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TODAY at the World Open Squash 2011                                                       facebooktwitter
Day EIGHT, Fri 4th, Quarter-Finals                                                                            
Fram and Steve in Rotterdam

Ramy Retires to end Rotterdam Quarters

Quarter-finals day of the World Open Squash 2011 at the New Luxor Theatre in Rotterdam started with all eight men's seeds still in contention, and a few unexpected faces in the women's last eight. It progressed with all the higher-seeded players winning until the final match which was sadly cut short.

[15] Samantha Teran (Mex) bt Dipika Pallikal (Ind)              11/6, 11/8, 11/9 (36m)
[2] Jenny Duncalf (Eng) bt [5] Laura Massaro (Eng)              11/9, 11/7, 11/7 (45m)

[1] Nicol David (Mas) bt [6] Kasey Brown (Aus)                   11/7, 12/10, 11/4 (41m)
[12] Natalie Grinham (Ned) bt [16] Low Wee Wern (Mas)      11/7, 11/7, 11/5 (47m)

[3] Karim Darwish (Egy) bt [8] David Palmer (Aus)               11/9, 11/7, 11/1 (42m)
[1] Nick Matthew (Eng) bt [7] Peter Barker (Eng)         6/11, 11/8, 11/8, 11/5 (71m)

[4] James Willstrop (Eng) bt  [5] Amr Shabana (Egy)  11/8, 11/2, 11/13, 11/1 (59m)
[6] Gregory Gaultier (Fra) bt [2] Ramy Ashour (Egy)          11/8, 11/1, 3/0 rtd (24m)

Richard Eaton:  Gaultier mourns as Ashour quits


Watch the Replays
and Highlights on SquashTV

[15] Samantha Teran (Mex) bt Dipika Pallikal (Ind)       11/6, 11/8, 11/9 (36m)

Teran advances to semi-final
Malcolm reports

Mexicoís Samantha Teran must have been thrilled with her win over Rachel Grinham and here was a different challenge against 20 year old Dipika Pallikal, who herself had been impressive beating Jackie Hawkes 3-1 and Kanzy El Dafrawy 3-0.

The first game was punctuated with errors from Pallikal of an unforced nature,7 in all, and against a player of Teranís steadiness and resolve, that was a recipe for disaster. The second game was little different. Teran, quick, determined and persistent was giving nothing away and playing well into the front left, she quickly led 5-1 and 4 more errors by Pallikal handed Teran a 2-0 lead.

The third game saw the Indian reducing her error rate, attacking as she can, but with much more discretion and at 9-6 threatening to win the game. It appeared a strange decision to award Teran a stroke at 9-8 ,but having levelled the score the Mexican made the semi finals as Pallikal tinned a forehand.

Teran will be rightly overjoyed at her achievement and Pallikal, once the disappointment of losing recedes will realise how well she has done to make the last 8 of a World Championship. 11-6, 11-8, 11-9.

Iíve very happy, itís the first time Iím doing well here.

I had already played Dipika, and I knew what to do against her, but she is very difficult to play, you never know what she is going to do!

Will I be on the front page of the Newspapers in Mexico tomorrow? I hope so! Squash is getting very popular in Mexico, thanks to the success of the Pam Am games, and now thisÖ

For years now Iíve been trying to do better and better on the world scene, I had some many disappointment in this World Open, but Iím here at last.

I started playing squash very late, at the age of 14, and from that moment on, I didnít stop, and when I chose to be a professional squash player, I knew that squash was going to be my life. Iím lucky to have the right support, my family in particularÖ

I went from small tournament to bigger tournaments, my ranking improving all the time, but in 2003, a bad knee injury kept me away from the court for a year and a half. And I started again from scratch, 200 in the world.

My goal was to reach the top 10, so I came here to train with Liz. Itís difficult to travel on your own on the circuit, as Iím the only Mexican, whereas there would be a few Malaysians, English, etcÖ But I made friend with Nicol David, the best person I ever met, and we became good friends.

Today, Iím living a dream, semi-final of the world open, but itís a dream Iíve never stopped working for, and for which I trained hard, day after day.

[2] Jenny Duncalf (Eng) bt [5] Laura Massaro (Eng)              11/9, 11/7, 11/7 (45m)

Duncalf breaks the spell
Malcolm reports

This all English confrontation between two of the Worldís best players promised a great deal, since both had looked in good order in Rotterdam. Duncalf started sharply, leading 3-0 and 4-1.

