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TODAY at the World Open Squash 2011                                                       facebooktwitter
Day SIX, Wed 2nd, Last 16, Part One                                                                        
Fram and Steve in Rotterdam

Richard Eaton: Lasting memory
from Palmer & Lincou

GALLERY: First look at the Luxor

First Quarter-Finalists decided ...

There may have been less matches at Rotterdam's Victoria Club on day six of the World Open Squash 2011, but it proved to be the longest day so far as a series of marathon matches were played out in the first part of the last sixteen round of the men's and women's competitions.

Read on to see how it all happened ...

[15] Samantha Teran (Mex) bt  3] Rachael Grinham (Aus)  4/11, 11/2, 11/3, 12/10 (53m)
Dipika Pallikal
(Ind) bt [Q] Kanzy El Dafrawy (Egy)        11/6, 11/7, 11/7 (37m)
[5] Laura Massaro (Eng) bt   [9] Annie Au (Hkg)              11/9, 11/7, 11/6 (40m)
[2] Jenny Duncalf (Eng) bt  [10] Joelle King (Nzl)              11/8, 7/11, 11/1, 11/3 (52m)

[8] David Palmer (Aus) bt  [10] Thierry Lincou (Fra)   11/9, 3/11, 11/8, 6/11, 11/9 (96m)
[3] Karim Darwish (Egy) bt  Borja Golan (Esp)        11/9, 11/7, 11/1 (31m)
[1] Nick Matthew (Eng) bt [9] M. El Shorbagy (Egy) 8/11, 11/5, 11/9, 5/11, 11/1 (100m)
[7] Peter Barker (Eng) bt  [16] Cameron Pilley (Aus)    11/7, 12/10, 11/4 (88m)

Teran takes out Third seed Grinham

Day six of the World Open Squash 2011 at Rotterdam's Victoria Squash opened up with the biggest upset yet as Mexico's Samantha Teran, seeded fourteen, beat Rachael Grinham, the Australian who was champion in 2007 and was seeded three here.

There was no sign of what was to come as Grinham eased through the first game, but Teran's hard-hitting game seemed to neutralise Grinham's slower, more measured game as the Mexican totally dominated the next two games, denying her attacking opportunities and catching her out with drops and boasts of her own.

Could she keep it up was the question, and she did for the early part of the fourth, staying ahead as the rallies grew longer and more tense.

A Grinham lob at the end of a long rally sailed out to bring up 10/8 matchball, and Teran was denied what, from my viewpoint, looked an obvious stroke. Grinham levelled, with Teran looking for the easy way to win as she twice stopped looking for strokes which weren't there.

At 11/10 though Grinham put the ball back over her own head for an obvious stroke that was given, and we had a Mexican quarter-finalist.

Pallikal powers past Kanzy

With two players who caused upsets yesterday meeting, and unexpected place in the World Open quarter-finals was on offer for Dipika Pallikal or Kanzy El Dafrawy, and it was the higher-ranked Indian who took advantage, taking the lead in all three games and never letting her Egyptian get a real foothold in the game.

It the early stages of the third it looked as though Kanzy's more physical style was beginning to unsettle Dipika, but she held her composure and closed out the match with aplomb.
Palmer keeps his nerve

In a match worthy of two former world champions who have both spent ten unbroken years in the world's top ten, Australia's David Palmer emerges as the winner over Frenchman Thierry Lincou in front of a packed crowd on Victoria's show court.

Palmer twice took the lead, but Lincou levelled and opened up an 8/5 lead in the decider. In a tense, tense finish it was Palmer who took the final few points as the crowd rose to applaud two warriors of the game.

Darwish too strong

The final match of the afternoon session saw Karim Darwish through to a quarter-final meeting with Palmer as the third-seeded Egyptian got the better of two relatively tough games against Spaniard Borja Golan before cruising through the third.

Massaro and Duncalf guarantee English semi-finalist ...

The evening session resumed with England's in-form Laura Massaro against Hong Kong left-hander Annie Au.

Celebrating her 28th birthday today, Massaro has just moved up to a career best number four after her success in the US Open last month. But Au is no mug, so to speak, she's just moved up to a best-ever seventh in the rankings after reaching the final of the Monte Carlo Classic.

