Tournament of Champions 2013

The World of Squash
at Your Fingertips

About SP
Squash on TV
UK Counties
World Links
Online Store
Books, Subs, Videos

Squash Directory
Where to get it all

Classified Section
Job, Jobs, Jobs ...Something to sell...

18-24, 2013

Official Website

Women's Event

    2012 Event Pages    2011 Event Pages 2010 Event Pages    2009 Event Pages
    2008 Event Pages    2007 Event Pages 2006 Event Pages
   2005 Event Pages

Comeback King Ashour Takes Third ToC Title In New York

Egyptian squash ace Ramy Ashour became only the third player to win the prestigious PSA World Series title a third time when he recovered from two games down to beat French rival Gregory Gaultier in the final of the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions at Grand Central Terminal in New York.

The world number one and world champion from Cairo staged a dramatic comeback on the all-glass court in the Vanderbilt Hall to overcome third seed Gaultier 7-11, 6-11, 12-10, 11-3, 11-1 in 72 minutes.

The first two games were owned by Gaultier. The 30-year-old from Aix-en-Provence established possession of the T early in the match, using stinging pace and tight shots to keep the ball deep in the backcourt and deadly drops to move his opponent the full length of the court.

"It was an especially impressive performance given that each of Gaultier's last two matches had been physically demanding and lengthy," explained tournament spokesman Beth Rasin.

The Frenchman himself found his initial performance unexpected. "I was surprised with the way I was moving in the first two games," Gaultier noted after the match.

The 25-year-old Egyptian, who is often a slow starter, started to find his rhythm in third game - not a moment too soon. With a two-point lead for most of the game, Ashour was able to take the edge off Gaultier's previously relentless attack. Even so, down game ball at 9-10, Gaultier hit a cross court roll nick that tied the game.

Just two points away from losing the match, Ashour - as he has consistently proven himself capable of doing - stepped up in a big way. Having forced a loose ball to the middle from Gaultier's racket and with the Frenchman pinned behind him, Ashour quick flicked the ball for a backhand nick rollout winner. He followed that with a backhand cross court nick winner to take the game.

The TV cameras that were providing the live feed zoomed in on Ashour, whose competitive desire was evident in his wide eyed and focused expression.

The 20-minute third game took a big toll on Gaultier, who managed to stay close only through two-all in the fourth game. At 5-2, the play became fast and furious with each player hitting three reflex volleys until Ashour hit a backhand volley winner from the gut which brought the standing room only crowd to its feet with raucous applause.

Ashour turned to face the crowd and played air guitar with his racquet to acknowledge his delight in having won the point in such spectacular fashion. From that point on, Ashour took complete control of the match.

"Once he saw my energy drop, he raised the pace even more and that was it for me," observed Gaultier.

Ashour closed out the match with an 11-1 fifth game win to become only the third player to win three Tournament of Champions titles, and the first since Briton Peter Nicol in 2004.

"The thing is, I have never seen Greg so relaxed as he was in the first two games," Ashour said in his post-match interview. "He was more than perfect in the first two games."

Ashour, who had previously mentioned his desire to be known as a fighter, certainly provided ample evidence of his fighting will in the championship match.

"What Ashour has demonstrated this week is that any lead against him is tenuous at best," said tournament commentator Will Carlin.

Ashour continued: "With Greg playing so well in the beginning, I just had to keep digging. To beat Greg when is playing as well as he did at the beginning of the match, is amazing. I am so proud of myself."


The Court At Grand Central Terminal

. Qualifying

Womens Event

Ramy Ashour Is PSA Player Of The Year

Ramy Ashour beat French rival Gregory Gaultie(below) in the final
Nick Matthew reaches his sixth successive semi when he defeated seventh seed Karim Darwish

Gregory Gaultier secured his fifth semi since 2006 after defeating Mohamed El Shorbagy

Willstrop ends the spirited run of Stephen Coppinger

Ramy Ashour holds off fellow countryman Omar Mosaad

Official Website:

