Tournament of Champions 2011

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21st-27th 2011

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The Court At Grand Central Terminal

Ramy Ashour beats world no 1 Nick Matthew 3-1

A frustrated Amr Shabana loses 3-2 to Nick Matthew in  the match of the tournament

A brilliantly in-form Ramy Ashour disposes of James Willstrop 3-0

Ramy Reclaims Tournament of Champions Crown

Top seed Ramy Ashour was too quick, too strong and just too good for second-seeded Englishman Nick Matthew in the final of the JP Morgan Tournament of Champions, the PSA World Series squash event at Grand Central Terminal in New York.

The 2008 champion from Egypt added a second Tournament of Champions trophy to his collection as he defeated the current world No1 11-3, 7-11, 11-9, 11-7. Winning his second title in New York was made extra special by the fact that Ashour's mother (who hadn't seen her youngest son play a major match in five years) was in the audience.

The big question on everyone's mind was whether Matthew would have enough gas left in the tank after his epic 88-minute semi-final clash with Amr Shabana just 24 hours prior to his final showdown. During the warm up, Matthew appeared confident and composed while his Egyptian rival seemed edgy and nervous. Matthew calmly waited at the end of the warm up for Ashour to return to the court, which he did only after the referee's final call for his return.

After the match, the fast-talking Ashour explained that the edginess was a good thing: "For me, to play well, it is a balance. I have to be alert on court, feel the pressure and also be a little anxious and scared," explained the 23-year-old from Cairo.

Once on court for the first game, Ashour was bursting with energy, jumping out to a 7-1 lead before winning the game. In the second, it was Matthew who came out strong, taking a 6-2 lead before going on to level the match.

In the third and fourth games, Ashour took slight early leads which he maintained for the duration of each game.

"I was always playing slight catch up through the third and fourth games," admitted Matthew later. "Just when I thought I could change the momentum, Ramy would have a trick up his sleeve to push ahead."

The tricks up the Egyptian's sleeve included continuing changes of pace and the flat flick that he would hold until Matthew was leaning in one direction, and then wrong-foot the Englishman by flicking the ball to the opposite side of the court.

"Nick moved me to a lot of corners," said Ashour post-match. "The really good thing about tonight was that I was moving well and in touch with my body." The injury-prone Ashour, waylaid by year-end injuries, was most pleased to be feeling physically good and moving to the ball with ease.

Runner-up Matthew was also pleased that Ashour was injury-free. "It is good to have Ramy back on the tour. He is a much more exciting player to watch than I am."

As he presented the winner's trophy on behalf of JP Morgan, Jay Horine announced that a total of $15,000 would be donated to tournament charities StreetSquash in conjunction with the inaugural JP Morgan Charity Challenge - Scoring Points for Urban Youth Education.

Ashour dedicated his victory - his 19th PSA World Tour title, and the 13th World Series crown of his career - to his home country of Egypt.


J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions 
Grand Central Terminal

Final results – Thursday, January 27, 2011

[1] Ramy Ashour (EGY) def [2] Nick Matthew (ENG)     11-3, 7-11, 11-9, 11-7   52 mins

ToC Women’s Showcase Exhibition
Natalie Grinham (NED) def. Vanessa Atkinson (NED)  11-6,11-5,11-7     25 mins


Official Website:


Nick Matthew cruises past England team mate Peter Barker 3-0 Ramy Ashour loses the first game but dominates thereafter for a 3-1 win against David Palmer Shabana survives a tough encounter against Laurens Anjema to win 3-1
gland team mate Peter Barker 3-0
James Willstrop looks sharp against Mohamed El Shorbagy, winning in 3 Peter Barker battles through after going 2-0 down against Hisham Ashour Qualifier Tom Richards, Eng, beats Ong Beng Hee, Mas

