Tournament of Champions 2012

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20th-26th 2012

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The Court At Grand Central Terminal


Semi Finals


Matthew Is ToC Champion - & New World No1

An 85-minute all-English climax to the 2012 JP Morgan Tournament of Champions in New York saw Nick Matthew not only win the prestigious PSA World Series squash title at Grand Central Terminal for the first time, but also wrest the world number one ranking from his opponent James Willstrop.

"This win is right alongside the Worlds and Commonwealth Games gold medals as my best victories," said the jubilant 31-year-old after his fourth Tournament of Champions final and playing his first tournament after two months off the tour to recover from an injury.

The eagerly-awaited clash before a jam packed crowd glued to their seats in Vanderbilt Hall at Grand Central Terminal was the 28th Tour meeting between the two Yorkshiremen - with Matthew, the world No1 throughout 2011, boasting a 19-8 advantage and an unbroken winning streak of 12 matches since December 2007.

But it was their first confrontation since Willstrop had run off three PSA World Series titles in a row and replaced his rival at the top of the PSA world rankings at the beginning of this year.

The match was marked by physical play, wall-hugging rallies and several mini shifts in momentum. "I think one of the differences tonight was that I did a better job of capitalising on the momentum when it shifted my way," said Matthew.

That was certainly true in the third and fourth games - but in the first it was 28-year-old Willstrop who took advantage when he surged ahead 10-7 after being down 5-7. Willstrop rode the momentum from his 11-8 first game win to take an early 5-2 lead in the second.

Matthew fought back to move 6-5 ahead. Later up 9-7, Willstrop moved Matthew to the four corners of the court and looked to be heading to game-ball when he forced a loose shot from his opponent at the front of the court.

Instead, he hit the tin. "The end of that second game was really the difference in the match," explained Willstrop later. "I needed to put it away." Instead of being ahead 2/0, the 2010 ToC title-holder was tied at one-all with an opponent who was physically fresher as a result of not having played any tournaments for two months.

"One could also see Matthew's confidence build as play continued," suggested tournament spokesperson Beth Rasin. The third game saw Matthew stay in front of Willstrop almost the whole way to take the game 11-5.

The fourth game was marked by several swings in momentum. Matthew jumped out to an early 5-1 lead, but Willstrop clambered back to 5-5.

"At 5-1, I started thinking about winning the match, and then, before I knew it, it was 5-5," said the eventual winner. "So I had to re-focus."

After Matthew took the next point on a stroke decision, Willstrop stayed close but couldn't snatch back the lead. A few times during the game, especially as play got physical, Matthew got emotional. "I knew I needed to be aggressive," said Sheffield-born-and-raised Matthew.

"But sometimes it was also the pent up emotion of the last couple of months. It was hard to lose the No1 ranking because of inactivity, and sometimes I could be a real pain to be around."

At match ball, 10-7, Matthew passed Willstrop on the forehand side with a shot that was too crisp and too deep to retrieve. After four trips to the final, Matthew was taking home the ToC Trophy and reclaiming the world No1 ranking in February.

The 8-11, 11-9, 11-5, 11-7 triumph earns Matthew the 22nd PSA World Tour title of his career.

Willstrop later acknowledged that he "needs to work harder" to figure out a way to beat his long-time rival.

Official Website:



Qualifier Marwan Shorbagy beats Tom Richards in 5 games
First Round (Click to Enlarge)
Miguel Rodriguez beats Hisham Ashour