Tournament of Champions 2013
16-24 Jan, New York, $115k

Grand Central Terminus, New York 

Round One
18/19 Jan
Round Two
20 Jan
21/22 Jan
23 Jan
24 Jan
[1] James Willstrop (Eng)
11-3, 11-5, 11-5 (33m)
Miguel Angel Rodriguez (Col)
James Willstrop
11-13, 11-8, 11-2, 11-6 (62m)
Tarek Momen
James Willstrop
12-10, 11-2, 11-4 (43m)
Steve Coppinger
James Willstrop
5-11, 11-8, 12-10, 10-12, 11-4 (78m)
Ramy Ashour
Ramy Ashour
Gregory Gaultier
Tarek Momen (Egy)
11-1, 11-6, 11-8 (25m)
[Q] Shawn Delierre (CAN)
Adrian Grant (Eng)
6-11, 9-11, 11-4, 11-5, 11-8 (89m)
Cameron Pilley (Aus)
Adrian Grant
11-6, 11-9, 7-11, 9-11, 11-1 (90m)
Steve Coppinger
[5] Peter Barker (Eng)
12-10, 11-6, 6-11, 11-1 (70m)Steve Coppinger (Rsa)
[8] Omar Mosaad (Egy)
11-7, 7-11, 11-8, 11-5 (54m)
Nicolas Mueller (Sui)
Omar Mosaad
11-8, 11-8, 11-6 (38m)
Ong Beng Hee
Omar Mosaad
4-11, 11-3, 12-10, 11-9 (51m)
Ramy Ashour
Ong Beng Hee (Mas)
11-6, 5-11, 11-3, 11-9 (53m)
[Q] Campbell Grayson (NZL)
Simon Rosner (Ger)
11-5, 4-11, 11-6, 11-4 (32m)
[Q] Yasir Ali Butt (PAK)
Simon Rosner
11-8, 11-8, 11-5 (35m)
Ramy Ashour
[4] Ramy Ashour (Egy)
11-5, 11-6, 12-10 (39m)
[Q] Adrian Waller (ENG)
Hisham Ashour (Egy)
11-6, 11-2, 11-1 (25m)
[3] Gregory Gaultier (Fra)
Gregory Gaultier
11-3, 11-6, 11-4 (45m)
Tom Richards
Gregory Gaultier
11-9, 13-11, 13-15, 11-4 (81m)
Mohamed El Shorbagy
Gregory Gaultier
11-8, 10-12, 13-11, 11-3 (93m)
Nick Matthew
Tom Richards (Eng)
12-10, 11-3, 11-6 (35m)
Todd Harrity (Usa)
Olli Tuominen (Fin)
11-1, 11-9, 5-11, 11-5 (53m)
[Q] Gregoire Marche (FRA)
Gregoire Marche
11-8, 11-9, 11-7 (41m)
Mohamed El Shorbagy
Laurens Jan Anjema (Ned)
11-4, 11-5, 11-9 (46m)
[6] Mohamed El Shorbagy (Egy)
[Q] Ryan Cuskelly (AUS)
11-7, 11-7, 9-11, 11-4 (59m)
[7] Karim Darwish (Egy)
Karim Darwish
11-3, 11-5, 12-10 (38m)
Saurav Ghosal
Karim Darwish
11-5, 11-7, 11-8 (44m)
Nick Matthew
Saurav Ghosal (Ind)
13-15, 12-10, 11-9, 11-9 (79m)
[Q] Shahier Razik (CAN)
[Q] Chris Simpson (ENG)
11-5, 11-7, 11-9 (33m)
Amr Shabana (Egy)
Amr Shabana
11-8, 11-6, 11-8 (50m)
Nick Matthew
Alister Walker (Bot)
11-4, 8-11, 11-7, 11-4 (55m)
[2] Nick Matthew (Eng)

Qualifying finals:
Campbell Grayson (NZL) bt Joe Lee (ENG) 14-12, 11-7, 11-6 (62m)
Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) bt Mohd Ali Anwar Reda (EGY) 6-11, 11-8, 13-11, 7-11, 11-3 (91m)
Gregoire Marche (FRA) bt Max Lee (HKG) 11-2, 6-11, 2-11, 11-6, 12-10 (99m)
Adrian Waller (ENG) bt Mohd Nafiizwan Adnan (MAS) 11-7, 6-11, 13-11, 11-8 (63m)
Shawn Delierre (CAN) bt Julian Illingworth (USA) 11-6, 11-6, 11-7 (70m)
Chris Simpson (ENG) bt Abdullah Al Muzayen (KUW) 11-4, 11-3, 8-11, 11-3 (38m)
Shahier Razik (CAN) bt Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) 5-11, 11-4, 11-4, 11-9 (85m)
Yasir Ali Butt (PAK) bt Marwan El Shorbagy (EGY) 6-11, 6-11, 11-8, 11-8, 11-9 (66m)

1st qualifying round:
Joe Lee (ENG) bt Alan Clyne (SCO) 11-8, 11-5, 11-9 (67m)
Campbell Grayson (NZL) bt Christopher Binnie (JAM) 11-4, 11-6, 11-8 (37m)
Mohd Ali Anwar Reda (EGY) bt Cesar Salazar (MEX) 10-12, 11-1, 11-7, 12-10 (59m)
Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) bt Zac Alexander (AUS) 11-7, 12-10, 11-3 (36m)
Max Lee (HKG) bt Wael El Hindi (EGY) 11-9, 12-10, 11-3 (36m)
Gregoire Marche (FRA) bt Luke Butterworth (ENG) 11-2, 11-6, 11-0 (22m)
Adrian Waller (ENG) bt Omar Abdel Meguid (EGY) 12-10, 9-11, 11-8, 11-9 (70m)
Mohd Nafiizwan Adnan (MAS) bt Siddharth Suchde (IND) 9-11, 13-11, 11-5, 9-11, 11-6 (112m)
Julian Illingworth (USA) bt Leo Au (HKG) 6-11, 11-8, 11-7, 12-10 (82m)
Shawn Delierre (CAN) bt Muhd Asyraf Azan (MAS) 11-5, 11-8, 10-12, 11-8 (91m)
Abdullah Al Muzayen (KUW) bt Christopher Gordon (USA) 5-11, 6-11, 12-10, 12-10, 12-10 (89m)
Chris Simpson (ENG) bt Andres Vargas (COL) 11-6, 11-9, 11-2
Shahier Razik (CAN) bt Cameron Stafford (CAY) 11-6, 11-3, 11-7 (28m)
Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) bt Ali Farag (EGY) 11-9, 6-11, 6-11, 14-12, 13-11 (95m)
Yasir Ali Butt (PAK) bt Martin Knight (NZL) 11-4, 11-7, 11-5 (38m)
Marwan El Shorbagy (EGY) bt Robbie Temple (ENG) 14-12, 11-6 ret.



Ashour & Gaultier Make ToC Final In New York

The packed crowd at Grand Central Terminal in New York was treated to brilliant and breath-taking squash on the all-glass court under the magnificent chandeliers in the Vanderbilt Hall as the four best players on the PSA World Tour contested the semi-finals of the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions to earn the right to play for the prestigious title.

After marathon encounters in the first PSA World Series event of the year, fourth seed Ramy Ashour outlasted favourite James Willstrop in five games to set up a final against Gregory Gaultier, the third seed who upset title-holder Nick Matthew in 93 minutes.

The first match was a classic confrontation of two great shot-makers and strategists. Ashour, the new world number one from Egypt, and former top-ranked Englishman Willstrop have had several memorable matches on the ToC glass court - and the latest clash was one of their best ever.

"There's something in the air here," said Willstrop. "We always seem to have really good matches. There is a great sense of occasion for these matches at the Tournament of Champions."