Tournament of Champions
Grand Central Terminus, New York, $97k

Round One
 Top Half Jan 22nd
Bottom Half Jan 23rd
Round Two
Jan 2
Jan 25/26
Jan 27
Jan 28
[1] Ramy Ashour (EGY)
12-10, 11-3, 11-8 (34m)
Olli Tuominen (FIN)
Ramy Ashour
8-11, 11-6, 11-8, 11-8 (35m)
Stewart Boswell
Ramy Ashour
9-11, 11-5, 11-6, 11-8 (43m)
David Palmer
Ramy Ashour
11-4, 11-9, 11-8 (39m)
James Willstrop
Ramy Ashour
11-3, 7-11, 11-9, 11-7   52 m
Nick Matthew
Saurav Ghosal (IND)
11-6, 11-8, 14-16, 11-5 (70m)
Stewart Boswell (AUS)
Ong Beng Hee (MAS)
11-6, 12-10, 12-10 (51m)
[Q] Tom Richards (ENG)
Tom Richards
12-10, 11-9, 11-8 (40m)
David Palmer
[8] David Palmer (AUS)
11-8, 11-7, 11-9 (57m)
Julian Illingworth (USA)
[7] Mohamed El Shorbagy (EGY)
11-8, 11-8, 12-10 (38m)
Mohd Azlan Iskandar (MAS)
Mohamed El Shorbagy
11-9, 11-5, 11-6 (35m)
Shahier Razik
Mohamed El Shorbagy
11-8, 11-7, 11-8 (38m)
James Willstrop
Shahier Razik (CAN)
11-6, 6-11, 8-11, 11-7, 11-5 (71m)
[Q] Chris Ryder (ENG)
[Q] Borja Golan (ESP)
11-9, 11-7, 11-8 (45m)
[Q] Tarek Momen (EGY)
Borja Golan
11-6, 11-4, 11-6 (31m)
James Willstrop
[3] James Willstrop (ENG)
11-6, 11-7, 11-5 (29m)
Jonathan Kemp (ENG)
[4] Amr Shabana (EGY)
7-11, 11-8, 11-9, 11-7 (44m)
[Q] Mohammed Abbas (EGY)
Amr Shabana
11-6, 11-8, 11-8 (40m)
Daryl Selby
Amr Shabana
11-7, 9-11, 11-8, 11-8 (63m)
Laurens Jan Anjema
Amr Shabana
11-8, 11-4, 7-11, 12-14, 12-10 (88m)
Nick Matthew
Daryl Selby (ENG)
4-11, 11-1, 11-2, 11-4 (63m)
[Q] Ryan Cuskelly (AUS)
Adrian Grant (ENG)
11-7, 11-5, 7-11, 11-8 (61m)
[Q] Nicolas Mueller (SUI)
Nicolas Mueller
11-9, 11-4, 11-3 (34m)
Laurens Jan Anjema
[6] Laurens Jan Anjema (NED)
11-5, 11-8, 11-6 (42m)
Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL)
[5] Peter Barker (ENG)
11-5, 11-5, 11-4 (42m)
Mohd Ali Anwar Reda (EGY)
Peter Barker
10-12, 13-15, 11-9, 12-10, 11-2 (81m)
Hisham Mohd Ashour
Peter Barker
11-9, 11-4, 11-6 (52m)
Nick Matthew
Cameron Pilley (AUS)
8-11, 11-7, 8-11, 14-12, 11-6 (70m)
[Q] Hisham Mohd Ashour (EGY)
Wael El Hindi (EGY)
7-11, 11-7, 11-6, 11-6 (72m)
Alister Walker (ENG)
Alister Walker
11-5, 11-8, 11-5 (43m)
Nick Matthew
[2] Nick Matthew (ENG)
11-5, 11-9, 11-7 (50m)
Omar Mosaad (EGY)

Qualifying finals:
Tarek Momen (EGY) bt David Phillips (CAN) 11-7, 11-6, 11-5 (25m)
Chris Ryder (ENG) bt Martin Knight (NZL) 11-6, 11-3, 11-2 (45m)
Mohammed Abbas (EGY) bt Shawn Delierre (CAN) 9-11, 11-6, 11-2, 12-10 (75m)
Borja Golan (ESP) bt Simon Rosner (GER) 9-11, 11-7, 11-5, 11-8 (75m)
Tom Richards (ENG) bt Raj Nanda (AUS) 11-3, 9-11, 12-10, 11-3 (31m)
Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) bt Gregoire Marche (FRA) 7-11, 11-6, 11-8, 11-6 (68m)
Nicolas Mueller (SUI) bt Bradley Ball (ENG) 9-11, 11-6, 11-6, 11-13, 11-5 (73m)
Hisham Mohd Ashour (EGY) bt David Letourneau (CAN) 11-3, 11-7, 11-6 (27m)

1st qualifying round:
Tarek Momen (EGY) bye
David Phillips (CAN) bt Jan Koukal (CZE) 11-8, 8-11, 11-7, 11-8 (50m)
Martin Knight (NZL) bt Eric Galvez (MEX) 11-4, 8-11, 9-11, 11-3, 11-4 (92m)
Chris Ryder (ENG) bt Gilly Lane (USA) 11-5, 11-9, 11-3 (54m)
Mohammed Abbas (EGY) bt Christopher Gordon (USA) 9-11, 11-2, 11-7, 11-3 (49m)
Shawn Delierre (CAN) bt Campbell Grayson (NZL) 11-7, 11-7, 11-9 (46m)
Borja Golan (ESP) bt Zac Alexander (AUS) 11-5, 11-6, 7-11, 11-3 (46m)
Simon Rosner (GER) bt Jacques Swanepoel (RSA) 11-2, 11-5, 11-8 (34m)
Tom Richards (ENG) bt Cesar Salazar (MEX) 5-11, 11-4, 11-4, 11-5 (42m)
Raj Nanda (AUS) bt Aaron Frankcomb (AUS) 11-9, 11-13, 11-9, 11-3 (61m)
Gregoire Marche (FRA) bt Kristian Frost Olesen (DEN) 11-6, 11-8, 12-10 (56m)
Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) bt Arturo Salazar (MEX) 11-9, 11-6, 11-1 (47m)
Nicolas Mueller (SUI) bt Stephane Galifi (ITA) 4-11, 11-1, 11-4, 11-6 (38m)
Bradley Ball (ENG) bt Todd Harrity (USA) 11-3, 9-11, 11-6, 11-6 (47m)
David Letourneau (CAN) bt Luke Butterworth (ENG) 11-3, 11-4, 11-2 (23m)
Hisham Mohd Ashour (EGY) bye




Ashour & Matthew Set Up Dream Tournament of Champions Final

The world's top two squash players Ramy Ashour and Nick Matthew will contest a dream JP Morgan Tournament of Champions final after prevailing in stunning semi-final showdowns in the PSA World Series event - both of which drew standing ovations from the packed crowd at Grand Central Terminal in New York.

