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Power Loses To Shabana - And Lower Back Pain

Pace Canadian Squash Classic
John Bassett Theatre at Metro Toronto Convention Centre January 11-14, 2006

. Reports

. Draw

Power Loses To Shabana - And Lower Back Pain

The final of the PACE Canadian Squash Classic in Toronto was not the climax that was hoped for: the scintillating prospect of the world champion playing the world number one was dashed by injury. Local star Jonathon Power’s lower back once more curtailed his challenge for a further title as Egypt's Amr Shabana wrapped up a straight games victory in just over half an hour.

The charismatic Power, the world number one from Mont
real, was the victim of his own success; always in demand and having played virtually non-stop for nine weeks. This tournament was perhaps one match too many and Shabana, the World Open champion from Cairo, took only his second career victory over the Canadian – the first coming about in the same fashion when Power retired due to injury during the 2005 Dayton Open.

Though the pair played the full three games, the match was as good as finis
hed after the first 19-minute game, during which Power took a three-minute injury break to get some manipulation on his lower spine.

The Canadian, in his 60th PSA Tour final, came back to win the next point to make the score 9-9 - but he gave up a penalty stroke on the next rally and was unable to get to a Shabana drop shot on the next, giving the talented Egyptian the game 11-9.
Power was grimacing with pain almost from the first rally of the second game. Trailing 2-4, he hung from the back wall in an attempt to rid himself of the spasms, but it was little use. He could barely run and turning brought more grimaces of pain. The game was over in eight minutes, 11-8 in Shabana’s favour.

The third was even quicker with Power forced to go for winners and hitting the tin. Shabana was going for drops, realising that Power was unable to move. In four minutes Shabana had the game, and the match 11-9, 11-8, 11-5 in 37 minutes.

Power was
upset and said to the capacity audience that he wished he played tennis so he could give them all their money back. It was a classic Power quip and the audience responded to him with a long ovation.
“I had a numb leg all day, something to do with my sciatic nerve. The physio couldn’t understand what was happening. But I didn’t feel stiff. But after a hard game
yesterday, I didn’t have time to recover,” Power said later.

Shabana was not the joyous winner: “It’s sad, but I wanted to win and a win is a win. Jonathon hasn’t stoppe
d since September and he had a hard game last night. But I am happy to win this tournament,” said a subdued Shabana.


PACE Canadian Classic 2006
09-14 January
Round One
Jan 11
Jan 12
Jan 13
Jan 14
[1] Jonathon Power (Can)
11-1, 11-10 (4-2), 11-7 (47m)
[Q] Davide Bianchetti (ITA)
Jonathon Power
11-5, 11-3, 11-7 (46m)
Borja Golan
Jonathon Power

11-8, 11-9, 9-11, 11-4 (76m)

Gregory Gaultier

Amr Shabana
11-9, 11-8, 11-5 (37m)
Jonathon Power
[Q] Borja Golan (ESP)
11-5, 8-11, 11-8, 9-11, 11-7 (76m)
[5] Graham Ryding (Can)
[3] Gregory Gaultier (Fra)
11-5, 11-7, 11-9 (59m)
Shahier Razik (Can)
Gregory Gaultier
11-0, 11-4, 11-0 (29m)
Jean-Michel Arcucci
[Q] Jean-Michel Arcucci (FRA)
6-11, 11-7, 11-4, 11-6 (82m)
[6] Alex Gough (Wal)
[8] Mohammed Abbas (Egy)
11-7, 11-4, 11-3 (27m)
Mark Chaloner (Eng)
Karim Darwish
11-10 (4-2), 6-11, 11-9, 11-7 (70m)

Mohammed Abbas
Amr Shabana

11-6, 11-3, 11-4 (31m)
Karim Darwish

[4] Karim Darwish (Egy)
11-8, 11-10 (2-0), 11-4 (30m)
[Q] Alister Walker (ENG)

[7] Wael El Hindi (Egy)
10-11 (1-3), 11-4, 11-8, 10-11 (3-5), 11-8 (62m)
Jonathan Kemp (Eng)
Amr Shabana
11-10 (2-0), 11-6, 8-11, 11-4 (48m)

Wael El Hindi

[2] Amr Shabana (Egy)

11-7, 11-3, 11-10 (3-1) (36m)
Laurens Jan Anjema (Ned)


