The unstoppable world number one Ramy
Ashour celebrated his tenth successive PSA World Tour
squash final in sensational style today in Kuwait
when he beat defending champion James Willstrop in
four games to take the Kuwait PSA Cup title.
The 25-year-old Egyptian's triumph, in the
third PSA World Series event of the year at the
Qadsia Sporting Club in Kuwait, is his seventh Tour
title in a row, the 30th of his career - and extends his
winning streak to 36 matches since May last year.
The reigning world champion began strongly
against Englishman Willstrop, the world No4 from Leeds who
topped the world rankings for all but one month of last
But after a sluggish opening few minutes,
Willstrop turned the tables and rattled off five points in a
row from six-all - including a now almost 'trade-mark' dummy
shot at the front of the court that completely fooled Ashour
- to take the opening game.
Ashour was clearly trying to calm himself
down as he returned to the court for the second game and
after the Englishman led 4-1 and 7-5, the top seed turned on
his ace game to draw level.
By now the packed and exuberant Kuwait crowd
was playing a significant part in the match - chanting for
their Egyptian hero.
Errors crept into Willstrop's game in the
third as Ashour won six points in a row before the
Englishman was able to stop the rot. But two typical
crosscourt volley nicks gave Ashour the game - and a 2/1
Clearly now in the ascendancy, Ashour bounced
back on court for the fourth - and after a now tired-looking
Willstrop survived an excellent rally to recover to 3-6, the
Egyptian took the next five points in a row to claim his
magnificent 6-11, 11-8, 11-3, 11-3 victory.
The jubilant champion kissed the court floor
in celebration as the crowd cheered their appreciation.
"He's a great person, on and off court," said
Ashour later of his opponent. "He's a gentleman and I've
learnt a lot from him. He's a great player."
World number one Ramy Ashour and his
world number one predecessor James Willstrop will
meet in Thursday's final of the Kuwait PSA Cup after
both celebrated straight games wins in today's semi-finals
of the third PSA World Series squash event of the
year at the Qadsia Sporting Club in Kuwait.
Top-seeded Egyptian Ashour extended his
unbeaten PSA World Tour run to 35 matches when he despatched
Gregory Gaultier, the No4 seed from France, 11-8,
11-5, 11-2 in 36 minutes.
World No3 Gaultier was in inspired form for
the first few points of the match before Ashour upped his
game and the Frenchman became increasingly frustrated. By
the latter stages of the third game, Gaultier seemed unable
to make much effort and slammed his final serve out of the
court to give Ashour the match.
The win lined up some further impressive
stats for the 25-year-old from Cairo - who is now in his
45th Tour final and one win away from his 30th title.
Asked about the quarter-final match 24 hours
earlier against compatriot Amr Shabana, Ashour
admitted: "Yesterday was definitely one of my toughest ever
matches - both mentally and physically. He's such a smart
player and I'm very proud to have beaten him."
On his semi-final victory, Ashour conceded:
"Maybe Greg wasn't 100% - but a win is a win!"
England's world number four Willstrop, the
defending champion, boasted a 7-2 head-to-head record over
his opponent Mohamed El Shorbagy going into the match
- but had lost to the Egyptian in their previous meeting in
December's PSA World Championship in Qatar.
The 29-year-old from Leeds was in commanding
form in the opening game - but 22-year-old Shorbagy came
back in the second and led up to 10-all. But Willstrop
increased his lead to 2/0 after winning two standout
Willstrop maintained the upper hand
throughout the third before clinching his 11-5, 12-10, 11-8
in 54 minutes.
"Mohamed has been showing world top four/five
form for some time now - his performance in the World
Championship was very special," said the Englishman later.
"I had to bring out my A-game to beat him.
"It's quite wonderful to be in another Kuwait
"Ramy's as unique as it gets," added
Willstrop, now in his 35th Tour final. "But he's won enough
tournaments now - it's time he was stopped."
number one Ramy Ashour fought back from two games down in "the
toughest match I've ever played" to overcome Egyptian compatriot Amr
Shabana to reach the semi-finals of the Kuwait PSA Cup, the
third PSA World Series squash event of the year at the Qadsia
Sporting Club in Kuwait.
victory extends Ashour's remarkable PSA World Tour record to 34
unbeaten matches in a row - an undefeated run unparalleled since the
days of Pakistan legends Jansher Khan and Jahangir Khan.
a lacklustre performance in the first two games as 25-year-old Ashour,
the reigning world champion, seemed out-of-sorts - while Shabana, the
33-year-old four-time world champion, looked to be heading to the first
victory over his younger compatriot for more than two years.