Willstrop rose to the occasion from the very start with focus, intensity and a dead-on backcourt game that prevented Ashour from deploying his lethal front court shot-making. The 29-year-old Englishman won the game 11-5, leaving the voluble Egyptian talking to himself in frustration.

Willstrop jumped out to another early lead in the second game. The Egyptian yelled in frustration at himself, looking to his brother Hisham in the stands just behind the court and shouting at him.

"Somehow, in that moment, the match dynamic changed," explained event spokesman Beth Rasin. "Ashour was back in the game - literally and figuratively."

The 25-year-old from Cairo matched Willstrop's length to the back corners and began moving his 6'4" opponent to the corners. Willstrop responded in kind, and the rallies throughout the midpoint of the second game held the standing room only crowd spellbound.

"As soon as either player got a loose ball, he attacked with a deft drop shot to the front court or a hard drive," Rasin continued. "There was a continuing change of pace throughout the game. Tied at eight-all, it was anybody's game. But Ashour closed it out 11-8."

The third game was a seesaw, with the lead changing hands several times. This was squash at its very best, showcasing the contrasting player styles. Ashour was hitting spectacularly good shots and Willstrop played extraordinary defence to keep points alive several times over.

"The tall Englishman was scrambling, diving and turning quickly to make gets that would be amazing for any player, let alone for a player so tall," Rasin explained.

But it wasn't all defence from the world No3 from Leeds. When he had an opening, Willstrop used the deft, soft shot-making that has prompted Ashour to refer to him as the 'English Egyptian'.

Down 8-10 in the third, Willstrop hit a backhand drop nick winner. At 9-10, Ramy took control of the point, hitting attacking shots to the front and back of the court which had Willstrop twisting, turning and lunging, but it was Willstrop who won the point with a volley winner to even the score at 10-all.

A cracking forehand drive from Ashour forced an error from Willstrop and a loose Willstrop service return on game ball opened up the court for an Ashour winner to give the 25-year-old Egyptian the game, 12-10.

The fourth was another back and forth battle which had the players tied at eight-all, nine-all and ten-all. A soft crosscourt forehand drop winner and a straight drop from Willstrop that forced an error into the tin from Ashour gave Willstrop the game 12-10.

Ashour charged out at the beginning of the fifth with a quick hitting, attacking game that gave him an 8-3 lead. After more than an hour of especially brutal squash, Willstrop showed the slightest hint of weariness and Ashour earned his place in the final with an 11-4 fifth game victory.

"It was anybody's match to win, and Ramy put together a couple of good rallies at the end that had a domino effect to open up that fifth game," said Willstrop after the match. "That's why he is the very best player in the world right now."

Ashour, now in his 43rd Tour final, responded: "That was hard, and one my very best wins. I had to push and push. I was trying to control the pace and play well into the corners. To win a match like this, you have to have more than skill. You have to have will, determination and resilience."

The world number one, who is often lauded for his extraordinary shot-making ability, is not content to have those skills be his ultimate legacy. "It is more important for me to be known as a fighter than a skill player."

Ashour will have a fight on his hands in the final when he takes on Frenchman Gaultier, who defeated English title-holder Matthew in four hard-hitting games. It was a gladiatorial contest between the two players known as being the strongest men on the PSA World Tour.

The first two games saw the players trading powerful drives and cross courts, shot for shot, and exchanging the lead on almost every other point. Gaultier drew first blood, winning the opening game 11-8.

The 32-year-old world No2 from Sheffield responded by grabbing the second 12-10. Although Gaultier took the early lead in the third game at 5-3, he became irritated with the referees and the lead slipped away. When Matthew surged ahead to 10-6, it seemed a foregone conclusion that the Englishman, known for his competitive focus, would win the game and take the match lead.

But it was Gaultier who regained his focus. Two winners from the Aix-en-Provence 30-year-old were followed by two unforced errors from Matthew and the game was tied at 10-all. When Gaultier won the game 13-11, the match momentum shifted dramatically to his racket.

The Frenchman looked like a man on fire at the start of the fourth as he sprinted out to a 7-0 lead. A dispirited Matthew was unable to mount a charge and Gaultier finished out the game 11-3 to earn his second final appearance at the Tournament of Champions.

"Credit to Gaultier for never giving up the third game," said Matthew after the match. "It was psychologically tough in the fourth; I couldn't get my mind off not having closed the door when I was up 10-6 in the third," added the Yorkshireman, denied a third successive appearance in the final.

Gaultier, celebrating his 49th PSA Tour final, concluded: "I felt a bit flat at the end of the second game. At one all, I knew it was going to be very tough. But when I won the third game, it gave me confidence and I forgot about being tired."

Ashour (right) and Willstrop pictured in action at Grand Central.


Matthew & Gaultier Complete Champion
Semi-Final Line-Up

England's Nick Matthew and Frenchman Gregory Gaultier ensured that the semi-finals of the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions live up to the event's title after prevailing in the final two quarter-finals of the first PSA World Series event of the year at Grand Central Terminal in New York to set up an all-champion line-up.

Defending champion Matthew reached his sixth successive semi when he defeated seventh seed Karim Darwish 11-5, 11-7, 11-8 in the first quarter-final - before 2009 champion Gaultier secured his fifth semi since 2006 after defeating Mohamed El Shorbagy 11-9, 13-11, 13-15, 11-4.

It was a vintage performance from Matthew as the world No2 prevented Egyptian Darwish from finding the openings from which he could unleash his shot-making prowess. Keeping the ball deep to the back corners and using a quick attacking volley, the Englishman never gave Darwish a chance to gain any momentum.

Having elected to not to get on court at all on his rest day since the second round, Matthew looked fresh and eager from the very start of the match. The 32-year-old from Sheffield raced out to an 8-2 lead, and won the game 11-5.

