Shabana downs Beachill
2005 SSA Global Windy City Open semi-finals involved two pairs of players
with contrasting styles. The first match involved the skillfully deceptive
Canadian Jonathon Power and the aggressive hard hitting Aussie born Scot
John White. The second match, the silky smooth, consistent top seeded
Englishman Lee Beachill and the rather erratic, but highly talented little
Egyptian Amr Shabana. Shabana is the only one of the four not yet to have
reached a world number one ranking, but of course he does have a World Open
title to his name.
The 30 year-old Power and the 31 year-old White have crossed paths many
times in the past on the PSA tour. In fact this was their tenth meeting in
the last five years, with Power leading the head-to-head 5-4,including
victories in their past two encounters. The last meeting was the Canadian's
3-1 victory in the quarter-finals of the Bermuda Open in March 2004.
Ironically, at that time, Power was in danger of slipping out of the top
ten for the first time in nearly a decade and White was playing his first
tournament as world number one. Now the situation is reversed, with White
recently dropping out of the top ten for the first time since February 2001
and Power, currently world number six, looking set for another serious
assault on the top spot.
White started poorly, a few errors helped Power to a 6-1 lead. Power was
looking comfortable, moving well and striking the ball with authority.
White dug in and one of his signature forehand kills plus a rather
fortunate back wall nick help him back to 4-7. But the first game was
really all Power and he clinched it 11-7 when White clipped the top of the
tin on a forehand drive.
White began the second game in similar inconsistent fashion as the first --
two tins followed by two winners, followed by another tin and and another
winner. Unusually for a game involving Jonathon Power, his opponent was
dictating the outcome of most of the rallies. A no let called that Power
heavily disputed followed by a stroke decision that also frustratingly for
the Canadian went against him suddenly gave the Scot a 6-3 lead. But three
more tins and Power was back on level terms at 7-7. More White winners and
errors followed and the game was tied again at 10-10. After Power saved
three game balls, one of which with a fortunate backhand miss hit that for
White dropped agonizing for a winner, White finally succeeding in taking the
25-minute game on his fourth attempt with a well executed forehand cross
court volley that was just out of Power's reach.
The feeling was that the match was going to rest on whether White could hit
more winners than tins as he aggressively attacked the front of the court.
The squash was great at the start of the third. In one rally White dove in
the back court and just managed to retrieve the ball via the back wall,
frustratingly for Power, the Scot got up and retrieved the next shot and
escaped with a let. White was beginning to look in a more relaxed, jovial
mood. He was clearly enjoying the encounter now that he was firmly in it.
A reflex backhand volley winner gave him a 5-4 lead and a backhand kill
gave him the lead at 7-6. Power was clearly more frustrated, arguing most
referee decisions that went against. His retrieving was still incredible,
but the world number 12 was now hitting many more winners than tins and a
tight forehand drop gave White game ball at 10-7 and he finished it with a
forehand cross court kill to take the two game to one advantage.
The fourth game was as tight as the previous two. At 5-4 to Power, the
Canadian thought he had won an incredible rally went White tinned a forehand
volley only to agonizingly have to play a let due to dubious pick up early
in the rally. Power was rattled again and slammed the next backhand into
the tin. White then hit a furious forehand cross court kill and nicked out
a backhand cross court. It was looking more desperate for the world number
six when he was refused a let after a delicate forehand drop from White.
But it was the Canadian's turn to dig deep and he drew level at 8-8 when
White put a backhand boast in the tin. A no let and and a tight forehand
drop later and White stood at match ball. But a loose forehand that ended
in a stroke to Power followed by two tins by White and suddenly Power had
game ball. On the next rally, Power lost his racket as he made his way into
the back corner to retrieve a White drive. To the Canadian's disgust his
appeal for a let was denied. He came out of the court to argue his case but
to no avail. Power saved two more match balls and reached a second game
ball for himself with a fabulous backhand volley into the nick. And much to
the joy of the crowd extended the match to a deciding game when he cut off a
White cross court and fired it into the back corner for a winner.