Shabana led 5-3 in the third, but Ashour - who had stayed on court after
the second to continue practising - slowly began to rediscover the form
which had seen him reach the finals in his last nine Tour events and win
six titles in a row!
Shabana became more distracted by refereeing decisions which went
against him, so Ashour took command - and after 73 minutes celebrated an
unlikely 9-11, 2-11, 11-8, 11-5, 11-4 victory and a place in the last
an amazing player - I don't think I'll be able to play like that when I
am 33," said Ashour of his opponent afterwards. "I'm glad I kept up with
should have been the final - a double final in fact.
the toughest and best match I've ever played," added the world No1. "And
I'm glad I didn't have any injuries.
need a very good recovery for my match tomorrow."
place in his tenth final in a row, Ashour will face French rival
Gregory Gaultier, the No4 seed who spent almost a quarter of the
length of Ashour's match to earn his place in the last four.
clear that all was not well with opponent Peter Barker, the No8
seed from England. Struggling with his movement, Barker lasted two games
before offering his hand to Gaultier after 19 minutes, with the score
standing at 11-3, 11-2.
"I could see from my first boast that he was struggling," Gaultier told
the event website
later. "I asked him if he was OK to carry on, which he did for two games
but he was right to stop - any more time on court and he could have done
some lasting damage."
will also be Egyptian interest in the other semi-final where Mohamed
El Shorbagy, the sixth seed from Alexandria, will face third seed
James Willstrop, the defending champion from England.
Shorbagy comfortably took the first two games against surprise opponent
Daryl Selby, the 13th seed who stunned second seed and fellow
Englishman Nick Matthew in the previous round.
Selby stretched the Egyptian to eight-all in the third before Shorbagy
pulled away to close out the match 11-4, 11-4, 11-9.
just like last year here, when I saved a match-ball in the first round
and did really well," said El Shorbagy, the UK-based world No5. "This
time I saved four in my first match and now I'm in the semi-finals
again, I can't believe it!
course I'm very happy with the way I played, it's my best performance of
the event," he added. "I'm happy I won the third because I could feel I
was starting to fall into his rhythm."
Willstrop renewed his rivalry with fifth seed Karim Darwish, the
Egyptian whom he first met on the Tour in February 2003 and has since
played a total of 22 times, winning on 17 occasions.
repeat of the 2011 Kuwait PSA Cup final, Willstrop won a close first
game then stretched the lead to two before fellow former world number
one Darwish struck back to take the third to reduce the deficit.
the 29-year-old from Leeds was in commanding form in the fourth, taking
the match 11-9, 11-4, 4-11, 11-3 after 49 minutes.
intensity was up there tonight, one of the top matches, with truly
severe intensity," said Willstrop later. "I think I did well to take the
first, but Karim played at his best today.
"Whatever his problem was, it's now sorted because he was moving very
well, hitting the ball very well, and you could see he was really up for
than two years after beating his England team-mate for the first time on
the PSA World Tour, world No15 Daryl Selby produced his
second upset over world number two Nick Matthew in the same
country when he powered to a straight games win in the third round of
the Kuwait PSA Cup, the third PSA World Series squash
event of the year at the Qadsia Sporting Club in Kuwait.
stunning 11-6, 11-6, 12-10 victory denied two-time world champion
Matthew a Tour quarter-final berth for the first time since the 2011
Qatar Classic - 18 events ago!
a confident performance by 30-year-old Selby against an
uncharacteristically error-prone Matthew - who later admitted he felt
'flat' throughout the match. After taking the first two games
comfortably, Selby finally clinched victory on his second match-ball at
the end of a tense third game.
usually tense when I play Nick, but today I wanted to go on court and be
relaxed and just enjoy the game - and it worked," said a delighted
Selby, now in his first World Series quarter-final for more than a year.
though it was 3/0, it was a hard match. Now I've given myself a chance."
the 13th seed, will take his chance against sixth seed Mohamed El
Shorbagy in a repeat of their third round meeting in the inaugural
Kuwait PSA Cup in 2011. The 22-year-old world No5 from Egypt despatched
veteran Malaysian Ong Beng Hee 11-7, 11-6, 13-11 in the final
match of the day.
