Egyptian squash maestro Amr Shabana dominated Gregory Gaultier
in the final of today’s 2014 J.P Morgan Tournament of Champions,
beating the Frenchman 3-0 to seal the title in New York’s Grand
Shabana was in ominous form from the very first point, looking
back to his best, and displayed the calibre of talent that saw
him occupy the No.1 ranking for over 30 consecutive months
between 2006 and 2008.
Shabana’s victory, his first PSA World Series event title since
2011, also prevents Gaultier from becoming World No.1 outright
in February as the Aix En Provance man now goes level with
England’s Nick Matthew atop the rankings.
maybe at his 100 per cent best tonight but I took full advantage
“I can remember so many times
when he has beat me 3-0 when I have been playing my best so I’m
happy to win today especially as it has been eight years since I
last won the title here and playing a final here is such an
“Everything came together for me
this week. You can do all the training you want but you still
need things to go your way and that’s what happened for me this
week so I’m going to remember it for a long time.
“I had a
tough few years with injury and every time you get injured you
don’t know if you’ll be back again. I’ve had moments when I’ve
thought that would be it for me but luckily I’ve kept my head
down and I’m ok for now.”
Four-time World Squash Champion Amr Shabana and French star
Gregory Gaultier will contest the final of the 2014 J.P Morgan
Tournament of Champions in New York’s Grand Central Terminal on
The duo booked their final berths with impressive victories over
James Willstrop and Mohamed Elshorbagy, respectively, and will
contest a final in which there is more than a title at stake.
Victory against Elshorbagy saw Gaultier draw level with
England’s Nick Matthew atop the world rankings but victory in
the final would see him surpass the Sheffield-player to become
Squash World No.1 outright.
World No.1 again by winning this match was a big goal for me,”
“Being World No.1 is a big thing
for every player and I’m happy I got through today. Everybody
was talking about it and I just tried to focus on the match and
my tactics - but it gives you a bit of tension and I started the
game flat and he came out on fire.
“Today was my turn – one day it
will be his – but I keep pushing to try and beat these young
players. One day he’ll be up there instead of me so I’m going to
enjoy it for a bit but I have another match to play tomorrow.
“Shabana has been unbelievable
this week - when he playing like this he is probably the best
“To me he his the most inspiring
guy and technically I think he is the best. When I’ve watched
him this week he has inspired me – but that doesn’t mean I don’t
want to beat him – I want to win tomorrow.”
Shabana, who impressed in a 3-1 win over Willstrop in an
enthralling contest, will also be hoping to end what has been a
tough period of time for him with injury and illness having
interrupted his past few seasons and win his first PSA World
Series ranking event since 2011.
“I’m really over the moon,”
said Shabana after his 11-5, 5-11, 11-5, 11-5 win.
“Any time you get a win over a
player the calibre of James Willstrop you have to be playing
“I’ve made it to the final and
I’m happy but I’m just trying to take it day by and day and do
my best. Playing in a final at Grand Central is an amazing
“The crowd really get behind the
players and we love it so win or lose you just try and enjoy the
Click on Images for Larger View
Amr Shabana (above) and French star Gregory Gaultier (below)
will contest the final
Quarter Finals Top HalfFrench World No.2 Gregory Gaultier booked
his place in the semi-finals of the 2014 J.P Morgan Tournament
of Champions earlier today, dispatching German Simon Rosner 3-0.
The victory, in what was his 34th consecutive
appearance in the quarter-finals of a PSA World Series event,
will now see Gaultier compete in his third consecutive
Tournament of Champions semi-final - an event where he finished
runner-up in 2013.
good to win and Simon has been improving a lot recently,”
“The past few months especially,
since he won in Kuwait, has been a big confidence boost for him
and he has had a few big wins this week and it highlights how
tough the tour is at the moment, so I’m glad to still be able to
win these matches.