After the disappointment of not closing out the match in the fourth game,
White got himself off to a perfect start in the fifth building a quick 5-0
lead. Power hung in there determinedly but after a big collision in the
middle of the court as he raced back to attempt to retrieve a White drive he
was again frustratingly (for him) denied the let and White led 7-2. A few
rallies later Power hit a backhand out of court and it was 10-3 White. The
Scot converted on his sixth match ball two rallies later when he hit a
forehand cross court winner and secured his place in tomorrow's final.
The crowd took a few minutes to catch their breath before the second
semi-final. For Amr Shabana, this tournament marks only his second time
advancing beyond the quarter-finals of an event since his World Open win in
December 2003. The world number ten lost to Lee Beachill 3-1 in their last
encounter this time last year in the Kuwait Open. Shabana looked sharp in
his win yesterday against James Willstrop and it would be interesting to see
if he could repeat the performance against another consistent Yorkshireman.
Shabana got off to a good start taking leads of 4-0 and 6-3. He was finding
the nick from anywhere on the court and Beachill was having trouble putting
him under pressure. The Egyptian rattled off the last five points to close
out the game 11-3 in only 8 minutes. Shabana continued his domination into
the early part of the second game building a 5-2 lead. But Beachill was now
extending the rallies and starting to find a little rhythm. A backhand drop
brought him back on level terms at 6-6. After a number of lets, it was the
Egyptian that seized back the advantage with two winners and a wonderful
forehand cross court nick gave him a 9-7 advantage. A no let call on a
tight backhand drop gave Shabana game ball at 10-8 and another backhand drop
winner secured him the second game.
Beachill battled hard in the early part of the third game. But he was
having a hard time putting the ball away against Shabana. Shabana on the
other hand was demonstrating his wizardry with the racket. His touch at the
front was incredible and he was finding the nick at will. From 2-3 down he
rattled off the last nine points to close out the match. It was really a
remarkable performance by Shabana, to beat the world number two in 35
minutes and set up a match against John White in the final tomorrow.
First quarter-finalist on court, was top seed Lee Beachill. His opponent was
Egyptian Wael El Hindi. In the second game Beachill the world number two
immediately found his rhythm and dominated from the start. Perhaps feeling
the effects of his tough matches the previous two days, El Hindi was error
prone and very loose going down 11-7, 11-3, 11-1.
Power vs World Champion
Power strode confidently on court, finally injury free and in good form for
the first time in a while. It was Lincou, the current world champion though
that made the early going opening a quick 4-0 lead aided by a couple of
Power tins. Power steadied himself and got it back to 5-6 with a wickedly
deceptive backhand reverse boast, tied the score with a beautiful forehand
volley drop and took the lead with an identical shot on the backhand side
and went throuigh to take the first game 11-8.
Lincou took the second and the match was fascinatingly poised. Lincou was
playing steady, virtually error free squash. Power was playing...well simply
like the Power of old,with fabulous deception and incredible accuracy but
also with the occasional tin thrown in. At 3-3, Power winced in pain as he
hit himself with the racket hitting a forehand. After losing the rally
Power gave himself a break by coming off court to discuss with the referee a
Lincou backswing that the Canadian felt was a deliberate attempt to poke him
in the eye. Power was clearly rattled and became more argumentative. The
problem for Lincou is that when Power is rattled he is often at his best and
the world number six rattled off three sublime winners to take a 7-5
advantage. In somewhat typical Power fashion though this was followed by two
tins to tie it back up. The play was extremely tight as both players fought
for that critical advantage. It went Power's way and a beautiful backhand
drop volley got him to 10-8. Lincou won the next rally with a drop that
stuck to the side wall, but Power won the game with a fine backhand cross
court drive that died in the back corner as Lincou dived back in vain for
The packed crowd was loving every minute of it. The exertions were starting
to take a toll on both players, the let calls became more frequent and they
both took more time between rallies. But the level of play did not drop a
notch, especially from Power who opened up a 6-1 lead with some incredible
shots at the front of the court. Lincou was clearly becoming disheartened,
some errors and loose shots allowed the Canadian to move to 10-2 and despite
Lincou winning a couple of fabulous rallies to save the first two match
balls the Frenchman was clearly tired and he tined on a forehand kill shot
to seal the match and a great win for Jonathon Power.