"Today I was more relaxed on court, more focused on the squash, on the
job to do, and on nothing else," Shorbagy told the event website
later. "He had a good lead in the third, I lost a bit of focus, but I
really gave it a big push - I really didn't want to play another game
Defending champion James Willstrop ensured another Anglo/Egyptian
quarter-final clash when he fought off young Egyptian Tarek Momen
11-7, 11-5, 11-4. The third seed will now face career-long rival and
fellow former world number one Karim Darwish, the fifth seed from
Cairo who held off a determined challenge from fast-rising Frenchman
Mathieu Castagnet, winning 12-10, 11-7, 5-11, 11-6 in 64 minutes.
played in New York a few weeks ago, and I just managed to get through,"
recalled Willstrop of his previous clash with Momen, now ranked 11 in
the world. "It was a tough battle, so beating somebody of his calibre
3/0, I couldn't be more pleased."
Darwish, looking for his first Tour win over Willstrop since November
2006, has much admiration for the 29-year-old from Leeds. "What can you
say about James - he is one of the most talented players there is. I
will have to have my basic game well in place tomorrow before thinking
of going for shots."
sparkling all-Egyptian clash stands out in the quarter-final line-up
where reigning world champion Ramy Ashour will take on the
four-time world champion Amr Shabana.
Shabana, the 33-year-old seventh seed, faced ninth-seeded compatriot
Omar Mosaad. After the first two games were shared, Shabana edged a
close third game and carried that momentum into the fourth, winning
11-5, 7-11, 12-10, 11-4 in 53 minutes.
rarely enjoy being on court at the moment, but today, I really did,"
said Shabana. "Omar has improved immensely, and that's why he is in the
top 10 now. I really enjoyed this match with him."
seed Ashour dropped a game for the second day in a row against 16th seed
Simon Rosner - but the 25-year-old from Cairo's athleticism and
shot-making shone through as he overcame the German number one 11-5,
7-11, 12-10, 11-4.
played three times now, and every time we just battle it out, because we
know that the one that is giving 100% is going to be rewarded," said
Ashour. "He is a fair player, and it's always good to play him, he is a
great character that belongs in the top ten."
Non-Egyptian or English hopes in the event rest with Gregory Gaultier
after the fourth seed from France beat top-ranked Spaniard Borja
Golan 11-6, 11-3, 11-8 in 62 minutes.
trying to stay accurate, not doing too much at the front," said the
victorious 30-year-old from Aix-en-Provence. "I would have liked a bit
more rhythm probably, less stop start, but happy to get through in three
before my match against Peter tomorrow."
Gaultier's next opponent is Peter Barker, the eighth seed from
England who also survived a tough straight-game battle, winning 11-6,
11-4, 11-8 in 50 minutes against fellow left-hander Laurens Jan
Anjema, the Dutch number one.
knew that it wasn't going to work trying to compete with LJ in a power
contest," said Barker, the world No8 from London. "I just wanted to be
thorough and make it as tough as I could for him, moving him to the four
corners. I did that pretty well for the first two games but he came out
and played well in the third, which could have gone either way."
tournament organiser and publicist Aqeel Rehman added the extra title
'tournament champion' to his credits when he upset top-seeded Englishman
Chris Ryder in the final of the PSA World Tour Challenger 5 squash
event at the Squash & Tennis Centre Gneis in Salzburg.
seventh successive appearance in the event at his home club, Rehman becomes the
first ever home winner of the prestigious title which has PSA links back to the
Salzburg-born 27-year-old joins a distinguished championship 'Roll of Honour'
which includes such eminent names as Peter Nicol (1998), Jansher Khan
(1990, 1994 and 1997) and Chris Dittmar (1989).
Rehman had a great run in the tournament, despatching South Africa's second seed
Clinton Leeuw in the quarter-finals, and then beating Frenchman Lucas
Serme in the semis to reach the tournament final for the first time.
opponent Chris Ryder seemed to be in good shape himself, after only
dropping a single game on his way to the final.
