Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Willstrop's run continues in Quarter-Finals

The quarter-finals featured three Egyptians, three Englishmen, and two Frenchman - and for the first time ever, no Australian.

Willstrop's Run Continues

First up was James Willstrop versus the 2004 champion Thierry Lincou. After a competitive first game, won 11/9 by Willstrop, Lincou slipped in the middle of the second and appeared to be favouring a knee he's had problems with for a while.

Willstrop took full advantage, taking the next two games 11/5, 11/5 to move into the semi-finals - his second, having previously got to that stage in 2005 in Hong Kong  - after 48 minutes of play.

"That was a good solid game. He's one of the toughest opponents mentally - but I just managed to keep on top of him. If I'd come off the pace, it could have let him in," said Willstrop.

Shabana smoothly through

His opponent there will be three-time champion Amr Shabana, who continued the impressive form he's shown of late with a straight-games win over fellow Egyptian Wael El Hindi, 11/1, 11/5, 11/9 (39m), to reach a fifth World Open semi-final in a row.

"You have to play perfect squash against Wael," said Shabana, "and I had a bit of an advantage as I have played on the court all week and this was his first time. "We know each other well - he's almost like family. In fact we are rooming together here in Kuwait - It's sometimes tough to beat the other guy when it's like this."

Ashour aces Barker

A second Egyptian place in the semis was booked when defending champion Ramy Ashour beat Peter Barker in four.

Ashour was in scintillating form in the first two games, but Barker wouldn't let him get away in the third as he pulled one back, much to Ashour's annoyance. The Egyptian's shotmaking skills paid dividends at the end of the fourth as he finished off the game and the match in style. Final score: 11/8, 11/3, 9/11, 11/8 (52m).

"I was in the zone for the first two games, but then let things slip in the third," admitted Ashour. "But I was really glad with the way I played in the fourth - I really kept it tight to the wall. I think I did my job today."

Gaultier wins See-Saw Battle

Ashour will meet new world number one Gregory Gaultier for a place in the final. The Frenchman won a see-saw match against Nick Matthew, both players enjoying long spells of total dominance, but it was Gaultier who got the better of the final stages, coming from 2/1 down to win the last two games convincingly. Final score: 8/11, 11/8, 2/11, 11/6, 11/4 (83m).

"The third game was rubbish - I lost my focus," said Gaultier. "I decided to put that third game in the garbage and start again. I knew it was possible - everything is possible. I just had to keep my focus. Once I got the lead in the fifth, I kept my head down. I knew I could beat him - and in the end I could see that Nick was getting slower. So I pushed myself.

"Squash is such a mental game - it's always such a mental battle between us, but today I was stronger."


  1. Could this be Willstrop's year? Shabana will be tough, and he looks to be near the top of his game.

  2. Go Shabana!! Make it four!

  3. Looks like it will be another Shabana-Gaultier final with Shabana winning smoothly in 3 or 4 as usual. Willstrop will push Shabana but I doubt he'll win with the current form Shabana is in. When Shabana is at his best, he's practically unbeatable. I'll be rooting for James though, he needs a breakthrough!

  4. Gaultier will win !!

  5. heart says shabana, mind says gaultier but the way ramy's playing he'll cause trouble for anyone. willstrop is the dark horse though. if he upsets shabana, anything can happen

  6. If I was a betting man, I'd be putting my money on Gaultier. Than again, Shabana has beaten him in the Hong Kong final for at least two years in a row...

  7. McKenna said...
    Could this be Willstrop's year? Shabana will be tough, and he looks to be near the top of his game.

    Well, I would say that Shabana is getting back to the top of his game AGAIN!!! otherwise he couldn't have been World Champion and World No. 1!!

  8. Shabazzzzzzzzzzzzzz