bt Max Lee (Hkg)
11/8, 11/6, 11/7 (33m)
Willstrop eases through
James Willstrop, fortified no doubt by his
performance in Philadelphia and Doha, faced
the promising Max Lee in the first round and
striking the ball well he quickly led 6/1
and 8/3 with Lee working hard to stay in
touch and doing very well to recover to 8/9.
A fortunate let went in
Willstrop's favour at that point and at 10/8
he was able to close out the first games.
again started well in the second and quickly
led 5-0 without Lee doing too much wrong,
still persisting. Two unforced errors by
Willstrop took Lee to 3/5 before a sustained
rally saw Willstrop to 7/3, when
surprisingly he served out. Another testing
rally saw Lee tin a volley with the rally at
his mercy and Willstrop served at 10/5,
winning at the second attempt 11/6.
Willstrop again led 5/1 in the third,
following the pattern of the first two, but
Lee was not done with, and skill moving well
and playing with more than enough skill, he
recovered to 4/6 and 5/7 with a deft
forehand drop of the highest order.
A lovely backhand flick took Willstrop to
8/5 before Lee recovered to 7/9, but at 10/7
Willstrop served for the match and took it
Lee can take much encouragement from his
performance, he is very skilled, will thrive
on the glass court, moves well and showed
Willstrop, too, will be more than happy.
Matches of this quality are ideal in the
early rounds and he had to play well to win
It was a match played in all the right ways;
clean, well contested, skilful and not a
word out of place.
played about two or three times now, last
time in the Worlds was on the glass court,
so a bit of a shorter match, today, more
rallies and lasting longer.
The three games seemed to have a bit of a
similar pattern, I would take a good lead,
then he was coming back, then we were having
a few very hard rallies, where I would force
a couple of errors from him, then I would
take the lead againÖ
He is a good solid player, heís got a good
game and technique, good drop shots, he puts
the ball in the right places, but today, my
approach of play prevented him from playing
his shots freelyÖ
Razik (Can) bt [Q] Joe Lee (Eng)
11/5, 11/9, 6/11, 11/6 (65m)
the third, I thought I was in control, but
there was a tight rally then he played a
shot out of his frame that died in the
corner, and it got to me mentally, lost the
next points, and when he saw the door open,
he took his chances and stepped up his game.
He is really good in the middle, with the
volleying, and if the pace stays too slow,
he steps in and becomes very difficult to
At the end, I could see his legs were
hurting a bit, so I decided to pick up the
pace. I didnít want to do that at the start
of the match, I didnít want to play that
game him Ė mind you, I donít want to play
that game with anybodyÖ
I felt fine, but he wears you down mentally.
He is not like any other player and he
forces you to play a bit differently, as in,
there is not much to feed off, no pace on
the ball. So you have to generate it
yourself. But then, if you go flat out,
youíll be dead in 20m, so youíve got to
choose your moments.
I was able to mix the pace well, but then, I
got sucked in his game again. I seem to have
the right idea, the right balance of
attacks. But he was able to react to what I
was doing, and stepped up his intensity.
He was adapting and taking steps to change
his game, while I was still trying to stick
to my plan. Thatís the great thing about
those top guys, if you are at 7/7, they know
you are bound to change your game to put
more pressure on him, and are able to
anticipate to the change you are making
before you are making the change! Iím not
Selby (Eng) bt [Q]Adrian
11/2, 13/11, 11/7 (48m)
an all-England clash, qualifier Adrian
Waller faced British Champion Darly Selby,
whose recent form has been a little
variable. There was little sign of that in
the first game as Selby romped away 11/2,
aided by errors from Waller.
Waller began with some assurance in the
second, but at 2/0 the lights went out, and
the match was moved from the main court to
court 9, where the lights were still
So resumption at 1-0 to Selby and 2-0 to
Waller in the second.
An immediate unforced error didn't bode well
for Waller and another
brought the scores level at 2-all. Waller
takes the ball in short well, but the bouncy
courts don't yield the
same rewards as the glass court, and Selby
was mostly able to deal with Waller's
attacks. A ball that looked well down was
given the thumbs up and Selby was back to
6-all, fortunately in my view.
error by Selby at 9/8 on a short forehand
angle gave Waller a game ball at 10/8; a
soft error by him made it 10/9, and yet
another error by Waller took the game to a
tiebreak. And again, under pressure this
time, and Selby served for the game at
11/10; a lovely backhand drop and Waller was
level at 11-all.
