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Shabana & Gaultier To
Bermuda World Open Final
Amr Shabana, moved convincingly into the final of the Endurance World Open
in Bermuda with an 11-6, 3-11, 11-5, 11-5 win over the titleholder David
Palmer. In essence Shabana was too sharp and there was little that Palmer
could come up with that could consistently trouble his opponent.
Palmer was just ahead in
the first game at 6-5, partly kept in it by five mistakes from his opponent,
but then tried to force the play made three mistakes himself and didn’t get
another point that game. The omens for him did not look good when Shabana
went 2-0 in the second but strangely the Egyptian lapsed into error, a grand
total of eight for the game from the world no.1 who got just one more point
and suddenly everything was level 11-3. Shabana had been in a great position
and thrown it away.
“I was trying too hard to
go for it. I got carried away with playing shots. Sometimes you think you
can hit anything from anywhere. I had to get back to basics,” he said later.
Winners flowed from
Shabana’s racket again in the third. He went to 3-0 then 9-2 and the end was
in sight for Palmer. The Australian made uncharacteristic mistakes and
although he smashed the ball around Shabana kept it straight and varied the
pace so that his opponent could not apply any consistent pressure. It was
gone quickly 11-5 and was a tragedy for Palmer. Gifted the last game he
would have wanted to make a bit more of it than this.
“I kept it straight,” said
Shabana. “You have to play like that against the top guys – if you give them
an angle they can put it away. You have to put it as close to the wall as
In the fourth Palmer fell
behind, tried to raise himself, struck with his famous and now rarely used
forehand crosscourt volley nick at great speed, called a Joy Turner, that
rolled only for the left-handed Shabana to immediately strike with one of
his own on the other side. Really that was Palmer’s problem. Shabana
generally had it covered, could mount more threat and Palmer could not apply
any consistent pressure. Shabana won the last four points in a hand 11-5.
He is through in good
condition but he will need to lift his game again if he is going to regain
the world title.
And on his final opponent
he added, “I want them to have a long match. They need to have one,” he said
with a smile pointing out that whoever won – Nick Matthew was the US Open
champion and Gregory Gaultier the British Open champion – it would be
Gregory Gaultier stamped
his claim for the world title in the second semi-final with an impressive
demolition of the English hope Nick Matthew. After a point for point tussle
at the start Gaultier moved from 5-all to 10-5 in a hand of his opponent’s
errors as Matthew tried in vain to force the pace. The game was won by the
Frenchman 11-6 and confidence boosted he played impeccably to dominate the
The variation of pace from
lobs and high floating clinging balls, way above Matthew’s probing volley,
to stinging shots from a taunt short backswing that unwinds like a catapult
and smashes in drives and kills, to the deftest of touches set up the
opportunity for Gaultier to score winner after winner. Matthew drove hard
and deep, this was good length, deep, far superior to that displayed by
Palmer and Shabana but Gaultier found breathtaking finish with ease.
In the second Gaultier
went 9-0 up in one hand. Seven winners in a row – drives, volley drops,
drops and stinging crosscourts, forced two errors and Matthew’s world title
hopes were in tatters. Matthew got his first point with an exceptionally
good volley, but Gaultier was there only thwarted by its clinging line. That
game was won 11-4. Gaultier was two games up and had made just two mistakes.
In the third Gaultier
slipped on the glass floor and Matthew took the opportunity to play a fine
winning forehand straight drop only to find Gaultier striding to the front
to attempt a recovery. Recover it he did and raced up and down the court to
retrieve Matthew’s best shots and only conceded the rally when he fell again
heavily. That’s how hard it was for Matthew to get points, to make any
Gaultier struck with
superb winners, volleyed behind his back to the ohhs of the crowd and
established a 6-2 lead. Matthew never gave up fighting as Gaultier, the
winning post in site, loosened up his play and just a hint of speculation
came into a few of his shots. Matthew closed the lead down, hit a superb
winning volley, to get to 7 but his opponent already had matchball. Matthew
bitterly contested the final points, bent double in exasperation as the
referees refused him replays on the pick-ups he thought questionable.
Gaultier won the fifth
11-8. It was a peek performance. Perhaps the best squash he has played.
There was nothing Matthew could have done. He did not play badly and should
not feel too disappointed. Gaultier did waste a few points at the end and
the nightmares that keep reminding him he was sloppy when he had the world
title in his grasp in Cairo in 2006 will only disappear when he wins this
title. Shabana will have to lift his game considerably if Gaultier can
reproduce this performance.
“It is a great feeling to
be in the world final two years in a row. Last time I missed it. I don’t
think I will tomorrow,” he said.
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“I am ready,” said Amr
Shabana after a very good quarter-final match against Thierry Lincou. “I
was ready before, but I was not there. Now I am there.”
If he is to regain the
world title this will be the match where he stated his intention. The first
game was a little error prone with Lincou recovering from an early 3-0
deficit to surge back with five points in a hand and keep ahead for the game
“The intensity of the play
in the first caught me by surprise,” said Shabana. “It was hit and run. I
was tense in the beginning because of the importance of the match and what
was at stake.”
“He usually plays show and
long but he took me by surprise going low and hard. I was using the wrong
strategy. I had to be patient.”
Shabana recovered from the
loss of the first to go 5-2 ahead calling on his superb range of winners and
mixing the rallies well. This time it was Lincou who had been forcing the
play, who made the mistakes, as Shabana leveled 11-6 and went ahead 5-2 in
the third. Lincou however kept pushing to save game ball and leveled but let
his opponent into the front to finish off with two superb winners and take
the vital game 12-10.
Lincou forced it again in
the fourth fell immediately into error, went 5-0 behind and his chances of a
world title were drifting away. He fought back to 3-5 but Shabana’s range of
winners gave him no chance the Egyptian was through to the semi-final 11-5.