Current world No2 and two-time title-holder Ramy Ashour delighted the crowd, and sometimes even his opponent, with his unique brand of squash artistry on full display in his semi-final match against fourth seed James Willstrop, the title-holder from England.

"Ramy was superb tonight," said Willstrop after losing to his Egyptian rival 11-4, 11-9, 11-8 in a reversal of last year's final where the Yorkshireman defeated Ashour in three games. "This was the best he's ever played against me."

The prodigiously-talented Ashour at his best is an artist creating a canvas of squash shots that few have ever seen before. His palette was of the highest order in the night's first semi. The defending champion, who played a credible match but not his best, had no answer for the magic coming off Ramy's racket.

Ashour pocketed the first game quickly. Willstrop mounted a challenge in the second, getting to seven-all before Ashour ran off three straight points to win the game. Down 5-9 in the third, Willstrop edged back to 8-9, with the crowd roaring encouragement in the hope of seeing the match extended. Ashour quelled that hope with two winners to take the game and move into the final.

Before leaving the court, the two players embraced, acknowledging their respect for each other.

"James is one of the most fair and talented players," said the winner after the match. Referring to the fact that the crowd got especially involved in third game - during which both players applauded each other's great shots - Ashour continued: "It was intense tonight but the last game especially was fun."

While the evening's first match had its share of poetic moments, the second semi-final was drama of the highest order. England's world No1 Nick Matthew got off to a dominating start against Egypt's Amr Shabana; he led the first game from start to finish. When Matthew won the second game, it looked as though the sold-out crowd would be on their way home before the evening's snowstorm was too far along. But two-time Tournament of Champions title-holder Amr Shabana wasn't ready to call it a night.

Drawing Matthew into several long points, the third game was all Shabana as he played himself back into the match, winning the game. The fourth game saw the lead seesaw back and forth as both players continually raised their level of play. Superb technicians each, the players used every shot in their arsenal to fight for the lead.

Matthew had two match balls at 10-9 and 12-11; after being denied a let on the first one after catching the back of Shabana's foot on his way to the ball, Matthew was understandably perturbed. Nonetheless, he regained his composure to draw a rare unforced error from Shabana to have a chance to win the match. But the player who is acknowledged by most of his peers to be one of the great players of all time showed why that is so; Shabana hit a feather drop shot to even the score at 12-all, followed by a cross court winner to go ahead 13-12. A tin by Matthew evened the match at two games apiece, much to the crowd's roaring delight.

The fifth game was a masterpiece of squash strategy and shot-making by both players. The 32-year-old Egyptian was diving for balls, hitting the floor and still managing to stay in the point. Matthew was stepping forward to volley the ball as far front as he could to keep Shabana behind him. At eight-all, it was anybody's match; the same was true at nine-all.

At 10 points apiece, Shabana had to dive once more to scrape a forehand drop before it bounced twice; Matthew was all over the weak return, sliding it down the backhand wall for a winner. This time, Matthew did not let the match ball out of his grasp, hitting a precise backhand drop that produced a rare tin from Shabana.

After 88 minutes of dramatic, sometimes breathtaking, squash, Matthew reached his third Tournament of Champions final.

"This match was a test at every level, of physical and mental capacity," said Matthew after the match - tired but satisfied. "But that wasn't surprising, considering I was playing one of the best players of all time."

In the post-match on-court interview that was part of the evening's live broadcast on, Tournament Director John Nimick asked Matthew how the evening's marathon match would affect his readiness for the final against Ashour. "This is what we train to do as professional athletes," said Matthew. "So there is no reason not to be ready to do this again in 24 hours."

Ashour, looking ahead to the final earlier in the evening before his opponent had been determined, said, "Tomorrow is the toughest match. It is not so much about the squash; it is about reaching the end of your destination. Tomorrow is about the pressure."

Shabana & Matthew Make Tournament of Champions Semis

Two-time champion Amr Shabana and twice runner-up Nick Matthew claimed their anticipated places in the semi-finals of the 2011 JP Morgan Tournament of Champions after prevailing in the quarter-finals of the PSA World Series squash event at Grand Central Terminal in New York.

Shabana, the fourth seed from Egypt, gave his opponent Laurens Jan Anjema a lesson in the art of the sport as he moved his Dutch opponent to all four corners of the court, and then some, in his 11-7, 9-11, 11-8, 11-8 victory.

"I played my heart out," said Anjema after the match. "But tonight you could see why Amr's been a four-time world champion. He can attack from the most difficult positions and when you are on the receiving end, it is brutal."

In all but the second game, the 31-year-old from Giza jumped out to an early lead, giving him a cushion of several points from which to play a controlled attacking game. Routinely throughout the match Anjema was left guessing as to which way to turn to retrieve a Shabana shot; the Egyptian's sterling and consistent stroke technique enabled him to hold his shot until the very last moment, forcing the Dutchman to scramble for balls.

Although Anjema snared the second game 11-9, it was the Egyptian's night from start to finish. He even offered up some theatrical humour as he fell to the court floor with an exaggerated flourish when midway through the match the strapping Dutchman's racquet came perilously close to Shabana's head. After the match, when asked if he was happy with the evening's result, Shabana replied: "I am not sad."