Qualifying finals:
Davide Bianchetti (ITA) bt Shawn Delierre (CAN) 11-8, 11-3, 11-3 (42m)
Alister Walker (ENG) bt Dylan Bennett (NED) 9-11, 11-6, 6-11, 11-7, 11-7 (53m)
Borja Golan (ESP) bt Daryl Selby (ENG) 11-9, 11-3, 1-11, 11-6 (63m)
Jean-Michel Arcucci (FRA) bt Ben Garner (ENG) 11-7, 6-11, 11-10 (4-2), 11-9 (57m)

Power Celebrates 60th PSA Final In Toronto

Canadian squash star Jonathon Power notched up another significant milestone in his illustrious career when he beat France's Gregory Gaultier in the semi-finals of the PACE Canadian Squash Classic in Toronto to reach his 60th PSA Tour final, consolidating his status as the fourth most successful player of the modern era.

In the hottest contest on the international circuit today, the 31-year-old world No1 from Montreal will meet Egypt's world No2 Amr Shabana, the reigning world champion who despatched compatriot Karim Darwish in straight games.


Power’s win was by no means easy and he had to work hard for 76 minutes before third seed Gaultier gave away points through sheer exhaustion. Power won the first 19-minute game 11-8, stopped a Gaultier comeback to win the second 11-9, and then lost a lung-busting third game 9-11 which lasted 29 minutes, easily the longest game of the entire tournament in the John Bassett Theatre at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.


The Frenchman knows Power’s game and knew how to counter his backhand drops, constantly driving them across the court. He also put in some fine deception of his own to force Power out of position.


Power had jammed the small finger of his left hand against Gaultier and took a three-minute injury break after the third game to have it strapped. The break didn’t do him any harm and he came back for the fourth, firing on all cylinders and, as he saw Gaultier’s obvious fatigue, he started utilising in his patented backhand drops, forcing some tired errors from Gaultier. That famous backhand drop shot gave Power the match-winning point after 10 minutes of the game, placing him in his historic final after an 11-8 11-9 9-11 11-4 scoreline.


It was a red-eyed, tired Power who spoke to the press later: “It was my hardest match tonight - Gaultier is always tough to play. He doesn’t like to give anything away. Sure, I’ll be stiff tomorrow, but that’s normal. I know Shabana’s game and he knows mine. I will have to move well against him or I’ll be in trouble. Amr is a shooter, so I have to get on the ball quickly and counter-punch,” Power said.

It took Amr Shabana just 31 minutes to subdue the second best player in Egypt and advance to his 15th PSA final. Shabana, now ranked two in the world, has beaten Karim Darwish, ranked 11, six times in seven meetings before tonight. History was on his side - as well as a mountain of confidence from his world title - and Shabana held the upper hand from the first rally to win 11-6 11-3 11-4.

Asked whether it was his best squash performance, Shabana replied: “Probably. I’m comfortable with my game and I am not anxious. I’m enjoying my squash because I don’t have anything to prove any more.”


When he faces Power in the final, the history shoe will be on the other foot - he has only beaten the Canadian once in seven meetings, when Power had to retire due to injury. In the last month, they have been training together and giving exhibitions. Did he have a game plan for the final? “No. I play the same as with Darwish: don’t give any loose shots because he will put them away. You have to keep him tight,” said the left-hander from Cairo.

Power Surge Continues As Borja Is Beaten
Spanish qualifier Borja Golan's winning streak came to an end in the q/f of the PACE Canadian Squash Classic when he ran into a brick wall provided by world No1 Jonathon Power in the $50,000 PSA Tour event being staged for the first time in the John Bassett Theatre at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre in Toronto.

After beating Power's Canadian team-mate Graham Ryding in a stunning first round upset, Golan soon discovered that the top seed is an altogether different sort of player "I rarely meet players of this calibre and pace," conceded the Spaniard after losing 11-5 11-3 11-7 to Power in 46 minutes.

The 31-year-old from Montreal “ now just one match away from his 60th PSA Tour final appearance“ will meet France's Gregory Gaultier in the semi-finals. The third seed from Aix-en-Provence crushed compatriot Jean-Michel Arcucci, a qualifier, 11-0 11-4 11-0 in just 29 minutes.

The other semi-final will be an all-Egyptian affair, but both players were fully tested by lower-ranked compatriots before earning their anticipated places in the last four.

Second seed Amr Shabana, the world champion from Cairo, took 48 minutes to get the better of seventh seed Wael El Hindi 11-10 11-6 8-11 11-4, whereas fourth seed Karim Darwish battled for 70 minutes before overcoming Mohammed Abbas, the eighth seed ranked 13 places lower in the world, 11-10 6-11 11-9 11-7.