Austrian underdog was boosted by a big crowd and was able to push himself for
another great performance. Rehman had the better start and took the first game
11-6. Ryder, the world No71 from Leamington Spa, responded to the challenge and
The third game
was the turning point of the match. After trading points till six-all, Ryder
raced to a 9-6 lead. But again the partisan crowd played its part, and enabled
Rehman to reclaim the advantage and retake the lead.
game was all Aqeel - and after racing to an 8-3 lead, it looked as if there
could be only one winner. The Salzburg ace held his nerve to close out the match
11-6, 4-11, 11-9, 11-5 and claim his historic win.
to win this tournament," said Rehman later. "It has been the ninth year in a row
that we staged this tournament in my home club and four times I made it to the
semis. So after I finally got through to the final it's even more unreal to win
it straight away against such a strong opponent, and not even being seeded at
"The crowd has
been so great and really supporting and I am so proud to reach this and show
them good squash. I am so happy to share this success with everyone here around
me, but also my coach David Pearson back in England and my training
partner Ong Beng Hee.
"It feels a
bit strange being the organiser, host, player, all together," added the
Austrian. "But I don't think anyone made me presents here!"
Shabana Leads Egyptian Trio Through In Kuwait
the 33-year-old from Cairo who won his fourth world championship title in Kuwait
four years ago, led a trio of fellow Egyptians through to the last 16 of the
Kuwait PSA Cup, the third PSA World Series squash event of the year
at the Qadsia Sporting Club in Kuwait.
seed faced fellow 33-year-old Olli Tuominen - the Finnish number one who
he first came up against in the British Junior U14 Open semi-finals in January
winning 11-8, 11-8, 11-5, Shabana recalled those early days.
"It's always difficult to play Olli - we started playing like 20, 21 years ago.
I thought I was in control more or less, but he started to come back, and when
he gets a sniff at it, he becomes very dangerous. Now, I'm in the next round,
and we'll see how it goes."
now meet fellow countryman Omar Mosaad - the No9 seed from Cairo who
grabbed one of the day's quickest wins, seeing off England's Jonathan Kemp
11-6, 11-9, 11-9 in just 28 minutes.
And top seed
Ramy Ashour started where he left off in Virginia, USA, less than a week
ago by recording his 32nd straight win on the PSA World Tour. With sights
on his seventh successive Tour title, the world number one beat Swiss number one
Nicolas Mueller 11-7, 8-11, 11-5, 11-2.
25-year-old from Cairo will next face 16th seed Simon Rosner, the
top-ranked German who defeated Hong Kong's Leo Au 11-5, 11-5, 11-3.
"It's fun to
play both Nicki and Simon," said Ashour later. "Finally I get to play players
from my generation, instead of playing people 10 years older than me, and I'm
aware that you can lose, and the first round is as dangerous/difficult as the
quarters or the final. There is no easy match. Never."
thrilling the local crowds by upsetting higher-ranked South African Stephen
Coppinger to earn a surprise place in the second round, Kuwaiti number one
Abdullah Al Muzayen went down 11-9, 11-5, 11-6 to Gregory Gaultier,
the fourth seed from France.
was far away from easy," said Gaultier, the new world No3. "Abdullah gave it his
best, but he had a massive win yesterday, and it took a lot out of him. I could
see him struggling to move in the second, but he still came back strong in the
now meet tenth seed Borja Golan - but the top-ranked Spaniard had the
narrowest escape in his earlier second round clash. India's Saurav Ghosal
took a two-game lead and looked to be in a strong position to record his first
win in his fourth meeting with Golan.
Spaniard battled back, and took seven points in a row from 8-4 down in the fifth
to record his 6-11, 8-11, 12-10, 11-6, 11-8 victory after 105 minutes.
"I so wanted
to win that," admitted Golan, the world No10. "It was more a mental thing in the
end, at 8-4 down I just pushed and he seemed to drop a little and I took
star Abdullah Al Muzayen delighted the home crowd by pulling off a
stunning upset in the first round of the Kuwait PSA Cup, the third PSA
World Series event of the year at the Qadsia Sporting Club in Kuwait.
fast-improving world No38 recovered from a game down to topple in-form South
African Stephen Coppinger - ranked a career-high 20 in the world - 9-11,
11-9, 11-9, 5-11, 11-6 in 73 minutes.
great player, but I've always played well in Kuwait and I really wanted to win
it for the fans, and to give something back to the coaches and the KSF who have
supported me so much," the left-hander said
everyone comes to support me when I play Gregory Gaultier," added the
Kuwaiti number one as he contemplated his next match with the fourth seed from
France. "I'll give it everything I have but they have to remember that he's the
world number three!"