An error by Duncalf, a delicate forehand volley by Massaro, a stroke and it was 4 all. Both girls, in common with all the worldís best women players look in fine shape and both blend defence and attack.

So the first game began positively. Duncalf led 7-4; Massaro told herself to come on at 5-7 and she did recover to 7all. Duncalf missed an opportunity to go 10-7 on the backhand, but Massaro, a winner by Duncalf and the important 1st game was hers 11/9.

Duncalf playing well has extra dimensions and an exquisite forehand drop by her made it 3/2; an error off the serve by Massaro 5/4; 6/5 to Massaro now the large, early afternoon Rotterdam crowd appreciative, enjoying themselves Ė work behind them-.

 Soon 8/6 to Duncalf after a reviewed upheld no let; 9/6, as both girls tried to influence the referee Ė not much love lost it seemed or maybe just the heat of the battle. A stroke after a fascinating rally and 10/7 for a 2 love lead.11/7 with her forehand backhand drop. Duncalf impressing, uphill for Massaro now.

Massaro debated with the referee to no avail and lost the last two rallies with simple errors Ė no point debating. 4/1 to Duncalf Ė debating now, but not for long Ė ; 7/3 with a perfect backhand to the back, nothing to hit. 8/3 Duncalf flowing, entertaining, various, skilled. 9/3 with a perfect forehand to the back; an overrule to 5/9; 10/5 lots of match balls, a tin, one less, a winner from Massaro, 10/7 Ė an angle in the tin and Duncalf to the Semi Finals.

Since her form has been variable, Duncalf will be very pleased with her form today.

Last time I played Laura, in the US Open, I was frantic both mentally and squash wise. So today, I was trying to stay calm and hit good length really, and wait for the opportunity to come instead of making it from nowhere.

At the end, she put me under a lot of pressure again, got a bit more momentum, and Iím glad she didnít get those extra points at the endÖ.

The World Open is the tournament everybody wants to win, itís the pinnacle really, and to play it here, itís an amazing venueÖ. Iíve been playing for the Dutch league for a long time now, for Victoria, so I feel comfortable there.

Tomorrow against Sam, we were saying at practice that thatís the player Iíve never played against, not in a tournament, not even in practice! She is really the unknown quantity, and Iíll make sure that I donít take her lightly, even if on paper Iím favourite


[3] Karim Darwish (Egy) bt [8] David Palmer (Aus)               11/9, 11/7, 11/1 (42m)

Darwish puts an end to Palmer's career
Malcolm reports

If this turns out to be David Palmerís farewell, he will leave on a high note, whatever the result.

Twice a world Champion, four times a British Open Champion, but no doubt he will feel reaching the quarter final here is a bonus indeed.

Already large crowds building up, bringing a sense of excitement and anticipation for whatís in store.

Palmer, right leg heavily strapped, protectively, presumably, served and with two stunning balls led 2/1; 3/2 and not a rally yet, strangely enough. Palmer, all offensive, perhaps concerned about the leg, 5/2 up, 6/3 attacking at every opportunity. A trademark Darwish forehand angle took the serve to 4/6, when a multidimensional rally received loud approval from the crowd. 7/4 now, Palmer all guns blazing; 5/9 a brilliant rally ending in a let; a larger rally at last, not in any way negative, took Darwish to 7 all and he led for the first time since early in the game, 8/7. An exceptional delayed deep crosscourt gave Darwish a game ball at 10/9 and at 11/9 the lead 1-0.

It had been a remarkable first game, unexpected, more like a Shabana Ė Ashour shoot-out, shots abounding. The crowd loving it Ė me too!!

Two errors by Darwish gave Palmer a 2/0 start in the second, but Darwish was moving fiercely, his recent injury problems apparently behind him; less of a shoot out now, but still entertaining and positive. A broken string brought an error Palmer to Darwish to lead 7/6; then another wonderful rally, controlled by Palmer, but he lost it 8/6 now; an unlucky top of the tin angle 9/6, no luck for the Australian. 10/7 Darwish serving for 2-0 and a no let review quite right in my opinion Ė gave Darwish the game.