The match was as close as those stats would suggest, with the Englishwoman just managing to stay ahead for most of the first before pulling away at the end, then having to fight back after being a couple of points behind for most of the second.

The hot bouncy conditions and court probably suited Massaro's more conventional game more than Au's flick boast drop and lob variety but still, each point had to be worked for by whoever ended up winning it.

As she did in the first, Massaro pulled clear from 6-all in the third to reach her third World Open quarter-final. She's never been further, but on current form, and ranking, more beckons.

An English women's semi-finalist was guaranteed when Jenny Duncalf reaped the benefit of a tough opening pair of games against Joelle King.

The hard-hitting Kiwi matched Duncalf, the second seed, all the way for half an hour, but from the outset of the third the Englishwoman took control, taking the last two games for the loss of just four points.

Matthew survives Shorbagy assault, Barker leaves it late ...

Well, we already had one mammoth match today, and the penultimate pairing of the day delivered another just as long, just as intense, as defending champion Nick Matthew survived a ferocious attack - purely in squash terms - from Mohamed El Shorbagy.
It was a different type of game from the Palmer/Lincou affair, faster and generally more attacking, but the rallies on the hot, bouncy court surrounded by Dutch fans gasping at some of the shots and the retrieving on display, often went on, and on, always at high pace, always waiting for one or other to explode with the next attack.

After four games that took 88 minutes were shared, as Matthew took a 3/0 lead in the decider one spectator murmured "he's gone." Gone or not, Matthew extended the lead, and Shorbagy had no choice but to accept his fate as the world champion held on to his crown, for now, easing to an 11/1 win in a match that had been anything but easy.

Just as in the women's draw, an English semi-finalist was assured when Peter Barker, the seventh seed, beat Cameron Pilley in a marathon straight-games win that ended well past midnight. The Englishman got the better of two well contested first games, a series of lets and long rallies making the second game alone last over 50 minutes, before taking the third with more ease.

The last sixteen rounds conclude on Thursday on the glass court at the New Luxor Theatre.


[15] Samantha Teran (Mex) bt [3] Rachael Grinham (Aus)      4/11, 11/2, 11/3, 12/10 (53m)


It’s not that often that I see a player out-lobbing Rachael, but that’s what Sam did today.

The Mexican played probably the best match of her life, mixing the pace extremely cleverly, finding some exquisite boasts from all angle, volleying Rachael times and times again, putting her under a lot of pressure there, then pushing her to the back times and times again with that lob, to finish her off with some lovely counter drops especially on Rach’s famous long backhand drop shot.

Add to that a lovely serve, superb retrieving, a warm court, and you have a big upset…

Yes, I would have rather play on the glass court, this one was very bouncy, and although it’s the same for both players, I think she is more of a runner than I am!

Would have liked to give it a better go, but I felt a bit sluggish at times, I just didn’t react enough. And I got a bit frustrated, well, a few mishits and lucky nicks that went her way, plus that very bouncy court…. Again, disappointing….

Still, we played good rallies, tight squash, good length, fair game, I cannot complain… It was just not meant to be….

I’ve been training in Amsterdam with Liz for now 4 ½ years, in combination with my coach in Mexico, Miguel Montero, and that mixed work really well for me.

I’ve been concentrating on improving my technique, my swing, doing a lot of solo session, plus I’ve never fitter in my life. And that gives you confidence to stay on the court as long as you have to.

Still today, I thought I could win and I just kept going. I wanted to win in 4, because she is so experienced, and I thought that she could get confident again had she won the 4th, and I didn’t want that!

Yes, my boast worked well, thanks to that side glass wall!

Squash is big now in Mexico. We have a lot of recreational players, a lot of juniors who are coming up, and that go the juniors circuit now in Europe as well, and the top players are now well placed in the world rankings.

We had a good momentum coming from the Pan Am games, we were all training together, men and women, that’s really a great feeling. And we are very grateful to have the support of our government, it makes a big difference… And of our sponsors, of course!!!!