“I still want to be the best in
the world and I’m happy when I’m still able to beat these young
“I’m going to recover now and
take tomorrow as another day. I will go in with a game plan and
I will try and stick to it. I have been working a lot on my
mental side recently and it seems to be working and I’m quite
happy with the way I played so I’m looking forward to the
Gaultier came through 12-10, 11-6, 11-7 and he will now take on
Egypt’s Mohamed Elshorbagy in tomorrow’s semi-finals who earned
his place in the final four with a 3-1 win over Daryl Selby of
“I’m very excited to be in my
first TOC semi-final,”
“The match today was such a tough
battle and Daryl played very well.
“It was a very flowing game
played in great spirit as well and he put me under a lot of
pressure so I’m happy that I came through that match to win.
“I have never played in a
semi-final here before but I hope that I can win in the
semi-finals because it would mean a lot to me to make it through
to the final.
“It was be
very special if I could play Amr Shabana in the final because
that would be a dream come true for me – to play my idol in the
final of a world series event so hopefully we can both win
Click on Images for Larger
View Gaultier (Above) Wil Contest Semi Final With
Four time World Champion Amr Shabana pulled off the upset of the
tournament so far at the J.P Morgan Tournament of Champions
earlier today, defeating World No.1 Nick Matthew in a thrilling
Shabana was at his sublime best to get past Matthew, who has
been in arguably the best form of his career in recent months
since winning the 2013 World Squash Championship in Manchester
In each of their last four meetings it was the English-man who
triumphed but Shabana showed his world class calibre to seal the
victory 9-11, 12-10, 11-7, 2-11, 11-9.
probably one of the best matches that I have played in a long
time,” said Shabana,
“Nick is the World Champion and
the World No.1 and he’s beaten me in the last four or five games
that we played so I had to play at my very best to beat him. I
had a game plan and I stuck to it and thankfully it worked.
“Every time you lose you learn
something new and even today I felt he was pushing very hard.
He’s probably the best guy out there at the moment but we’re all
competitors and you can’t always win and thankfully today it was
me who snuck the victory today.”
Shabana will face England’s
James Willstrop in Thursday’s semi-finals after the Pontefract
player got past compatriot Peter Barker 3-1.
“It’s not been my best week of
said WIllstrop after his match.
“But I improved again a little
“Pete gave me a lot to think
about but I’m through to a semi-final and I’m old enough now to
know that you can turn things around and get through the rusty
“I’m not playing badly but I
haven’t set the world on fire.
“Every player would say that
Shabana is at the top of their list. His ball striking and
natural purity is great and I enjoyed watching him play Nick. It
was along game but he’s used to it and he’s strong so I don’t
think that will have a big impact.
“It excites me to be in the semi
and I’m going to enjoy that for 48 hours. I like playing here
and I like playing Shabs so I’m looking forward to it.”
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Amr Shabana Stuns World No. 1 Nick Matthew To Reach Semi Final Berth
James Willstrop in Thursday’s
semi-finals after the Pontefract player got past compatriot
Peter Barker 3-1
German World No.13 Simon Rosner put in an emphatic performance to record a
comprehensive 3-0 victory over World No.5 Karim Darwish in the second round
of the J.P Morgan Tournament of Champions in New York earlier today.
Rosner showed class, composure and control to come through 11-2, 12-10, 11-5
in a 45 minute encounter in what was only his second ever PSA World Series
win over the event’s No.5 seed.
“I’m very pleased with how I played
tonight - I think that was one of the biggest scalps of my career so far,”
“I ended 2013 with
a great win in Kuwait and my momentum has really been going since then and I
think I played a solid, aggressive game tonight with few mistakes which was
Rosner will now face World No.2 Gregory Gaultier in the quarter-finals on
Wednesday after the Frenchman dispatched Botswana’s Alister Walker 3-0 in
his second round match.
“The win is important but the performance
is a huge confidence boost and I’m really looking forward to the next game
now," said Rosner.
“I can go into the game with Greg without
any pressure as he is the favourite and those are sometimes the best games
to play as you can relax a little more.”
England’s Daryl Selby booked his place the quarter-finals after beating
fellow Englishman Chris Simpson 3-1 to book his place against Egyptian
Mohamed Elshorbagy, the man who beat him in the semi-final of the Qatar
Classic in 2013, who defeated compatriot Tarek Momen 3-1.