Almost a full house of 1,300 at 15:45 on Friday afternoon Ė no wonder thereís concern the European Economy! Ė Darwish opens with a winner. What has Palmer got left now? Darwish, moving really well Ė must be injury free Ė 4/0, 5/0, 6/0; Darwish impressive, showing the full range of his considerable racket skills.

At last a point for Palmer 1/6 on a backhand cross court deep Ė now 8/1, the end in sight, 9/1, 10/1, 11/1 with a cross court drop into the nick. Darwish looked back to his best today.

The send off David Palmer then received was as splendid a send-off as any player has ever had. He had selected his final match wisely.

Video of David's speech and farewell walk

[1] Nick Matthew (Eng) bt [7] Peter Barker (Eng)         6/11, 11/8, 11/8, 11/5 (71m)


What a great start for Peter today, what a great presence at the front, powerful, accurate, superb to be honest, absorbing his mateís pace to perfection Ė we donít nickname him ďSpongeĒ for nothing!

And Nick struggled in the first game, to come back with a vengeance in the second, making the rallies last, and making his mark. Still, Peter couldnít be shaken off. 3/3, 4/4, 5/5, 7/7, 8/8. Shame for Peter, Nick squeezed errors out of him, an out of court shot, then a tin, to finish with a stunning drive glued to the wall. Back on equal term we were.

But as soon as the third started, Peter felt some pain in his lower back, and it became difficult for him to change directions, which is, in squash, a bit of a problem one could say.

Nick, keeping to his game plan of making the rallies the longest and the hardest as possible, kept pushing the nail into the coffin, twisting and turning his team mate to perfection. Peter pushed as much as he could, and they both offered us some stunning rallies, but the underdog seemed a bit lost out sea on there to me.

After the third, he asked for 3m injury time, got a bit of treatment from Phil, ES physio, but miracle it was not, and Nick quite rightly took the last game, 11/5.

Pete has been knocking on the door for a long time, and actually is knocking it down as we speak! In the last game, he was not moving at his best, but we had three very tough games.

Like I said before, I took that tournament as two separate tournaments, one at the club, three rounds very hard, great atmosphere on a warm court, Iím not sure how I got through that one, mind you, and then, a complete separate tournament here, on this magnificent court.

Iíve been playing better and better as the matches unfolded, and I hope that Iíll keep doing tomorrowÖ

[1] Nicol David (Mas) bt [6] Kasey Brown (Aus)                   11/7, 12/10, 11/4 (41m)


How good was Nicol today???

OK, the Malaysian didnít spent much time on court since the start of the tournament, not losing a game, while Kasey had a heavy 5 setter yesterday, more from a mental point of view I would say than a physical one.

But when Queen Nicol sat on that bench next to the court, waiting to get on, she was not tense. She was not scare, or nervous. She was a tigress waiting to get in the circus ring. Reading to jump. Ready to tear her opponent to shred to have had the nerve of beating him. Crime de lŤse-majestť!

And taking a great start she did, 6/1. But the Australian, not that impressed, just clawed back to 6/6, then 7/7. But to get to 7/7, we had a mammoth rally, honestly, like I rarely saw in a ladies match, that took an immense lot out of Kasey, although she won it. Followed unforced errors that basically gave Nicol the game on a silver tray.

The Australian shoot right back in the second, increasing the pace to take a nice 3/0. Enormous rally after enormous rally, Nicol and Kasey stayed closed all the way to 9/9. Game ball for Kasey, another enormous rally, but a tin to finish it, and itís Nicol that closes it down, 12/10.

Mountain was just that much too high for Kasey to climb back, and Nicol turns the US Open page in a splendid fashion.

The score doesnít reflect how hard it was on there, it was maybe 3/0 but it felt more like 5 or 6 games actually!

Kasey had a very hard game yesterday, but still, she is such a strong player, sheís stepped up her game so much, if you lower your guard ever so slightly, she gets on it.

Iím always trying to improve my game, but you always have the younger players stepping up their game, but thatís the challenge I enjoy.

Today, I took that match as one match after another, and Iím pleased with my performance. And if last time I played her, my focus was out slightly, pushing me to do error upon error, and going for too much, today, I tried and keep the ball in play, keep things simple, and keep my focus at all times. And today, everything kept together.