Sometime training partners and good friends Peter Barker and Nick Matthew contested the evening's second match with current world No1 Matthew in control from start to finish. In each successive round of play at these championship, Matthew has continued to punctuate his top ranking status with strong, confident play that has left no doubt in his competitor's minds as to his rightful position at the top of the sport.

"I thought I played OK tonight," said Barker after the match won by his English compatriot 11-9, 11-4, 11-6. "But Nick showed why he's world champion." Barker went on to explain that Matthew's attention to detail, strong work ethic and additional weapons in his squash shot-making arsenal have combined to make the Yorkshireman the top professional in the game.

While the lead exchanged hands a few times in the first game before Matthew finished it out, the next two games were all Matthew's. In the second, the No2 seed jumped out to a 4-1 lead and allowed Barker to tally a mere four points. Barker enjoyed a momentary lead at 2-1 and 3-2 in the third, but once again the lad from Leeds took up his game a notch to win the third.

After the match when a spectator commented that Matthew made the game look easy, the wry 30-year-old replied: "Oh no. I am the one who makes the game look hard. Shabana makes it look easy." The Matthew/Shabana showdown in the last four will be preceded by another Anglo/Egyptian semi-final clash between Ramy Ashour and James Willstrop. Both matches will be telecast live on

Ashour & Willstrop Slip Into Grand Central Semis

Reigning champion James Willstrop and former champion Ramy Ashour set up a mouth-watering semi-final clash in the 2011 JP Morgan Tournament of Champions after becoming the first two players to come through the last eight of the PSA World Series squash event at Grand Central Terminal in New York.

First up on the iconic glass court was top seed Ramy Ashour against eighth seed David Palmer. Going into the night's match, Ashour enjoyed a 9-1 winning record against the 34-year-old Australian. However, with the Egyptian having been off his game at year end due to a hamstring injury, and Palmer playing superb squash in the opening rounds of play, there was a sense of possibility that perhaps Palmer might register the tournament's first real upset.

The first game saw the lead exchanging hands on almost every point until veteran Palmer pulled ahead at 10-9 and then won the next point to take an early match lead.

With that positive opening gambit, the sense of a possible upset was heightened for the crowd, but not for Ashour. "Even when I was losing that first game, I was feeling good on the court," Ashour said after the match. "Maybe I was bit concerned, but it made me push myself harder."

The extra Ashour effort in subsequent games was immediately apparent; in games two and three Ashour never relinquished the lead. The US-based Aussie got himself back in the mix early in game four, first taking a 3-1 lead and then a 6-4 edge; one of those leading points was awarded to Palmer off a disciplinary stroke called against the animated Ashour when he stepped off court at 3-4 to have a discussion with the referee.

The 23-year-old Egyptian proceeded to quash any possibility of an upset when he ran off a string of seven straight points to earn a place in the Tournament of Champions semi-finals; in his four Tournament of Champions appearances, Ashour has made the semis all four times, the finals twice and has held the Trophy aloft once.

After the match, the voluble Ashour shared his enthusiasm for his progress in the championships. "It is so great to be in the semis after missing two big tournaments at the end of last year because of injuries," he said. "I am getting better day by day, but it is not easy.

"The injuries are still in my mind - those are my demons," continued the favourite. "I used to be thinking of only two things on court - where and how I am going to hit a shot. Now I am thinking of three things because I am also thinking about my body."

Ashour's semi-final challenger will be none other than Englishman James Willstrop, who defeated rising Egyptian star Mohamed El Shorbagy in three straight games. In classic Egyptian style, the 20-year-old challenger, already a top ten player, came out of the starting blocks at full shooting speed to register an opening 5-0 lead. Willstrop countered with well-paced wide cross courts to fend off his challenger and edge out to a 6-5 lead, and then win the game 11-9.

The outcome of the second game was never in doubt as Willstrop led from start to finish. Although Willstrop also held the lead all the way through the third, El Shorbagy looked like he might extend the match when he tied the score at seven-all after having been down 4-7. But the 20-year-old seventh seed tinned the ball 8-10 down, sending Willstrop into the last four.

The Ashour/Willstrop pairing will be the third time the two have played each other in the Tournament of Champions. In his 2007 Tournament of Champions' debut, Ashour beat Willstrop in the quarter-finals in a match for the ages. In 2008, Ashour again defeated Willstrop, this time in the finals to win the title.

Last year was the Yorkshireman's turn; he defeated Ashour in the finals to take the champion's crown. When asked if he looked forward to playing Ashour, the usually taciturn Willstrop replied with Ashour-like enthusiasm: "I do, I do, I do," he said. "Ramy is one of the great racquet players to ever hit the ball. Right now I feel I am on a par with him and could beat him on any given day. Our matches always offer the possibility of being quite exciting and entertaining. Plus I really like the guy."

Seeds Advance To Tournament of Champions Quarters

The top eight seeds will contest the quarter-finals of the JP Morgan Tournament of Champions after contrasting successes in the second round of the PSA World Series squash event at Grand Central Terminal in New York.

Veteran David Palmer, the Australian who has played in every Tournament of Champions since 1995, reproduced the form that kept him in the PSA top ten for a full decade. "David takes everything early," said Palmer's opponent Tom Richards after the match. "He is always in front, taking your game away."