“Chris has had a few good wins in recent
months so I knew going into the game that it would be tough so I’m very
happy to get through,”
“I think I played well in the first game
and just managed to sneak the second game and that made a big difference –
2-0 is very different to 1-1 and it could of gone either well.
“He picked it up in the third game but
I’m fairly happy with how I played. I didn’t use the front of the court like
I should and that’s something I’ll have to address before playing Mohamed.
“He’s in the top four and deservedly so,
he’s been playing fantastic for the last year or so. He handles himself well
on and off court as well so I think it will be a good match.
“He’s never been past the quarter-finals
here before though so hopefully my experience can help me a bit against him
and I’m looking forward to it.”
Simon Rosner comprehensive 3-0 victory over World No.5 Karim Darwish Daryl Selby booked his place the
quarter-finals after beating fellow Englishman Chris Simpson
England No.2 and World No.4 James Willstrop came through a challenging
encounter with Australian Cameron Pilley at the J.P Morgan Tournament of
Champions earlier today to book his place in the quarter-finals.
Willstrop came through in straight games but was forced to work hard for his
victory with two games decided on a tie-break.
“It was a tight game
and a bit of a scrap in places, especially in the first and third games,”
well in the second game but I’m not managing to my put my game together on a
consistent enough basis at the moment but you always take a win and to win
when you’re not at your best is a bonus.
testament to Cameron in how he came back in the third. I was getting on top
and he could have let his head drop but he’s a world class player and showed
Willstrop will now face compatriot Peter Barker who beat French World No.25
Mathieu Castagnet 3-1 to earn his place in the quarters.
I have played a lot and I think we’re both finding our feet in ways this
week,” said Willstrop.
shown that he’s worked hard to come back from injury and win two matches so
far so he’s obviously in great shape at the moment.
great athlete and never gives you anything lightly and he’s tough to crack
so I need to try and put my game together to get past him. I’m in another
quarter-final which is exciting so hopefully I can keep going and get the
Egyptian maestro Amr Shabana came through his second round game, putting in
a superb performance to dispatch Laurens Jan Anjema 3-0 and book a
quarter-final berth against World No.1 Nick Matthew, who dispatched South
African Stephen Coppinger 3-0.
today I played as well as I ever could,”
said Shabana. “LJ is a
big guy with a lot of great skills so I was very focused to play the right
game against him.
game is different but I was very happy with my game today and hopefully I
can keep that up,
“I have a
lot of found memories of playing here and especially from earning the No.1
ranking in this event so to go further this week, in the first event of the
year, would be amazing.
have to get past the World Champion and that will be an extremely hard task.
Nick is in a great run at the moment but I’ve been close a few times in our
last few matches so I’ll just concentrate on playing my game and see what
German squash star Simon Rosner survived an epic 100-minute encounter
against Indian No.1 Saurav Ghosal during the second day of action at the J.P
Morgan Tournament of Champions in New York today.
In a contest which saw both players give their all, Rosner twice came from
behind to eventually triumph 12-14, 16-14, 4-11, 11-9, 11-5 and record his
first ever PSA World Tour win over Ghosal.
“I knew it would be a really tough
said Rosner. “Saurav is a great
player with lots of skill. Whenever we’ve played before the matches have
always been very close.
“The first few games today were crazily
intense and we both played some great squash. He played some unbelievable
shots throughout the match so I’m just really happy to win.
“I ended 2013 on a high so hopefully I
can continue to build on that now. I’ve got nothing to lose going into the
next round so I’m going to enjoy it and give it my best.”
Rosner will take on No.5 seed Karim Darwish in the second round on Monday
after the Egyptian former World No.1 survived a similarly dramatic encounter
against countryman Omar Mossad.
Former World No.1 Darwish was forced to dig deep and showed his championship
pedigree, coming from 2-0 down to record a 3-2 victory in an 81-minute
“It was a very tough match, especially
for a first round of an event,”
said Darwish. “He’s is in the top ten but that is just
a sign of how tough squash is right now.
