Egypt's indestructible squash force Ramy
Ashour marched through to his ninth PSA World Tour
title in a row - and extended his unbeaten Tour run to 45
matches since May last year - when he dethroned NetSuite
Open champion Gregory Gaultier in the final of
the PSA International 70 event in San Francisco
to win the title for the first time.
It was "all squash fans anywhere could have
asked for" said promoter John Nimick when asked about
the final of the 2013 NetSuite Open Squash Championship -
staged spectacularly on an all-glass court erected on the
South Lawn at Justin Herman Plaza on the San
Francisco waterfront, backed by views of the renowned
Ferry Building and Bay Bridge(see picture
It was the dream climax between the world's
top two players - Ashour, the world No1 from Cairo who was
celebrating his 12th successive PSA final since December
2011 - and title-holder Gaultier, the world No2 from France
who arrived in California with a second successive PSA
International 70 Abierto Mexicano de Raquetas title
under his belt.
The NetSuite Open enjoyed a sold out crowd,
beautiful California night and exquisite competition from
Ashour and Gaultier (pictured in NetSuite action below).
"Greg was slower in the first and seemingly
more unfocused than Ramy but the second and third contained
some of the most ferocious, first pumping, shout out
finishing shots ever seen on the pro tour," explained Nimick.
"Gaultier was a tiger throughout game two and
three. Ramy stayed close but hit several tins, looking up at
the night sky and speaking to himself constantly.
"Ramy pulled away quickly in game four at
which point Greg managed himself physically as the game
"Gaultier came out with intensity in the
earlier going of game five and the incredible gets and
rallies were welcomed by what seemed to be a partisan
Gaultier crown," Nimick continued.
"But the masterful Ashour stormed to a 9-2
lead before closing 11-2 and winning his first NetSuite Open
The 11-4, 7-11, 7-11, 11-3, 11-2 triumph in
68 minutes - his fourth in a final against Gaultier in the
past 12 months - takes Ashour's Tour title haul to 32 from
47 final appearances.
It will be the top two seeds that contest the
final of the NetSuite Open Squash Championship in
California after world number one Ramy Ashour and
second-ranked Gregory Gaultier prevailed in
contrasting semi-finals of the PSA World Tour
International 70 event staged on an all-glass court
erected on the South Lawn at Justin Herman Plaza
on the San Francisco waterfront.
Second-seeded Frenchman Gaultier despatched
England's world No12 Daryl Selby(both pictured
below) in straight games in just 25 minutes by driving
the ball to perfect length and capitalising on every loose
After the 11-4, 11-1, 11-3 victory which
takes Gaultier into his third successive PSA Tour final, and
the 53rd of his career, the 30-year-old from Aix-en-Provence
said: "Yes, I like the conditions - not too hot and not too
cold. And the audience is good to play for."
Selby, the unseeded 30-year-old who upset
fourth-seeded compatriot Peter Barker to reach the
semis, told his Twitter followers later: "Tough evening.
Greg played exceptionally well. If you are not 100% against
him you have no chance. Should be a great final tomorrow."
In the second and most eagerly-awaited match
of the tournament, England's world No3 James Willstrop
gave world-beater Ashour (both pictured below) an
inspiring battle. The Egyptian celebrated his 26th birthday
in command with brilliant drops and counter shots in game
one and most of the way through game two.
But Willstrop battled back from 4-8 down to
9-all in the second, before Ashour finished out 11-9. A
surprise 'no let' gave Willstrop the first point of game
three and several quick well-played winners moved the
Englishman to 4-0, seemingly while Ashour was still talking
to himself about the first point decision.
Despite a bit of a rally by Ashour in the
middle stretch, 30-year-old Willstrop dominated to close
The sold-out crowd cheered both players on
their return to the court. The international stars kept
tight to each other with even more incredible rallies until
4-3 for Ashour. Then the Egyptian star broke to a 10-4 lead
and finally finished with a whoop and a relieved fist pump
As Host and promoter John Nimick said
on court after the match: "These are two of the finest
athletes you will ever watch and two of the best sportsmen
you will ever meet. San Francisco has truly enjoyed the best
Ashour's 11-5, 11-9, 2-11, 11-7 win in 52
minutes extends his unbeaten Tour tally to 44 matches -
and takes the Cairo star into his
12th successive PSA final since December 2011!
