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TODAY at the World Open Squash 2011                                                       facebooktwitter
Day FOUR, Mon 31st, Men's Round ONE (bottom)                                                   
Fram and Steve in Rotterdam


Richard Eaton on Day Four

Men's Round ONE (bottom)

[4] James Willstrop (Eng) bt Max Lee (Hkg)  
          11/8, 11/6, 11/7 (33m)
Shahier Razik (Can) bt [Q] Joe Lee (Eng)
          11/5, 11/9, 6/11, 11/6 (65m)
[Q] Marwan El Shorbagy (Egy) btFarhan Mehboob (Pak)
          11/6, 11/8 (rtd) 28m)
[11] Daryl Selby (Eng) bt [Q]Adrian Waller (Eng)
          11/2, 13/11, 11/7 (48m)
[15] Hisham Ashour (Egy) bt Zac Alexander (Aus)
         11/6, 13/11, 11/6 (36m)
Martin Knight (Nzl) bt Jan Koukal (Cze)
         3/11, 4/11, 11/8, 11/8, 11/8 (94m)
[5] Amr Shabana (Egy) v [Q] Eric Galvez (Mex)
          11/8, 11/6, 11/6 (32m)
Karim Abdel Gawad (Egy) bt Aamir Atlas Khan (Pak)
          12/10, 11/9, 11/5 (34m)
[6] Gregory Gaultier (Fra) bv Dylan Bennett (Ned)
        11/4, 11/3, 11/6 (29m)
Cesar Salazar (Mex) bt Adrian Grant (Eng)
        8/11, 11/3, 11/5, 8/11, 11/5 (68m)
Saurav Ghosal (Ind) bt [Q] Davide Bianchetti (Ita)
         11/5, 14/12 DISQ (35m)
[12] Laurens Jan Anjema (Ned) bt [Q] Greg Marche (Fra)
          11/4, 10/12, 11/7, 13/11 (84m)
[2] Ramy Ashour (Egy) bt [Q] Campbell Grayson (Nzl)
            11/9, 14/12, 11/5 (40m)
Nicolas Mueller (Sui) bt Ali Anwar Reda (Egy)
           11/5, 11/9, 4/11, 11/3 (49m)
[13] Azlan Iskandar (Mas) bt Ong Beng Hee (Mas)
            11/3, 11/7, 3/11, 11/5 (76m)
Alister Walker (Bot) bt Omar Abdel Aziz (Egy)
            11/5, 11/8, 11/8 (50m)


Women's Qualifying Finals

Aisling Blake (Irl) bt Lisa Aitken (Sco)   
      11/5, 11/7, 11/7 (37m)
Gaby Huber (Sui) bt Olga Ertlova (Cze)
      11/7, 11/5, 6/11, 11/5 (51m)
Lauren Selby (Eng) bt Maud Duplomb (Fra)
      11/3, 12/10, 11/3 (31m)
Nour El Sherbini (Egy) bt Kylie Lindsay (Nzl)
      11/7, 11/9, 11/4 (29m)
Yathreb Adel (Egy) bt Victoria Lust (Eng)
        11/8, 1/11, 11/6, 6/11, 11/5 (65m)
Tesni Evans (Wal) bt Heba El Torky (Egy)
        11/9, 4/11, 11/9, 11/8 (44m)
Kanzy El Dafrawy (Egy) bt Siyoli Waters (Rsa)
         11/6, 11/4, 11/9 (33m)
Latasha Khan (Usa bt Lauren Briggs (Eng)
          11/3, 11/3, 11/6 (37m)

The Draw:  Sherbini v Urguhart, Khan v Low, Blane v N.Grinham, Selby v R.Grinham, Evans v Teran, Kanzy v Kawy, Adel v Massaro, Huber v King



En Bref #2

Day Four at Victoria:
Best ever wins for Cesar and Tesni ... LJ survives


After three days of 32 matches we were down to a mere 24 today, as the men's first round concluded and the women's main draw was completed.

James Willstrop and Aisling Blake were the first winners of the day, and just as Shahier Razik joined them with two more matches under way, off went the power and the lights (and the internet).

"I'm happy the job is done," said the Irishwoman, "that's always the first aim and I've had two good matches and managed to get off both times in three. Happy to be in the main draw, let's just see who I get now." [she actually got, for the umpteenth time, training partner Natalie Grinham]

Two courts were still playable, so Daryl Selby and Gaby Huber completed their victories on those, and then the club was rebooted so that we could pretend that hour never happened.

"It wasn't ideal going to a different court," said the Swiss, "but it was the same for us both. All the games were tough but I managed to play well enough to win and I'm really pleased to qualify in my first World Open.

Resuming on three courts, Marwan El Shorbagy joined his brother in round two as a less than 100% Farhan Mehboob retired after the second game, and Hisham Ashour, Karim Abdel Gawad and Amr Shabana all weighed in with comfortable enough wins to make it a good afternoon for Egypt.

"I donít know what happened last time [in Qatar], so today I just tried and control the T and play squash the way itís supposed to be played and hope for the best," said four-time champion Shabana.

Lauren Selby was in no mood to offer Maud Duplomb birthday gifts, and after yesterday's scare Nour El Sherbini - it's her birthday tomorrow - looked in decent form as she beat Kylie Lindsay to a place in the main draw, the Kiwi glad to get a few points in the third after going 10-0 down.

"It was a bit easier than yesterday," said Selby. "Once I'd got the stiffness out of my legs I played so much better and I was much more comfortable on court. Now I just need to sort out my washing and my flights!"

A happier Kiwi was Martin Knight, who came from two games down to beat Jan Koukal in easily the longest match of the session, taking the last three games 11/8, 11/8, 11/8 in just over an hour and a half.