“I was 2-0 down but I told myself to
relax and enjoy myself. I had to change a few things in my game and my
tactics and thankfully I came back strongly and won.
“This tournament is a very special event
in the PSA calendar. There are thousands of people passing by every day and
it’s a great feeling to play here as a player and credit goes to John Nimick
who runs the tournament for making it such a great event.”
Elsewhere England’s Chris Simpson recorded his first ever victory on the
glass court at Grand Central, surviving an early scare against Egyptian
qualifier Ali Farag to prevail 3-1 after losing the opening game.
Farag was forced off court during the second game due to a facial injury
suffered when Simpson accidentally caught him with his racquet and it proved
a vital moment as the Englishman went on to win the game in emphatic fashion
11-0 before clinching the match.
“That was my first win on the glass court
here which was very special for me and I thoroughly enjoyed it,”
“During the injury break I was telling
myself to keep warm and keep focused. I felt that I had found a bit of a
zone before it happened so I didn’t want momentum to shift and I managed to
do come out with a good win.”
No.1 seed Gregory Gaultier and No.3 seed Mohamed Elshorbagy began their
title campaigns with comfortable 3-0 victories over Tom Richards and Todd
Harrity, respectively, while Tarek Momen, Daryl Selby and Alister Walker
also booked their places in round two.
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Karim Darwish wins in 5 over Omar Mosaad
Nick Matthew, James Willstrop and Peter Barker led an English charge in the
opening round of the 2014 J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions which got
underway in New York’s Grand Central Terminal earlier today.
Matthew eased past fellow countryman Adrian Grant 3-0 to book his place in
the second round where he will face South African Stephen Coppinger on
recorded an 11-4, 11-5, 11-4 victory over Grant in a performance which he
feels sets him up well for the rest of the tournament.
against Adrian for a long time now and we’re good friends,” said Matthew. “Sometimes it can be hard to go into that
kind of match so I’m pleased with how I performed today and to get off in
“This tournament gives you a real buzz as
a player. That can sometimes make you a little reckless so it was important
to keep focused on the match.
“I built up some momentum before
Christmas but we’ve had a few weeks off so I’m approaching this like
starting all over again. I’m not thinking about the rankings or anything
like that and just concentrating on playing well and hopefully I can keep
“I’m playing Copps on Sunday now. He’s a
hungry player and he done well here last year so I know it will be a tough
game but I’m looking forward to it.”
World No.5 Willstrop came
from behind to get past Swiss qualifier Nicolas Mueller, eventually
prevailing 3-1 while Barker, who returned to PSA World Seires action for the
first time in over two months, defeated rising Egyptian star Karim Abdel
Barker missed the final
two World Series events of 2013, the Qatar Classic and Hong Kong Open, after
picking up a calf injury during the 2013 World Squash Championship in
Manchester last October but he came through today’s 73-minute match with no
signs of trouble.
“I’m really pleased to get through,”
said Barker. “Karim is great player who’s highly
ranked – he was one of the toughest first round draws – so I’m pleased to
get through that.
“I don’t feel like I played great but I
wasn’t expecting to be at my best.
“I haven’t played on a glass court for
over two months so I knew it wasn’t going to be easy but I felt like I moved
pretty well and there were no effects afterwards, so that’s the most
“It was tough few months for me but it’s
good to be back and get through without any issues. I have a day off
tomorrow now as well so hopefully I’ll improve from here.”
Elsewhere on the opening
day there were wins for Dutch star Laurens Jan Anjema, France’s Mathieu
Castagnet, Australian Cameron Pilley and Egyptian maestro Amr Shabana.
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Nick Mathew, below James Willstrop and Peter Barker, All three brits safely
through to second round
Unranked Ali Farag (right) became one of four
Egyptians to qualify for the main draw of the J.P. Morgan
Tournament of Champions after despatching Mexico's Cesar
Salazar in straight games in the qualifying finals of the first
PSA World Series squash event of the year at Grand Central
Terminal in New York.
