December 2011

Happy New Year!

We wish all the I love squash fans and all other people in the world a great New Year’s change to 2012 with lots of fun and firework. May all your wishes become true, all the luck and health on earth you are looking for. Take care and see you soon in 2012


World Series Finals: Ashour withdrawn, Shorbagy replaced!

A recurring hamstring injury has caused Egypt’s Ramy Ashour to withdraw from next week’s ATCO PSA World Series Finals in London which features the 8 players who earned the most points from the 9 PSA World Series championships in 2011. The $110,000 event will take place for the 3rd time at The Queen’s Club, from 4-8 January 2012.

The 24-year-old from Cairo has been plagued with hamstring and adductor injuries – and will now undergo specialist treatment in a clinic in Cologne in Germany in January.

Ashour’s place in the Finals line-up will be taken by fellow countryman Mohamed El Shorbagy (pic), the 20-year-old world No8 from Alexandria who will be making his debut in the championship.

Renewed groups and time schedule:

Group 1: James Willstrop (England), Mohamed El Shorbagy (Egypt), Karim Darwish (Egypt), Mohd Azlan Iskandar (Malaysia)

Group 2: Nick Matthew (England), Gregory Gaultier (France), Amr Shabana (Egypt), Peter Barker (England)

Wednesday 4th January 2012 draw:
Group 1 – Mohamed El Shorbagy v Mohd Azlan Iskandar
Group 1 – James Willstrop v Karim Darwish
Group 2 – Nick Matthew v Gregory Gaultier
Group 2 – Amr Shabana v Peter Barker

Thursday 5th January 2012 draw:
Group 1 – Karim Darwish v Mohd Azlan Iskandar
Group 1 – James Willstrop v Mohamed El Shorbagy
Group 2 – Nick Matthew v Amr Shabana
Group 2 – Gregory Gaultier v Peter Barker

Friday 6th January 2012 draw:
Group 1 – James Willstrop v Mohd Azlan Iskandar
Group 1 – Mohamed El Shorbagy v Karim Darwish
Group 2 – Nick Matthew v Peter Barker
Group 2 – Gregory Gaultier v Amr Shabana

Saturday 7th January 2012 draw:
Semi Finals:
Group 1 Winner v Group 2 Runner Up
Group 1 Runner up v Group 2 Winner

Sunday 8th January 2012 draw:
Final


Khan takes final Tour title of 2011 in Pakistan!

Aamir Atlas Khan collected the final PSA World Tour title of the year at the Pakistan Circuit No4 squash event in Lahore – but the top seed was taken the full distance before overcoming unseeded fellow Pakistani Farhan Zaman 11-4, 11-8, 8-11, 8-11, 11-8.

While Khan took just 18 minutes to reach the final after despatching Nasir Iqbal 11-6, 11-6, 11-0, 18-year-old Zaman needed 40 minutes to see off qualifier Muhammad Saqib Yousaf in five games in the other semi-final, to reach his 2nd Tour final in a row.

And the 21-year-old favourite from Peshawar looked on course for a straightforward victory when he took a two-game lead in the final. But, showing no signs of his battle 24 hours earlier, Zaman fought back to draw level and force the match into a 5th game decider.

Khan dug deep and used his greater experience to the full to retake the advantage before closing out the match 11-4, 11-8, 8-11, 8-11, 11-8 in 52 minutes.

The win marks the sixth PSA Tour title of Khan’s career.


Home title completes Koukal’s busy year!

Czech squash star Jan Koukal has completed an historic year on the PSA World Tour in the best possible style – by winning the inaugural SynotTip Open. It was after competing in his 25th PSA Tour event of the year that the 28-year-old world No52 then reached the climax in his home city of Prague to clock up his 10th final appearance of 2011.

Top seed Koukal battled for 47 minutes against 3rd seed Kashif Shuja before clinching an 11-7, 12-10, 13-11 victory over the New Zealander to record the 19th Tour title triumph of his career.

Koukal began his remarkable 2011 campaign in January in New York at the JP Morgan Tournament of Champions, the first PSA World Series event of the year. He went on to play in five further Tour events in the USA over the next two months before moving on to Canada, Hong Kong, Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina, Colombia, Spain, Netherlands, Kuwait and Slovakia before returning home to round off the year in the city of his birth.

“I won in three – but it was a very close and tough match,” said the jubilant Koukal at the end of his remarkable Tour journey. “Kashif played very well, but I managed to stay cool at the crucial points and play them a little better. I’m so happy to end this incredible and long year with a win, especially here in Prague at home in front of my friends and family!”


World’s best in London at the World Series Finals!

The top 8 players who have earned the most points from the 9 PSA World Series championships in 2011 will meet in London next month (4-8 January) at the ATCO PSA World Series Finals, the flagship PSA World Tour event. The $110,000 event will take place for the 3rd time at The Queen’s Club.

James Willstrop did manage to win the last 3 World Series events back to back to move ahead of English rival Nick Matthew both in the World Series Standings and in next month’s world rankings.

Willstrop, the top seed, will be making his 7th appearance in the event since 2005 – and could face England team-mate Matthew, the No2 seed, in Sunday’s final.

It would be the pair’s first clash since Matthew slipped behind his rival in the rankings – with Willstrop looking for his first victory for more than four years.

In his fifth appearance in the event last year, Matthew reached the final for the first time. But the match against Egypt’s 4-time world champion Amr Shabana was not played, due to problems with inflatable construction in which the event has played.

Shabana, twice a finalist since making his 1st World Series Finals appearance in 2004, is the event’s 6th seed – behind fellow countrymen Ramy Ashour, the 2007 champion, and Karim Darwish, the 3rd and 5th seeds, respectively.