Sadly for him another two unforced errors
and Selby took the game 13/11 for a 2-0
lead. Waller had done enough to be one-all,
but his error rate at crucial times was his
Selby quickly went to 3-0 in the third, but
he lost that impetus as Waller levelled,
still offering plenty. Selby reasserted to
6/3, but, blowing a little, didn't chase a
backhand drop to give Waller hope at 6-all.
Another Waller errors gave Selby match ball
at 10/7, which he gratefully converted.
Waller's skill levels are high, but so was
his error rate, the majority unforced. It
was a thorough workout for Selby, which may
benefit him for what lies ahead.
was a game of two halves!!!!
I thought I was playing well on the other
court, good length, and he was getting
frustrated not to be able to get in front of
Then we moved court, and the conditions Ė
colder Ė suited him much better. He is a
talented shot maker but I managed to do
enough in the 2nd and 3rd to keep him at
bay. I was lucky of his slight immaturity in
the second Ė he tinned his two game ball at
10/8 and again tinned the last two points Ė
as he forced it a bit. That second game was
Happy to get 3/0Ö
El Shorbagy (Egy)
btFarhan Mehboob (Pak)
11/6, 11/8 (rtd) 28m)
Well, I must say I was not exactly surprised
when I saw Farhan coming back on court after
losing the second game only to shake his
The lack of rallies, the number of tins (I
counted 8 in the second), seemed to
demonstrate that the Pakistani was not in
his best day.
He basically told me that his hand was
extremely painful at three different spots Ė
I did see some blisters there Ė making it
impossible for him to hold the racquet
Ashour (Egy) bt
Zac Alexander (Aus)
11/6, 13/11, 11/6 (36m)
FAST, SO FAST..
I know that court doesnít really call for
long and mid pace rallies, but still, David
and Thierry managed to do that yesterday, so
I suspect it is possible to make the rallies
last. Because Iím not sure that playing at a
very fast pace somebody like Hisham, whoís
got the fastest shot of the FarWest and
trains with Ramy Ashour, meaning quite able
to retrieve any shot under the sun, was such
a great plan. A slower pace approach, trying
to test his fitness would have probably been
But then again, as Hisham was not fit at
all, and suffered at that high pace today,
it was a good plan eventually! I think that
Zac was just a bit unlucky at the end of
games, he probably could have cause more and
more trouble had he taken at least a game..
Ashour, wearing long socks, presumably for
protective purposes, was up against young
Australian Zac Alexander, lights restored,
normal service resumed. errors by both
players punctuated the early exchanges, but
Ashour was also producing some winners, as
he does and he went from 5 all to 8/5.
Alexander's errors multiplied as Ashour's
reduced and the Egyptian took the ﬁrst game
11/6 on a tinned backhand.
Alexander led 2/0 in the second but Ashour
was looking as if he had a shot too many for
him and drew level at 4 all. Alexander
however, is a good mover and getting on with
things in an admirable manner, managed to
secure an 8/4 lead. A stroke took Alexander
to 9/5 but Ashour, producing winners like a
magician pulling rabbits out of a hat, drew
level at 9 all before an error gave
Alexander a game ball at 10/9. An exquisite
forehand volley drop, rapturously greeted by
the large crowd, brought Ashour level at 10
all. He served for the game at 11/10, made
an error to go to 11/11, Alexander missed a
sitter on the backhand to give Ashour a
second game ball which he converted thanks
to an error on the Alexander forehand.
Ashour, without ever dominating, continued
to maintain a marginal advantage in the
third and a stroke took him to 5/3, a winner
to 6/3 and a forehand drop to 7/3. Ashour
then called a ball of his own down when the
ofﬁcials had no idea and before he knew it
Alexander was back in contention at 6/7. A
disguised forehand drop, which again pleased
the crowd, meant Ashour led 8/6; a
crosscourt into the nick 9/6; a disguised
backhand straight and it was 10/6 matchball
which he ﬁnished off with a short backhand
angle.Alexander is a good athlete, neat with
the racket and has a commendable demeanour.
He is open to much improvement. If Ashour
has a physical problem, it didn't show and
he produced enough ﬂashes to send the crowd
Iím not what
you call a natural light player, I have to
run, do sprint court, get on court and train
hard to be able to last during a match. But
since Qatar, I havenít been able to get on a
squash court because of my hamstring injury
that flared up again Thierry.