Mark Selby Stuns Karim Darwish into a shock 3-1 defeat

Tournament of Champions

Grand Central Terminus, New York

Round One
 Top Half Jan 20th
Bottom Half Jan 21st
Round Two
Jan 22
Jan 23/24
Jan 25
Jan 26
[1] Nick Matthew (Eng)
11/5, 11/6, 9/11, 11/7 (65m*)
Wael El Hindi (Egy)
Nick Matthew
11/5, 11/7, 12/10 (65m)
Adrian Grant
Nick Matthew
12-10, 11-7, 11-5 (61m)
 Mohamed El Shorbagy
Nick Matthew
11-8, 11-9, 9-11, 11-4 (75m)
Gregory Gaultier
Nick Matthew
James Willstrop
Adrian Grant (Eng)
11/5, 16/14, 9/11, 11/5 (83m*)
[Q] Alan Clyne (Sco)
Olli Tuominen (Fin)
11/7, 11/3, 11/8 (40m*)
Cameron Pilley (Aus)
Cameron Pilley
6/11, 11/9, 8/11, 11/6, 11/5 (77m)
Mohamed El Shorbagy
Aamir Atlas Khan (Pak)
11/4, 10/12, 11/7, 11/5 (42m*)
[7] Mohamed El Shorbagy (Egy)
[5] Amr Shabana (Egy)
11/7, 11/8, 11/7
Ali Anwar Reda (Egy)
Amr Shabana
11/6, 11/8, 7/11, 4/11, 11/8 (71m)
Miguel Angel Rodriguez
Amr Shabana
11-9, 5-11, 11-5, 11-5 (62m)
Gregory Gaultier
Hisham Ashour (Egy)
11/7, 9/11, 8/11, 11/5, 11/9 (73m*)
[Q] Miguel Angel Rodriguez (Col)
Nicolas Mueller (Sui)
11/7, 11/7, 9/11, 11/4
[Q] Steve Coppinger (Rsa)
Nicolas Mueller
11/4, 10/12, 11/6, 11/1 (59m)
Gregory Gaultier
Borja Golan (Esp)
11/4, 11/9, 11/9 (58m*)
[3] Gregory Gaultier (Fra)
[4] Karim Darwish (Egy)
4/11, 13/11, 11/8, 11/5
Daryl Selby (Eng)
Daryl Selby
11/8, 4/11, 11/6, 13/11 (67m)
Simon Rosner
Daryl Selby
11-8, 11-8, 11-8 (43m)
Marwan El Shorbagy
Daryl Selby
11-2, 11-3, 11-3 (25m)
James Willstrop
Simon Rosner (Ger)
 11/9, 9/11, 11/8, 11/6 (63m)
Tarek Momen (Egy)
Tom Richards (Eng)
11/6, 11/5, 11/4 (31m)
[Q] Max Lee (Hkg)
Tom Richards  9/11, 11/4, 7/11, 11/6, 12/10 (85m)
Marwan El Shorbagy
[Q] Marwan El Shorbagy (Egy)
9/11, 11/5, 11/7, 11/7
[8] Thierry Lincou (Fra)
[6] Peter Barker (Eng)
8/11, 10/12, 11/7, 11/7, 11/9 (86m)
[Q] Ong Beng Hee (Mas)
Peter Barker
11/3, 11/5, 11/4 (42m)
Shahier Razik
Peter Barker
11-4, 11-3, 11-6 (39m)
James Willstrop
Shahier Razik (Can)
8/11, 11/5, 11/8, 11/6 (72m)
Julian Illingworth (Usa)
Alister Walker (Bot)
 11/8, 11/9, 6/11, 11/5
[Q] Mohamed Abbas (Egy)
Mohamed Abbas
11/8, 12/10, 11/2 (41m)
James Willstrop
[Q] Zac Alexander (Aus)
11/7,11/3, 11/3
[2] James Willstrop (Eng)


Qualifying Finals:
Alan Clyne (SCO) bt Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) 11-7, 11-13, 9-11, 11-5, 12-10 (108m)
Marwan El Shorbagy (EGY) bt Martin Knight (NZL) 11-1, 11-7, 6-11, 11-8 (50m)
Max Lee (HKG) bt Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) 5-11, 11-5, 11-5, 11-2 (62m)
Stephen Coppinger (RSA) bt Todd Harrity (USA) 11-3, 11-2, 11-2 (37m)
Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL) bt Amr Khaled Khalifa (EGY) 11-9, 11-7, 11-7 (50m)
Zac Alexander (AUS) bt Chris Ryder (ENG) 5-11, 11-4, 11-8, 5-11, 11-9 (88m)
Mohammed Abbas (EGY) bt Siddharth Suchde (IND) 11-9, 11-4, 11-1 (45m)
Ong Beng Hee (MAS) bt Gregoire Marche (FRA) 5-11, 11-7, 11-9, 11-7 (64m)

1st qualifying round:
Alan Clyne (SCO) bt Faraz Khan (USA) 11-3, 11-2, 11-5 (25m)
Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) bt Olivier Pett (ENG) 11-5, 11-9, 15-13 (46m)
Marwan El Shorbagy (EGY) bt Adrian Waller (ENG) 11-8, 6-11, 3-11, 11-8, 11-7 (71m)
Martin Knight (NZL) bt Shawn Delierre (CAN) 11-8, 11-9, 11-3
Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) bt Joey Barrington (ENG) 11-4, 11-8, 11-6
Max Lee (HKG) bt Graham Bassett (USA) 11-5, 11-8, 11-4 (29m)
Todd Harrity (USA) bt Cesar Salazar (MEX) 11-7, 11-4, 3-11, 12-10 (50m)
Stephen Coppinger (RSA) bt Yasir Butt (PAK) 12-10, 11-8, 7-11, 12-10 (68m)
Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL) bt Wade Johnstone (AUS) 11-8, 14-12, 11-3 (41m)
Amr Khaled Khalifa (EGY) bt Ramit Tandon (IND) 7-11, 11-6, 12-10, 11-5 (44m)
Zac Alexander (AUS) bt Kamran Kha! n (MAS) 11-9, 12-14, 11-8, 11-2 (81m)
Chris Ryder (ENG) bt Luke Butterworth (ENG) 11-2, 11-1, 11-8 (49m)
Mohammed Abbas (EGY) bt Joe Lee (ENG) 12-14, 11-8, 11-8, 11-6 (64m)
Siddharth Suchde (IND) bt Matthew Karwalski (AUS) 11-6, 11-5, 11-6 (44m)
Gregoire Marche (FRA) bt Arshad Iqbal Burki (PAK) 11-3, 11-6, 11-4 (27m)
Ong Beng Hee (MAS) bt Christopher Gordon (USA) 12-10, 11-9
, 11-7 (51m

ToC 2012
Women's Draw

21-26 Jan, New York, Usa, $27k
Round One
23 Jan
24 Jan
25 Jan
26 Jan

[1] Rachael Grinham (Aus)
5/11, 11/13, 11/9,11/3,11/5
Kanzy El Dafrawy (Egy)

Rachael Grinham
11/3, 11/8, 11/5
Jaclyn Hawkes

 Jaclyn Hawkes
11/5, 14/12,11/9
 Dipika Pallikal

Dipika Pallikal
11/4, 11/3, 11/3
Natalie Grinham

[5] Jaclyn Hawkes (Nzl)
11/2, 11/2, 11/5
[Q] Lauren Selby (Eng)