White beats Dutchman LJ Anjema
At the beginning the Dutchman Laurens Jan Anjema looked up for the task
against John White as he took an early 5-4 advantage. But gradually White
began to assert control over the match to win 11-6, 4-11, 11-7, 11-10.
Shabana Shuts out Willstrop
Last match on the all glass court was the up and coming Englishman James Willstrop versus the shot making magician from Egypt
Amr Shabana. These two
players met four times in 2004 and split the encounters two a piece.
Shabana dropped the first but started the second game with more purpose and
built leads of 6-4 and 8-5. The rallies were shorter and involved a little
more shot making from both players, which seemed to favor the Egyptian and
he closed out the game 11-6. The little Egyptian was starting to show some
of his shot making magic and cutting way down on his tins, a dangerous sign
for Willstrop. A 6-2 lead in the third was soon 9-3 and Shabana eventually
closed out the game 11-6 to take a two game to one advantage. Willstrop hung
in bravely, but Shabana was looking really sharp and the Yorkshireman was
now the one hitting tins and loose shots. To strokes against Willstrop gave
the world number ten a 7-3 advantage. At 9-4, Willstrop slapped a forehand
volley in the nick, but it was a short respite as a backhand cross court
winner gave Shabana match ball at 10-5. Willstrop saved the first match ball
with a remarkable forehand drop winner off a Shabana boast, but he could not
return a Shabana backhand drop in the next rally and the Egyptian saw his
way through to a match up tomorrow with number one seed Lee Beachill.
Shock Win Over Nicol
Laurens Jan Anjema may not yet be a household name in the world of squash
but the Dutch number two pulled off a major upset by beating English world
number three Peter Nicol in the opening round. LJ to his friends was in a
zone, he dominated Nicol from start to finish with virtually error free
squash. He took the ball early pinning Nicol deep in the back corners and
then punishing the loose returns with tight drops and sharp kills.
The world number 38 took a 7-3 lead in the first game and then closed out
the game 11-5. At 4-4 in the second he again took over with Nicol looked
uncharacteristically error prone, rapping it up 11-6. Nicol finally started
to find some rhythm in the third. At 7-2 it looked as if he might be
beginning to take control but Anjema fought back to 6-8 and levelled with
two inch perfect backhand drop shots. Anjema took the lead after finishing
off a tremendous rally with a wrong footing backhand boast. A forehand drop
took him to match ball and a Nicol tin capped the Dutchman’s best win of his
One of the most eagerly awaited matches of the day was the rematch of last
month’s Pakistan Open final between James Willstrop of England and
Australian Anthony Ricketts. Willstrop won the Islamabad encounter 3-1.
The Englishman got off to a flying start today, playing at a fast pace,
volleying everything and hitting great length. He overwhelmed the Australian
early, building a 6-1 lead and then went on to take the game 11-3.
Ricketts, came out in more determined fashion at the beginning of the second
to built a 6-4 lead and again built a lead, 5-2, lead in the third but each
was turned over by Willstrop in the 3/0 win.
The first match of the day was between two gentleman of the modern game, Lee
Beachill and Mohammed Abbas, Beachill winning in three despite a laspe in
the second 11-5, 11-10 (2-1) and 11-5.
Thierry Lincou looked energized as he romped through the first two games
against Australian Dan Jensen. Before Jenson took the third game with
better length 11-9. By the fourth Jensen was now obviously beginning to
tire and went down 11-9.
Next up was an entertaining encounter between Aussie born Scot John White
and Canadian Graham Ryding with White’s hard hitting length and precise kill
shots putting him through.
In the battle of the veterans, 30 year-old Jonathon Power beat 32 year-old
Simon Parke. Parke battled bravely, but Power is looking like the Power of
old, moving his opponent at will, attacking constantly and of course making
full use of his patented deception to win in just 30 minutes.
Another qualifier that looked on his way to a quick exit was Australian
world number 41 Cameron Pilley. Pilley was two down 11-3, 11-2 but foiught
back for the third 11-6 before inevitably succumbing to Shabana’s winners
Last on court was Wael El Hindi, involved in another contentious battle
against a young Englishman. This time the Egyptian’s opponent was the
reigning Windy City Open champion Nick Matthew. El Hindi, coming off a
fierce five game battle versus Joey Barrington the previous day, started
well against Matthew. He again used his patient length to good effect and
his delicate drop shots were deadly in taking the opening game but Matthew
levelled, as he did again in the fourth to take the match to five games.