The evening session started with two up and down five game upsets as Mexican qualifier Cesar Salazar got the better of Adrian Grant in 68 minutes, while it took over an hour for young Egyptian Yathreb Adel to beat Victoria Lust in another hard-fought encounter.

"What to say about the 5th??," said a delighted Salazar, "tt was a flip of a coin. I changed my tactic again, and speeded up the pace as much as I could. 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," concluded the Mexican.

There was mixed success against Frenchmen for the hosts on the showcourt as Qatar Classic champion Gregory Gaultier dismissed wildcard spot winner Dylan Bennett in straight games, while LJ Anjema looked on course to do the same to Greg Marche before the qualifier came back to take the second and give the packed crowd some tense moments before their favourite finally won 13/11 in the fourth after 84 minutes.

"No I was not surprised by Gregís performance," said a relieved Dutchman. "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, so I didnít underestimated him for a second and although I was ready for him, still, I was in trouble.

"Now, 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"

Meanwhile drama on court 8 as Italy's Davide Bianchetti, a game behind and at 12-all in the second against India's Saurav Ghosal, argued sufficiently to get a conduct game awarded against him. Bianchetti continued to argue during the interval, persevered with his comments to the referee as they were about to start the third, when the referee's patience ran out and the match was awarded against him.

Shortly after Cesar's best ever win came the same result for Wales' Tesni Evans who temporarily halted the Egyptian advance with a 3/1 win over Heba El Torky.

"It's definitely my best ever win," said a delighted Evans, "and it's a good tournament to do it in - I'm in the main draw of the World Open, how good is that ?? I don't care who I get, I don't think I'll beat anyone, I just hope it's an early enough match for my flight home tomorrow!" [good news Tesni, it's 12 noon against Samantha Teran]

Kanzy El Dafrawy made it a hat-trick of Egyptian qualifiers as she beat Siyoli Waters in straight games to the delight of her new-found Dutch fans, and American veteran Latasha Khan grabbed the last spot with a fairly comfortable win over England's Lauren Briggs.

Second seed Ramy Ashour struggled to see off Kiwi qualifier Campbell Grayson in their first two games, but eased through the third to set up a meeting with Switzerland's Nicolas Mueller, Shabana's conqueror in Qatar who claimed another Egyptian scalp in beating Ali Anwar Reda in four games.

Alister Walker
also won in three in a rumbustious encounter with an unhappy Omar Abdel Aziz, leaving the last place in the second round to be decided by Azlan Iskandar who won his all-Malaysian encounter between and Ong Beng Hee in 76 minutes.
  

[4] James Willstrop (Eng) bt Max Lee (Hkg)         11/8, 11/6, 11/7 (33m)

Willstrop eases through
Malcolm reports

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 for
tunate let went in Willstrop's favour at that point and at 10/8 he was able to close out the first games.

Willstrop 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 11/7.

Lee can take much encouragement from his performance, he is very skilled, will thrive on the glass court, moves well and showed admirable persistence.

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 3/0.

It was a match played in all the right ways; clean, well contested, skilful and not a word out of place.

Weíve 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


 

Shahier Razik (Can) bt [Q] Joe Lee (Eng)     11/5, 11/9, 6/11, 11/6 (65m)

In 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 play.

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



Physically 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 there yetÖ

[11] Daryl Selby (Eng) bt [Q]Adrian Waller (Eng)     11/2, 13/11, 11/7 (48m)

Selby wins all-English clash

In 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 operating.

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.

An 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 undoing.

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.

It 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 me.

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 definitely crucial.

Happy to get 3/0Ö

[Q] Marwan El Shorbagy (Egy) btFarhan Mehboob (Pak)     11/6, 11/8 (rtd) 28m)

FARHAN, HAND TROUBLE

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 opponentís hand.

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 properly.

Game over.

[15] Hisham 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 my guess.

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..

Malcolm's View

Hisham 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 away happy.

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

On 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

Karim Abdel Gawad (Egy) bt Aamir Atlas Khan (Pak)          12/10, 11/9, 11/5 (34m)

Today, 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.

[5] Amr Shabana (Egy) v [Q] Eric Galvez (Mex)          11/8, 11/6, 11/6 (32m)

Shabana back on track
Malcolm reports

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 it.

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 start.

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 ...

I 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.

Iím 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 farÖ

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.

Martin Knight (Nzl) bt Jan Koukal (Cze)         3/11, 4/11, 11/8, 11/8, 11/8 (94m)

In 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!

Cesar Salazar (Mex) bt Adrian Grant (Eng)         8/11, 11/3, 11/5, 8/11, 11/5 (68m)

IN THE HEAD, AS EVER Ö

I 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.

But 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 time again.

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 lifetime.

I 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.

[12] Laurens Jan Anjema (Ned) bt [Q] Greg Marche (Fra)
          11/4, 10/12, 11/7, 13/11 (84m)

Iím 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 watch.

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,

So 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

Now, 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 forward.

Nicolas Mueller (Sui) bt Ali Anwar Reda (Egy)          11/5, 11/9, 4/11, 11/3 (49m)

 We had 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 to 11/9.

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.

[2] Ramy Ashour (Egy) bt [Q] Campbell Grayson (Nzl)
            11/9, 14/12, 11/5 (40m)

Fast. Very fast!

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 courtÖ.

I truly wish him all the best for the rest of the tournament.

Alister Walker (Bot) bt Omar Abdel Aziz (Egy)            11/5, 11/8, 11/8 (50m)

I 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 really grateful.



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.

[13] Azlan Iskandar (Mas) bt Ong Beng Hee (Mas)         11/3, 11/7, 3/11, 11/5 (76m)

FRATRICIDAL

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.
*



Bianchetti Banished

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.

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