“In my first two matches I
was physically strong but my shots where not there. Now my movement and my
shots are there,” said Shabana.
Perhaps more importantly
so was his thinking. He improved in this match from being error-prone to
getting his squash thinking going – not just shooting but also thinking in
combinations and of controlling the rallies – he will have to improve on
this if he is going to win the world title but he is well on the way.
“It was a confidence
booster,” he said.
Shabana goes through to
face David Palmer who dismissed Alex Gough impressively 11-5, 11-4, 11-4.
This was a fine outing for Gough and he applauded the crowd as he left.
There was much positive sentiment for the oldest player in the tournament.
He kept Palmer at it for 42 minutes, he hit length, he ran, he tried his
improvised short shots but all the reward he got was a handful of points.
Palmer was masterful, forceful, tight and incisive t on his shots. He is
ready. The only question then is does he have the speed to impose his game
on Shabana or Gaultier. We can only wait.
THE BATTLE OF THE
A lot was at stake in the
quarter-final battle of the Englishmen Nick Matthew and James
Willstrop. A crack at the world title for one, perhaps the top spot in
the home countries peeking order for another.
One fact overshadowed this
match, Willstrop had struggled through to the quarters – he had recovered
from two down, twice, in an hour and a half apiece and that had drained him.
As David Palmer said, maybe he could beat Nick Matthew but he had already
lost his chance of a world title – the physical resources where just not
To have any chance
Willstrop needed a good start this time. Within a couple of minutes he was
3-0 down, within a few more he was 6-1 down and from there it was always
going to be hard work. He fought back, ran, worked hard at chasing Matthew’s
persistent volleys, volleys that tortured him and moved him up and down the
court, volleys that made him chase and gave him no time on the ball.
Later Matthew was to say:
“My sports psychologist in Sheffield said to me ‘What are you the best in
the world at? and he explained that to be the best in the world you need to
work on your strengths not just at improving your weaknesses. My volleying
is my main strength and I’m trying to build on it.”
Matthew won the first
11-8. The second was very tight. Willstrop tried everything and there were
some big rallies. He varied the pace, threw up high crosscourt lobs from the
back, drives, volleys, attacked and counter attacked into the front corners
but Matthew was up for it all.
“There were some big
rallies. I just seemed to win them,” said Matthew.
That assessment was fair.
There was no way through for Willstrop. Everything had been tried. Every
time he got on the wrong end of a rally Matthew pushed back to the T to run
the next one down. He pushed into the front corners, worked up and down the
court. His first move on every shot seemed to be toward the ball looking for
the volley and if it was out of reach he moved back to take it off the
bounce but he was always look for it.
The second was won 11-6.
“I made a big push for
that. I knew he was not going to come back from two down,” said Matthew. “He
is a great friend of mine. What he did in the first two rounds was a bit
No one, not even Willstrop
could see a way back in the third but he kept on until the end going down
11-4 on the hour.
Matthew will face the no.2
seed, and British Open champion Gregory Gaultier. He has played him recently
in both Qatar and Hong Kong. In Qatar he lost 11-9 in the fifth and in Hong
Kong he had matchball in the fifth but lost 12-10. Perhaps it is his turn?
beat John White convincingly in the end. By the third when White was
crouched in agony in the front corner and the referees where trying to get
him to continue it was obvious that this was the inevitable result– unless
Gautlier played very badly and there was not much chance of that.
firepower had the chance to seize the first game at 10-8. Perhaps he through
it already won for he was careless and a stroke and a series of mistakes
cost him his chance 12-10. In the second White was in the zone at 6-4
having struck with several unplayable shots but he encroached into
Gaultier’s hitting line to the front wall and was struck by his opponents
shot. White tried to claim it was a sidewall shot (this is often a
convention between players when this instance occurs) but the referees where
having none of it and a stroke was awarded. This seemed to unhing White’s
mental equilibrium to some extent. The brilliant focus of a few moments
before was now gone and White slumped into error to lose the game 11-6. The
third was really a formality from 5-all when Gaultier went through to the
match in one hand imposing a long rally on White at 8-5 that drained the
last vestiges of resistance out of him.
Gaultier was not pleased
with his performance. “I won and that’s the main thing. Whitey was not at
his best but that doesn’t matter. I am through. Tomorrow is going to be very
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The Nick of Time
Nick Matthew did his job in seeing off Omar Mossad
in straight games 11-6, 11-9, 11-7 but it was not a totally convincing
performance. Young Omar is an impressive character. If you have not heard of
him you will. He is of course Egyptian, just 19 years old and already ranked
33 in the world. He was the only qualifier, along with England’s Jonathan
Kemp, to reach the second round and those valuable points will move him up
He is a tall man, powerful in build and gave
nothing away to Matthew in power of the strike, shots or presence on court.
So you have the idea, he may not be quite there yet but Nick Matthew was not
taking him lightly, nor should me.
“He can hit winners from anywhere,” said
It must be said the conditions were
difficult. It is clear that this glass floor for all it promotional
benefits, and its normally solid grip, is a problem in humid conditions. The
floor whippers were on regularly, smart industrious youngsters in red
uniforms buzzing about the court, but it was a distraction.
“The difficult conditions were a factor in
the performance,” said Matthew, “but the fact that I couldn’t stretch my
lead beyond a point or two each time is cause for concern.”
“I was trying to step up the pace a bit and
play fast. It was just about enough but against the next player I play,
maybe Shabana, that will not be enough.”
That summed it up. Matthew is through but
will need to play better to challenge for this title.