Ashour celebrated both his advance to the
2013 NetSuite Open final on the night and his 26th birthday.
He was serenaded after the match with "Happy Birthday" by
the sold out crowd.
showed that determination to win overrides friendship on the
PSA World Tour when he upset England team-mate
Peter Barker, the No4 seed, in the NetSuite Open
Squash Championship to claim an unexpected place in the
semi-finals of the PSA International 70 event staged
on an all-glass court erected on the South Lawn at
Justin Herman Plaza on the San Francisco
waterfront in California, USA.
World No13 Selby is returning
to Tour action after recovering from a knee injury, and went
into the match 3/5 behind in his career head-to-head record
with Barker - but his three wins over the London-born world
No7 were achieved in their last three encounters.
"Both players (pictured
above) drove the ball deep on the McWIL glass court,
stayed away from risky volleys or boasts and settled in for
the long haul," reported tournament founder and promoter
John Nimick. "On paper, this tactical approach has
benefited Barker with a 5-3 head-to-head match advantage on
the PSA Tour, but it was Selby who emerged in the third game
with a more focused assault to break the one-all deadlock
and take game three easily 11-3.
"Gaining momentum, Selby
raced out to an 8-3 advantage in the fourth and closed
strongly 11-5. In after-game comments, both players affirmed
the challenge of being 'best mates' and yet having to focus
on their individual goals."
The 8-11, 12-10, 11-3, 11-4
win in 78 minutes denied Barker a second successive
appearance in the event's last four - and 30-year-old Selby
was delighted with his performance: "Peter has been in great
form, so I had to play beyond a level I thought I could,
after my recent injury.
"I really enjoy the
tournament here and am happy to have started the season so
well. It's always tough playing such a good friend, but one
of us has to win and luckily enough tonight it was me!
"Semis tomorrow against Greg
Gaultier," Selby continued. "Need a serious sleep first!"
Bidding to reach his second
Tour final of the year, Selby will face defending champion
"The world number two from
France needed his A-Game as the German No1 and PSA No12
Simon Rosner was competitive from the start," continued
Nimick (both players pictured in action below).
"The game was physical and
both players asked for interpretations of 'minimal
interference' a few times, but the end result was a credit
to both. Rosner played with flair and risk, while Gaultier
controlled the T and the access to the front and sides,
showing how both incredible racquet skills and canny court
positioning can keep 'aspiring' players on their heels."
After Gaultier's 11-7, 11-6,
11-5 win in 46 minutes, a disconsolate Rosner told his
Twitter followers: "Wasn't meant to be today after going
down 0:3. It is just the beginning, so looking forward to a
great season ahead of me."
Gaultier arrived in
California fresh from title success in the PSA
International 70 Abierto Mexicano de Raquetas in Mexico
- and is now just one match away from his third successive
Tour final after finishing as runner-up in the British
Quarter Finals Top
Ashour & Willstrop Set Up Sizzling San Francisco Semi
World top three players Ramy Ashour and James Willstrop
set up an eagerly-anticipated NetSuite Open Squash Championship
semi-final after despatching their quarter-final opponents in straight games on
the opening night of action in the PSA World Tour International 70 event
spectacularly staged on an all-glass court erected on the South Lawn at
Justin Herman Plaza on the San Francisco waterfront in California,
"Before an enthusiastic and sold out crowd, the opening night of
glass court competition of the 2013 NetSuite Open at the outdoors arena in
downtown San Francisco - backed by views of the renowned Ferry Building and Bay
Bridge (see picture below) - brought out the best in the world's No1 and
No3 players," said tournament founder and promoter John Nimick.
Third seed Willstrop, the 30-year-old former world number one
from England, faced Dutch rival Laurens Jan Anjema - the world No18 from
The Hague against whom he boasted a 9/0 career head-to-head record.