Dipika Pallikal (Ind) bt [Q] Kanzy El Dafrawy (Egy)       11/6, 11/7, 11/7 (37m)

Pallikal claims quarter-final place
Malcolm reports

Dipika Pallikal had played well to withstand a strong challenge from Jackie Hawkes and she impressed again, staving off another strong challenge, this time from Kanzy El Dafrawy. Using the angles well she took an early 6-2 lead, which went to 10-5 despite El Dafrawy’s best efforts, finishing the game 11-6 with another angle.

The second was more competitive as El Dafrawy chased up, producing her own skills with the racket, leading 6-4. A demanding rally at that point worked in Pallikal’s favour and from six all she steadily drew clear combining drops and angles to effect to win it 11-7.

Pallikal’s concentration lapsed at the beginning of the third as El Dafrawy sustained her efforts and the Egyptian soon had a 5-1 lead. At this point Pallikal recovered her composure and again producing a variety of shots she drew level at five all, led 7-5 and even though El Dafrawy did not give an inch Pallikal won the game and the match 11-7 to move into the quarter finals where she will face Samantha Teran, surprise winner over Rachel Grinham in the preceding match.

Last time I played against Kanzy, it was in the juniors, and she beat me 3/1. And yesterday, when I heard I was playing her instead of Omneya, I suddenly became very nervous, because I am better ranked than her, I didn’t want to lose and the pressure suddenly was too much.

So I call Sarah in Australia, telling her, I’m so nervous, I don’t know what to do. And she calmed me down….

It’s very difficult for me to celebrate, because my uncle George suddenly passed away a few days ago, and all my family is together in India to overcome that terrible moment, and I thought I was going to have to pull out of this tournament. But then I was made to realise that the best way for me to honour his memory was to do the best I could here, and to make him proud of me.


[8] David Palmer (Aus) bt [10] Thierry Lincou (Fra)     11/9, 3/11, 11/8, 6/11, 11/9 (96m)


Recently, a new rule from WSF allows people to make noise during the rallies, which in my opinion, is a lot of bulls, if 50.000 people can stay quiet in Wimbledon, our mere 230 spectators in average should be able to shut their trap. But today, not a noise, not a phone ring, not a low bloke full of beer shouting his way in or out. A total silence. Respectful, but more than that, captivated. Mesmerised.

This was probably one of the best matches I ever was lucky to witness. The quality of the shots, 11 errors for Thierry, 8 for David, in a 96m match, the perfection of their volleying, retrieving skills, lobs, change of pace and angles, their grit and determination, the respect between them, well, sorry, I have no words but exceptional, rare, unique to describe what I just witness.

I wish, gosh I so wish this had been videoed, at it so deserved to be watched by future generations to learn what squash is. Unfortunately, I have only my words to describe what happened.

Odds were for Thierry to win, as David looked to be a bit under the weather physically from the start of the tournament, plus the stats were the last three matches for Lincou. And the pressure was on him too, as he was wearing his “Borja face” as I call it, that face he had when he was beaten by Borja in Paris for the Internationaux in 2008…

And the first game, well, was all about David in front, hitting hard and low, directing the pace, while the Frenchman was on the backfoot, only reacting, a bit negative, and not really stepping up territorially or mentally. Holding back in other words. Still, Thierry started to relax slightly in the end, 8/8, but David was too fresh and too confident to let that one slip, 11/9 the Australian.

In the second, Thierry really found his rhythm and shots, and lovely backhand drop shots that gave him a lot of confidence, 11/3 in 12m, you can see that hard work was being done, despite the low points count.

In the 3rd, David was so tired, soooo tired at the start, led 2/4. He could barely put a foot in front of the other, came near to his friend Pat against the wall as to absorb energy and support through the glass. And it worked.

The Frenchman, thinking that he had the Australian, maybe changed a bit his tactic, and instead of keeping pushing him to the back, went for some silly shots at the front, went too short, giving his opponent breathing time. David gradually breathed better, and better, and giving it a big push at 8/8 again, taking that one 11/8 to now lead 2/1.

“Let’s call it a draw while they are still alive”, smiled Richard Eaton, AFP journalist seating next to me, who was enjoying this as much as I did….

Like the 2nd, Thierry dug in in the 4th, and took the T, twisting and turning David to perfection. The rallies were long, the Frenchman was working the Australian, again and again, but David just kept on retrieving and retrieving and retrieving, and although Thierry took that game, a lot of damage had been done on his energy tank.