Golan Battles To Upset Ryding In Hometown Toronto
The prospect of an all-Canadian quarter-final in the Pace Canadian Squash Classic was quashed by Spanish qualifier Borja Golan in the first round of the $50,000 PSA Tour event in Toronto when he upset fifth seed Graham Ryding in a 76-minute five-game marathon at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

Ryding, the world No19 from Toronto, twice drew level against the 22-year-old from Santiago DC, but Golan dug deep to win 11-5 8-11 11-8 9-11 11-7 and earn an unexpected place in the last eight – against top-seeded Canadian Jonathon Power.

Power had to contend with some Italian emotion, as well as his opponent’s skill, in taking a straight games victory over Italian champion Davide Bianchetti, ranked 34 in the world. In the first game Power was ruthless, winning 11-1 and leaving Bianchetti realising that he had to change his approach.

“You cannot open up the court with Power because he will play a winner. And you cannot match him in pace. So in the second game, I had to slow the game down and play tighter,” said the Italian qualifier after the match, his first-ever meeting with Power.

The strategy worked and Bianchetti played well enough to hold two game points before Power managed to win the tie break 14-12. The 31-year-old from Montreal continued his domination in the third and despite some impassioned pleas from Bianchetti when the referee made decisions he thought unjust, Power kept that magic wrist working, cutting shots from all angles and playing a game that he has made uniquely his own.

“Nobody else plays like Power,” Bianchetti explained. “He does so much with very little wrist movement and you cannot read his shot.”


For his part Power said he felt the court was very slow and found it hard to get the ball to the back, although he enjoyed the venue. “This theatre is better for the players, not so much through traffic and more room for the players to warm up. I really like it,” Power said.

Arcucci Crashes Into First Major PSA Event of the Year
Canada France's Jean-Michel Arcucci upset Englishman Ben Garner in the qualifying finals of the Pace Canadian Squash Classic to claim an unexpected place in the opening round of the first major PSA Tour event of the year in Toronto, Canada.

30-year-old French international from Aix-en-Provence beat Garner, ranked eight places higher in the world, 11-7 6-11 11-10 11-9 in 57 minutes to earn a first round draw against another Briton, sixth seed Alex Gough from Wales.

Canada's new world number one Jonathon Power heads a strong field in this established North American event being staged at the John Bassett Theatre at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. The 31-year-old top seed from Montreal faces Italian qualifier Davide Bianchetti in the first round.

An appearance in the climax on Saturday would mark Power's 60th PSA Tour final appearance and he is scheduled to meet No2 seed Amr Shabana, the Egyptian who became World Open champion for the second time in December.

Qualifying finals:
Davide Bianchetti (ITA) bt Shawn Delierre (CAN) 11-8, 11-3, 11-3 (42m)
Alister Walker (ENG) bt Dylan Bennett (NED) 9-11, 11-6, 6-11, 11-7, 11-7 (53m)
Borja Golan (ESP) bt Daryl Selby (ENG) 11-9, 11-3, 1-11, 11-6 (63m)
Jean-Michel Arcucci (FRA) bt Ben Garner (ENG) 11-7, 6-11, 11-10 (4-2), 11-9 (57m)

Toronto - Canada’s Jonathon Power, now ranked number one in the world, along with current World Open champion Amr Shabana, from Egypt, will make the 2006 PACE Savings & Credit Union Squash Classic presented by Dundee Securities the must-see pro event to kick off the new year. These top guns will vie for thousands in prize money and bragging rights at the first Professional Squash Association (PSA) Tour event of 2006 - January 11th to 14th at the John Bassett Theatre at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. If the two meet in the finale, it will be one for the history books as Canada hosts the first major showdown of the year.

Power claimed the top ranking after an amazing string of victories at the prestigious Saudi International, winning the title Dec. 20, and regaining that elusive top spot, a position he last held more than four years ago. Power notched his 5th PSA title of 2005 - and his 37th trophy in 13 years - when he defeated Australia’s Anthony Ricketts.

Power was elated to dethrone France’s Thierry Lincou, who held the number-one spot throughout 2005.

“It feels great that I wrapped up 2005 on a high note,” Power said. “My body finally did what I wanted it to do.”

The Saudi triumph was all the sweeter, particularly after Power’s disappointing performance at the Cathay Pacific Credit Suisse Privilege World Open in Hong Kong, losing to 22-year-old Englishman James Willstrop in 45 minutes. “This (win at Saudi International) has rejuvenated me for the upcoming season,” he stressed.