"I was having difficulty getting my eye on the ball," said the
30-year-old Dutchman, referring to the first two games in which Willstrop
(pictured below in NetSuite Open action with Anjema) conceded just three
But the third game was much more hotly-contested by the two
veterans as Anjema seemed to settle into the court conditions. Despite several
stoppages for mopping and cleaning, mostly due to Anjema's prodigious physical
effort, Willstrop pulled through after an equal contest for the first six points
to a earn a decisive 11-2, 11-1, 11-5 win after 36 minutes.
Ashour, the world number from Egypt who has won the last eight
PSA World Tour events in which he has competed, faced Tom Richards, the
world No22 from England returning to Tour action after a hamstring injury.
"Ashour and Richards painted a beautiful and
highly respectful 44 minutes of awe inspiring squash," continued Nimick.
"Seemingly elevated by both the intensity and fairness Richards brought to the
court, Ashour opened the jewel box and showed San Francisco and the cameras of
the gems the current world number one owns.
"The match generated extraordinary applause and gasps and
Richards was nearly as good as his opponent throughout."
Asked whether he had fun on the court, Ashour (pictured below
with Richards) said: "Well it was nice to play Tom since we know each other
from 13 years old and, yes, well, we could hit some special shots while still
focusing on the win."
Ashour's 11-8, 11-6, 11-7 victory extends his unbeaten Tour run
to 43 matches.
Monday's semi-final will mark Willstrop and Ashour's 24th PSA
Tour meeting since March 2007 - and their ninth on US soil - with the
25-year-old from Cairo currently enjoying an 18-5 head-to-head lead.
All four seeds secured their places in the quarter-finals of the
NetSuite Open Squash Championship after negotiating first round
encounters in the PSA World Tour International 70 event
spread across four venues in San Francisco, USA.
was at the Olympic Club that top seed Ramy Ashour
marked his first appearance on the PSA World Tour since
notching up his eighth title in a row at the British Open in May.
The 25-year-old from Cairo duly extended his unbeaten run to 42
matches after saving four game balls in the first game to beat
Scottish qualifier Alan Clyne 15-13, 11-3, 11-1 in 34
was slow at the start and looked vulnerable but, down 6-10, changed
the gearing and awed the audience," explained tournament promoter
John Nimick. "Clyne was tough in game one after Ramy came back
to tie 10-10, but Ramy was outstanding thereafter for the packed
crowd at the Olympic Club."
Clyne, the world No33 from Edinburgh, later admitted to his Twitter
followers: "From being 10-5 up in the first it went a bit downhill
Ashour moves on to face Tom Richards for a place in the
semi-finals. Richards produced his best win since returning to Tour
action after a hamstring injury when he beat fellow Englishman
Adrian Grant(pictured above, right, with Richards) 11-9,
11-8, 11-13, 12-10 in 74 minutes.
The Surrey-based world No22 is ranked higher than Grant - but the
victory was his first over the Londoner since 2008.
Defending champion Gregory Gaultier brushed aside fellow
Frenchman Mathieu Castagnet 11-7, 11-4, 11-6 in the pair's
first ever meeting on the Tour. The world No2 arrived in San
Francisco fresh from victory in last week's Abierto Mexicano de
Raquetas in Mexico.
Second seed Gaultier will now face Simon Rosner, the other
winner from the Bay Club. The German number one took over an
hour to subdue Swiss star Nicolas Mueller, winning 14-12,
11-4, 11-7 in 64 minutes.
"Really happy with my performance - beating my good mate @MuellerNicolas
3:0 in a 70 min tough battle," tweeted Rosner later. "Playing G.
Gaultier on Sunday".
the third seed from England, was taken to four games at Stanford
University before overcoming Colombian star Miguel Angel
Rodriguez 11-4, 11-9, 3-11, 11-3 in 70 minutes. It was the
Englishman's third win in a row over Rodriguez (pictured above,
foreground, with Willstrop), but the first in which the
highest-ranked South American of all-time has taken a game.