The let calls continued to come with even more frequency at the beginning of
the fifth game as neither player wanted to give up the early advantage. It
was El Hindi though that did begin to get the upper hand as he built leads
of 5-1 and 7-2. Matthew dug deep and got back to 6-8, before a forehand
kill by El Hindi put him back on track again. After running El Hindi all
over the court a forehand drop into the tin by Matthew gave the Egyptian
match ball at 10-7 and he closed out the match on a disputed no let call.
Downs Zaman To Earn Windy City Windfall
Australia's Cameron Pilley scored a notable upset in the qualifying
finals of the SSA Global Windy City Open Squash Championship to earn a place
in the main draw of the first major PSA Tour event of the year, the $50,000
5-star event which has attracted the world's top players to Chicago, USA.
Pilley, 22, from Queensland, defeated Shahid Zaman - the Pakistan No1
who last week won the Virginia Professional Championship in Richmond, USA -
11-10 11-8 11-8 and is now drawn to face Egypt's former world champion
Amr Shabana, the fourth seed, in the first round.
Simon Parke, the only English player to qualify after beating
compatriot Jonathan Kemp 11-9 4-11 11-5 11-3, is drawn against
seventh seed Jonathon Power. Only three months ago, Parke qualified
in the St Louis Open in the US, and again drew the Canadian in the first
England's defending champion Nick Matthew is the sixth seed in the
event's star-studded field - and faces qualifier Wael El Hindi. The
Egyptian survived one of the toughest qualifying finals, overcoming
England's Joey Barrington 11-8 10-11 11-10 8-11 11-7.
Lee Beachill is the event's top seed, who faces unseeded Egyptian
Mohammed Abbas in the first round. The Englishman, now ranked two in
the world, is expected to face the new world No1 Thierry Lincou in
the Windy City Open final on Tuesday. Frenchman Lincou first meets
Australia's Dan Jenson.
El Hindi First To Advance To Main Draw
El Hindi triumphed in an ill-tempered battle against Joey
Barrington to be the first player to advance out of the qualifying and
into the main draw. The world number 21 advanced 3-2 in an hour and forty
minute tussle that was punctuated by many mid-court collisions and let
calls. Barrington struggled early as El Hindi dictated the pace with slow
drives and precise drop shots. The Egyptian built up an early 8-2 lead, his
delicate cross court drops being particularly effective. Barrington tried
to play more aggressively and did manage to get back to 6-8 before El Hindi
closed out the game 11-8.
El Hindi started the second game in similar fashion, advancing to a 5-2
lead. But Barrington was more determined to grind it out and began to
attack more to counter El Hindi¹s drops. The game began to get more intense
as both players jockeyed for position. El Hindi had game ball at 10-8, but
a backhand drop winner from the Englishman followed by tight backhand
straight drive tied it at 10-10 and then after a couple of lets Barrington
won the next two rallies to tie the match at a game a piece.
What had threatened in the second game began to take hold in the third.Both
players became increasingly frustrated as Barrington felt that El Hindi was
not clearing and El Hindi believed Barrington was constantly playing the
man. In fairness it was probably a bit of both making for some tough
refereeing decisions for Beau River. The game itself was an epic, tight
throughout, with some great retrieving and shot playing from both
competitors. Barrington was first to game ball as he stood at 10-9, but a
no let tied it up. Both players continued to save game balls until a winning
boast by El Hindi secured the 30 minute game 15-13.
Barrington got off to a great start in the fourth game, quickly taking
a 7-2 advantage. The squash was still littered with let calls, but it
was gripping stuff all the same. El Hindi fought back to 7-8, but this
is as close as he would get as Barrington went on to take the game
11-8. El Hindi had the early advantage in the all important fifth. He
led 7-3 and then 8-5. At this point, after yet another collision with
the Egyptian, Barrington¹s contact lens was dislodged and he took his three
minute injury break to take care of it. He came back and
immediately went 10-5 down. He saved a couple of match balls before El
Hindi closed it out 11-7. El Hindi drew Nick Matthew in the main draw.