The players exchanged the lead several times in the first game until Palmer snatched victory at 12-10. As they played further into the match, Palmer's precision forced the English qualifier back on his heels. Unable to get ahead of Palmer, both literally and figuratively, Richards' Tournament of Champions debut ended as Palmer went on to win 12-10, 11-9, 11-8.

"I played pretty well at the end of the games," said a satisfied Palmer after the match. Referring to the fact that his next opponent is top seed Ramy Ashour, the 34-year-old he continued. "It is nice to make it to the quarter-finals - there's no pressure now going forward."

Egyptian favourite Ashour dropped the first game to Australia's Stewart Boswell. "He went for a lot of shots in the first game and missed," said Boswell after the match. "But I l knew that he was only going to get better as the match progressed."

The creative, shot-making Egyptian did find his stride in the second game and, for the remainder of the match, the 32-year-old Australian only held the lead once more at 7-6 in the fourth. "I really enjoyed playing today," said Ashour, who struggled with injuries at the end of 2010. "I haven't been enjoying myself for the past two or three months. But this court and these fans and this atmosphere give you the energy to produce better squash."

Ramy's older brother Hisham was not as happy at evening's end when he found himself on the losing end of a five-game, physical barnburner with England's Peter Barker, the tournament's fifth seed. With the first four games being decided by a mere two point margin (three in tie-breaks), it was truly either player's match to win.

"Hisham has been playing awesome squash in the past few months, and I was thinking too much about winning and losing in the first two games," said Londoner Barker. "When I was down 0/2, I had to dig deep and just focus on not losing." The 27-year-old left-hander used solid, straight length to counter Ashour's dynamic shot-making and broke open the match in the fifth game, winning it 11-2.

Barker's next opponent is world number one Nick Matthew, who defeated friend and training partner Alister Walker 11-5, 11-8, 11-5. As Walker was cooling down on the training bicycle after the match, Matthew walked by and Walker called him over: "Your length was amazing tonight," Walker said to the Yorkshireman. "That is the best you have ever played against me - it was pure measured squash."

Another player who felt he had an especially good showing was fourth seed Amr Shabana. "I played three games as well as I could play," said the two-time Tournament of Champions title-holder after defeating England's Daryl Selby 11-6, 11-8, 11-8.

His opponent concurred: "Today Amr showed why he was world number one," said Selby. "Any ball that I hit loose, he put in the nick." The 31-year-old Egyptian will next face Dutchman Laurens Jan Anjema who defeated Swiss qualifier Nicolas Mueller 11-9, 11-4, 11-3.

Anjema attributed a bit of a sluggish start to jet lag and waiting for the 81-minute Ashour-Barker match to end. "The first game was a good shock to my system to get me going," he said with a wry smile after the match.

Seventh seed Mohamed El Shorbagy rounds out the trio of Egyptians in the quarter-finals after defeating Canada's Shahier Razik 11-9, 11-5, 11-6. He will contend with defending champion James Willstrop, who defeated qualifier Borja Golan 11-6, 11-4, 11-6.

Nicolas & Hisham Ease Through In New York

Qualifiers Nicolas Mueller and Hisham Mohd Ashour secured unexpected places in the last 16 of the JP Morgan Tournament of Champions after major upsets in the first round of the PSA World Series squash event at Grand Central Terminal in New York.

Egyptian Hisham Mohd Ashour punctuated the day's play with a dramatic come from behind victory over Australia's Cameron Pilley.

Ashour senior was anything but relaxed in the evening's last match. "I have been playing so well for the past two or three months; sometimes I would feel I was floating on court," said the Egyptian.

"But tonight I was so stressed." With Pilley enjoying a 2/1 lead, Ashour defended against four match balls after Pilley went up 10-6 in the fourth. Both the fans in the stands and the spectators who watched the match on the closed circuit TV feed were on the edge of their seats and cheering as Ashour used a variety of shots to keep himself alive in the match.

"All I kept thinking then was that I know I am strong. I cannot lose here at the Tournament of Champions in the first round," he said. After winning the fourth 14-12, Ashour was clearly not going to be denied. Jumping out to a 10-4 lead in the fifth, Ashour kept up the pace and the shotmaking to beat his Australian opponent 8-11, 11-7, 8-11, 14-12, 11-6 after 70 minutes.

Switzerland's Nicolas Mueller eliminated England's higher-ranked Adrian Grant 11-7, 11-5, 7-11, 11-8. In the only match of the day that did not involve an Englishman or an Egyptian, Dutchman Laurens Jan Anjema defeated Miguel Angel Rodriguez of Colombia 11-5, 11-8, 11-6.

"Last year was one of my best years," said Anjema, referring to the fact that he cracked the top ten for the first time in his career. "But I went out on the court without any expectations and felt very relaxed today."

England's Daryl Selby started off the day's play with a three game victory over Australian qualifier Ryan Cuskelly. The 4-11, 11-1, 11-2, 11-4 match scores belied the competitiveness of the match which lasted 63 minutes.

"Even though I lost the first game, I was moving well. I played with more conviction in the second," said Selby. "He's a gutsy, dangerous player and I didn't want to give him any chances." When reminded of the lopsided scores in the second and third games, Selby smiled and said, "The rallies were long, but I won them all."