Deja Vue for Willstrop
Willstrop managed to produce a repeat of his first round performance
when he went two games down to Mohammed Abbas. It must be said
Willstrop’s basics were a little indifferent – he likes doing everything
else but hitting the ball down the wall for length and Abbas with plenty of
opportunities seized then with glee. From the beginning he was in control,
had the extra pace and incision and Willstrop was just reacting. Abbas
struck with hard fast drops and Willstrop had trouble seeing them to go
5-11, 9-11 down.
Willstrop had gone down 2/0 in the first
round and survived. Could he do it again? The start of the third would be
crucial. If he fell behind he was out of it.
Willstrop worked at his length, up and down
the backhand. Abbas went 1-0 up but floundered. Two strokes penalized him he
tinned a volley whereas in the first two games he had been focused but
relaxed. Willstrop went to 4-1 and 7-3 and suddenly the match had turned
Deja Vue! and they slipped on the floor.
Willstrop was onto his game and had just bamboozled his opponent with double
swings on two shots and a reflex shot between his legs to go 4-0 up when his
feet went from under him. He came off court and informed the referee that
the court was unplayable. Much discuss followed, the wipers were on and they
carried on. Willstrop took the initiative 10-5 and with nothing to loss
Abbas struck with three clean aggressive winners at pace and surged back. In
a fantastic rally Willstrop took his turn to smash it forcing his opponent
to retrieve brilliantly flicking off the back and side to survive the
pressure and race down the court for a retrievable ball when suddenly his
feet went from under him and he ended up flat on his back, lifted his arm,
fired his racket into the side wall as Willstrop walked off having leveled
the games 11-8.
Willstrop got the early lead in the fifth as
Abbas’s uninhibited shots of the first two games were not working and
managed to hang onto that lead to see out the match 11-5 after 91 minutes.
“I’m thrilled to get through again. I’ve been
under the kosh for such long periods but come through,” he said.
White Skates Through
the sixth seed, should have gone out when he was 2/1 and 10-8 down to
Mohd Azlan Iskandar. White however survived, leveled the
points, and as Iskandar slipped twice and lay spread-eagled on the T in
total frustration, leveled the games as the crowd applauded White’s Houdini
Iskandar was not getting on with the court
well, he slipped and screamed on several ocassions in the fifth. On one at
9-6 he fell brilliantly recovered and then took White out as he raced for
the drop and they both sprawled on the floor. As the wipers came on White
came outside the court and eyeballed the referee fearing a let. A let was
given to Iskandar but it only delayed the inevitable as the Malaysian
slipped chasing whites last winning drop and was helped to his feet by a
Gregory Gaultier didn’t waste time in the last match of the
second round beating Hisham Ashour 11-4, 11-8, 11-4 in just 26
“If I want to be fresh for the later round I
want to be off court quickly. I don’t want to waste time late at night here.
I come to the quarters fresh,” he said.
There were a few mistakes, not many, most of
what his opponent Hisham Ashour dished up was handled with ease and even the
exceptional shots were run down. Gaultier is in superb condition, hitting
and moving brilliantly. Someone is going to have to play well to beat him.
Ashour was very disappointed with his match
and says he never adjusted to the court conditions.
“It felt like my first game on glass. I
couldn’t see the ball and I couldn’t get into the match. Yes he is good,
quick and accurate but I just didn’t get into the game.”
Who will win the world title?
“I think it is between Greg and Shabana,”
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The Beach for Shabana
Top seed Amr Shabana
took his time to get into the second round of the Endurance World Open and
by then his opponent Stewart Boswell was a game up winning a close
first 8-11 but he won the second and third convincingly 11-4, 11-2. You have
to say then he was extremely careless to find himself 10-6 down in the
fourth without having established good length or tightness. He just about
closed that gap saving three game points but tinned on a backhand drop with
no margin at a good opening to dangerously be pushed into a fifth game.
How after being so
dominant for so long, how had the top seed arrived in this position? He has
had four tournaments in a row and was smooth in his movement and crisp in
“I’m not mentally fresh,”
he said later.
In the fifth Shabana, a
little more sharpish, got away to a 4-1 lead, was a little careless to let
his opponent to 3-4 but then took control against a somber Boswell to see it
Earlier it was too easy
for Shabana and he did not close the match down as he should have – he is
vulnerable but he has a day off on Wednesday in the split second round.
“I let my guard down a
little. I was casual and he went for it and got a lead. I felt OK in the
fifth. When you play a lot of matches you can focus. To win you must stay
calm and I was calm.”
“I will play five times
better in the quarter-final.”
Shabana has had too much
squash, he is not fresh but it is all there if he can get it together
What’s he up to on his day
off? “I’ll be going to the beach,” he said. Which seems the best preparation
he can make for the world title bid at this time.
made a good start against the slow starting Frenchman Thierry Lincou,
had a good chance at game ball 10-8 but was a bit anxious to finish it as
penalty strokes and mistakes cost him his chance. Thereafter he only rarely
got back a semblance of control as he tried to match Lincou’s pace. The
balls kicked out and Lincou put them away. So the Frenchman, a former
champion is through to the quarter-finals comfortably.
“When I won this title it
was the highlight of my career but I’m in good shape still and enjoying
playing,” he said. He goes through to face the vulnerable Shabana.
the two-time world champion, and titleholder moved into the quarter-finals
but it was not a convincing performance. His opponent Peter Barker
had a 9-6 lead in the first game and he will still be kicking himself that
he was not able to take advantage of it. He also should have had a stroke at
10-9 when Palmer encroached into his hitting area the ball kicked out and
when a boast would have won the game but was given a let and was then
stroked himself at 11-10 in a marginal situation to loose the first game
From then on Barker was
always a step behind, struggling to close the gap. His difficulties were
compounded by several visits to the floor in slippery conditions as Palmer
saw out the match 11-10 (2-0), 11-7, 11-9.