[4] Donna Urquhart (Aus)
11/7, 11/7, 11/3
[Q] Maria Toor Pakay (Pak)

 Donna Urquhart
11/9, 11/5, 7/11, 10/12, 11/9
Dipika Pallikal

[7] Dipika Pallikal (Ind)
11/5, 11/3, 11/7 (24m)
Olivia Blatchford (Usa)

Latasha Khan (Usa)
11/7, 13/11, 7/11, 9/11, 11/1 (48m)
[8] Nour El Tayeb (Egy)

Latasha Khan
 11/6, 13/11, 11/3
Nour El Sherbini

Nour El Sherbini
6/11, 11/5, 11/5, 7/11, 11/4
Natalie Grinham

Nour El Sherbini (Egy)
11/6, 11/9, 9/11, 11/4 (42m)
[3] Samantha Teran (Mex)

[Q] Miranda Ranieri (Can)
15/13, 11/2, 11/5
[6] Sarah Kippax (Eng)

Sarah Kippax
11/3, 11/4, 12/10
Natalie Grinham

[Q] Lucie Fialova (Cze)
 11/8, 11/4, 11/2
[2] Natalie Grinham (Ned)


Semi Finals

Matthew & Willstrop Set Up Dream New York Final

At stake in tonight's dream final of the JP Morgan Tournament of Champions in New York between top-seeded Englishmen Nick Matthew and James Willstrop will not just be the title of the first PSA World Series squash event of the year, but also the world number one ranking in February.

Matthew, who topped the world rankings throughout 2011, battled to a 75-minute four-game win over Frenchman Gregory Gaultier - while in the earlier semi-final Willstrop, who succeeded his compatriot as world No1 this month, coasted to his fourth successive straight games success at Grand Central Terminal by beating England team-mate Daryl Selby in just 25 minutes.

Given Willstrop's near flawless performances in his first two matches against seasoned players, and the fact that Selby has never beaten his higher-ranked fellow countryman, the expectation was that Willstrop would certainly move past his unseeded opponent into the final.

The brevity of the match, however, was somewhat surprising: Willstrop, the 2010 Tournament of Champions titleholder, ran off 10 unanswered points in the first game before winning it 11-2.

"Having played Daryl so many times, I knew there was some kind of problem," said the 28-year-old from Leeds after his 11-2, 11-3, 11-3 victory. "I could tell by his movement he wasn't sharp."

Selby's explanation was brief: "It was frustrating that I couldn't play how I wanted to and give 100%." The 29-year-old from Essex declined to elaborate further, although the word around the tournament was that he had bad blisters.

It was a different set of expectations for the Gaultier/Matthew semi-final, with both players having demonstrated a high standard of play and desire to win throughout the week. Frenchman Gaultier mentioned frequently that he planned his playing and training schedule so he could peak for this championship.

"Matthew has tried to temper expectations of his return to competition after a two month absence from tournament competition to recover from an injury, but his play through the tournament has been so impressive the expectations have become pretty high," explained tournament spokesperson Beth Rasin.

Although third seed Gaultier held a 10-7 career advantage going into the evening's match, the record over the past year has been 4-3 in the Englishman's favour. The intensity of the match was palpable from the start as both players hit solid length and waited patiently for attacking opportunities.

Maintaining a lead of two points through most of the first game, 31-year-old Matthew gained the early upper hand with an 11-8 game win. The second was more of the same - the top seed winning 11-9.

Gaultier got back into the match when he nabbed the third 11-9 - but Matthew stepped up the attack in the fourth to take a 6-2 lead before going on to win the game 11-4.

"It was a very tough cat-and-mouse game out there," Matthew said. "We had a lot of tough rallies down the backhand side." Ultimately, Matthew's patience to force a Gaultier error or set up a winning shot carried the day.

There will be more than the Tournament to Champions title on the line when the two Englishmen step on court for the final: Matthew, a three time finalist, would very much like to take the trophy for the first time. "I'd certainly like to have my picture be added to the gallery of champions," said top seed, referring to the portraits of the tournament's titleholders that line the entrance to the venue's Champions/VIP lounge.

The world number one ranking will also be at stake. "It's a motivator," said Willstrop. "But when you get to play in front of 500 people for the Tournament of Champions title, what more do you need?"

The final will be the first time the Yorkshire and England rivals have faced each other since October last year - since when Willstrop ran off three PSA World Series titles in a row and went on to succeed Matthew at the top of the world rankings.

But Matthew boasts a formidable 19-8 career head-to-head PSA Tour record over Willstrop - and an unbroken winning streak of 12 matches since December 2007.

Quarter-finals (top half of draw)

Gaultier Derails Shabana At Grand Central

Avenging his defeat by the Egyptian earlier in the month in London, Frenchman Gregory Gaultier reclaimed his mastery over fellow former world number one Amr Shabana to reach the semi-finals of the JP Morgan Tournament of Champions at Grand Central Terminal in New York.

The third seed will now face top seed Nick Matthew after the Englishman denied any Egyptian interest in the last four of the first PSA World Series squash event of the year by beating No7 seed Mohamed El Shorbagy.

In addition to losing to Shabana in an epic final of the ATCO PSA World Series Finals two weeks ago, Gaultier went into his quarter-final match against the four times world champion from Cairo 10-13 down in Tour matches played to date.