In the second, the lead changed hands a few times, but Matthew broke away to reach 10-5 before winning 11-7. From one-all in the third, Matthew never relinquished the lead and closed out the match with an 11-8 win.

"I am pleased with my momentum in the tournament," said Matthew. "But as you move further along each round, it gets tougher and tougher. Sometimes when you have played well, you can take it for granted. I certainly have to stay on my toes mentally for whoever my next opponent is.

"Hopefully they will knock ten bells out of each other," added Matthew, with a wry smile, referring to the Gaultier/El Shorbagy match that was just going on court.

"In fact, the semi-final between Gaultier and the sixth-seeded Egyptian did at times resemble a slugfest," said tournament spokesman Beth Rasin. "It was a fast and furious start from the very first point of play. Both men were hitting the ball quickly and with tremendous pace.

"Gaultier, however, managed to use the corners of the court more effectively than his opponent, and made El Shorbagy cover a lot of court."

At 5-3 in the first game, the ensuing rally lasted several minutes with third seed Gaultier winning the point on his opponent's error. Although Gaultier seemed to be dictating the rhythm of the rallies, El Shorbagy hung tight and managed to close the gap to 9-10. Gaultier won the game, however, at 11-9.

The 30-year-old from Aix-en-Provence shot out to a 6-1 lead in the second, but again El Shorbagy stayed close and tied the score at 11-all. Gaultier, continuing to pull his opponent from corner to corner, snatched the second game 13-11.

"The intensity of Gaultier's competitive desire to win this match was abundantly evident from the double fist pump and loud shout of self-encouragement before he left the court for the 90-second game break," added Rasin.

There was no lack of competitive desire on the young Egyptian's part, however. El Shorbagy, at 22 the youngest player in the world top 25, continued to pummel the ball in an effort to overpower his higher-ranked opponent, but instead Gaultier used the pace to his own advantage by picking up the ball quickly.

Gaultier, the world No4, looked as though he would close out the match in three straight games when he had match-balls at 11-10, 12-11 and 13-12. El Shorbagy, now ranked a single place lower, showed no fear as he fought off each match point - twice with gutsy cross-court roll out nick winners - before taking the game 15-13.

The Frenchman, known for his mercurial temperament, demonstrated patience and mental fortitude in the fourth game: Continuing with his game plan to contain El Shorbagy's potential power and explosive strength, Gaultier earned his semi-final berth with an 11-4 fourth game victory.

"He's young and hungry," said Gaultier of the opponent who has yet to beat him. "But I am old and hungry. I had to play very accurate shots and have good length, so I could keep him from volleying the ball. And I had to be aggressive at the right time."

El Shorbagy acknowledged that shot selection was a key component of the match outcome. "I was not playing the right shot at the right time," explained the loser of his fifth battle with the Frenchman since September 2009.

For Gaultier, the most important element of his winning game was his concentration: "I kept my focus, stayed calm and relaxed." Becoming a father for the first time recently has had a beneficial effect on Gaultier's competitive manner.

"Now that squash is no longer the most important thing in his life, the new father has been more relaxed on court, and very possibly playing the best squash of his career," concluded Rasin.

El Shorbagy later told his followers on Twitter: "Disappointed to lose .. was so close but to be honest this is the best he has ever played against me ... Next time Mr Greg!"

While Matthew and Gaultier will line up in one semi, the other will feature top seed James Willstrop, the 2010 champion from England, and world number one Ramy Ashour, the 2011 champion from Egypt.


Willstrop & Ashour Set Up Sizzling Semi In New York

Ramy Ashour
and James Willstrop - two of the top three squash players in the world and both former world number ones - set up a much-hoped-for J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions semi-final after contrasting quarter-final victories in the first PSA World Series event of the year at Grand Central Terminal in New York.

Top-seeded Englishman Willstrop ended the spirited run of Stephen Coppinger, the unseeded South African who had his best PSA World Series showing with his quarter-final appearance. Tied at nine-all, the first game could have gone either way. Cool as a cucumber and betraying no sign of unease, Willstrop demonstrated the control and confidence that kept him at the top of the world rankings for most of 2012 and gave himself the early cushion by winning the game 12-10.

"Scrappy" was Willstrop's description of the first game. "It was important to win that first game," explained the world No3. "Stephen played hard and it becomes a whole different match when you are one game down at the start."

Coppinger had the cheering section of South African fans rooting him on, complete with the South African flag draped over the stands. Their enthusiasm was increasingly muted as Willstrop asserted his superior racket skills and court coverage to win the second game 11-2.

The third was more of the same, as Willstrop moved the world No23 from Cape Town from corner to corner and kept his 6' 3" opponent off balance for the remainder of the match before closing it out 12-10, 11-2, 11-4 in 43 minutes.

"Clinical, accurate and unforgiving," was how PSA SquashTV commentators Joey Barrington and Paul Johnson described Willstrop's match play.

Wednesday night's tantalizing semi-final was confirmed when Ramy Ashour held off fellow countryman Omar Mosaad in an emotional and erratic match punctuated by some magical moments. The 6'4" Mosaad jumped off to a dramatically fast start, taking the crowd and his opponent by surprise as he won the first game 11-4.

After staying on court during the game break to practise on his own, the reigning world champion and current world No1 improved his shot length and combined it with a quick attack in the second game to take a commanding 10-1 lead before winning it 11-3.

In the third, the two Egyptians went toe-to-toe, exchanging the lead several times as they both used a full variety of shots to move each other the full length and width of the court. It was Ashour who snatched the game at 12-10 by wrong footing his tall opponent with a cross-court forehand that was beyond Mosaad's reach.

Ashour seemed assured of the victory when he took a commanding 10-4 lead in the fourth. The world No9, however, was not ready to concede and with a combination of several winning shots off his racket and a few errors from Ashour, recovered to 9-10.