I only got on court once I was here, we
practice with Farhan, and I was really
puffing and dying on there. And in the
middle of the match today, I thought I was
going to have to stop, I was so in the red!
Normally, I like playing at that pace, but
today, I just couldnít! Iím so lucky to get
away with it in the endÖ
that court, itís so difficult to control the
ball, itís so bouncy and fast, you canít
really do up and down the wall squash, which
was my original game plan. You canít see the
backhand wall that well, so you can only do
one or two backhand drives, not moreÖ
Zac is a very good player, and I think heís
got the potential to beat a lot of top
players the way he played.
And yes, now the leg is fineÖ
I heard talk that he was injured since I
arrived here, so I followed the game plan
that was suggested to me, make hi move as
fast as possible. But actually, it backfired
on me, as Iím the one that made the errors
when it started to get too fast!!
Oh well, he didnít miss much today, he
definitely beat me. Still, happy to qualify,
and move onÖ
Gawad (Egy) bt
Aamir Atlas Khan (Pak)
12/10, 11/9, 11/5 (34m)
I think it was a mental battle. First of all
with myself because I had to overcome the
disappointment of losing in Qatar. I went
back and trained very hard indeed to come
back this week. But the first round of a
tournament is always the hardest for me, Iím
always more stressed than for the rest of
the tournament. And today again, I felt a
lot of pressure.
Aamir is a great player, he is top 25, so I
knew what to expect although it was the
first time ever we played. And after I won
the first game, I just concentrated on
making sure I would win 3/0 to keep fresh
for the next round.
And it was also a mental battle on court, as
he managed to take an early lead in each
game but I was strong enough in my head to
come back each time.
Shabana (Egy) v [Q] Eric Galvez
11/8, 11/6, 11/6 (32m)
Shabana back on
After his US Open win, it was hard to know
what to make of Shabana's performance in
Doha [losing the first round to Nicolas
Mueller]. But if the great four-time World
Champion needed any inspiration, the
prospect of a fifth title would surely be
Them colourful Mexican Eric Galvez it was,
though, who started the quicker, leading
4/1. Shabana, settling better, recovered to
six-all and led for the first time at 7/6
which became 8/6 with a disguised straight
forehand. He then eased away to win the game
11/8, no doubt happy after a diffident
Galvez is quick and unlikely to give way
readily, but Shabana, beginning to flow, is
difficult to contain and he led 8/4 and,
aided by two Galvez errors, 10/5. The second
game ball was enough and at 11/6 oit was two
games to love.
Shabana quickly went to 9/3 in the third and
although Galvez got back to 6/9, a high
forehand from the Mexican went out at 10/6
to seal the match.
It was a good enough workout for Shabana,
enough to get him going, not too much taken
out of him for what lies ahead ...
donít know what happened last timeÖ So today
I just tried and control the T and play
squash the way itís supposed to be played
and hope for the best. I never come on court
thinking Iím going to win. I get on court
thinking I have a chance, and thatís the
case for all the squash players, above or
below my ranking.
Today he was so fluid on court, the way he
moves, the way he cares himself, he is so
flexible, he made me feel uptight, like in a
corset. And because of my last outing, I was
a bit worried about that feeling. After a
while I had to stop concentrating on him and
focus on me, and my movement got better, I
got less and less tight, and like him, got
more fluid, which is the way the game of
squash should be played, from both a mental
and a physical point of view.
happy that my body is holding up at the
moment, itís give me a fair chance to play.
What I do since 2009 is spend 6 months of
the year fixing the body, and the other half
making it fit. And itís been holding well so
Recently, my family and I are living half
the year in the Middle East Far East for the
squash season, and then weíll be going back
to the US. Iím loving it here. I was raised
abroad, and it was always a wish of mine to
give the same chance to my girl, itís so
important to meet with different
experiences, lifetimes and cultures.
Knight (Nzl) bt Jan Koukal (Cze)
3/11, 4/11, 11/8, 11/8, 11/8 (94m)
the first 2 games and a half, he played
unreal squash. I mean I score 3 points in
the first and 4 in the second, something
like that, but it was the errors he made. I
didnít control a single rally the whole
time. And even in the 3rd, he was up 3/0,
5/2 and 8/6!
Not sure how I got it back, maybe a
combination of him getting tired Ė I made
him work a bit harder in the 2nd, longer
rallies, although the score doesnít speak in
my favour Ė and me playing a bit more
positive. It had to be difficult for me,
being 2/0 and up in the third, quite
comfortable, he was bound to relax a bit.