After the first two games were shared, the capacity crowd under the massive Grand Central chandeliers buzzed with anticipation of another five-game battle.

But it was not to be as Gaultier seized control of the match. "I wanted to make the rallies long and keep in the rear corner," said the 29-year-old world No3 from Aix-en-Provence.

The Gaultier game plan worked: Shabana spent most of the match exactly where Gaultier intended. Without any room to play his game, the fifth seed could not muster an attack and Gaultier won the match 11-9, 5-11, 11-5, 11-5 in 62 minutes.

"I wanted to peak for this tournament," Gaultier said after the match - and he looks to be doing just that!

Matthew, returning to the tournament squash court for the first time this past week after a two month injury hiatus, has been diligently trying to manage expectations for an immediate return to the form that kept him at the top spot in the PSA world rankings throughout 2011.

"Anybody who thinks that you can quickly return to form after being out of commission for two months doesn't know squash," he had said earlier in the week.

But, minutes after defeating rising Egyptian force Mohamed El Shorbagy 12-10, 11-7, 11-5, favourite Matthew admitted: "I think tonight's match shows that I am back!"

In the match's early going, it looked as if the 31-year-old Englishman might indeed go under to the sport's latest star. The 21-year-old El Shorbagy came out on court with a blazing racquet, hammering the ball with such speed, power and intensity that the tournament's top seed seemed a bit shell shocked.

"The pace he played at the start of the match was something I haven't seen for a couple of months," said Matthew. The three time Tournament of Champions finalist quickly fell behind 1-5.

"But you don't become No1 or a World Champion without knowing how to adjust your game," said tournament spokesperson Beth Rasin. "And Matthew did just that."

Matthew explained later: "From 1-5, it was level pegging. I figured I would lose that game, and I just wanted to play as well as I could before getting into the second game." In fact, Matthew played well enough to win the game 12-10.

The first game comeback took some of the wind out of El Shorbagy and emboldened Matthew, who quickly grabbed a 4-1 lead in the second game. The shift in momentum was completed when Matthew won the second game 11-7.

His 11-5 third game victory secured the semi-final berth for Matthew - and not only his 18th Tour meeting with Gaultier in almost ten years, but his third clash with the Frenchman at Grand Central since 2006.

Quarter Finals (Lower Half)

Selby & Willstrop Ensure English Finalist In NY

Straight games victories by Daryl Selby and James Willstrop in the quarter-finals of the JP Morgan Tournament of Champions have ensured English representation in Thursday's final of the first PSA World Series squash event of the year at Grand Central Terminal in New York.

"Extremely happy to reach my 1st ever major semi final," tweeted Selby after his emphatic 11-8, 11-8, 11-8 victory over qualifier Marwan El Shorbagy, the reigning world junior champion from Egypt to whom he lost an ill-tempered World Open clash last November.

The 18-year-old from Cairo finally ran out of gas against his more experienced opponent - whose strategy was to capitalise on the fact that El Shorbagy was playing his fourth match of the tournament and had been pushed to the limit in his five-game battle with Englishman Tom Richards the night before.

"In the first game and a half especially, I tried to make the rallies long and hard," said the delighted Selby following the win which takes him into his first World Series semi-final after 39 appearances in the elite PSA events since May 2006.

"This has been a really great week," added the 29-year-old world number 11 from Essex, referring to his opening round defeat of fourth seed Karim Darwish. "I have managed to make that win against a top ranked player really mean something by getting to the semis."

Selby, the only unseeded player to make the last eight, will now face England team-mate James Willstrop, the 28-year-old from Leeds who is competing in his first ranking tournament as the world No1.

"Willstrop was head shaking brilliant in his 3/0 victory over fellow Englishman Peter Barker," said tournament spokesperson Beth Rasin.

Massively understating the extraordinary quality of his play, Willstrop admitted later: "I was pretty close to being in the zone."

The Yorkshireman started especially strong, jumping out to a 6-1 lead in the first game and a 6-2 lead in the second, winning the games with seeming ease. Willstrop's pinpoint accuracy never wavered, whether he was hitting the ball tight, or volleying a deft drop shot.

Londoner Barker had a momentary surge in the third game when he built up a 5-3 lead, but it was short lived. After going ahead 7-5, Willstrop allowed Barker only two more points before winning the match 11-4, 11-3, 11-6.

"He controlled every aspect of the match," said Barker, the world No7. "James showed tonight why he is the number one player in the world. He has set the bar very high for the rest of us."

The world No1 moniker is new for Willstrop, having achieved the status at the beginning of the month: "It can be a double edged sword," said the Englishman. "Of course, as an athlete, this is what you strive for, but once it is achieved, the expectations can be quite high. It gives you a bit of lift, but you still have to continue to do all the things that got you to number one. Ultimately, it doesn't mean anything unless you win tomorrow."

Second round

Marwan Makes Historic New York Quarters

Egyptian teenager Marwan El Shorbagy became the first qualifier to make the quarter-finals of the JP Morgan Tournament of Champions for ten years after defeating England's Tom Richards in the second round of the first PSA World Series squash event of the year at Grand Central Terminal in New York.

The 18-year-old's celebrations were boosted later when his older brother Mohamed El Shorbagy, the No7 seed, also made the last eight.

"This is one of the happiest days for the El Shorbagy family," said 21-year-old Mohamed minutes after his five-game victory over Australia's Cameron Pilley.