The earlier match at Stanford saw top-ranked Dutchman Laurens Jan
Anjema defeat Finnish qualifier Henrik Mustonen 11-7,
"Really happy to win today in San Fran!" said Anjema (pictured
below, right, with Mustonen) on Twitter. "Playing tomorrow night
on this beautiful glass court on the Embarcadero. Excited but not
was at the University Club that England team-mates Peter
Barker and Daryl Selby earned the opportunity to play
each other for a place in the last four. Third seed Barker dashed
home hopes when he defeated eight-time US champion Julian
Illingworth 11-4, 11-6, 11-5.
Selby, in his first match since time out with a knee injury, battled
for 51 minutes to quash compatriot Adrian Waller, a
qualifier, 11-6, 11-6, 11-6.
"Really happy to have won tonight, and even better to get off in 3
against Adrian who had been playing well," tweeted Selby.
Quarter-final action will be staged on an all-glass squash court
erected on the South Lawn at Justin Herman Plaza on
the San Francisco waterfront.
Europeans Excel In NetSuite Qualifiers
Europeans claimed all four qualifying slots in the NetSuite Open
Squash Championship in San Francisco after tough
encounters in the qualifying finals of the PSA World Tour
International 70 event in its third year in California, USA.
Held at three different venues in downtown San Francisco, the
matches lined up main draw action which will be staged on an
all-glass squash court erected on the South Lawn at Justin Herman
Plaza on the San Francisco waterfront.
England's Adrian Waller recorded the biggest upset, beating
Egypt's world No29 Marwan Elshorbagy, a former world junior
champion, 11-7, 4-11, 11-6, 11-8 in 64 minutes at the Bay Club.
Waller, ranked 34 in the world, will now line up against fellow
countryman Daryl Selby, the world No13 returning to Tour
action after a knee injury.
There was a further upset at the Bay Club when Finland's Henrik
Mustonen denied France a qualifying double by beating world No30
Gregoire Marche 8-11, 11-9, 11-9, 11-8 in 74 minutes.
World No36 Mustonen (pictured above, left, in action with Marche),
the youngest and lowest-ranked qualifier, will make his NetSuite
Open main draw debut against Dutch champion Laurens Jan Anjema,
the world No18 from The Hague.
ensured French qualifying success at the University Club when
his Egyptian opponent Mohd Ali Anwar Reda retired injured
after 65 minutes with the score standing at 11-9, 11-13, 11-4, 5-2
in the Frenchman's favour.
Castagnet, the world No28 from Aix-en-Provence, will now meet fellow
countryman Gregory Gaultier, the defending champion and
second seed who also hails from Aix.
Scotland's Alan Clyne earned his third successive appearance
in the California championship after beating Canadian Shawn
Delierre 11-9, 11-6, 13-11 in 46 minutes at the Olympic Club.
The 27-year-old from Edinburgh's reward is a first round clash with
top seed Ramy Ashour, the world No1 from Egypt who is
unbeaten in his last 41 PSA World Tour matches.
"Got two 3-0 wins in qualifying. Can't complain," the Scot told his
Twitter followers. "It doesn't get any easier though drawing the no1
in the world first round."
Gordon Cast Out By Castagnet
Frenchman Mathieu Castagnet dashed US hopes of additional
home interest in the main draw of the NetSuite Open in San
Francisco when he beat the US national champion Christopher
Gordon in the first qualifying round of the PSA World Tour
International 70 squash event in its third year in California.
Held at three different venues in downtown San Francisco - and
almost concurrently with the massive jubilation of the city at USA's
come-from-behind 9-8 America's Cup victory by Team Oracle over
Emirates NZ - the matches unfolded along expected lines.
But world No28 Castagnet, the highest-ranked player in the
qualifying draw, had to battle for almost an hour at the
University Club to overcome New Yorker Gordon, ranked 16 places
lower, 8-11, 11-4, 11-5, 11-4.