further Kuwaiti interest in the second round were dashed later when England's
world No17 Adrian Grant - the highest-ranked unseeded player in the draw
- despatched 18-year-old wild card Yousif Nizar Saleh 11-3, 11-1, 11-7.
otherwise a day full of surprises - and marathon encounters. Cameron Pilley,
the world No18 from Australia and the second highest-ranked player in action in
the first round, squandered a match-ball in the third game against Mohd
Nafiizwan Adnan before finally clinching victory over the Malaysian after 81
minutes and five games - 11-7, 12-10, 11-13, 5-11, 11-4.
Englishman Jonathan Kemp showed that he still has what it takes when he
upset fellow countryman Chris Simpson, boasting a career-high world No26
ranking, 13-11, 9-11, 11-6, 12-10 in 54 minutes.
"Lost to Jon
Kemp today in a 4set battle," Simpson told his Twitter followers later. "Had my
chances in 1st and 4th, but the better player won today."
Karim Ali Fathi became the youngest player through to the second round when
he overcame experienced and higher-ranked Colombian Miguel Angel Rodriguez
11-6, 11-6, 8-11, 8-11, 11-4 in 68 minutes.
19-year-old from Cairo's first ever World Series win takes him through to a
clash with Dutchman Laurens Jan Anjema, the 15th seed.
became the lowest-ranked player through to the last 32 round when he upset
Martin Knight, the world No42 from New Zealand, 11-6, 12-10, 11-9. The
Australian, ranked 62 in the world, progresses to face fifth-seeded Egyptian
number one Ramy Ashour is expected to notch up the 30th PSA World Tour
title of his career at this week's Kuwait PSA Cup, the third PSA World
Series squash event of the year at Qadsia Sporting Club in Kuwait.
event, originally scheduled for November last year but postponed due to local
government elections, is open to the top 48 players in the world. The
championship gets underway today and reaches its final on Thursday 14 March.
Jahangir Khan, the record ten-time British Open champion from Pakistan
who is Vice Chairman of the event's organising committee, said: "This is the
latest event in our three-year deal with the PSA and we are delighted to welcome
so many of the world's top players to Kuwait.
indebted to the support of Sheikha Fadyah Al-Sabah, the daughter of the
Patriarch Amir HH Sheikh Saad Abdullah Al-Sabah, who is Chairman of the
organising committee. The Sheikha has played a huge role in supporting and
developing squash in Kuwait for more than ten years - and this year this has led
to additional backing from the government of Kuwait.
has advanced considerably in recent years," Khan continued. "The country's top
player Abdullah Al Muzayen is now 38 in the world - and qualifies for the
Kuwait PSA Cup by right! So we can have a second Kuwaiti in the draw as a wild
card - and this will enable 18-year-old Yousif Nizar Saleh to compete in
his first World Series championship."
With the first
two World Series title of the year already under his belt, Ramy Ashour is
enjoying a formidable run of form. The 25-year-old from Cairo has reached the
final of the last nine Tour events in which he has participated - and claimed
title triumphs in the most recent six in a row!
With the top
16 seeds receiving a bye in the first round, favourite Ashour faces the winner
of the match between Swiss number one Nicolas Mueller and New Zealand
champion Campbell Grayson to begin his Kuwait campaign for success.
James Willstrop is the event's defending champion. It was his surprise
victory in Kuwait in November 2011 which led the 29-year-old from Leeds to top
the world rankings for the first time in January 2012.
Willstrop is placed in the lower half of the draw - and will play his opening
match against either Alan Clyne of Scotland or Frenchman Gregoire
Nick Matthew is the event's No2 seed. Winner of a record fifth British
national title last month, world number two Matthew is looking to claim his
first PSA Tour title of the year - and takes on the winner of the first round
match featuring his Commonwealth Games gold-medal-winning doubles partner
Adrian Grant and Kuwaiti wild card Yousif Nizar Saleh.
world No3 Gregory Gaultier is the event's fourth seed. The 30-year-old
from Aix-en-Provence - runner-up in the first World Series event of the year,
the Tournament of Champions in New York - is in Ashour's half of the draw and
lines up against either South African Stephen Coppinger or local hero
Abdullah Al Muzayen in his opening match.