Marwan, the 18-year-old reigning world junior champion, continued his fearless trek through the talent-laden Tournament of Champions draw as he knocked off Richards, ranked 20 in the world, by winning a 12-10 nail-biting fifth game.

"I was just pushing, pushing, pushing the whole time out there," said the younger El Shorbagy. "I was doing what my brother told me, because he had played Tom before and I hadn't."

The older brother's advice was to play a basic game, but at the same time, look for every opportunity to attack. The first game was a seesaw with Richards grabbing an early 7-4 lead and El Shorbagy then forging ahead 8-7 before Richards edged out an 11-9 win.

Although the Englishman took an early lead in the second, the young Egyptian stormed back and scored nine unanswered points to win the game and level the match. The third game saw Richards back in command as he surged to an 8-3 lead, winning the game 11-7. The momentum shifted back to El Shorbagy in the fourth when he took the lead at 3-2 and never relinquished it.

El Shorbagy again took an early lead in the fifth. Down 4-7, the 25-year-old from Surrey was not ready to surrender and evened the match at seven-all. El Shorbagy won the next point and Richards evened the score again - the pattern was repeated three times until El Shorbagy took the last and final lead at 11-10 and won the game 12-10.

For the fast-rising Egyptian teenager it was another exultant moment on the glass court in Grand Central Terminal - the first one having occurred two days earlier when he beat eighth seed Thierry Lincou, the former world No1 from France. All this after having to be persuaded by his brother to even enter the iconic championship which is a favourite of the PSA Tour players.

Just a couple of hours later, it was El Shorbagy senior's turn to make some magic on court. "Marwan's match inspired me, but it also took a lot out of me," said Mohamed.

Like his brother, he went the distance against Australian Pilley, an opponent whom he finds especially difficult to play. "This was an up and down match," said El Shorbagy. "Sometime I was playing super, and sometimes like an 11-year-old." Fortunately for the Egyptian, he was super in the fifth, jumping out to a 9-2 lead and winning the decider 11-5.

The older El Shorbagy's quarter-final opponent will be England's Nick Matthew. The top seed eliminated Adrian Grant, his Commonwealth Games gold medallist doubles partner, in three games.

"It was a good tough game," said Matthew, whose year-long reign at the top of the world rankings came to an end in January after a two-month injury hiatus. "Anyone who thinks I can come right back to my top form after two months out doesn't know squash. I am still trying to find my game."

The younger El Shorbagy's last eight opponent will be Daryl Selby, who defeated Germany's Simon Rosner in four games. The match almost went to five games when Rosner came back from a 5-10 deficit to earn a game ball at 11-10. An ill-considered attempt at a cross court backhand drop from deep in the court resulted in a tin to tie the game and Selby took advantage to finish the match.

"I have been struggling recently to finish off games," said the Englishman after the match. "So at that point, I was trying not to make an error - to make him have to win the game instead of my losing it."

Rounding out the trio of Egyptian squash players into the quarterfinals is two-time title-holder Amr Shabana, whose match with Miguel Angel Rodriguez was the most entertaining and dramatic of the day. Once again, the Colombian qualifier thrilled the crowd with his speed and acrobatic style of play while Shabana's ability to hit a winning nick at the most opportune times left the spectators in the capacity crowd shaking their heads in amazement on several occasions.

Shabana seemed to have control of the match when he took a 2/0 lead after winning the first two games 11-6, 11-8. But the never-say-die Rodriguez was unfazed and won the third game 11-7. The fourth game was all Rodriguez as he jumped out to a 9-3 lead and won the game 11-4.

"I got sucked into his game," said Shabana - "which is to hit a lot of shots and try to make each one better than the last, which results in a lot of tins. I needed to be more patient and wait for a loose ball to attack."

The change in strategy worked - after trading the lead back and forth several times in the early part of the fifth game, Shabana asserted himself at seven-all by hitting a service return winner into the nick. He then patiently kept the ball tight to the wall until he had an opening to attack - even so, it was nearly impossible to hit a shot that the speedy South American could not reach. Shabana surged ahead to 10-7 and at 10-8, hit the ball to every corner of the court.

His opponent covered all the corners and thrilled the crowd by hitting a shot from behind his back and then one through his legs before a deep cross court from Shabana was just enough out of reach to force a game-winning racquet error.

Shabana's quarter-final match will pit two of the game's best shot-makers against each other as he takes on Gregory Gaultier in a repeat of this month's ATCO PSA World Series Finals final in London. "I was worried that I would get off to a slow start after having to wait so long to play," said the Frenchman, referring to the fact that he got on court at 10pm - one and a half hours after his scheduled match, due to several lengthy matches earlier in the day.

"But I actually started quickly," said the world No3. After winning the first game 11-4, Gaultier lost concentration and dropped the second game to Swiss opponent Nicolas Mueller. The third and fourth games were entirely in the Frenchman's control - he was never behind in either game.

The final quarter-final pairing will be a contest between two Englishmen, each of whom won their matches in three games. World No1 and second seed James Willstrop despatched Egyptian qualifier Mohammed Abbas while sixth seed Peter Barker eliminated Canadian Shahier Razik.

First round

Rodriguez Rallies To Grand Central Upset

Colombian qualifier Miguel Angel Rodriguez upended Hisham Mohamed Ashour in a hard-fought five-game thriller on the second day of first round play in the JP Morgan Tournament of Champions to secure a surprise place in the last 16 of the first PSA World Series squash event of the year at Grand Central Terminal in New York.