The 26-year-old from Aix-en-Provence will now face Mohd Ali Anwar
Reda for a place in the main draw. The Egyptian suppressed
veteran Canadian tour player Shahier Razik 11-8, 6-11, 11-9,
11-7 in 65 minutes.
the Olympic Club, the PSA Tour regulars tore through the
locals: Finland's Henrik Mustonen defeated the club's
Australian pro Jeffrey Young 11-1, 11-4, 11-4 in 17 minutes
and Scotland's Alan Clyne despatched Los Gatos California
squash pro and Guernsey Commonwealth Games star Gareth Webber
11-2, 11-6, 11-5 in 22 minutes.
the Bay Club, famous for hosting the North American Open and
other previous PSA tour titles, the four-match evening started off
with a decisive win by Canada's Shawn Delierre over England's
Lewis Walters 11-6, 11-9, 11-4 in 50 minutes.
Following on before the full house crowd, Egypt's Marwan
Elshorbagy knocked out Malaysia's rising number three Muhd
Asyraf Azan 11-5, 11-6, 11-4 in 31 minutes.
Newly transplanted English pro Charlie Johnson was no match
for Gregoire Marche as the Frenchman won handily 11-8, 11-6,
11-5 in 37 minutes.
But there was English success later when Adrian Waller ran
through Cesar Salazar of Mexico 11-3, 11-4, 11-8 in 40
NetSuite Open Attracts Squash Elite To San Francisco
star-studded field, led by the top three squash players in the
world, will line up in next month's NetSuite Open Squash
Championship, the PSA World Tour International 70 event
which will be held for the second successive year on an all-glass
squash court erected at Justin Herman Plaza in San
Last year, the NetSuite Open became the first international
professional squash event on the US West Coast to use the iconic
portable 'Glass Cube' court when it made its spectacular
Northern California debut on the South Lawn at Justin Herman Plaza
on the San Francisco waterfront (see below).
world number two Gregory Gaultier will be back to defend the
title he won in spectacular style last October. But this time the
29-year-old from Aix-en-Provence will have Egyptian rival Ramy
Ashour to contend with.
Ashour, the world number one and reigning world champion will arrive
in California unbeaten since May 2012 -
boasting a 41-match-winning streak not seen since the heyday of
Pakistani legends Jahangir Khan and Jansher Khan more
than two decades ago!
Former world number one Gaultier, the second seed, will begin the
defence of his title against a qualifier - as will Ashour, who is
making his first appearance in San Francisco.
But there are two further ex-world number ones who will be making a
bid for the 2013 NetSuite Open trophy. James Willstrop, the
third seed from England who topped the rankings for all but one
month of last year, crashed out of last year's quarter-finals -
beaten by fellow former world No1 Amr Shabana.
The distinguished Egyptian, with four world championship titles to
his name, is again unseeded in this year's event - and faces
England's Tom Richards before a possible quarter-final clash
with fellow countryman Ashour.
Willstrop, who celebrates his 30th birthday today, begins his 2013
campaign against the highest-ranked South American on the Tour -
Colombian Miguel Angel Rodriguez, ranked 19 in the world. The
winner of this first round encounter is expected to face unseeded
Laurens Jan Anjema, the eight-time Dutch champion who won the
inaugural NetSuite Open in 2011 in Stanford.
Englishman is also the No4 seed: Londoner Peter Barker, the
world No7 fresh from his fourth title triumph in last week's
Colombian Open in Bogota, will take on wildcard Julian
Illingworth, the eight times US national champion from New York.
further mouth-watering first round clash will see two of continental
Europe's top players go head-to-head for the first time for almost
four years when German number one Simon Rosner takes on the
top-ranked Swiss player Nicolas Mueller.
"It's very exciting to have such a high quality field in this year's
NetSuite Open," said Tournament Director John Nimick. "The
intensity and skill brought to the court by the world's top players
CEO of the Professional Squash Association, added: "There are now
almost one million squash players in the USA, making it one of the
sport's fastest growing markets. The NetSuite Open, with its iconic
outdoor setting on the waterfront of one of the world's most famous
cities, is one of our standout events on the PSA World Tour."