Power said the PACE event in Toronto is always an exciting tournament for him because so many of his friends and family are there to support and cheer him on. “I always want to do well, so I don’t shame them,” he said.

With new world rival Shabana expected to be in top form for the PACE Classic, Power said if the two of them met in the final, “it would be a super match up for the tournament.”

And Shabana will offer some fierce competition. The 26-year-old Egyptian earned his 9th PSA title in Hong Kong.

France's Jean-Michel Arcucci caused the other upset on day one in Toronto when he despatched sixth-seeded Welshman Alex Gough 6-11 11-7 11-4 11-6 in 82 minutes – the longest match of the day. The 30-year-old from Aix-en-Provence, a qualifier, now goes on to meet fellow Frenchman Gregory Gaultier, the third seed, for a place in the semi-finals.
ng Kong and enjoyed a late-season spark and string of victories. He’s extremely pleased to have won the World Open title for the second time (his first was 2003 when he defeated powerhouse Lincou), joining the likes of Pakistan’s legendary Jansher Khan (8 world titles, 1987 to 1996) and Jahangir Khan (5 titles, 1981-85).

“I am very pleased with my second World Open title,” he said. “It’s bigger and more important than the first one ... to be after Jahangir and Jansher to win it more than once.”

Shabana was crowned 2005 World Open champion in early December at the Cathay Pacific Credit Suisse Privilege World Open in Hong Kong, after defeating third seed David Palmer, the 2002 champion from Australia. Shabana reached the final after defeating England’s Peter Nicol, who dethroned title-holder Thierry Lincou of France, in four games.

Shabana didn’t boast about his chances at the PACE Classic, saying he’ll take it one match at a time. He hopes to do well in this event, adding it would be “awesome” if he plays Power in the finals. “My strategy would be to attack, as he will definitely do the same”.

“People who are going to watch the event are in for a big treat as this event is the first major one of the year and will have some very exciting encounters from the very beginning of the tournament,” Shabana noted.

Power is known as a very keen, strategic player with a devastating wrist shot. The 31-year-old Montreal resident will have to pull out all the stops should he meet Shabana, the hot left-hander. The two know one another’s tactics very well.

Power, along with Canadian teammates Graham Ryding (Toronto) and Shahier Razik (Mississauga) will take on international powerhouses and up-and-comers at this prestigious Canadian event.

Canada’s team performed well at The Big Time World Team Championship in Pakistan, finishing fourth behind France, the Canadians’ best showing since 1997. Power 6th fell to nemesis Lincou and Graham Ryding lost to Gregory Gaultier. But Mississauga’s Razik kept the Canadians in contention by downing Renan Lavigne. Canada, with Power and Razik leading the charge, upset fourth seed in the quarterfinals. Power dispatched Ricketts and Razik downed Joseph Kneipp.

Also scheduled to compete at the PACE Canadian Classic are France’s Gregory Gaultier and Egypt’s Karim Darwish plus keen up and comers like Laurens Jan Anjema from The Netherlands. TSN will air the PACE Savings & Credit Union Canadian Squash Classic, presented by Dundee Securities in a 60-minute program on Sunday, Feb.12 at 11:30 a.m., hosted by the network’s Vic Rauter with colour commentary provided by former world ranked squash player Martin Heath of Scotland.

Squash enjoys tremendous popularity in Canada and around the globe. As one of the fastest-growing sports in the world, squash is played by more than 15 million people on 47,000 courts. In the 425 clubs across Canada, squash is played by more than 300,000 people - more than cycling, gymnastics, track and field and figure skating combined.

The John Bassett Theatre provides premier viewing and expanded spectatorship each day of the tournament. All seating is back wall (watching from the back of the players) in an elegant plush individual seat venue located on the main orchestra level of the Theatre. Prices range from $30-$50 in the Club section, $90 to $120 for the Platinum section behind the box seats. Tickets are available online at
www.prosquash.ca; email, tickets@prosquash.ca or by calling 416-720-0277.

Along with PACE Savings & Credit Union Ltd., major supporters of the Canadian Classic include presenting sponsor: Dundee Securities plus TD Newcrest, The Globe & Mail, Dunlop, Primus, Tom’s Place and CCR.

PACE Savings & Credit Union Ltd. Is a full service financial co-operative serving 22,000 members in the Greater Toronto area with a complete platform of financial services ranging from wealth management to small business loans, automotive leasing to personal mortgages and lines of credit, plus full internet banking capabilities.

www.squash.ca www.psa-squash.com