Although fourth seed Amr Shabana defeated his Egyptian colleague Mohammed Abbas 7-11, 11-8, 11-9, 11-7, he did not sound like a happy winner after the match.

"I wasn't comfortable today," said the four-time world champion. "I didn't feel sharp and I feel lucky to win.


Richards Ousts Ong Beng Hee In New York Upset

English qualifier Tom Richards advanced to the second round of the JP Morgan Tournament of Champions after eliminating Malaysia's world No21 Ong Beng Hee in straight games in the first round of the first PSA World Series squash event of the year at Grand Central Terminal in New York.

The unassuming 24-year-old from Surrey secured the first game without too much difficulty. Although pushed to a tie-break in the second and third games by the more experienced Malaysian - who had defeated Richards in their prior two outings - the English outsider remained calm en-route to securing his 11-6, 12-10, 12-10 victory.

"Our other matches were close, so I knew I had a shot to win today," said Richards after the match. Although it was his first time on the iconic glass court in Grand Central Terminal, Richards was remarkably composed. "I was a little bit nervous, which is a good sign for me," he added.

Richard was most surprised by the size of the mid-afternoon crowd: "Having a full crowd for a first round match like we had today is pretty amazing," he explained. "It really helped lift my game."

Richards will next face the oldest player in the draw, David Palmer, the 34-year-old from Australia who has played in every Tournament of Champions since it was first staged in Grand Central Terminal in 1995. Palmer eliminated Julian Illingworth, the lone American in the draw. With the crowd enthusiastically applauding every point, the 24-year-old from New York drew even with his seasoned opponent at nine-all in the third game, but the veteran shut the door on the match by winning the next two points.

"I felt in control for most of the match, but I did struggle to pull away," said Palmer after his 11-8, 11-7, 11-9 win. "I definitely did not want to go into a fourth game."

The evening prior to his Tournament of Champions debut, 20-year-old Mohamed El Shorbagy was recognised as the 2010 PSA Young Player of the Year at the World Squash Awards. El Shorbagy, who had been unable to compete in the Tournament of Champions in prior years because the tournament dates conflicted with school exams, made sure to finish his University exams a week early this year so he could make it to New York City for the tournament so revered by the players.

The young Egyptian lived up to his award-winning status in his 11-8, 11-8, 12-10 first round win over the more experienced Malaysian Mohd Azlan Iskandar.

"I was really excited to be playing my first match here in Grand Central and in the first game I was trying to hit a lot of winners to please the crowd," the fast-talking El Shorbagy said after the match. "Then I realised I needed to focus and vary the pace." Like his fellow Tournament of Champions rookie Richards, El Shorbagy was amazed by the capacity crowd at his evening match. "You never see a crowd like this at a first round match," he said. "It makes a player want to be his very best."

El Shorbagy will next play his good friend Shahier Razik. The Cairo-born 33-year-old Canadian needed five games to overcome English qualifier Chris Ryder to make it to the second round. The two had never met in competition before. "I am always a little nervous playing someone I have never played, because you don't know quite what to expect," said Razik.

"I started pretty well and thought I was going to make it through, but then Chris changed his game and I didn't adjust right away."

After his 11-6, 6-11, 8-11, 11-7, 11-5 win, the veteran Canadian reflected on the appeal of the JP Morgan Tournament of Champions for the players. "The Grand Central venue, which is amazing, stays the same, but every year the tournament gets bigger and better," Razik said. "There is always a big build up to this event for the players starting in December; as we go on our December holiday break, everyone says 'I'll see you at the ToC.'"

Defending champion James Willstrop limited his time on court in his first round match against fellow Englishman Jonathan Kemp to just under 30 minutes. It was a commanding performance by the 27-year-old; he did not fall behind in the entire match, winning 11-5, 11-7, 11-5.

"My dad has said that you are most likely to perform well in the places in which you are most comfortable," said Willstrop, who is coached by his father Malcolm, after the match. "That is certainly true for me here at the Tournament of Champions. Coming here is special, even more so this year after having won last year."

Willstrop's next opponent Borja Golan must be feeling comfortable in New York City. After winning two qualifying matches to make it into the main draw, the Spaniard defeated fellow qualifier Tarek Momen 11-9, 11-7, 11-8. "I have never won so many matches in New York City," the exuberant Golan said after the match.

Although Momen took an early lead in all three games, Golan caught up to tie the score at the midway mark of each. The players exchanged the lead over the next few points in each game until Golan surged ahead to secure victory.

Australian Stewart Boswell and India's Saurav Ghosal played the first and the longest match of the opening day of play. Boswell won the first game by a five point margin after which the 24-year-old Ghosal jumped out to a 6-1 lead in the second. The 32-year-old Aussie surged back to secure the game 11-8.

Boswell was unable to convert two game balls in the third, which was tallied 16-14 in Ghosal's favour. The fourth was all Boswell, who took the lead at 2/1 and then didn't relinquish it, winning the game 11-5 to seal the match after 70 minutes of play. The veteran Australian was pleased with the victory. "For as long as I play squash, I want to be here at the Tournament of Champions and make the most of it."

Boswell will face top-seeded Ramy Ashour in the second round. The 23-year-old Egyptian defeated 34-year-old Olli Tuominen of Finland in straight games. "It was a good first round match," Ashour said, "It was a balanced test - not too easy and not too hard."