Ashour was not be denied, though, and after forcing Mosaad to the back of the court with great length hit a soft drop that was just out of Mosaad's reach.

Ashour's immediate reaction was quite emotional: he threw his racquet down and gave a fist pump and a shout. "I was just mad at myself for giving up that big lead at 10-1," said the voluble Ashour after the match.

Earlier in the week, the 25-year-old from Cairo had talked about the pressure of topping the world rankings. "Being world number one is hard work," he said. "I'm happy because I got there, but it is not always fun. I am trying not to put too much pressure on myself."

Matthew Gets Revenge Win Over Shabana In NYC

After two defeats already this year by the four-time world champion from Egypt, England's Nick Matthew (right) gained his revenge in the second round of the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions when he beat Amr Shabana in straight games to progress to the quarter-finals of the first PSA World Series squash event of the year at Grand Central Terminal in New York.

"Squash fans filled the Grand Central Terminal stands in the early evening for the highly anticipated Matthew/Shabana match," said tournament spokesman Beth Rasin. "The prospect of watching these two former world number ones battle in the second round - when normally they would be at least at least a quarter-final pairing - was tantalizing."

For two games the quality of the squash was on par with a final. Defending champion Matthew looked especially strong as he eliminated Shabana, a two-time ToC champion, 11-8, 11-6, 11-8 in 50 minutes.

"It was a lot like chess out there," said Matthew, who lost to the illustrious 33-year-old from Cairo in the pool section of this month's ATCO PSA World Series Finals in London, and then in the final! "We have played each other a lot recently and we know each other's games so well."

Matthew established early that he would be digging after every ball, and using the volley attack. Shabana showed himself ready to respond in the first two games. The result was lengthy points in which each player was probing for an opening and patiently waiting for the opportunity to hit an attacking shot.

Although Shabana is generally considered the better shot-maker, it was the 32-year-old from Sheffield who found more openings. Maintaining at least a two-point lead throughout the first game, Matthew won the first game 11-8. At 7-6 in the second, the second-seeded Englishman ran off four straight points to go ahead 2/0. Matthew closed out the match with an 11-8 third game win.

"My game plan was not to have a game plan," Matthew explained. "I felt like I had been overthinking my recent matches, so I decided to just go out and enjoy playing."

The Englishman's next opponent is another former world No1 from Egypt Karim Darwish - who despatched India's Saurav Ghosal 11-3, 11-5, 12-10. Darwish was especially forceful when he was down two game balls at 8-10 in the third. "I did not want to go into a fourth game," said the No7 seed after the match. So he used a volley attack to win three quick points and ensure a place in the ToC quarter-finals.

Top seed James Willstrop was the day's first victor, defeating young Egyptian Tarek Momen in four games. "It has been a long time since I have played this early," said the Englishman, referring to his noon start time. Although the former world number one had a 10-8 lead in the first game, it slipped away as Momen hit two front court winners, and Willstrop tinned a fairly easy drop shot.

"I wasn't disheartened," Willstrop said. "It was a testing opening game. I am a big bloke and I need to get my body moving and Tarek makes you move, so I felt like I was just getting started."

After winning the second game 11-8, Willstrop really picked up momentum and nabbed the third 11-2. Shooting out to a 6-3 lead in the fourth, Willstrop's continuing momentum was momentarily halted when Momen asked for an injury time out. With no apparent problems, Momen returned to the court, and the Englishman picked up where he had left off and closed out the match with an 11-6 fourth game win.

"I was pleased with my accuracy and variety on the court today," said the victor.

Willstrop will play Stephen Coppinger (left) in the quarter-finals. The unseeded South African earned his way to his first ToC quarter-final by defeating England's Adrian Grant in 11-6, 11-9, 7-11, 9-11, 11-1 in 90 minutes.

It was Coppinger's first Tour win over former world No9 Grant - and earned the 28-year-old world No23 from Cape Town his first ever appearance in the last eight of a PSA World Series event.

The remaining two former ToC titleholders in the draw - Gregory Gaultier and Ramy Ashour - were ruthlessly efficient in their quest for another title as each won his matches in straight games.

"Playing here in Grand Central is unbelievable," said Frenchman Gaultier after his 11-3, 11-6, 11-4 victory over England's Tom Richards. "But when you get on court, you have to focus on what's in front of you." Gaultier's focus, foot and racquet speed kept Richards off balance for most of their match.

Gaultier will next play Mohamed El Shorbagy who dismissed French qualifier Gregoire Marche 11-8, 11-9, 11-7. "I felt a bit flat today, so I am really glad I managed to win in three," said the 22-year-old Egyptian. Asked to comment on his quarter-final pairing with Gaultier, El Shorbagy said: "Of the top four players, I find Gregory the toughest to play. He's so quick and he attacks and defends well."

Ashour eliminated Germany's Simon Rosner in classic 'Ramy style': extraordinary shot-making and great reach. The two have known each other since their junior playing days.

"Ramy is just too good," Rosner said after the match. "You just never know what he is going to do with the ball."

Fellow countryman Omar Mosaad, who defeated Malaysia's Ong Beng Hee 11-8, 11-8, 11-6, will be Ashour's next opponent.


1st Round Bottom Half of Draw

Marche Marches On In New York

France's Gregoire Marche (left) became the only qualifier to make the last 16 of the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions when he upset experienced Finn Olli Tuominen on the second day of first round action in the first PSA World Series squash event of the year at Grand Central Terminal in New York.

It was an authoritative triumph for the 22-year-old from Aix-en-Provence who, when he qualified against expectations, admitted that it was a 'dream come true' to make his debut on the fabled all-glass court in Vanderbilt Hall.

Unfazed by his first appearance on the court, world No36 Marche ripped through Tuominen with an 11-1 first game win. A persistent retriever, the Frenchman stepped up to a 7-3 lead in the second. But the 32-year-old Finn, known for his tenacity and fitness, closed the gap at eight-all and then nine-all.