The 26-year-old from Bogota was a whirling dervish on court, using his extraordinary speed to cover every corner of the court. Egyptian Ashour was bold and boisterous. The standing room only crowd in Vanderbilt Hall in Grand Central was captivated.

"I knew it was going to be tough tonight," said Rodriguez. "But I also knew this was going to be my opportunity to get to the second round."

Rodriguez won the first game 11-7, but world No14 Ashour stepped up with a mix of power and shot-making to win the next two 11-9 and 11-8. The momentum shifted back to the South American, ranked 19 places lower, as he drew level by winning the fourth game 11-5.

Ashour surged ahead in the fifth, 4-2 and 7-4, but Rodriguez was determined and tied the game at seven all, at which point it was anyone's match. "At seven all I said to myself, 'I am not tired, I am not injured, I can get to all the balls'," shared Rodriguez after the match.

Rodriguez flung himself at balls that seemed ungettable until he got his racquet on them. Ashour responded by hitting length followed by drops, followed by lobs, and led again at 9-8. But in the end Rodriguez got to more balls and won the match 11-9 after 75 minutes.

Rodriguez faces another Egyptian Amr Shabana in the second round. The two-time title-holder defeated fellow countryman and tournament roommate Mohd Ali Anwar Reda in three straightforward games.

Shabana has enjoyed a recent run of exceptionally fine play on a par with his days at the top of the world rankings. "I know I am just as god as anyone on the PSA Tour," said the 32-year-old veteran post-match. "But now every day it is about wanting to play."

Shabana's desire was evident as he moved Reda to the back of the court with crisp shots, forcing a defensive response that provided the opening to hit a winner. Shabana punctuated match ball with a bit of flair as he did a double pump fake before dropping the ball to the left front corner to claim his place in the second round.

In the day's opening match, top seed Nick Matthew looked strong and fit as he defeated Wael El Hindi in four games. "I played well for two and a half games," the Englishman said. "Midway through the third, it got a bit scrappy and I lost my concentration."

Matthew's countryman Peter Barker walked by as Matthew offered this self-assessment and reassured his friend that "it's good to have a little rough going now because you'll be better prepared for the later rounds." This is especially true for the former world No1 who was forced to take a break from squash at year-end due to injury.

Matthew's next opponent is compatriot Adrian Grant, his Commonwealth Games Pairs gold medal-winning partner. The left-hander from London survived a strong showing by qualifier Alan Clyne of Scotland who nabbed the second game before succumbing to Grant after 83 minutes.

Mohamed El Shorbagy, the 21-year-old older brother of yesterday's giant killer Marwan El Shorbagy, defeated Pakistan's Aamir Atlas Khan in four games. "It is good to be able to win even when you are not playing your best," was El Shorbagy senior's philosophical assessment of his own play.

Khan, who feels strongly about reviving Pakistan's standing in the squash community, could not maintain the early leads he established in the first and third games, ultimately yielding to El Shorbagy's all-around attacking game.

The world No6 from Alexandria next plays the hard-hitting Australian Cameron Pilley who ousted Finland's Olli Tuominen in three games.

Gregory Gaultier, the tournament's third seed and the 2009 titleholder, moves into the second round with a straight games victory over Spaniard Borja Golan Santin. His opponent will be Switzerland's Nicolas Mueller who defeated qualifier Stephen Coppinger of South Africa in four games.

Selby Stuns Darwish In Grand Central Upset

In an opening day of the JP Morgan Tournament of Champions which was littered with upsets, England's Daryl Selby claimed the biggest scalp with a career-first win over Egypt's Karim Darwish, the No4 seed, in the first PSA World Series squash event of the year in New York.

After losing the first game 4-11 on the all-glass court at Grand Central Terminal, Selby went ahead 9-3 in the second. The former world No1 from Cairo was not going to be dismissed so quickly and worked his way back into the game to take a 10-9 lead.

"That was really the turning point in the match," said Selby later. "Because if I had lost that second game, I am not sure I would have been able to come back from being down 0/2."

Once Selby secured the second game 13-11, the momentum and confidence shifted from the Egyptian, ranked five in the world, to the Englishman. Selby picked up speed and intensity, winning the third game 11-8 and the fourth 11-5.

"I just wanted to play well and see where it took me," said Selby, the world No11 who was making amends for a shock first round defeat in last week's Comfort Inn Open in Vancouver, where he was the fourth seed

The 29-year-old from Essex next faces Germany's Simon Rosner who defeated highly-rated Egyptian Tarek Momen 11-9, 9-11, 11-8, 11-7. "Being in the second round of the main draw is phenomenal," said the 24-year-old German number one from Paderborn. "I felt comfortable out on court today even though my short game wasn't at its best. But under pressure, I felt like I played better shots."

Marwan El Shorbagy, the 18-year-old reigning world junior champion, engineered the day's biggest upset when he ousted former world No1 and eighth seed Thierry Lincou in four games. The Egyptian qualifier was beaming from ear-to-ear as he savoured his stunning victory.

"For me, Lincou is one of the greatest in the game," said the Alexandra teenager. "So this is amazing for me."

Coming into today's match, El Shorbagy was mindful of a 3/0, 27-minute loss to the Frenchman in September. "I figured I needed a new game plan," he said. When asked what the game plan was, his older brother Mohamed, the event's No7 seed, piped up: "Hit and run!"