The 2008 titleholder was determined be playing for the 2011 title, despite some injuries in the latter part of last year. "I am really excited to be here," he said. "I did not want to miss this tournament." The prodigiously talented Ashour even put a positive spin on his recent injuries. "Being injured has had some advantages," he noted. "It has made me more mature on court and it has put me in touch with how to really take care of my body."

Richards & Ryder To Make Grand Central Debut

England's Tom Richards and Chris Ryder will both make their Grand Central Terminal debuts in the JP Morgan Tournament of Champions while the remaining six qualifying spots were earned by players who will be making return trips to the first Professional Squash Association World Series squash event of the year in New York.

Richards earned his main draw appearance by defeating Australia's Raj Nanda in four games. "I have seen the pictures of the court here in Grand Central in the magazines and playing here is something I have always wanted to do," said the satisfied 24-year-old from Surrey after his match.

Ryder had an even more straightforward victory to get him to Grand Central. Exchanging the lead on every point to six-all in the first game, the Englishman pulled ahead of New Zealander Martin Knight at the midway mark to win the game and never looked back. His 3/0 victory sends him to a first round clash with Canada's Shahier Razik.

Switzerland's Nicolas Mueller outlasted England's Bradley Ball to return to Grand Central Terminal for the second consecutive year for a main draw berth against Adrian Grant, another Englishman. In a match marked by multiple shifts in momentum and moments of remarkable athleticism, Mueller needed five games to secure his stay in New York City.

Ball, a PSA Tour veteran who now resides and coaches in New York City, snatched the first game 11-9. After winning the next two games 11-6, 11-6, the Swiss player seemingly had the match in hand when he had a couple of game balls in the fourth. Ball wasn't ready to get off the court, though, and forced a fifth game decider after winning the game 13-11. Mueller steadied himself win the deciding game 11-5. "It was a tough match and Bradley didn't let me play my game," said Mueller. "I had a couple of match balls that I gave away, but it was good to come back and win in the fifth."

In a physical and fiercely-contested match, Egypt's Mohammed Abbas retrieving capacity and superior shot-making carried the day against Canada's Shawn Delierre, who was defeated in four games. Relegated to the qualifying draw because of a series of injuries in the past two years, Abbas was delighted to earn his fifth trip to the glass court in Grand Central. "It is one of the best places to play. It is amazing," said the 30-year-old Egyptian who will face countryman and friend Amr Shabana, the fourth seed, in Saturday's first round match.

Playing error-free squash, Spain's Borja Golan wore down Germany's Simon Rosner in four games to also earn his fifth trip to the Grand Central glass court where he will face another qualifier, Tarek Momen. The 22-year-old Egyptian - who was too strong, too quick and had too many shots for Canadian David Phillips - cruised to a 3/0 victory.

In a fast-paced match marked by great retrieving, Australian Ryan Cuskelly's hustle and attacking, offensive play carried the day against France's Gregoire Marche. Cuskelly's four game victory earned him a first round encounter with England's Daryl Selby.

Hisham Mohd Ashour abounded with confidence as he schooled Princeton University standout David Letourneau in the finer points of the professional game with a 27-minute 11-3, 11-7, 11-6 victory. "I feel this is where I should be," said Ashour of his main draw berth, referring to the fact that he was ranked 29 when the JP Morgan Tournament of Champions main draw was made in December, but now stands at 18 in the world rankings. Ashour joins eight other Egyptian players, including his younger brother Ramy, seeded one, in the 32-player championship draw.

While the qualifiers were battling for the final eight places in the JP Morgan Tournament of Champions main draw, the Grand Central venue was the place to be for the rest of the squash world. A glittering and glamorous crowd representing the best of squash, both past and present, gathered to honour the outstanding players of the 2010 season in professional squash. The JP Morgan Tournament of Champions second seed Nick Matthew received PSA Player of the Year honours and seventh seed Mohamed El Shorbagy was recognised as PSA Young Player of the Year.

Knight Survives Qualifying Marathon In New York

While construction of the famed glass court in Grand Central Terminal received finishing touches, players from 15 countries battled at four New York City clubs to qualify for the main draw in the JP Morgan Tournament of Champions, the first Professional Squash Association World Series event of the year.

New Zealand's Martin Knight and Mexico's Eric Galvez kicked off the qualifying play with the longest match of the evening. At the conclusion of their 92 minute contest, Knight was the player left standing.

The Kiwi got off to an auspicious start, winning the first game 11-4. Two ensuing nip and tuck games handed Galvez the lead. Both players were feeling fatigued by the fourth game. "My legs were starting to feel quite heavy," Knight said. "But when I looked over at Eric, he seemed to be in worse shape than me, which gave me confidence."

Knight's renewed energy was converted into a five-game victory, as he won the last two games with ease to record his 11-4, 8-11, 9-11, 11-3, 11-4 win. The New Zealander's next opponent will be Englishman Chris Ryder, who took a straight games victory over USA's Gilly Lane.

Applying relentless pressure from start to finish, Princeton University standout and Canadian David Letourneau wasted no time in making his way into the next round, eliminating England's Luke Butterworth in straight games in a scant 23 minutes. Letourneau will next face veteran Bradley Ball, an Englishman now residing in New York City who had too much experience for Yale University's Todd Harrity.

