Willstrop Quashes Darwish At Queen's
4 January 2012
RESULTS: ATCO PSA World Series Finals,
1st pool round:
 Mohamed El Shorbagy (EGY) bt  Mohd Azlan
Iskandar (MAS) 11-7, 11-5 (22m)
 James Willstrop (ENG) bt  Karim Darwish
(EGY) 11-6, 11-5 (25m)
 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt  Laurens Jan
Anjema (NED) 11-5, 13-11 (40m)
 Amr Shabana (EGY) bt  Peter Barker
(ENG) 7-11, 11-8, 11-7 (45m)
England's James Willstrop celebrated
his new world number one ranking in perfect style tonight in
London by beating Egyptian Karim Darwish in
the first pool round of the ATCO PSA World Series Squash
Finals at The Queen's Club.
The flagship PSA World Tour event,
which features the eight players who earned the most points
from the nine PSA World Series championships in 2011,
will play three days of pool matches leading to the
semi-finals on Saturday and grand final on Sunday.
In his first match since topping the Dunlop
PSA World Rankings for the first time at the beginning of
this month, Yorkshireman Willstrop gave a convincing display
to overcome Darwish, the world No5 from Cairo, 11-6, 11-5 in
"It's phenomenal to be world number one,"
said the 28-year-old from Leeds after his tenth straight
Tour win over the Egyptian since 2006. "The way I played at
the end of 2011 to earn the ranking - I couldn't have hoped
"I had a good rest over the Christmas break
and felt relaxed coming on to court. Karim and I have had so
many matches in the past - it's just great to beat a top
"To get this first threat out of the way and
do so well is a great start."
In the other match in Group 1, Egyptian
Mohamed El Shorbagy despatched fellow World Series
Finals newcomer Mohd Azlan Iskandar, the world No10
from Malaysia, 11-7, 11-5 in just 22 minutes.
El Shorbagy was a late addition to the field
after the withdrawal of fellow countryman Ramy Ashour,
the 2007 champion. The 20-year-old world No6 from Alexandria
is a student at the University of the West of England - and
had to sit an exam this afternoon in Bristol before racing
back to London to play his opening match!
After tweeting mid-afternoon "On the train to
London - finished my exam early so got an earlier train -
feeling excited for tonight", El Shorbagy later added:
"Can't believe how well I played...it's just one of those
days where everything was just coming your way!"
There was further Egyptian success later in
the evening when four-time world champion Amr Shabana
fought back from game down to beat Londoner Peter Barker,
the world No7, 7-11, 11-8, 11-7 in 45 minutes.
Shabana, at 32 the oldest player in the
field, is making his eighth successive appearance in the
World Series Finals. Despite reaching the final both in 2008
and 2011, the mercurial former world No1 from Cairo is
looking for his first title - and success at Queen's would
mark his first ever title triumph in England.
In the other Group 2 match, Gregory
Gaultier demonstrated some excellent pressure squash
early on in the first game and had Dutch opponent Laurens
Jan Anjema struggling right from the start.
The Frenchman's powerful lengths were forcing
loose balls from the Dutchman, and Gaultier looked under no
pressure to give up his comfortable spot on the tee. The
second game was closer however, and Anjema was able to force
Gaultier to a tie-break after a marked improvement in his
length and width.
The world No3 from Aix-en-Provence - a
finalist in all three previous appearances in the event and
twice a winner of the title - always looked the more
dangerous on the attack though, and closed out the match
11-5, 13-11 after 40 minutes.