The 21-year-old Harvard student played focused and composed squash
to defeat World No.43 Salazar 11-9, 11-4, 12-10 in 41 minutes to
earn his first trip to the iconic Grand Central Terminal glass
cannot even describe this feeling," said the exhilarated Farag . "I
have dreamed of playing on the ToC glass court for ages."
For Farag, the pressure of the Tournament of Champions qualifying
draw is exacerbated by the fact that the Harvard University senior
plays only one professional tournament during the year. "Because it
is the only PSA Tour event all year that I play, I can become almost
too desperate to win," he said. Indeed, in last year's ToC
qualifying, Farag had more than one match ball, but couldn't convert
them for the coveted trip to the glass court.
Farag's game plan was to mitigate Salazar's foot speed by holding
his shots as long as possible. The first game seesawed back and
forth until Farag stepped up to take command and win the game 11-9.
The second game was all about the Farag attack and too many unforced
errors by Salazar. Farag seemed to have the match well in hand at
10-7 in the third, but Salazar managed to tie the game at 10-all.
started thinking about the match balls I had last year," Farag
explained. "But then I composed myself." Two points later, Farag won
the game 12-10 and was on his way to a first round main draw ToC
match in Grand Central terminal where he will play England's
Chris Simpson, ranked 26 in the World.
All the other qualifiers had to fight lengthier battles to secure
their appearances on the Grand Central glass court. Switzerland's
Nicolas Mueller, the top-seeded player in the qualifying draw,
needed five games and 79 minutes to defeat Leo Au of Hong
The first game was a back and forth battle as both players played
solid defence and hit attacking shots when they had an opening. Au
drew first blood as he eked out the 13-11 first game win. Mueller
won a close second game 11-9 and completely dominated the third,
winning 11-3. Au clawed his way back with effective attacking shots
in the fourth. The fifth game was another seesaw until the very end
when Mueller, with more life in his legs, closed out the victory
11-8. The Swiss number one meets England's 2011 ToC champion
James Willstrop in his opening round in the main draw.
Malaysian Mohd Nafiizwan Adnan took a quick 2/0 game lead
against Alan Clyne. The Scotsman then ratcheted up his play
with clean, attacking squash to win game three. At 10-9 in the
fourth, Adnan hit a volley kill into the nick to earn a main draw
first round match against Australian Cameron Pilley.
Local hopes were dashed when Christopher Gordon of the US was
unable to overcome Egypt's Omar Abdel Meguid. Although the US
champion won the first game 11-7, Meguid claimed the second and
third games in tie-breaks and the fourth 11-6. The 25-year-old from
Giza next plays compatriot Tarek Momen.
Omar Abdel Aziz
defied the seedings when he defeated fellow Egyptian Marwan
Elshorbagy in five games. Aziz's first round opponent is Egypt's
two-time ToC champion Amr Shabana.
The fourth and final Egyptian into the main draw is Mohd Ali
Anwar Reda who dropped the first game to Hong Kong's Max Lee
but recovered quickly to win in four games. Reda will meet
Laurens Jan Anjema of the Netherlands on the glass court.
will play English countryman Daryl Selby in the main draw by
virtue of his victory over New Zealand's Campbell Grayson,
who retired in the fourth game due to injury. Frenchman Gregoire
Marche, who defeated England's Charles Sharpes with a
13-11 tie-break win in the fourth and deciding game, faces
compatriot Mathieu Castagnet next.
Farag Flourishes In Tournament Of Champion
Harvard University senior Ali Farag scored
the biggest upset in the first qualifying round of the 2014
J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions when he defeated
Australia's Ryan Cuskelly in three games at the
Princeton Club in New York to secure a place in the
qualifying finals of the first PSA World Series squash
event of the year.
It was a tense, hard-hitting match from the very
start, marked by physical play. As 26-year-old Cuskelly, the
World No.33 from Australia, grew increasingly frustrated, young
unranked Egyptian Farag capitalised to win 11-7, 11-7, 11-9.