“I was a bit flat, I
didn’t feel as well as I did in the first round,” said Palmer and added.
“I’m looking to get my name on this trophy, if it is the world open even
On Barker’s performance he
was complementary. “Peter Barker is a future top 10 player that is for
sure,” said Palmer.
Upset of the day was
caused when Alex Gough overcame the ninth seed Wael El Hindi
in four games over 74 minutes. There were many stoppages, endless replays
but Gough stuck to his task well drove deep to keep his tricky opponent out
of the front court and came through in the fourth 11-1, 11-7, 4-11, 11-7.
El Hindi’s play fluctuated
and he may had been carrying a strained hamstring. He was superb in the
second, indifferent in the third and had the early lead in the fourth but
Gough kept chasing to go ahead 6-4 before El Hindi upped the tempo to level
7-all. Then he was KO’ed by a ‘no let’ refereeing decision on a loose
mid-court ball he was hoping to get a stroke for.
“You must be more aware of
where your opponent,” is said the referee (explaining the three man
refereeing panel decision). It came, if it was a guideline decision, at the
worst time for El Hindi. Gough went on the offensive immediately with a fast
front corner angle, and clenched his fist to maintain momentum and put a
little psychological pressure on his opponent. Another tin, a close one, put
him out of it before Gough killed of the game to make at 36-years-old the
World Open quarter-finals.
“It’s awesome. It’s
probably one of the biggest feelings I’ve had in my career,” he said.
“I’m on my third
generation of players. I’m probably a bit more professional, I have to do
things properly now.”
And on how long he will
keep playing he says. “I can’t give it up. It’s like a drug.”
He too will have a day off and a chance to
rest his aging body.
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Willstrop Survives -
The afternoon’s play on the second day of the Endurance World Open saw two
upsets. In the opening match the tall and powerful Omar Mosaad,
just 19-years-old, upset the experienced no.14 seed
Olli Tuominen. Mosaad, may
not yet have come to notice amongst squash watches but he is a powerful
hitter, talented shotmaker and focused performer. It was always on the
cards that he would take out the no.14 seed especially on the warm club
Also to fall was England’s
Adrian Grant who went out in an acrimonious
match to Egypt’s Hisham Ashour (right) noteworthy for the bizarre tantrum that Ashour threw at the end of the match. It was a patchy affair, sprinkled
with brilliance from the Egyptian.
Elsewhere Mohammed Abbas saw off the Australian Cameron Pilley in three.
He can be expected to be called up for the Egyptian team for Chennai in
India if Ramy Ashour and Karim Darwish are unavailable and is not a player
to be underestimated.
The Malaysian Mohd Azlan Iskandar, the thirteen seed made up for the
departure of his compatriot Ong Beng Hee on the first day with a win over
the Canadian Shahier Razik in four.
IN THE EVENING SESSION on the glass court Nick Matthew, won the first game
so easily, 11-1, against Joey Barrington that his opponent could only play
better and strangely Matthew lapsed into negative play. He lost the
second, his confidence faltering as Barrington imposed his physical
presence on the game, driving hard and deep. Matthew volleyed frantically
to apply pressure, lacked the confidence to go short and the grinding
rallies reached something of a stalemate. Gradually Matthew edged ahead in
the fourth and regained his confidence as Barrington ran out of ideas to
go through 11-1, 8-11, 11-6, 11-2.
“It’s a funny old game,” said Matthew afterwards. He will have to play
much better than this to provide any threat for the title, and he will do
Story of the day however was the comeback of fourth seed James Willstrop
against Laurens Jan Anjema.
“I wasn’t stupid enough to to think that Laurens couldn’t beat me,” said
James afterwards. This was a match on. Interestingly James’s father and
coach Malcolm Willstrop was to fly out for the second round. It would have
been bizarre if he arrived in Bermuda to find his son, a real prospect for
the title, had gone out and that was almost the case.
In fast and erratic play Willstrop fell behind 2/0 and 6-1. Anjema was
winning the speed battle, he was so fast into the front to counter or
smash the ball away and the left-hander was winning the battle down his
“I gave him too many chances on his forehand. He is a real threat there,”
Anjema is now working with Palmer’s coach Shawn Moxham and training with
Palmer. It shows. He wasn’t on there to do well against Willstrop, he was
on there to beat him.
At 6-1 down Willstrop slowed his game, finally he got it over to Anjema’s
backhand, floated the ball, pushed it past his opponent and then used his
reach to volley short. He persisted with length, stuck with the boring
stuff a bit – he usually hates that and likes to do something with every
ball. Slowly the points came back his way but he was continually disrupted
– partly by his own habits, the instinct to go short, to do something
interesting with the ball, and partly by the conditions.
This event, for the first time in a World Open uses a new glass floor. It
has the advantage of allowing interesting signage under the floor and its
dimpled texture gives an excellent grip – unless it is wet. Moisture falls
on the floor from the players, especially that running off synthetic
clothing and stays there providing a slippery film. The players fell at
times and the young and prompt floor wipers were on dozens of times. It
all disrupted the flow a little and Willstrop’s mental commitment to a
“I had to dig in, and dig in,” said Willstrop afterwards.
The third game was a rollercoaster ride. Perhaps the fast deceptive drop
that would have stopped Willstrop’s momentum and put his opponent 8-5 up
was crucial but it was tinned and he survived 11-8. The fourth came with
just as much difficulty. He edged ahead at 9-7 before Amjema struck with
an dead nick off serve and leveled at 9-all when Willstrop tinned
unnecessarily on a forehand drop, but he just got home 11-9.