The young American did wrest the second game from his more seasoned opponent. "I had no idea how good he was," said Ball about the young American after the match. Ball snatched the final two games to win 11-3, 9-11, 11-6, 11-6.

Egyptian veteran Mohammed Abbas further dashed local hopes when he eliminated New York City native Christopher Gordon in four games. The 30-year-old from Cairo, ranked as high as 13 in the world, recovered after losing the first game to win the next three. "I love the game, it is what I do," Abbas said after the match, explaining his desire to continue playing despite a series of injuries sustained in the past few years.

Abbas will next have to overcome Canada's Shawn Delierre, who defeated New Zealand's Campbell Grayson in straight games. Rounding out the trio of Canadians moving on in the draw is David Phillips, who ousted Czech Republic's Jan Koukal in four games.



World's Top Two Set To Contest Tournament of Champions Final

The action promises to be fast and furious as the world's top professional squash players kick off the new year contending for the sport's first Professional Squash Association World Series title of 2011, the JP Morgan Tournament of Champions, from 21-27 January in Grand Central Terminal in New York.

The field is flush with heavyweight contenders - three returning title-holders and the reigning world champion are the top seeds. Favourite Ramy Ashour, the world No2 from Egypt, and Nick Matthew, the world No1 from England, are expected to contest the final.

Ashour won the Tournament of Champions title in 2008 and topped the world rankings for nine months in 2010. A World Open Champion at the age of 20, the dynamic 23-year-old from Cairo was toppled from the top of the rankings at the start of 2011 by second seed Matthew, the reigning World Open champion.

After losing to Ashour in the semi-finals of the 2010 Tournament of Champions, Matthew hit a hot streak for the ensuing six months when he was undefeated in tournament play. He also claimed double gold in this summer's Commonwealth Games.

Eager to defend his crown, third seed and defending JP Morgan Tournament of Champions title-holder James Willstrop will be looking to reclaim his winning ways. After beating Ashour in the 2010 final, the Englishman was unable to wrest victory again in his four subsequent encounters with Ashour or in six encounters with fellow Englishman Matthew.

Rounding out the top four is 2006 and 2007 ToC title-holder and former world number one Amr Shabana. The charismatic Egyptian is coming into the championship having defeated Ashour last week in the ATCO PSA World Series Finals semi-finals.

The largest spectator squash event in the world, the JP Morgan Tournament of Champions field includes players from 19 countries. The US will be represented by Julian Illingworth, the highest ranking US player ever in the world rankings. Dutchman Laurens Jan Anjema, who cracked the top ten for the first time in 2010, is seeded sixth.

The youngest competitor, two-time World Junior champion Mohamed El Shorbagy, who turned 20 just a week ago, comes in as the number seven seed. Seeded just below El Shorbagy is the oldest player in the draw, 34-year-old Australian David Palmer, a top ten player for an entire decade.

JP Morgan Tournament of Champions Attracts World's Top Players To NY

The world's best squash players have confirmed their entries in the JP Morgan Tournament of Champions, to be played at Grand Central Terminal in New York from 21-27 January 2011. The long-established event will be the first Professional Squash Association (PSA) World Series event of the New Year.

"It is entirely fitting that we have a glittering field of players to compete in the sport's grandest venue for one of its most coveted titles," said Tournament Director John Nimick.

Defending champion James Willstrop is also upbeat about the NY event: "I am immensely excited about the prospect of coming to New York to play the ToC again. New York has always been the most pulsating event on the Tour and my favourite. After last year's win, my affection for the event has only increased," added the Englishman.

"There is just no atmosphere like Grand Central and I will try to be in my best shape for it. The very best players will be there, and we are all vying for positions at the top of the world order, so the contest should be red hot."

Four players entered in the draw have held the world No1 ranking, three of whom have also captured the prestigious Tournament of Champions trophy. The three returning title-holders are defending champion James Willstrop of England and Egypt's Amr Shabana and Ramy Ashour.

Nick Matthew, who became the first Englishman to win the World Open when he captured that title this month, will be the top-ranked player in the field having become world number one in the January PSA rankings.

The tournament field includes 24 of the top 27 players in the world. Players representing 21 countries will compete in the Tournament of Champions, including American Julian Illingworth. A native of Portland, Oregon, who now resides in New York City, Illingworth has achieved the highest international ranking ever of any US player.

The JP Morgan Tournament of Champions, which continues to be Grand Central Terminal's only annual world class sporting event, offers $115,000 in prize money, placing it among the world's top ten professional tournaments, and features a 32-player main draw and a 32-player qualification tournament. The tournament is sanctioned by the PSA, the regulatory body for elite international men's competition and the men's world rankings.

While the top ranking players in the men's professional ranks vie for one of the sport's most coveted crowns, amateur players will compete in the Grand Open, a companion citywide tournament run by the Metropolitan Squash Racquets Association and top junior players will contest the ToC Junior Open.

The championship debuted as the US Professional Championship in 1930 and was renamed the Tournament of Champions in 1993. Truly living up to its name, all but four of the Tournament of Champions titleholders have either been No1 in the world rankings or a World Champion.

Individual tickets are on sale and are available at Patron packages are available by contacting the Box Office at 718.569.0594 or

Full coverage of all the action at Grand Central Terminal will be available via PSA's online squash channel Squash TV at











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