The second match involved Mark Heather who had upset Shahier Razik the
previous day. Heather was trying to upset the world rankings again as he
took on the 38th ranked LJ Anjema from Holland. The Englishman again got
off to a poor start and made several errors as he allowed Anjema to open a
big lead. The tall Dutchman closed out the game 11-6.
The squash was better from heather in the second as he took a
lead. Anjema looks a little awkward, but his unorthodox swing is very
effective and he played solidly to take back the advantage and win the game
11-8. LJ as he likes to be known took an early lead in the third 8-3, kept
his focus and finally closed out the match 11-5. LJ drew Peter Nicol in the
Two promising stars
of the Professional tour, Shahid Zaman from
Pakistan and Australian Cameron Pilley enlightened the crowd with
scintillating squash. Pilley took control from the very first point and
led 5-1 before Zaman found his signature shot the backhand low kill. After
a tense tie breaker , the tall Australian absorbed the pressure by hitting
tight precise length 13-11.
Entering his fourth season on the tour , Pilley has the composure and racket
skill to be a top ten player quick. He controls the T working all four
corners with mixed pace, deception and confidence. He rolled off the next
two games 11-9, 11-7 to set up an exciting first round match with Amr
Simon Parke , the veteran tour player and former world no.3 went head to
head with another young England protégé Jonothan Kemp . Parke entertained
the crowd with his excellent athletism chasing his
opponents constant volley pressure and squeaked out the first 11-9. His
recent bout of the flu took its toll on Parke and he lost the
second comfortably 11-5. But Kemp did not realize the experience of the
tough Yorkshire hard man. Kemp jumped onto a 3-0 lead in the third only to
be binfolded and lose the next ten points in a row. Parke ended the game
11-5 heading into the fourth with renewed confidence. He exploited his
younger opponent with a slower paced game and destroyed Kemp in the fourth
11-3. Parke drew Jonathan Power in the Main Draw.
Heather Qualifying Upset
Mark Heather opened the 2005 SSA Global Windy City Open with
an upset victory over Canadian Shahier Razik in the first qualifying round.
Razik, who at 30 in the world rankings is 26 places higher than the
Englishman, looked set to cruise to a comfortable victory after winning the
first game 11-5 and building a 10-6 lead in the second.
However, Heather suddenly found his game and reeled off 11
points in a row to take the second game and a 5-0 lead in the third. Razik
attempted to fight back, but Heather was now playing very steadily and
picking his spots to hit winners. Razik got back to 5-7, but that is as
close as he would get as Heather took the final four points to win the game
11-5. The Canadian took an early 5-2 lead in the fourth. But Heather
quickly pulled it back to 5-5 and then at 7-7 again Heather stepped his game
up at the decisive time to close out the game 11-7 and complete his first
victory in three attempts against Razik.
Heather will now face LJ Anjema tomorrow. The Dutch number two narrowly
over came a spirited effort from Nicholas Kyme of Bermuda. Kyme took the
first game 11-10 (2-0) and narrowly lost the third game
10-11 (2-4). But LJ finally ran out the winner in four games.
One of the most anticipated matches of the day was the match up between
Shahid Zaman of Pakistan and Frenchman Stephane Galifi. Zaman has quickly
advanced to number 21 in the world and is brimming with confidence after
winning his biggest PSA event to date in Virginia last week. After a three
year absence from the tour Galifi has quickly established himself back in
the top 50 and is himself shooting for the top 25. Zaman took the first
game 11-7, but Galifi struck back quickly and decisively in the second to
take it 11-3. The 22-year old Pakistani is in fine form at the moment
though and his
attacking style was too much for the Frenchman. He controlled the third
and fourth games winning them 11-9, 11-7 to advance to the second qualifying
The last match of the day involved local favorite Beau River. River, the
only American in the draw, battled well in the first game against young
Australian Cameron Piley. Piley, currently ranked 41 in the
world, began to take control after that though and eased comfortably
through to a 3-0 victory.