Marche held fast, though, and won the second at 11-9. Tuominen, ranked 12 places higher, made a good run in the third, after being tied at five-all, and kept his own ToC hopes alive by winning the game 11-5. The young and increasingly confident Frenchman pushed back to win the fourth game 11-5.

"There was a little bit of stress," Marche said after the match. "But I knew I could win this match. I worked hard at the end of the year to be ready for this."

While his accuracy during the match was good, Marche's post-match racket skills may need some tuning up. The exuberant winner tossed his racket in the air on winning his match-ball - and it landed on Tuominen's head!

Marche's second round opponent will be Egypt's Mohamed El Shorbagy, a surprise finalist at the PSA World Championship in December. The fast-rising 21-year-old eliminated Dutchman Laurens Jan Anjema in straight games, 11-4, 11-5, 11-9. "I think I played well today," said El Shorbagy, the sixth seed. "If you can win 3/0 in the early rounds, it is a bonus."

Englishman Tom Richards played before the most vocal crowd in Grand Central when he took on the lone American in the draw, wild card Todd Harrity. The Princeton University senior went toe-to-toe with Richards in the first game, supported by his very vocal Princeton team-mates.

However, the young American was not able to capitalise on the game ball he had at 10-9, and Richards clinched the game 12-10. Moving the ball from corner to corner, world No13 Richards increased the pressure on Harrity, winning the next two games 11-3, 11-6, in convincing fashion.

"I was impressed with how Todd came out to play," said the 26-year-old from Surrey. "He really forced the issue, attacking the ball and volleying." As for his own rise in the rankings in the past year, from 20 to 13, Richards credited a better understanding of the game and better shot selection for his improvement.

Richards will face 2009 champion Gregory Gaultier in the second round. The 30-year-old third-seeded Frenchman played the briefest first round match, dismissing Egypt's Hisham Mohd Ashour in three games in 25 minutes.

Seventh seed Karim Darwish, also from Egypt, had to work a little longer against qualifier Ryan Cuskelly to earn his second round berth. The New York-based Aussie stayed close in the first two games and snatched the third at 11-9. But the former world number one from Cairo responded with a decisive fourth game win, 11-4, to set up his last 16 clash with India's Saurav Ghosal.

The match between Ghosal and qualifier Shahier Razik - at age 35 the oldest player in the draw - could have gone either way throughout the match. Canadian Razik saved three game balls to win the first opener 15-13. Then Ghosal saved one game ball down 9-10 in the second, by hitting a nick winner off Razik's serve.

"That was really the difference in the match," said a weary Razik after the match. "Instead of being down 0/2, we were all tied up." In the third game, Ghosal sprang ahead to a 10-6 lead; Razik fought back to 9-10, and Ghosal closed it out at 11-9.

In the fourth, the two players exchanged the lead several times, before the Kolkata-born 26-year-old claimed his inaugural second round ToC appearance by winning the game 11-9.

England's wold No2 Nick Matthew found himself on court a little longer than he would have liked in the first round against his fellow countryman Joe Lee. The defending champion started strongly, winning the first game 11-4, by picking up every ball and attacking at every opportunity.

"I had a bit of a mental lull in the second," said Matthew, referring to Lee's capture of that game at 11-8. "So I had to work harder than I would have liked." The second seed reasserted himself in the third and dominated the fourth to close out the match 11-7, 11-4.

After the match, Matthew confessed: "I made the mistake today of looking ahead before I was finished with this match." The 32-year-old from Sheffield was referring to the potential second round match with Amr Shabana, two time ToC champion who defeated Matthew in the PSA World Series Finals final earlier this month.

The two will indeed meet in what Matthew referred to as an "unusual" second round match-up between the two former world number ones.

Shabana, whose world ranking dropped to nine in December, when the Tournament of Champions draw was done, fell outside the top eight seeding format used by PSA. Thus, the four-time world champion who had topped the PSA world rankings for 33 straight months starting in April 2006, was subject to the luck of the draw, as was his opponent Matthew.

The consensus among those in the know is that Shabana is lean and hungry and playing consistently dangerous squash. "I still think I am as good as anybody out there," Shabana said in a post-match interview.

The talented Egyptian wasted no time in getting to the second round as he dismissed English qualifier Chris Simpson, 11-5, 11-7, 11-9 in just 33 minutes.

"I felt like Shabana could play any shot from any corner of the court," said Simpson, playing on the ToC glass court for the first time.

Shabana was matter of fact as he looked ahead to match with Matthew. "It is just another match," he said.

After the end of the first round of play, it is the match that has everyone else buzzing with anticipation.

1st Round Top Half

Coppinger Conquers Barker In ToC Shock

Peter Barker, the Englishman who boasts the most consistent record in PSA World Series events for the past two years, fell to South African Stephen Coppinger (right) in a major first round upset in the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions at Grand Central Terminal in New York.

It was the world number seven from London's 46th appearance in a PSA World Series squash event since last suffering a first round loss - at the Saudi International in December 2006!

"There's a huge sense of occasion when you play on the glass court in Grand Central," said Coppinger, the 28-year-old from Cape Town after scoring the day's biggest upset when he eliminated the fifth seed 12-10, 11-6, 6-11, 11-1.

Ranked 16 places lower than Barker, Coppinger had lost to the Englishman in all five of their previous meetings. The first game was extremely physical, as the 6'3" Coppinger and 6'0" Barker jostled for position at the T. Up 10-8 in the first game, Barker was unable to close out the game through a seemingly endless series of let calls, and Coppinger prevailed 12-10.

After losing the second 6-11, the Londoner staged a comeback to win the third by the identical score. But Coppinger stormed to an 8-0 lead in the fourth game before closing out the match to earn a spot in the last 16 of the world's largest spectator squash event.