Willstrop got away to 4-0 in the fifth. Anjema’s sprinting slowed
marginally to give Willstrop a little more time and crucial errors hurt
his opponent. He was home 11-3 at 93 minutes and bent over in relief for
several moments and raised his hands in thanks – almost prayer.
“It was in a mess,” he said afterwards. “He had control. It was a complete
dig. I’m pleased. I’m proud of myself.”
It was not ideal preparation for an assault on the World Open title but
the good news is that Willstrop has a day off before his second round
“I need it,” he said. “My brain is hurting as much as my body.
Willstrop goes through to face Mohammed Abbas on Wednesday.
One player not need the day off is John White. He had not appeared at
recent events in Saudi, Qatar and Hong Kong so there was some interest in
his form and fitness. He provided the answer emphatically, although his
fitness was not extensively tested, by demolishing qualifying hopeful Alister White
11-8, 11-4, 11-5. White faces Iskandar in the second round
the winner to go through to play Gergory Gautlier if he makes his seeded
position. Gaultier was untroubled by Daryl Selby, although there was some
nice stuff, winning 3/0.
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Controversy Over Ashour Tantrum
Ashour (right) launched into an abusive torrent against his opponent
and the referee after upsetting the seedings in the World Open.
number 24 from Cairo reduced the applauding crowd to silence with his
unexpected tirade after bringing down
the 16th seeded Englishman Adrian Grant
in four increasingly heated games.
to be claiming that Grant was swearing during their first round encounter,
and blocked the loser’s path from the court by eyeballing him from close
range, shaking with rage as he did it.
disappeared from the arena only to return, shrieking at referee Wes
Barlow: “Fuck, fuck, fuck – is this boxing or what? Didn’t you hear
admitted that he didn’t, and just when it seemed that the incident might
worsen, the victor disappeared down the tunnel, still shrieking as he did
“I don’t want
to say anything, except to his fat friend who was pushing me when I came
off the court,” said Grant later.
was not helped by two or three contentious decisions in the fourth game of
his 11-7, 11-6, 4-11, 11-8 win, one at 8-6 to Ashour when he was refused a
let, and another in the following rally when the Egyptian was awarded a
let after Grant had not appeared to obstruct.
A couple of
minutes earlier Grant had left the court to complain about the noise.
“He’s screaming so much, it’s off-putting,” he said. This infuriated
Ashour, who yelled: “you blocked me.”
And on the
penultimate rally Grant was angry that a penalty point awarded against
him, for accidentally failing to give Ashour a clear view of the ball, and
said: “If there weren’t kids here…..” apparently suggesting he would like
to say something strong.
because he had spells of remarkable brilliance, which was one of three
good performances which helped atone for Egypt’s dented chances of winning
the world team title for the first time in a fortnight’s time.
Mosaad beat the 14th seeded Olli Tuominen of Finland
7-11, 11-4, 11-9, 11-4 to join Ashour and their 12th seeded
compatriot Mohammed Abbas in the second round. Abbas beat
Australia’s Cameron Pilley in straight games
But the news on
Ramy Ashour, the Super Series champion who is Hisham’s brother, and
Karim Darwish, the world number eight, both of whom are injured is
Ramy has a bad
foot and Darwish an injured calf. “It doesn’t look good,” said Egypt’s
coach Amir Wagih. “It doesn’t look as though they will be fit in
Back to top
Amr Shabana, the top seed, cruised comfortably into the second round of
the Endurance World Open in Bermuda with a four set win, 11-9, 11-8, 7-11,
11-9 over Frenchman Renan Lavigne. It is all there – the fast action,
smooth movement and deadly hitting – but perhaps he was a little lacking
in urgency. He is the favourite for the world title but there is along way
to go yet and he is relaxed about it.
“I was lucky enough to win it twice, if I win it three time it well be
amazing but if I don’t it will be OK,” he said of his title bid.
You can’t really imagine the titleholder David Palmer saying that, or
indeed Gregory Gaultier, who was reminded of his loss of the final in 2006
by compare Robert Edwards in the glittering opening ceremony.
“It was a terrible feeling,” said Gaultier.
The Town Crier announced the tournament, held in a vast marquee next to
the luxurious Fairmont Southampton resort high on the hill overlooking the
beautiful Horseshoe bay. This is a country in Technicolor and Shabana, in
what is an obligatory chore for world no.1s (in whatever sport, wherever
they go), said how much he loved it. The first and second rounds are split
giving time for relaxation, so Shabana will be out to lunch around the
island, viewing the beaches and is relaxed about his preparation.
The undemanding schedule, is however of more importance than in assisting
with Shabana’s lunch and sightseeing schedule, it will allow players to
recover and put them in the best shape for the quarter-finals on Thursday.
Shabana knows what will be required to win it he says. “These days all the
players are strong, and it’s difficult to play back to back event.”
He has had a demanding schedule with wins, and daily play in the last
three events – the Saudi, Qatar and Hong Kong tournaments as will as the
Arab Championships immediately thereafter. At the British Open he slipped
against Nick Matthew and hurt his ankle, is playing in a brace here but
says it is OK.
He has matured as a player, matured mentally – this and his relaxed
attitude will help him here. The traumas of his loss of the world title in
Giza in 2006, in front of the Pyramids with the whole Egyptian nation
willing him on, expecting him to do it for them and himself are behind him
“I know what you have to do, I am ready to work to win, before I was
rushed,” he said.
Shabana was through safely, but fifteen seed Ong Beng Hee fell to a sound
performance from qualifier Jonathan Kemp. Kemp, in the tough and humid
conditions at the squash club (ten miles away in Hamilton) got away at the
end of both the first and second games to go two up, dropped the third
with nervous errors but was back on course in the fourth. A ball smashed
into his body was parried instinctively with the deftest of touches for an
unplayable volley drop in the fourth and it was then that Beng Hee might
have realised that it was not his day. On a roll Kemp felled the first
seed to go out 8-11, 11-8, 13-11, 11-5.