                                           Also see Nicol: "Won't get beat again"

[12] Natalie Grinham (Ned) bt [16] Low Wee Wern (Mas)      11/7, 11/7, 11/5 (47m)

Natalie's back

Ok, we've used that headline before, but consider the facts: Natalie Grinham lost in the final of the 2009 World Open - while pregnant - to Nicol David in Amsterdam. Her second tournament back was last year's World Open in Sharm where she lost her only previous encounter with tonight's opponent Low Wee Wern 15/13 in the fifth.

Tonight there didn't seem much danger of a reoccurrence of that result. The Malaysian was never far behind, was never out of the match, but she was never really in it either, not in the sense of looking likely to win. Grinham's deft flicks, deceptive shotmaking and speedy court coverage was just a little too much tonight, notwithstanding having to have treatment on a little cut on her nose after an accidental collision at the start of the third.

And to complete the circle, her next opponent is ... Nicol David, of course.

I was pretty focused on what I was doing tonight, and happy with how I was playing.

When I had to have that cut treated I knew it had to be stopped, that I could lose the match if it started up again, but I was pumped up, I wanted to get back out there and get on with it. I was a little bit wary of it and tentative for two or three points but I soon settled down after that.

I was ahead in all the games but I remembered being 10/6 up in the fifth against her last tie and losing, so I had to make syre I kept on pressing, so I'm really pleased to win it in three.

As for Nicol, we've played once since, in Cayman this year. That was a good game [very good] so hopefully we'll have another good one tomorrow.

I'm fast on court, yes, Rachael and I have always been naturally fast, and running after Kieran now helps, but Nicol's always been fast too ...

[4] James Willstrop (Eng) bt  [5] Amr Shabana (Egy)  11/8, 11/2, 11/13, 11/1 (59m)

Not Shabana's year after all

Many thought that this being an odd-numbered year, 2003, 5, 7 and 09 champion Amr Shabana had his name on the trophy.

James Willstrop, finalist in 2010, had other ideas though, and for three games he pretty much dominated one of the all time great players.

He looked like dominating the third too, but Shabana's fighting spirit and pride wouldn't let it go that easily.

He was up for it, for sure, first pumping and all, and he mounted a stirring comeback, saving match balls at 10/9 and 11/10 before pulling one back.

Willstrop resumed dominance from the outset of the fourth though, and by the time the last few points came around Shabana had already accepted that this would not be his year, and as he slammed the final serve into the tin James raised his eyes in relief, while Shabana's looked down ...

There is no player I have more respect for. He has the most sportsmanlike manner on court: heíll never play a double bounce, cheat, ask for too many strokes, itís been the most enjoyable of matches, in a quite sadistic wayÖ

When you go up 2/0, you can get a bit excited, carried away, but with Shabana, you never exactly know where he is mentally. All credit to him, he came back so strong in the 3rd. I got a massive boost from going up 2/0 Ė which you get against everybody Ė I just kept on digging, and hung in there, especially at the end of the 3rd, because I knew that I had to just kept on pushing and pushing. I thought if I can just weather the storm, accept that he is going to go for his shots, I should be alright.

In England, we had remarkably great support from our government, and we received physio treatment, sport science, you name it, nutrition, etc. I canít stress enough how much it has help me over the years.

Tomorrow Iíll play or Ramy, a Magician with the racquet, or Greg, so talented, who talks a lot, I certainly canít win the crowd like he does, and I wonít even try!

Iím thrilled to be part of such an eventÖ

[6] Gregory Gaultier (Fra) bt [2] Ramy Ashour (Egy)          11/8, 11/1, 3/0 rtd (24m)

Ramy retires

The final match promised much, and for the first game it delivered as Ramy Ashour and Gregory Gaultier fought out a typically high-paced encounter with spectacular shots, retrieving, and the crowd at the Luxor Theatre were loving it.

At 8-all in the third Gaultier took three in a row, and the fact that the Egyptian, who had twice come from two games down looking far from fully fit, failed to chase the final ball sounded an ominous warning.

The Frenchman dominated the second, Ashour competing half-heartedly, and after a few rallies in the third Ramy bent down on his knees, cried out in pain and frustration, and offered his hand to Greg.

A sad end to quarter-finals day, and everyone wishes Ramy well, not least his opponent of tonight who knows all about injury problems and looked as distraught at proceedings as everyone else.

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