In fact, El Shorbagy junior covered a lot of court as he went toe-to-toe with one of the sport's strongest and most balanced players. The 35-year-old Frenchman, who started playing the PSA tour the year his opponent was born, fended off his upstart challenger in the first game, 11-9, by hitting strong drives to the rear of the court and then mixing in a variety of shots. But his young challenger was undaunted, and took advantage of an increasing string of errors from Lincou to win the next three games, 11-5, 11-7, 11-7.

"I made a lot of errors," said Lincou after the match, who attributed his lack of match toughness to a two-month hiatus at year end. "You really have to prepare yourself to win, because the youngsters want to prove everything and nowadays even the first round is a tough one."

El Shorbagy, while delighted with his opening round victory, was quick to point out that "the tournament is not over for me; I have a few more rounds to win."

He will next face a rested Tom Richards, who defeated qualifier Max Lee of Hong Kong 11-6, 11-5, 11-4, in just over half an hour. "I set my stall out early," said the Englishman. "I wanted to show Max that that I was going to make it tough for him."

Lee acknowledged the success of Richards' intent. "He put me under so much pressure." The earnest 24-year-old, despite losing, was nonetheless thrilled with his first visit to NYC. "It was such a great feeling for me when I got on the glass court here and looked up at the packed crowd."

The toughest battle of the day was enjoyed by Peter Barker and Ong Beng Hee who pushed each other to the limit in an 84-minute outing that saw sixth seed Barker move onto the second round. The 31-year-old Malaysian qualifier started quite strongly, winning the first two games 11-8, 12-10.

"My old self might have lost that match," said Englishman Barker. "But I have been working on staying calm and not panicking." The work has paid off; Barker dug in and used power and length to wear down his opponent.

"He is so strong, it is difficult to keep up with his pace," said Beng Hee, a former world No7, after the match which Barker won by rebounding to take the final three games 11-7, 11-7, 11-9.

"Just think, it can only get better from here," said Barker's father as he both congratulated and gave his son a bit of a ribbing at the conclusion of the match.

Barker takes on Canada's Shahier Razik in the next round of play. Razik eliminated Julian Illingworth, the local favourite, in four games. While the New York crowd may have been disappointed at losing the highest ever PSA-ranking US player from the draw, the documentary film crew that is following Razik was delighted that he will continue to play.

"I had a little bit of doubt at the beginning of the match," Razik said, "because I had rolled my ankle in the last tournament I played and I wasn't sure how it would hold up. But midway through the match I felt my confidence build."

Second seed James Willstrop also looked quite comfortable on court as he dismissed Australian qualifier Zac Alexander 11-7, 11-3, 11-4. The 2010 titleholder from England, who has become an author with the upcoming publication of Shot and a Ghost, a selected compilation of Willstrop's daily reflections during the past year, said that his entry for this day's diary would read something like: "Great coffee inside Grand Central and played well."

That might be a slight understatement from the current world No1 who acknowledged that he is playing the best squash of his career and competing as well as he ever has.

Willstrop's next opponent also feels that he is playing some of his best squash: Qualifier Mohammed Abbas, who has been ranked as high as 13 in the world, eliminated Alister Walker in four games to set up his second round encounter with Willstrop.

The 31-year-old Egyptian said he is enjoying a second wind in this later stage of his squash playing career. "My recent practices have involved doing a lot of solo hitting, and today I was feeling the ball really well. Plus I was enjoying myself and I really wanted to win."


Top World Ranking Up For Grabs In New York

Whilst James Willstrop will enjoy competing in his first ranking event as world number one in this week's JP Morgan Tournament of Champions in New York, the Englishman is under threat from his predecessor in the first PSA World Series event squash of the year at Grand Central Terminal.

The 2012 JP Morgan Tournament of Champions, boasting a world class field including six former or current world number ones, gets underway for the 16th year at the iconic New York location on Friday.

Second seed Willstrop is expected to face compatriot Nick Matthew, the favourite, in the final on Thursday (26 January). It was fellow Yorkshireman Matthew, who topped the world rankings throughout 2011, that Willstrop succeeded this month.

But, such is the narrow points margin between the pair, the winner of this final would become the world number one next month.

However, should 2011 runner-up Matthew fail to make the final for the fourth time since 2006, Willstrop would extend his world number one reign into a second month.

In a further twist, Matthew could slip to third place should he lose in the semi-finals - and see third-seeded Frenchman Gregory Gaultier progress to win his second Tournament of Champions title.

Matthew begins his eighth Grand Central campaign against New York-based Egyptian Wael El Hindi, the world No50 once ranked eight in the world. The 31-year-old from Sheffield is making his Tour comeback after an adductor injury sustained in Kuwait in November kept him out of the PSA Masters in India in December and the ATCO PSA World Series Finals in London earlier this month.

Should the Englishman reach the last four, he would be expected to line-up against Gaultier in a match which would have significance beyond just a place in the final.

But Gaultier may first have to face fifth seed Amr Shabana, the champion in 2006 and 2007, in the quarter-finals. The illustrious 32-year-old Egyptian, four times the world champion, is enjoying one of the most successful runs in his career with a further two Tour titles to his credit already this year - the ATCO PSA World Series Finals and last week's PSA International 50 Comfort Inn Open in Vancouver.

Willstrop, winner of the ToC crown in 2010, begins his 2012 bid against a qualifier before a likely meeting with English rival Peter Barker, the sixth seed from London, in the last eight round.