Kemp who had beaten Nick Matthew in the National League earlier this
month, has improved since his move to Halifax and made the most of his
“All the qualifiers have seeds,” he said on this first round draw. “I have
had a cold but I had one match [he had one bye in the qualifying then beat
New Zealand’s Kasha Shuja in five games] and that was all I needed. Now
I’m playing well.”
Elsewhere in the afternoon session former champion Thierry Lincou saw off
up and coming American Julian Illingworth in four; Bradley Ball gave
Barker a fright and the referee and good workout in going down 8-11, 11-8,
13-11, 11-5 (76 min); El Hindi too had a fright and a fall against the
tough young Mexican Eric Galvez saving two match points to finally win
15-13 in the fifth.
The evening session saw Shabana and Palmer go through, so, with Lincou
through in the afternoon, all former champions where into the second
round. Palmer did not find much resistance against the prancing Shawn Delierre while his Australian teammate
Stewart Boswell saw off the local
wildcard James Stout – whose every point was wildly cheered – in three.
Beachill, has been seemingly the banker for England at no.3 in the team
for the World Team Championships in Chennai, immediately after this event.
At 1 / 2 down Beachill went ahead 4-1 in the fourth but after a long
rallies he failed to score again in that game. Although he lifted himself
for a fight in the fifth, errors counted against him, and he was down in
five. He was out of the world title race and England’s chances seemed
“I didn’t play well and I’m not confident in my fitness to play matches
like that,” he said. I’ve got a niggle – I’ll get it sorted out over
Christmas – and it hasn’t allowed me to prepare and train properly.
Back to top
English Players Dominate
English players claimed half of the qualifying places on offer in the
Endurance World Open Squash Championship
in Bermuda as Alister Walker, Bradley Ball,
Jonathan Kemp and Daryl Selby (right) powered past their
opponents in the qualifying finals of the $175,000 flagship PSA Tour
event in the island's capital
Walker was the first to make it to the main draw when he beat Colombian
Miguel Angel Rodriguez 11-5, 11-9, 11-9
in 45 minutes. The 25-year-old from Leeds, in his second successive World
Open as qualifier, is drawn to face sixth seed John White, the
hard-hitting US-based Scotsman making his first PSA Tour appearance
outside the USA since April.
Bradley Ball bounced to the swiftest win of the day, beating
Egypt's Yasser El Halaby 11-3, 11-3, 11-3 in just 25 minutes. The
31-year-old from Ipswich - winner of more PSA Tour titles than any other
Englishman on the current Tour - now faces compatriot Peter Barker,
the 11th seed from Essex.
Jonathan Kemp survived a five-game tussle with Kashif Shuja before
beating the New Zealander 7-11, 11-4, 11-2, 5-11, 11-4 in 43 minutes. The
26-year-old from Telford takes on Malaysia's 15th seed Ong
Beng Hee - while Daryl Selby, an 11-4, 11-7, 11-10 (3-1) victor over
Egyptian Omar Abdel Aziz, will meet France's No2 seed Gregory
produced an impressive 11-8, 11-5, 11-7 win over Egypt's experienced
former world No14 Omar Elborolossy to become the first USA player
to claim a place in the main draw of a World Open. The 23-year-old Yale
graduate - at 50, the lowest ranked player to qualify - will face fifth
seed Thierry Lincou, the 2004 World Open champion from
also becomes the first Mexican to qualify for the World Open. The
Puebla beat Australian Ryan Cuskelly 11-9, 11-8, 11-8 and is
rewarded by a first round clash with Egypt's No9 seed Wael El Hindi.
Back to top
In World Open Qualifying
one of qualifying for the Endurance World Open Squash Championship
was a tough one for the four local players representing the host country.
All were beaten by their opponents at the Bermuda Squash Racquets (BSRA)
venue, which means that
Bermuda’s only representative will be James Stout, who has the
wildcard entry to the main draw.
four locals - Nicholas Kyme, Chase Toogood,
Melrindo Caines and Patrick Foster - all played valiantly,
backed up by a partisan crowd at the Devonshire Club, but were
ultimately despatched by better opponents.
of the Bermuda representatives, Kyme and Foster, are previous Tour
professionals, but the speed and accuracy of Colombian Miguel Angel
champion Julian Illingworth, respectively, were just too much for
major upsets of the day went to
Cuskelly and Scott Arnold both claiming notable wins and
progressing to the qualifying finals. Cuskelly, the world No76 from New
South Wales, overcame Canadian Matthew Giuffre, ranked 24 places
higher, 11-10 (2-0), 11-9, 11-5 in 48 minutes - while Sydney's 21-year-old
Scott Arnold, defeated experienced Irishman Liam Kenny,
ranked 37 in the world, 11-4, 11-8, 11-8 in 41 minutes.
marathon encounter saw South African Jesse Engelbrecht fight back
from two games down to draw level against Canadian Shawn Delierre.
But the world No46 from
Montreal - a further 46 places separating him from Engelbrecht - regained
his focus to win 11-8, 11-8, 10-11 (0-2), 7-11, 11-9 in 69 minutes.
Teenager Joseph Chapman, whose only previous experience at this
level was playing world top ten Australian Joseph Kneipp in the
2006 Commonwealth Games, made his PSA Tour debut at the Devonshire
Club. The 17-year-old from the British Virgin Islands put up a courageous
fight against Egypt's Omar Mosaad but went down to the world No33
from Cairo 11-2, 11-5, 11-7.
action for the qualifying finals will produce the eight players who will
earn the right to progress to the main draw of the Endurance World Open
Bermuda 2007, and have the chance to play on the spectacular glass court
overlooking the beautiful South Shore of Bermuda.