The damage didn’t show early in the decider, as Thierry kept the momentum going until 6/2. And it looked bleeping good for the French to be honest.

That’s the exact time the Marine chose to find his 3,543th wind of the match, and from being on automatic pilot, only returning the shots without any other purpose than making the rally last one more shot, he started hitting so hard, giving it the push of his life. And it worked. The Frenchman, having given so much to come back in that 4th just had not much left under the foot.

And my Australian, with the energy that comes from despair, refused to die today – this is not only his last World Open but also his last ever PSA tournament. He was just that much hungrier today than his opponent. From his own admittance, Thierry thought there would be other matches, other victories. But for David today, it was a matter of life and death.

What a match people, WHAT A MATCH!!!!

How did I turn that one around? …………….. I don’t know.

Thierry is such a Master, at 2/1 down, he controls and slows down the pace, he sucks it down…. I knew I had to inject some pace again but I just couldn’t… And I don’t particularly like that court, far too bouncy…

In the 5th, at 9/9 I just went for some shots, and he tenses up a little bit, it was a 50 50 really at the end, but I’m so happy to get through.

This is my last world Open, this is also my last tournament and my goal was to reach the quarters and make it to the glass court.

This morning, I had to go to the doctor, I have been down with bronchitis, I felt terrible, but I decided to give it a big push, and once I got on there, I was fine.

I was tired on there, but it happened the same thing against Alan in the first round, feeling very tired, and yet, getting over it. It’s a bit like you finish a very hard match, and you realise you could have given a bit more. It was a bit like that, I got very tired, but at the end, a couple of closed fists, a few yells, anything to get the adrenalin going.

It was so nice to have the support of Mel my wife and my daughters Kayla and Miley, my physio Pat who's been following me throughout my career….

Maybe I shouldn’t be saying that, but at 2/1 up, I thought, well, worse scenario, he’ll win 3/2, as the thing I really wanted to avoid – as he’s been playing well recently – was to get beaten easily 3/0. And looking at the quality of the match, I thought it would have been a nice way to end my career.

Looking forward to my day of rest now, and to play on the glass court…

This is a specific match in the tournament, it was very meaningful. This is his last world open, it could be mine, and it’s also his last tournament.

Today, we not only wanted to win, but also show what we are made of. And seeing the crowd excited and supporting us, well, no matter I lost, I really felt true enjoyment, and real communion with the crowd.

We dug in, recover, dug in again, and rally after rally, we needed one second more between each point!

I dug very far to come back and stay alive, I have no regret.

The quality of this match was superb, mixing of tactics, mixing of shots, ok, not the Egyptian way, but still, we did five superb games of squash, it was good for us, and good for the crowd I hope.

David is a great, great champion, and he is such a finisher. That’s how he got all those titles, because he just knows how to play the important points…

[3] Karim Darwish (Egy) bt  Borja Golan (Esp)        11/9, 11/7, 11/1 (31m)

Darwish too strong
Malcolm reports

Borja Golan, much to his delight, beat Omar Mosaad, and since the Egyptian had been in good form, it seemed he might give Karim Darwish plenty to do.

Darwish has had more than his fair share of injury problems, pulling out in Philadelphia and not looking quite right in Qatar whe he lost too easily to Gregory Gaultier on a court that suits his style.

However against Golan there appeared to be no ankle strapping and his movement was fine.

The first two games were well enough contested, though there was a testy anxiety about Golan when calmness was probably required. Darwish won them both with his skills into the front forehand, deft drops shots mixed with delayed angles.

Golan never looked likely to stage a comeback in the third as Darwish ran away with it 11/1.

If he is injury free, Darwish will be happy and Golan, after his delight against Mosaad, was more than likely disappointed with his performance.

[5] Laura Massaro (Eng) bt  [9] Annie Au (Hkg)             11/9, 11/7, 11/6 (40m)

Yes, I was very focused on court today. well, after the US victory, backing it up with a loss in Qatar… I probably lost because I didn’t give enough attention to that match. So today, I didn’t want to repeat the same error, last 16, strong and skilful opponent…

The court was alright, but then again it was because Annie is the shot maker, and I had more time to get to the shots and stayed longer in the rallies. Annie wouldn’t have enjoyed that, for sure.