In that third, I could see the momentum
shift on court, it was a nervy game thatís
for sure! And from that point on, I canít
say I went for winners, but I tried and did
a bit more with the ball, put a bit more
work in his legs, put the ball in, work him
to the frontÖ
In the 5th I took a good start, 5/1, but in
a game, the momentum can change three four
times per game, so it was never comfortable
out there. I was ahead 8/4 but he came back
7/8. I did a good backhand trickle boast
(probably the best of my career) that took
me to 9/7. Hit a winner to get to match
ball, 10/7, but finally won it on a stroke
11/8. Not the best way to finish a match,
but no way I was not going to take it. Happy
to win it, and looking forward to playing
Hisham next round!
Salazar (Mex) bt
Adrian Grant (Eng)
8/11, 11/3, 11/5, 8/11, 11/5 (68m)
IN THE HEAD, AS EVER
wish there was a way to keep Adrianís
neurons plugged in for the duration of a
whole matchÖ Itís a joke of course, no
disrespect to the extreme hard work Cesar
produced today on court, but so many times
Iíve seen Adrian on and off mentally, to
finally win the match, I just didnít think
much of it when I saw him lose the second
11/3 and the 3rd 11/5.
Oh well, I thought, normal day at the
office, heíll win in 5, as ever, beating
himself up for having lost valuable energy
for tomorrowís match.
unfortunately for him, Cesar had something
to say about this ending.
The Mexican, like his brother sort of reborn
after a very bad car crash that could have
been fatal, was on fire in the 5th, yet
again, running after every shot, finding
some great defence shot and mixing lobs with
superb counter attacking, sprinkled with a
nice boast that wrong footed Adrian time and
At 5/5, those two had some amazing rally,
ridiculous squash to be frank, and it seemed
to free the Mexican, while putting more and
more pressure on the Englishman, who, tin
after tin, gave more and more confidence to
the underdog that take the victory of a
started very well, but he played just a
perfect squash in the first game. I tried to
attack but he was just far too good for me.
But in the second, I changed my tactic,
moved him to the front and back, side to
side, and he looked a bit tired, and the
same in the 3rd.
In the 4th, I was keeping up with him until
the end of the game when I really felt very
very tired, I just couldnít pick up his
boast that were truly killing me.
And what to say about the 5th?? It was a
flip of a coin. I changed my tactic again,
and speeded up the pace as much as I could.
I played faster and faster, and I could feel
that he was the one with the pressure,
whereas I was just playing my shotsÖ
We had some very hard rallies at 5/5, 6/5,
and from that point on, I didnít feel tired
at all, the legs werenít painful anymore, I
felt strong, both mentally and physically.
This is the best day of my life.
 Laurens Jan
Anjema (Ned) bt [Q] Greg
11/4, 10/12, 11/7, 13/11
not trying to deny there is pressure on my
shoulders, but at the same time, I donít
want to play a match in the middle of
nowhere for no purpose that nobody will
I want to play that kind of match, on the
central court, in front of plenty of people,
with a lot of pressure, because pressure
means there is a lot to win, and
I love that pressure.
No I was not surprised by Gregís
performance. I havenít had the chance to see
him play a lot of matches recently, but
still, Iíve looked at his results, he is a
very good player, he trains with Greg,
I didnít underestimated him for a second Ė
and thatís the case for every player on the
PSA circuit, because if you do underestimate
them, you hang yourself. And although I was
ready for him, still, I was in troubleÖ
forget the fact that Iím the tournament,
that I just won, just the fact that everyone
who is anyone in squash is here, every
coach, every official, every squash guru is
here, in Rotterdam, in Netherlands, is the
greatest feeling everÖ.
I knew I had a good width against LJ as he
volleys so well, and I thought I didnít
start too badly in the first, but he was
playing too fast, too accurate for me, and
he forced a lot of mistakes from me, and run
away with the game.
In the second, I felt that I was more in
control of the rallies, and I have to say
Iím quite relieved/lucky to save that game
ball, as being led 2/0 and being 1/1 is not
the same at all!
