semi-final.
ascendancy has highlighted a change in the balance of power at the top of the
PSA rankings, with Matthew at two, Willstrop slipping to three and the resurgent
French star Gregory Gaultier at four.
recently retained his Swedish Open title, beating Matthew in straight
games in the final, a repeat of his victory in the NetSuite Open in San
Francisco last year.
several intriguing clashes in the first round, with reigning champion Willstrop
meeting Scotland's Alan Clyne and Dutch No1 Laurens Jan Anjema
rising English player Chris Simpson as the Channel Islander continues his
remarkable run of daunting first round draws, having faced Amr Shabana in
New York and Matthew in Sweden.
to the top 20 are hoping to make significant progress in Richmond. South African
Stephen Coppinger tackles seven-time German champion Simon Rosner,
while the leading Indian player Saurav Ghosal hopes to cope with the
trickery of Ramy's brother Hisham Mohd Ashour.
There could be
a marathon encounter between long-match experts Adrian Grant (England)
and Canada's wild card Shahier Razik, with the winner due to meet
Gaultier in the second round.
round of qualifying takes place on the new courts at the ACAC centre at Short
Pump on Saturday (23 February), before the qualifying finals switch to the glass
court at the Westwood Club the following day.
round action gets under way at the Westwood Club on Monday, with the final
scheduled for the following Saturday 2nd March.