After that big win at the US Open, I couldn’t go back to my normal routine, so short time before Qatar. Whereas this time, between Qatar and here, I had plenty to time to get well prepared for this tournament…

Yesterday and today, I’ve been playing on that very bouncy court that doesn’t suit my game at all, as my shots are much easier to retrieve, and the rallies last longer, meaning that I get more tired!

I didn’t play too badly but I made far too many errors, I was not moving well. Plus she was holding the ball very well, and I had trouble guessing where the ball was going…

[2] Jenny Duncalf (Eng) bt [10] Joelle King (Nzl)            11/8, 7/11, 11/1, 11/3 (52m)

Duncalf shrugs off King challenge
Malcolm reports

The women's championship has been producing some high quality and highly competitive matches and the one between second seed Jenny Duncalf and 10th seed Joelle King promised no less.

Anyone doubting the strength of the world's best women should have been present for the first rally of the match. Duncalf soon began working the ball around, the powerful-looking New Zealander counter-attacking with clean, firm striking.

An error from Duncalf gave King a 5/4 lead. A delicate forehand short angel took Duncalf to 5/6 and then an error by King for 6-all.

A lovely deep backhand drop gave Duncalf a 7/6 lead, an error by her brought it back to 7-all. Error again and 8/7 to King, a stroke to 8-all and anybody's game.

A heavy rally at 9/8 to Duncalf produced a let, as heavy rallies often do. A delightful short forehand angle which left King stranded followed by an error and Duncalf had taken the first 11/8.

Another well-executed Duncalf short angle, this time on the backhand, gave her the first point of the second game, but King surged ahead to 5/3, then an error and a winner and it was 7/3. A clever angle would take her to 9/5 and she claimed the game 11/7 at the third attempt, and one all was a fair reflection of the match.

A backhand volley into the tin by King opened the third game and Duncalf quickly went clear to win the game 11/1 as King's game disintegrated for no reason that was immediately obvious. All something of a surprise and interesting to see how the Kiwi would respond.

Duncalf understandably was looking the more likely now, and with her shotmaking ability she moved to 8/2 in the fourth as King came under increasing pressure. A forehand drop by Duncalf took her to 10/3, one chance was enough, and she will be heartened by the conviction with which she played in the final two games.

Joelle's a tough opponent, especially on these courts, she's probably the hardest hitter in the game so I tried to let her do the hitting and get the balance right, not get drawn into hitting it out with her and trying to make the court as big for her as possible

After the first two I felt pretty well in control, and I enjoyed it in the end, which I haven't felt after a match for a while now. I felt comfortable as this is where I play my Dutch leagues and having a big noisy crowd always helps.

I felt as good on court today as I have for a while, but Laura's beaten me the last couple of times so I hope I can carry on from where I left off today.

The first two were really tight, then I fell away a bit, I was leaving it too short and she's too good to do that against, she just picked me off. I just couldn't control the ball as well as she does, and I paid for it.

It's been good to play in Europe for the first time though, and Tommy and his team have done a great job here. It sucks to lose, of course, but you have to move on, Hong Kong next ..."

[1] Nick Matthew (Eng) bt   [9] Mohamed El Shorbagy (Egy)         8/11, 11/5, 11/9, 5/11, 11/1 (100m)


That was another match that was worth coming, I tell you. In front of a pack house, not a seat, stair or stand available, people on the floor all around, Nick and Mohamed made their entrance, both ready for battle.

Mohamed, having taken a game from the World Number 1 in the US Open, thought he could do better. And you know what? He did.

For years, that young man’s butt has been at times playing junior squash, as in, trying to go for silly shots, thinking that his shots are so good that they’ll win the point in two rallies. But tonight, Mohamed played the best adult squash of his entire career, putting Nick under pressure from the word go.

The first game was a Peter Barker’s style game. Gruelling. Up and down the wall. Going on forever. Digging in. Relentless. And at that game, Nick should have prevailed, but from 7/7, Mohamed flew to the finishing post 11/8.

Nick didn’t panic, came back very strong in the second, helped by a tired Mohamed who mentally and physically took a bit of time to come back in the game, led 5/1, 6/2. He tried a little come back, but didn’t push, and Nick took that one 11/5.