But after that, I made far too many errors,
junior errors really. My length game is
solid but Iím still not incisive enough at
the front, and especially at crucial timesÖ
Still happy to qualify, happy with my match,
I see that I can still improve, I see now
the work that needs to be done to go
Mueller (Sui) bt Ali Anwar Reda (Egy)
11/5, 11/9, 4/11, 11/3 (49m)
hard two first games, I managed to take the
1st, and the second, it was hard all the
way, he was leading one, two points ahead,
and I managed to sneak the second from 9/9
The last time we played was on the Junior
circuit, and he killed me 3/0 in under 15m.
What was the difference? Well, Iím full of
confidence after Qatar, and I guess the
opponent can pick it up in the body
language, and that helps. Today, I didnít
take a rocket start like I did in Qatar, I
was feeling quite confident physically, so
quite on the contrary, I was happy to let
the rallies last. Still, in the 3rd, he
played so well and virtually chopped me.
Happy it went my way this time.
Ramy Ashour (Egy) bt [Q] Campbell
We did play once, in the World Junior Open,
that was a very long time agoÖ
Before the match, I told myself that I
needed to be 120% on there, and to make sure
I would move as well as possible. Iím really
happy with the way I played, I really took
it him as much as I couldÖ.
A bit disappointed not to have closed it out
in the second, I had two or three game
balls, but he was too good, just too good,
and so clean and fair on the courtÖ. And
itís unbelievable what he can do on the
I truly wish him all the best for the rest
of the tournament.
Walker (Bot) bt Omar Abdel Aziz (Egy)
11/5, 11/8, 11/8 (50m)
know I can have my rear end can stick out a
bit sometimes, but itís genetic! No, Iím
joking, but we had a few hard contacts in
the match, not easy to get round each other.
Iím happy to get off in three and still have
a good game before tomorrow, because who
ever Beng Hee or Azlan, itís going to be a
very hard game.
The match was fine until the third, Omar
sometimes has a lot of emotions he lets out,
and I think thatís maybe the reason why he
made a few errors in the end, for which Iím
I just had no space to play. I feel that I
was not allowed to play my squash today, and
Iím feeling really sad. I wouldnít have
minded losing or winning, if I had been able
to defend my chances. But right now, I feel
Iíve worked so hard, and trained so hard,
and all that for nothing. Not fair.
bt Ong Beng Hee
11/3, 11/7, 3/11, 11/5 (76m)
There are few players on the tour that as
close or closer than Beng Hee and Azlan.
Those two have got a true friendship that
goes a long way. Azlan supported his mate
when he was attacked from some nasty press a
few years back and Iíve always felt the very
strong bond, the protection that those two
bring to each other.
This was not a pleasure game for them, I can
assure you. Azlan had trouble switching his
killer instinct on, kept on apologising
every time he was in the way, and just felt
uncomfortable every time he was asking for a
let. And Beng Hee, well, was being Beng Hee,
too nice, too respectful, glancing at his
mate every time he was about to serve, as to
make sure he was alright.
There were an awful lot of decisions in the
last game, for some strange reason, as itís
unusual for me to see either of them ask
much to be honest. Do they know each otherís
game that well that they are moving very
fast onto the ball? Were they a bit nervous?
No idea. Still, many decisions, I counted 20
in that game.
There was not much between the players,
except in the first game, with Beng Hee
virtually handing it over by tinning a fair
amount. The rest was pretty close, with an
edge for Azlan, who was more incisive at the
front backhand corner in particular.
So, a logical winner, but I didnít feel like
talking to either of them, not sure why, but
it would have felt a bit, I donít know, like
interfering in a family affair.
Malcolm reports on THAT match
Not for the first time a match involving
Davide Bianchetti ended in turmoil with the
Italian having the second game awarded
against him for continual haranguing of the
referee and then the match for sustained
ranting and raving.
What it was all about was hard to fathom. At
12-all Bianchetti made a spectacular dive
when under severe pressure and his pickup
was called down by the referee, a call that
most of the spectators thought was correct.
He carried on with his verbal assault,
forcing the referee's hand who awarded the
match to Ghosal.
It was all unnecessary and a shame, since
Bianchetti contributed much to two
entertaining and entirely watchable games.
Aided by errors from the Italian Ghosal went
from 5/'2 to win the first comfortably
enough 11/4, but Bianchetti started the
second game well, being particularly
effective into the front backhand corner. He
led 9/5 and 10/6, but Ghosal is mobile and
never relented, hauling his way back and
forcing a tiebreak.
It was at 12-all that Bianchetti, denied a
let, lost control, lost the game and
eventually when the referee's patience
understandably ran out, the match.
None of this should have happened, and it
did the game little good.