Farag, a 21-year-old from Cairo, now lines up
against Cesar Salazar. The Mexican's attacking game
proved too much for the less experienced Princeton University
senior Samuel Kang as World No.43 Salazar clinched an
11-9, 11-7, 11-7 victory over the 23-year-old from Singapore.
Switzerland's Nicolas Mueller needed just
20 minutes to overpower American Bradbury Thompson and
send the 23-year-old from Philadelphia packing. Leo Au of
Hong Kong, on the other hand, had his hands full with Canadian
veteran Shahier Razik in a 74-minute battle that ended in
Au's favour after four games.
Malaysian Mohd Nafiizwan Adnan despatched
his fellow countryman Muhd Asyraf Azan to set up a
qualifying final match with Alan Clyne, the top-ranked
Scot who eliminated Pakistan's Farhan Zaman.
US champion Christopher Gordon dominated
compatriot Mike Lewis in straight games at the Harvard
Club and will next play Omar Abdel Meguid of Egypt,
who eliminated American Adrian Leanza.
Three other Egyptians moved into the second round
at the Harvard Club: Marwan Elshorbagy, whose brother
Mohamed is the tournament's No.3 seed, defeated Joe Chapman
of the British Virgin Islands in three quick games - while
Omar Abdel Aziz battled back from two games down to overcome
England's Eddie Charlton.
Mohd Ali Anwar Reda,
a former World No.23 now languishing outside the top 40, earned
a confidence-boosting 11-8, 14-12, 11-3 win over rising
compatriot Mohamed Abouelghar.
At the New York Athletic Club, the
highest-ranking American Julian Illingworth was forced to
retire due to injury after two games, leaving England's
Charles Sharpes with the win and a second round match
against France's Gregoire Marche.
New Zealand's Campbell Grayson and
Pakistan's Yasir Ali Butt were neck and neck until midway
through each of their games until the steady and resolute
Grayson pulled away to record a 3/0 victory. Grayson next plays
England's Adrian Waller, whose power and experience
overwhelmed his younger American opponent Faraz Khan.
Egypt's Ramy Ashour, who topped the PSA
World Rankings throughout 2013, is seeded to win a
record-equalling fourth J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions
title at the first PSA World Series squash event of 2014
in New York in January.
Ashour, 26, from Cairo, became the youngest
Tournament of Champions winner in 2008 at the age of 21 - and
will now be bidding to emulate the four-title record held by
Canada's Jonathon Power.
"The action on the glass court in Grand Central
Terminal at the 2014 J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions will be
electrifying," said John Nimick, president of Squash
Engine, Inc., the tournament promoter, as he announced the draws
for the world's largest spectator squash event.
"Virtually all of the world's top-ranking men and
women players are entered, representing 23 nations and six
continents. In the men's draw, we have five returning
titleholders in the hunt for the title - all of whom have been
ranked #1 in the world."
Ashour will be succeeded at the top of the world
rankings in January by 2012 ToC champion Nick Matthew.
The 33-year-old Englishman will go into the ToC in a rich vein
of form having won the PSA World Championship for the
third time in November and his first Hong Kong Open title
Frenchman Gregory Gaultier, the 2009 ToC
champion who went toe-to-toe with Ashour in the five- game 2013
ToC final, has been ranked No.2 since June 2013 - and defeated
Matthew to win the 2013 US Open title in October.
served notice in 2013 that he will be a title contender. The
22-year-old Egyptian notched victories over higher-ranked
players Matthew, James Willstrop and Karim Darwish
en-route to two PSA titles and his highest world ranking of 4 in
December. Rounding out the top six seeds are two former World
No.1 players - England's James Willstrop, the 2011 ToC
champion, and Egypt's Karim Darwish, who has been a top
10 player since October 2007.
University graduate Todd Harrity, the
first American in 21 years to win the US Intercollegiate Singles
Championship when he took that title in 2011, will receive the
tournament's wild card entry.
The 2014 J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions will
celebrate the event's 17th staging at the iconic Grand
Central Terminal in New York since 1995.