Injury Woes Strike
Bermuda World Open
Injury problems have caused three seeds to withdraw from the Endurance
World Open Bermuda 2007 Squash Championship, the $175,000 PSA Tour
event which gets underway on the island on Sunday (25 November).
the world No2 from
Egypt, is the highest-ranked casualty. The 20-year-old from Cairo injured
his left foot in the Qatar Classic earlier this month. A calf
injury has also led to the withdrawal of compatriot Karim Darwish,
the world No8.
Spain's Borja Golan will also miss the PSA Tour calendar's most
important event after sustaining an injury in last week's Santiago Open
at his home club. Furthermore Englishman Stacey Ross, the world
No41, has also pulled out of the 2007 World Open.
is a terrible shame that Ramy, Karim, Borja and Stacey have been forced to
withdraw under these circumstances," said Tournament Director Ross
Triffitt. "Our sympathies go out to them, as it is never good news to
hear of a player suffering an injury and I’m sure they will be
disappointed to be missing the World Open Championship.”
revised draw has elevated
France's world No3 Gregory Gaultier, winner of this year’s
British Open, to No2 seed. English players also benefit - with
James Willstrop promoted to fourth seed, and Nick Matthew and
Lee Beachill acquiring seedings within the top eight - at 7th
and 8th, respectively. Furthermore, Londoner Adrian Grant
becomes the 16th seed.
These changes have the effect of bringing
Canada's world No27 Shahier Razik, France's world No28 Renan
Lavigne and England's Joey Barrington, the world No29, into the
also means a change of opponent for Bermuda’s wild card entry James
Stout, who is now drawn against 10th seed Stewart
Boswell, the former world No4 from
Australia. They will play the second match on Opening Night, Sunday 25th
is not unusual for several players to have to drop out major championships
due to injury because squash is an exceptionally physical game demanding
tremendous fitness," added Triffitt. "In order to compete in the World
Open, these players really have to be at the peak of fitness.
"Players have started arriving on the Island, and current World Open
champion - David Palmer of
Australia, who makes his second home in Bermuda - has already visited the
venue and declared it to be spectacular. The 1400-seat specially-built
temporary see-through stadium sits on the magnificent Fairmont Southampton
hotel property overlooking Horseshoe Bay and the Island’s picturesque
For more information
about the Endurance World Open Bermuda 2007 Squash Championship,
check the official website at
Back to top
Endurance World Open
Draw Revealed in
Squash fans around the globe will be focused on
November when the Bermuda Squash Racquets Association hosts the
Endurance World Open Bermuda 2007 Squash Championship, proudly
sponsored by Endurance Specialty Holdings Ltd. This is the final
phase of the biggest contract in the history of squash, which has seen
Bermuda hosting the
for the past two years.
Endurance World Open Bermuda 2007 Championship is the ultimate tournament
for the world’s greatest squash players who will assemble in
Bermuda from 25 November to 1 December to compete for $175,000 in prize
money, and the title “Endurance World Open Champion”.
Tournament Director Ross Triffitt formally announced the draw for
the flagship Professional Squash Association (PSA)
championship, along with the name of the Bermudian wild card entry. In
addition, Triffitt revealed the four local players who will have an
opportunity to compete in the qualifying tournament, along with the
remaining qualifiers, and four World Squash Federation (WSF) Invitees, who
will also compete in the qualifying tournament.
are delighted to announce that literally all of the world’s top players
are competing in the World Open, with the exception of just one player who
has had to withdraw because of an injury," said Director of Squash Ross
Triffitt. "Our seedings are based on the players’ rankings as of 1st
October, and the top 23 players as of that date are included in the main
only other player to gain automatic entry into the main draw of 24 is our
own wild card entry. I am pleased to announce that after careful
consideration we have chosen James Stout to represent
Bermuda. James is presently working as an Assistant Professional at the
New York Racquet and Tennis Club, one of the most prestigious squash clubs
in the world. He has been drawn against Mohammed Abbas of Egypt,
ranked 15 in the world, and they will be playing in one of the first
matches on the first evening of the Championships on 25th November."
qualifying tournament will be held just prior to the main event, and
Triffitt explained who will be competing: "Joining those 24 players in
the main draw will be eight players from the qualifying tournament. A
total of 32 players will be battling it out for these eight qualifying
spots. This will be an exceptionally tough field, consisting of the next
24 players in the world rankings - ranging from the world No27 to world
No55 - together with four of our top local players, and four players
invited by the WSF.
"This is a truly World Open Championship, with over 50 players from 25
countries spread across six continents coming to
Bermuda to compete in the Endurance World Open," added Triffitt.
Heading the line-up is Amr Shabana of
Egypt, who made history in Bermuda when he
took over the world number one ranking last April after winning the
Virtual Spectator PSA Masters
2006. The 28-year-old from Cairo
has topped the world rankings since his victory in Bermuda. Shabana will
be certainly be challenged by the current World Open champion, David
Palmer of Australia, who also resides in Bermuda when he’s not on the
Other strong contenders for the title will include world No3 Gregory
Gaultier and world No6
- both of whom are from
France, and both just reached the final of
the British Open. In addition, there will be a strong English
contingent led by world No5 James
Willstrop; a popular local
favourite John White,
the world No7 of Scotland; and the new wonderboy of squash, 20-year-old
world No2 Ramy Ashour of Egypt - the youngest player in the world
top 25 who has won five of the eight
events in which he has competed so far this
venue for the Endurance World Open will be the Fairmont Southampton, where
an all-glass court will be erected in a state-of-the-art see-through tent,
complete with comfortable theatre-style seating. Located on Turtle Hill,
Horseshoe Bay and the magnificent South Shore, the location will ensure
uninterrupted play and clear views, whatever the weather.