"Last year, I was just happy to qualify for the main draw here," said Coppinger, the world No23 who credited his training with former world champion David Palmer for the significant improvement during the past year in his game and his mind-set. "But this year, I have the extra belief; I feel like I belong here and I can play with these guys."

Coppinger's next opponent will be England's Adrian Grant, who progressed to the next round with a five-game victory over Australian Cameron Pilley. Bidding to make the second round for the third time in seven Tournament of Champions appearances, Grant started slowly but picked up steam through the match.

Just 24 hours earlier, when the Londoner chatted with school age participants in StreetSquash, the Harlem, NYC-based urban Squash Program, Grant had talked good humouredly about his reputation on the PSA Tour for playing five-game matches.

"Pilley always comes out like a steam train," said Grant after his 6-11, 9-11, 11-4, 11-5, 11-8 victory in 89 minutes. "But after feeling like I was hard-done-by by a couple of referee decisions, I got a little teed off and got my aggressions out on court, which turned the match around."

Egypt's Omar Mosaad, in only his second appearance in the Tournament of Champions, notched up the first victory of the tournament with a four-game victory over Switzerland's Nicolas Mueller. "I am so happy to play here and win," said the 24-year-old world No9 with a huge smile. He credited a basic back court game of hitting the ball deep to control the court and waiting for a volley opening being the winning strategy.

Next up for the Egyptian is Malaysia's 32-year-old Ong Beng Hee, whose seniority provided the winning edge in his four-game victory over 26-year-old New Zealand qualifier Campbell Grayson. "I played well in patches," said the former World Junior Champion who made his first appearance in the ToC qualifiers in 2000. "I think my experience made the big difference in the fourth game."

The three qualifiers in the evening session of play were schooled by their more seasoned opponents. World No12 Tarek Momen eliminated Canada's Shawn Delierre in straight games, and world champion and current world No1 Ramy Ashour ended Adrian Waller's Tournament of Champions journey with a 3/0 victory.

Simon Rosner of Germany, less than pleased at having given up a game to Pakistan's Yasir Ali Butt, took comfort in having won even with what he considered a slow start.

The full house evening crowd at Grand Central buzzed with anticipation as they settled in for the evening's second match between top seed James Willstrop and the acrobatic Miguel Angel Rodriguez of Colombia, the 29-year-old Englishman was just too good and allowed Rodriguez only a few points in each game.



Marche Makes Dream ToC Main Draw

"This is a dream come true," said 22-year-old Frenchman Gregoire Marche after qualifying for his very first J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions in a gruelling 99-minute match against Hong Kong's Max Lee at the Princeton Club in New York. "Since I was 10, I have watched the great players, like Gregory Gaultier, win this tournament."

After winning the first game in the qualifying finals of the first PSA World Series squash event of the year, Marche quickly dropped the next two to his higher-ranked opponent - but revived in the fourth. The fifth was nip and tuck all the way as the lead changed hands on almost every single point until the Frenchman closed out the match 11-2, 6-11, 2-11, 11-6, 12-10.

The match that followed was only eight minutes shorter and equally intense as Ryan Cuskelly became the only Australian to qualify after defeating Egypt's Mohd Ali Anwar Reda 11-3 in the fifth. The play was fast, furious and physical.

Pakistan's Yasir Ali Butt will make his first appearance on the glass court at Grand Central Terminal after producing the day's biggest upset - displaying great tenacity in his five-game win over Marwan El Shorbagy, the world No27 from Egypt. Down two games to love, the Pakistani was persistent in his ball retrieval. A few key mistakes in each of the last three games from El Shorbagy turned the match around, with Butt winning 6-11, 6-11, 11-8, 11-8, 11-9 to secure his place in the main draw.

Local hopes were dashed when eight-time US champion Julian Illingworth succumbed in three games to Canada's Shawn Delierre.

New Zealand's Campbell Grayson was decisive and strategic as he executed precise winners, especially on his drop shots, to defeat England's Joe Lee 14-12, 11-7, 11-6.

Lee, who dismissed the qualifying event's highest-ranked player Alan Clyne in the previous round, later received a place in the main draw as 'lucky loser' after the withdrawal of Alister Walker, the world No15 from Botswana.

England's Chris Simpson took a decisive two-game lead against Abdullah Al Muzayen. But just as he had in his five-game victory the previous night, the young Kuwaiti came alive in the fourth and with several winning shots kept his hopes of a Grand Central appearance alive. The Englishman had other ideas, however, and reasserted himself to win the fourth game, 11-3, with relative ease.

Simpson was later joined in the main draw by compatriot Adrian Waller. At one-all, Waller was down 4-10 in the third against Mohd Nafiizwan Adnan of Malaysia. After coming back to win 13-11, Waller attacked relentlessly in the fourth to take his place in the main draw.

It has been seven years since Canadian veteran Shahier Razik had to qualify for the Tournament of Champions. The 35-year-old from Toronto needed four games and 85 minutes to fend off 26-year-old Frenchman Mathieu Castagnet.

"My heart keeps me going. I love to play," explained a tired but happy Razik after the match. "And tonight, what kept me going was that I wanted to play in Grand Central again."

Lee Licks Clyne In ToC Qualifying Upset

England's Joe Lee claimed the biggest scalp in the first qualifying round of the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions when he denied Alan Clyne, the world No28 from Scotland, a place in the qualifying finals of the first PSA World Series squash event of the year in New York.

London-born Lee, a 23-year-old who celebrated a career-high world No42 ranking this month, clearly knows what it takes to beat the higher-ranked Scot as he marched to his fourth victory in five successive meetings with the qualifying event's top seed, winning 11-8, 11-5, 11-9 in 67 minutes.

Lee will now line up against Campbell Grayson for a place in the main draw of the championship which celebrates its 16th year at Grand Central Terminal. New Zealander Grayson defeated Jamaican Christopher Binnie 11-4, 11-6, 11-8.

