Fri 4th Nov, Quarter-Finals:
mourns as Ashour quits
Gregory Gaultier, the former
world number one, was painfully unable
to celebrate even though he carried his
bid to become only the second Frenchman
to win the World Open title rapidly into
The sixth-seeded man from
Aix-en-Provence got past Ramy Ashour,
second seeded former world champion from
Egypt, but seemed almost as upset as
Ashour after his opponent retired with
hamstring related injuries for the
second world championship in succession.
Last year at Al Khobar in Saudi Arabia,
Ashour had been unable to complete the
defence of his title beyond the second
round. This year it was a mystery how
Ashour had twice recovered from two
games down with his legs heavily taped
and progressed as far as the
Now though there was a contest only for
about 20 minutes. By the end of the
first game Ashour’s injury appeared to
have deteriorated badly for he failed to
run down a single ball in the second.
Three points into the third, when Ashour
stopped and yelled with pain, Gaultier
tapped him on the shoulder, prompting
the Egyptian wisely to shake hands.
The sense of shock was then heightened
because after Ashour was unable to do
the customary post-match on-court
interview, Gaultier was only briefly
able to contribute in his place.
“I feel really sad for him,” Gaultier
began, then saying: “I can’t talk......”
and departing holding his face.
It left the crowd to filter sadly away,
perhaps to recall the evening’s earlier
events, which had been spectacular.
During them another former world
champion from Egypt, Amr Shabana,
had made a brilliant escape from two
games and 9-5 down against James
Willstrop, and then from match point
down at 10-9 in the third.
Shabana did that with some of the
artistry which helped him become four
times the world champion and the most
talented player of his era.
But Willstrop was at his best in the
fourth and scotched the revival.
“There is no player I have more respect
for,” said Willstrop after an impressive
balance of discipline and
self-expression in his 11-8, 11-2,
11-13, 11-1 success. It suggested that
Gaultier may have to play as well as his
brilliant title-winning form of Qatar
two weeks ago to get past the in-form
Earlier another Englishman, the
defending champion, Nick Matthew,
took an important step towards retaining
it when he reached the semi-finals by
beating Peter Barker, a fellow
member of England’s world team
championship winning squad of 2007.
The top-seeded Yorkshireman’s 6-11,
11-8, 11-8, 11-5 success followed his
victory over the rising top ten
Egyptian, Mohamed El Shorbagy, and
earned him a meeting with Karim
Darwish, the third-seeded former
world number one from Egypt.
Darwish came through with an 11-9, 11-7,
11-1 over David Palmer, the
35-year-old twice former World Open
champion from Australia, who was playing
his last match before retirement.
There was sadness here as well, but this
time providing an intoxicating mixture
of celebration and nostalgia as well.
Palmer has had 17 years as a
professional squash player, and a decade
in the world’s top ten.
He was asked to say goodbye by taking a
lap of honour inside the Luxor theatre,
applauded by a thousand spectators.
Surely no player has had a better
send-off than this.
Nicol David’s bid to win the
World Open a record sixth time carried
her to a notable revenge and to the
semi-finals in her adopted home country
of The Netherlands.
The Amsterdam-based Malaysian overcame
Kasey Brown, the sixth-seeded
Australian who beat her in the US Open
in Philadelphia in August, by 11-7,
12-10, 11-4 in a match which, David
said, felt like a five-setter – or
“possibly a six-setter.”
Afterwards David said she thought the
women’s game was improving all the time
as players tried to close the gap on
“There’s always a challenge but every
time you step up your game these girls
are still coming at you,” she said. “But
I look forward to every challenge.”
Her next one is a repeat of the 2009
final in Amsterdam against Natalie
Grinham, who prevented an
all-Malaysian semi-final by beating
Low Wee Wern 11-7, 11-7, 11-5 -
despite a cut to her nose requiring a
ten-minute injury time out early in the
The former Australian turned Dutch
international returned to the court
knowing that if the bandage fell off and
the bleeding restarted she would have to
forfeit that game and, if it were
repeated, the match.
But Grinham won, as she had against the
fourth-seeded Madeline Perry, because of
the high quality of her front court
game, and once again overcome the
distraction of arriving with a pram
carrying baby son Kieran and having to
return to it afterwards.
The other semi-final will be between
Samantha Teran, the first Mexican
ever to reach a World Open semi-final,
and Jenny Duncalf, the second
seed from England.
Also from Richard Eaton:
[ Matthew Aware ] [ Nicol Wants More ] [ Gaultier a contender again? ] [ Thierry Goes On ] [ Unusual start for Nicol ] [ Thanks for the Memories ] [ The Great Illusionist Escapes ] [ Ashour Retires ] [ Gregory's Third ] [ Matthew makes it Two ]