Championship will draw extensive global coverage, including presence from
World Service, NBC News, Fox Australia and Orbit ESPN. TV coverage will
be provided to potential viewers totalling up to 2.1 billion worldwide who
will be provided with unique opportunity to see Bermuda at its best while
watching the world’s greatest squash players in action.
For more information
about the Endurance World Open Bermuda 2007 Squash Championships, check
the website at
The Endurance World
Open Bermuda 2007 is the culmination of one of the largest contracts
in the history of squash, signed between the PSA and Bermuda. Indeed,
Bermuda has already hosted the immensely successful PSA Masters
Tournaments in 2006 and 2005, and the Bermuda Open in 2004. But the
men’s World Open Bermuda is the first event to feature the famous
glass court with ocean views.
With a draw of 32, a
prize sum of $175,000 (equaling the highest ever purse for the World
Open), and most importantly, the coveted title of World Champion to
fight for - you are guaranteed to see all the stars of the men’s game
at this event: the princely Amr Shabana, goliath David Palmer, the
powerful James Willstrop, and feisty Gregory Gaultier, to name just a
few. The striking glass court, surrounded with comfortable
theatre-style seating, giant screens, music and lights, will be set at
the Fairmont Southampton hotel, providing stunning views over
Horseshoe Bay beach and the ocean. Add to this live, mid-match
entertainment and the presence of charismatic MC Robert Edwards - “the
Voice of Squash”, and the Endurance World Open Bermuda 2007 is set to
If you love squash,
Bermuda will be the place to be. The prestigious men’s event and the
World Squash Federation Conference and AGM will be combined, and
alongside the established celebrities of the game, watch the future
stars of squash compete in the Bank of Bermuda Foundation Junior Open,
or the top amateurs in the Bermuda Open Graded Championships. The
small island in the middle of the Atlantic will truly be the capital
of the squash world for a week.
by Tom Quinn on 22-Sep-2004
The Professional Squash Association (PSA) and the Bermuda Squash
Rackets Association (BSRA) are celebrating a record $350,000 agreement
which will bring two flagship PSA Tour events to the tiny
semi-tropical island paradise.
Bermuda, “the jewel of
the Atlantic Ocean”, will host the PSA Masters in
with the climax of the historic agreement being the staging of the
World Open in
The PSA’s biggest-ever
single deal follows the success of the inaugural Bermuda Open in
March. The five-star event was staged in the island’s city of Hamilton
and attracted a star-studded field led by eight of the world’s top ten
The 2004 PSA Qatar
Masters, the final of which took place in the Qatar capital Doha on
Sunday (25 April), brought to an end the event’s three-year
association with the Middle East country.
A formal “hand-over” of
the PSA Masters to the promoters representing the BSRA - Tournament
Director Ross Triffitt and Tournament Chairman Kim Carter - was staged
at the closing ceremony in Doha.
“Following three years
of wonderful success in Qatar, the PSA Masters is moving to Bermuda as
part of a major agreement commencing in 2005,” said PSA Chief
Executive Gawain Briars.
“PSA owes a huge debt
of thanks to the Qatar Olympic Committee, Nabil Ali Bin Ali, Hisham
Algosaibi, and the Qatar Squash Federation, for their unstinting
support of the prestigious PSA Masters over these last three years and
now, whilst it will prove a hard act to follow, the time has come for
the event to move on.
are a backbone to the circuit, and this wonderful new opportunity has
come to fruition following negotiations with the BSRA over this last
period,” Briars added.
“I am delighted to
confirm that the contract sees the PSA Masters 2005 and 2006 go to
Bermuda as $100,000.00 prize money Platinum Super Series 32-man draw
events. The icing on the cake, however, is that in 2007 Bermuda have
agreed to complete the deal by hosting the PSA World Open as a
$150,000.00 prize money 64-man main draw and 32-man qualifier event,”
enthused the PSA CEO.
“Having seen their
professional staging of an inaugural major PSA event this year in
Bermuda, I have no doubt that the BSRA will deliver with commitment
and style when the PSA Masters arrives in Bermuda next year. This is a
landmark moment for the professional circuit at a time when men’s
squash gets more and more exciting,” Briars concluded.
Ross Triffitt, the
BSRA’s Director of Squash, responded: “To say we are delighted to
announce this landmark three-year agreement is an understatement. The
Bermuda Open 2004 was a great success that was only possible from the
support of the Bermuda government, international business sector,
local business community and the people of Bermuda. The general public
and international visitors were treated to a feast of squash that has
left them hungry for more.
“We have made no secret
of our goal to host the PSA World Open in 2007, and to have secured
the pinnacle event in squash so early in our campaign is a testament
to the hard work of the 2004 Bermuda Open Management Committee and the
army of volunteers that made the event possible,” Triffitt explained.
BSRA President Stephen
Young added: “To have the PSA Masters for 2005 and 2006 as part of the
deal is a great coup for Bermuda Squash. We now have the best possible
build up to the PSA World Open 2007 by securing the next most
prestigious tournament on the PSA calendar, the PSA Masters. Bermuda
is renowned for its hospitality, wonderful pink beaches, crystal clear
water and picturesque settings, and we are positive this will provide
the perfect backdrop to showcase the PSA’s two most important
“The motto of the Bermuda Open team has been ‘Onward and Upward’ and
our extremely dedicated team is already working on making the PSA
Masters 2005 a very special event. After seeing the wonderful job
Qatar has done in hosting the event we know it is a hard act to
follow, but with Bermuda being a premiere tourist destination, the
dedication of our team and the support of our community, we are
confident we can improve on an already magnificent event.