But the was no lack of desire in the attempts to experience competing in one of the world's most famous railway stations. Hometown favourite Christopher Gordon looked as though he would please the packed crowd at the Harvard Club when he grabbed a convincing 2/0 lead against Kuwait's Abdullah Al Muzayen and had two match balls in the third. But the young Kuwaiti, on his first trip to NY, was unfazed and fought back to win the third 12-10.

Gordon again had two match balls at 10-8 in the fifth but Al Muzayen used his speed and shot-making to neutralise the New Yorker's reach, ultimately prevailing 5-11, 6-11, 12-10, 12-10, 12-10 in 89 minutes.

Harvard player Ali Farag also had an opportunity to win his match against Mathieu Castagnet of France when he took a 10-8 lead in the fourth. But the Frenchman remained tough and grabbed the game 13-11. The fifth game was marked by several long rallies where the players moved the ball to all corners of the court.

The lead changed hands several times and again Ali had match balls at 10-8. But Castagnet was not to be denied and closed out the match, winning 11-9, 6-11, 6-11, 14-12, 13-11 after 95 minutes.

There were three former world number ones and the current top-ranked PSA player at the Harvard Club - although none played. Karim Darwish, Amr Shabana and Ramy Ashour were there to cheer on the young Egyptian, while Gregory Gaultier was supporting his fellow countryman Castagnet.

The evening's last match was the longest as Mohd Nafiizwan Adnan of Malaysia outlasted India's Siddharth Suchde 9-11, 13-11, 11-5, 9-11, 11-6 in a 112-minute marathon.

At the other end of the spectrum, veteran Shahier Razik of Canada made short work of his tall opponent, the Cayman Island's Cameron Stafford. Hong Kong's Max Lee ended Wael El Hindi's return to the PSA World Tour with an 11-9, 12-10, 11-3 victory.

Frenchman Gregoire Marche's pace and power were too much for England's Luke Butterworth. Englishman Chris Simpson dismissed Trinity University Assistant coach Andres Vargas (by way of Colombia) 11-6, 11-9, 11-2 by punishing every loose ball.

Egyptian teenager Marwan EL Shorbagy was not unhappy to have had a short match after his English opponent Robbie Temple retired with the score standing at 14-12, 11-6.


El Hindi Marks Return To PSA World Tour At ToC

After taking a break for almost the whole of last year "to try playing PST", Egypt's former world top ten squash star Wael El Hindi makes his return to the PSA World Tour at this week's J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions in New York City.

"When I joined PST, I wanted to do the best for my family and wanted to spend more time with my new born daughter," explained the New York-based 32-year-old from Cairo. "After joining the PST, I realised that it's not an organisation, but a one man show. The ranking that PST was fighting for had nothing to do with a real ranking system as he was making up a ranking and seeding for every event.

"The 'No Let' rule, which seemed like a good idea at first, made it really difficult especially when you have high level (pro) squash players playing against average or amateur squash players, including juniors," added the former world No8.

The J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions, the first PSA World Series championship of the year, gets underway at Grand Central Terminal on Friday (18 January) after two days of qualifying.

El Hindi, whose world ranking has now plummeted to 178, will compete in the qualifiers of the famous New York championship in which he made his first appearance in 2002 - when he went on to make the first of three subsequent appearances in the quarter-finals.

"I'm very happy to be back to PSA and look forward catching up with my friends from the tour," said El Hindi. "There will not be a return to the PST for me.

"I also would like thank John Nimick for giving to the opportunity to make my first comeback in the world's favourite event!"

PSA COO Lee Beachill added: "We are delighted to welcome Wael back to the PSA Tour. As a professional squash player we feel he is back where he belongs."

'Rock Star' Matthew Revels In NYC Return

England's world number two Nick Matthew can't wait to defend his title at this week's J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions - the first PSA World Series squash championship of the year in New York City where he and his fellow Tour players are welcomed like 'rock stars'.

The 2013 J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions, featuring 23 of the top 25 players in the world, will be staged for the 16th year at the world-famous Grand Central Terminal, from 18-24 January.

Matthew, the 32-year-old from Sheffield who topped the world rankings throughout 2011, claimed the Tournament of Champions' title for the first time last year after finishing as runner-up in 2006, 2009 and 2011.

Seeded two, the defending champion is expected to meet English rival James Willstrop, the top seed and 2007 champion, in a repeat of the 2012 final - and a predicted sixth successive final featuring an Englishman.

"The ToC is a massive tournament and is without a doubt my favourite event on the tour," said Matthew as he prepared for the first ranking event of the year.

"It is the only time we squash players feel like rock stars and it was a lifelong ambition to get my name on the trophy.

"I have been in the final four times and won the US Open in New York in 1997 and also got voted PSA player of the year there in 2011 - so I have massively fond memories of the city."

Matthew competed in last week's ATCO PSA World Series Finals at The Queen's Club in London. Action from the star-studded event, which boasted the top eight players from the 2012 World Series championships, was broadcast live to a potential worldwide audience of more than 300 million.

"Last week in Queen's it was fantastic for the sport to get live coverage on Sky, not only for us to showcase our abilities but to promote the Olympic bid too," added Matthew. "Hopefully we can continue the momentum in New York."

Matthew begins his campaign against former England team-mate Alister Walker, the New York-based world No15 now representing Botswana.

World number three Willstrop lines up against top-ranked Colombian Miguel Angel Rodriguez in the first round.

2011 champion Ramy Ashour, the 25-year-old Egyptian who now tops the world rankings after clinching the PSA World Championship last month in Qatar, will make a welcome return to Tour action at Grand Central after a hamstring injury forced his withdrawal from the World Series Finals.

Ashour, the fourth seed, takes on a qualifier in the opening round and is set to meet Willstrop in the semi-finals.




si-crest 5535_872





  Sanctioned by