Third started very well for the Englishman, 3/0, but finding the game that made him take the first, Mohamed put much more weight in his shots, more purpose, and crosscourting Nick into the back corners, and from 3/3, shoot to 9/5. Game over, we thought, but hey, who do you think Nick is??? Oh yes, he gave it a quiet push, and point by point, scored the next 6 points to take the game, 11/9. The crowd was wild….

But they went even wilder when Young Mohamed took a 7/1 lead in the 4th! Nick didn’t do much wrong, but again, that same purpose in each shot, the same patience at the back, the same accuracy at the front from the Egyptian.

And when Nick started to claw his way back again, we thought, whot? Doing it again are we??? But no, having learned his lesson from the previous game, Mohamed closed that one down 11/5.

We were expecting a biiiiig battle in the 5th, that never came. Mohamed, not sure if it was mentally or physically, didn’t show up in this one. Nick was relieved of that, I’m pretty sure. But again, what a match. Great stuff, well done boys.

It’s a bit of a blur right now, certainly the hardest match I’ve been playing for a long time. I wish there would have been a way that we all could have played on the glass court, these conditions, traditional court between the defending champion and the world number 8, playing in a club court, maybe I would have thought I was deserving better. Yes, I have a day off tomorrow but I’ll freaking need it after that!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I always said this will be like two separate tournaments, up to the quarters, and then, take the top 8, and start all over again…. I’ll have to be much more clinical on the glass court….

He is such a talented played, I was impressed with the way he came out from the Team Championship, he emerged there, and today again, he had that fire in the belly, that killer instinct! Like his brother, when he was young, he has a bit the exuberance of the youth, but didn’t we all!!!!

In the 5th game, I’m not exactly sure what happened, I think it was more down to him than for me, he is a tremendous player, he was incredibly patient for four games, the most patient I ever saw him play, but suddenly he went for a bit more shots, a bit too early….I did have to mix the shots a lot because on that type of court, it’s easy to fall into a one pace match, and it paid dividends in the end…

It was hard, more mentally than physically, and even at the end, way up, 7/1, 8/1, I kept on repeating myself, one point at a time, because it would have been so easy for him to string a few ones…

"no i was not tired in the 5th at all!! i just didn't understand what was happening i was being patient the whole match and out of the blue i couldn't do that for the 5th and i just don't understand why!! i studied my match with him in the us open a lot, and since the draw came out i have been targeting this match...

I think i got the right plan to play him but it was very stupid from me losing at 9/5 up in the 3rd..i do think that made me lose the match today...

i could see him struggling physically in that game and after he won it he wasn't playing in the 4th as accurate as he normally does!! I am disappointed of course but at the same time i have to look at the positive sides of the match..

I haven't been close to any of the top 6 players for a long time and now i know i am back close to them...and last time i have beaten one of the top 6 was like 2 years back and i m not letting this season go till i come back and beat one of them again!!

i wish nick the best of luck in the tournament and i hope one day i can do all the great stuff he is doing!!! "

[7] Peter Barker (Eng) bt  [16] Cameron Pilley (Aus)      11/7, 12/10, 11/4 (88m)

My record against him isn’t good, for some reason, I find him difficult to play, and even if I have been playing well off late, and I was seeding higher and better ranked, for me, I was taking that match as if he was better ranked than I was, I hadn’t beaten him for so long, forget the ranking!!!

I had a game plan which I tried and implement the whole match, although I was kind of expecting him to change his after the first game.

It’s an attritional game, the shots didn’t go in, especially if you don’t play any drop shots. And I was ready to make it last as long as it needed to tonight, it didn’t suit him at all.

His ball striking is wonderful, so you have got to bring in some other factors into it, like fitness and tactic.

The more the second game lasted, the more crucial it became, and I’m aware that he played better squash than I in that one, but I’m happy I squeezed a few errors out of him. That game was massive, absolutely massive [That game was actually 52m]!

You had to play to the conditions tonight, bouncy court, late at night, and I recon he didn’t fancy coming back from 2/0 at past midnight. It was a good win tonight, regardless of if it was 3/0 or 3/2. It was a good win.

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