Julian Illingworth, the highest-ever ranked US player on the PSA Tour, leads domestic interest in the event. The 27-year-old world No24 from New York will first face North American rival Shahier Razik, the top-ranked Canadian.

Top Women Squash Players Will Compete in J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions

New York, NY, Nov. 21, 2011 - The world’s largest squash spectator event, the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions, announced today that the 2012 championships will include a women’s professional draw in addition to the men’s PSA World Series Gold championship draw. “We are absolutely thrilled that we are able to host the top professional women squash players in addition the best men’s players for the upcoming championships,” says John Nimick, president of Squash Engine, Inc., the event promoter. “The inclusion of the top ranking players from both the men’s and women’s professional tours is especially fitting given the iconic status of the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions in the global squash community.”

Recognized by Yahoo last week as one of the top ten of the world's "most unusual sports venues," the J.P Morgan Tournament of Champions will take place January 20-26, 2012 in Vanderbilt Hall in Grand Central Terminal.

Sanctioned by the Women’s International Squash Players Association (WISPA), the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions women’s draw will feature a feature a 16-player main draw and a 16-player qualification tournament.  

Individual tickets and patron packages are available at

JP Morgan, a global financial services company, is returning as the title sponsor and Lexington Partners as a gold sponsor. New sponsors supporting the event are silver sponsors NBC Universal and Sea Island and bronze sponsor New York Observer. The JP Morgan Tournament of Champions is also supported by returning sponsors Cayman Islands, Big Brothers Big Sisters of New York City, Dunlop, Campbell Apartment, Columbia Hospital, New York Life and the St. Giles Hotel. The tournament’s official charities are the urban youth enrichment programs StreetSquash and CitySquash. The J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions is operated by Squash Engine, Inc. an affiliate of longtime management company Event Engine, Inc., the largest commercial squash promotional company in the world.




Nick Matthew has booked his ticket to Grand Central Terminal in New York for his return to the PSA World Tour.


He meets US-based Egyptian Wael El Hindi in the first round as he bids to get his career back on track after almost two months out of action through injury.

During his absence he surrendered his place at the top of the world rankings to fellow Yorkshireman James Willstrop, who won three tournaments in a row to take the number one spot for the first time in his career.


Matthew returns as number two seed and the two Englishmen are scheduled to meet in the final in New York.


This time the major missing ingredient is Ramy Ashour, who is suffering from a hamstring injury.


After dominating much of 2010 and the first half of 2011, Matthew suffered a series of defeats followed by that enforced injury lay-off. Belief that the injury had contributed to some of those defeats was never offered as an excuse by the 31-year-old from Sheffield.


He lost three times to Ashour, suffered a shock reverse to Tarek Momen in Qatar in October, lost to Gregory Gaultier in Hong Kong and then withdrew from the Kuwait Open at the quarter-final stage where he had been drawn to play Karim Darwish in a newly-installed (and hopefully  forgotten, according to Matthew) random draw.


His outstanding achievement in retaining his World Open title in Rotterdam during the middle of that mental maelstrom was testimony to his phenomenal work ethic, tenacity, stubbornness and determination. Not to mention a ferocious attacking style played at high speed.


To play that kind of squash requires immense fitness and it was this department that let Matthew down before Christmas.


The reason for his withdrawal in Kuwait, and his decision not to play in Delhi, was put down to an adductor injury.


Nick was happy to explain fully as I caught up with him early in the New Year after a training session at his home club, Hallamshire, in Sheffield. He said: “It was a tear at the top of the hamstring where it meets the glutes. It was just a little tear but it affected the adductor. I am not far off being OK. Another two weeks to go before I get the OK to play in the Tournament of Champions.


“I am in full training now and getting close to 100 per cent.  After the physio and rehab I am back on court and doing a full programme, but at the moment I am only operating at 70-80 per cent in terms of intensity.”


Most of the leading players have suffered injuries in the past two years and Nick added: “Injuries have happened to most of the top guys. It’s a tough sport! You look after your body as best you can and be as pro-active as possible. There are not enough hours in the day to worry about it. But you need to have a balance between training and playing. And it’s important to take the decision not to come back too early.


“I am not rushing things but am definitely aiming to be back for the TOC.

“It’s important not to get too down. You can use the time away from tournaments very usefully in terms of strengthening your body and analysing various aspects of your game. You definitely don’t get the time to do that when you are playing tournaments.


“The one thing I learnt from my last injury, when I took a long time to get my shoulder right, w

as that you can turn these things to your advantage. You are always trying to improve and it’s important not to worry about rankings.


“I never feel I’m looking over my shoulder at the other players. I just want to improve my game. You chip away during tournaments and you work on the psychology as well.

“You are always looking to improve on a few areas of your game. I have got my way of playing and always will, but you always like to add a new shot here or there.

“As for the TOC, my trainer will be coming over for the first time and he’s very excited about it.    


“If Carlsberg did a squash tournament, that would be it!”

In February and March, Matthew will be attempting a hat-trick of championship victories at both the North American Open in Richmond and the Canary Wharf Classic in London.


He said: “At the moment I am looking two or three days ahead with my training but as defending champion in those two tournaments I am very proud and they are both special events for me.


“With my injury I am just going from day to day and not looking too far ahead. When you get to the point of planning a return to playing you can start looking at the calendar and thinking about playing. When you are coming back you will take any win you can get.”








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