It’s the Frenchman Greg Gaultier who has a distinguished World Series Finals record. The 28-year-old, seeded 4, has reached the final in all his three appearances in the event, winning the title in 2008 and 2009.

England’s Peter Barker, who made his debut last year, will be providing London interest in the event. At least a quarter-finalist in all nine World Series events this year, the left-hander is the No7 seed.

And Azlan Iskandar will be only the 2nd Malaysian ever to appear in the event. The 29-year-old has enjoyed his best run on the PSA Tour for some years and will celebrate his debut in the event after finishing in 8th place in the standings.

Players will compete in two pools of four, leading to semi-finals between the winners of each pool and the runners-up of the other, followed by the final.

Group 1: James Willstrop (England), Ramy Ashour (Egypt), Karim Darwish (Egypt), Mohd Azlan Iskandar (Malaysia)

Group 2: Nick Matthew (England), Gregory Gaultier (France), Amr Shabana (Egypt), Peter Barker (England)

Wednesday 4 January 2012 draw:
Group 1 – Ramy Ashour v Mohd Azlan Iskandar
Group 1 – James Willstrop v Karim Darwish
Group 2 – Nick Matthew v Gregory Gaultier
Group 2 – Amr Shabana v Peter Barker

Thursday 5 January 2012
Group 1 – Karim Darwish v Mohd Azlan Iskandar
Group 1 – James Willstrop v Ramy Ashour
Group 2 – Nick Matthew v Amr Shabana
Group 2 – Gregory Gaultier v Peter Barker

Friday 6 January 2012
Group 1 – James Willstrop v Mohd Azlan Iskandar
Group 1 – Ramy Ashour v Karim Darwish
Group 2 – Nick Matthew v Peter Barker
Group 2 – Gregory Gaultier v Amr Shabana

Saturday 7 January 2012
Semi Finals
Group 1 Winner v Group 2 Runner Up
Group 1 Runner up v Group 2 Winner

Sunday 8 January 2012
Final

Tickets for the ATCO PSA World Series Finals are available from Ticketmaster or call +44-844 847 2419


Frost denies Schoor in Tenerife!

Jens Schoor (pic ri) suffered his 1st ever defeat in a PSA World Tour final when he lost to Kristian Frost Olesen (pic le) in the climax of the Canary Islands Open in Santa Cruz on the Spanish island of Tenerife. Olesen, the favourite from Denmark overcame 4th-seeded German Raphael Kandra in straight games in the semi-finals to reach his 2nd Tour final.

2nd seed Schoor, the German No2, despatched England’s No3 seed Charles Sharpes 3-0 in the other semi to make it to his 5th Tour final. Schoor survived the 1st game after a tie-break to open up an early lead in the final. But Olesen, ranked six places higher, battled back to regain control before finally closing out the match 11-13, 11-6, 11-7, 11-8.


20.000 fan prize draw goes on!

The 20.000 fan prize draw (http://www.facebook.com/ilovesquash?sk=app_121121694568521) still runs 12 more days and some more prizes have been added: 5 of Nick Matthew’s t-shirts which have been produced by Stellar to celebrate Nick Matthew’s successfully defending of his World Open title are now also available in the prize pool (http://isquashstore.com/Stellar/News.aspx) …


James Willstrop won PSA Masters and will become World No1!

The climax to an incredible end-of-year run by James Willstrop on the international squash circuit saw the Englishman clinch his 3rd successive PSA World Series title today at the Punj Lloyd PSA Masters in India in a victory which will ensure his status as World No1 in the January rankings.

The 28-year-old, whose title triumphs in the Hong Kong Open and Kuwait PSA Cup in November catapulted him to 2nd place in the world rankings, faced French rival Greg Gaultier in the climax of the 9th and final PSA World Series event of the year in the Indian capital New Delhi.

Willstrop went into the match with 14 successive Tour match wins under his belt since November – but was lining up against the last player who beat him, in the World Open semi-finals in Rotterdam.

The opening game was a classic. The battle lasted almost an hour, with rarely more than a point separating the pair until the Frenchman emerged the winner 21-19 after one of the highest-scoring games in the history of the ‘PAR to 11′ scoring system.

But Willstrop fought back in the 2nd game to draw level and was in control in the 3rd as it became clear that all was not well with his opponent.

After treatment in the break, world No3 Gaultier returned to the court – but was clearly suffering from cramp. After a few points, the Frenchman conceded the match to give Willstrop the title, and much more!

“Winning the PSA Masters is a massive big deal,” said the new champion at the trophy presentations after his historic 19-21, 11-8, 11-4, 4-1 (ret.) triumph in 99 minutes.

It was in India that Willstrop won his first major title – the World Junior Championship – in 2002, and at the same venue in New Delhi eight years later that he contested the Commonwealth Games final. But it required victory in today’s final for Willstrop to overtake the ranking points average of fellow Yorkshireman Nick Matthew, thereby succeeding his England team-mate at the top of the first world rankings of the New Year.

“It’s a very special day for me. I can’t really believe I’ve played and won this match – and I’d like to thank Greg for the great spirit in which it was played,” continued the new PSA Masters champion, now winner of 15 career PSA World Tour titles.

The success also means that Willstrop heads the 2011 Dunlop PSA World Series Standings, and that the line-up for January’s ATCO PSA World Series Finals – which features the top eight players in the list – is now finalised.

2011 Dunlop PSA World Series Standings:
Position (Prev) Total
1 (1) James Willstrop (ENG) 525
2 (1) Nick Matthew (ENG) 425
3 (3) Ramy Ashour (EGY) 400
4 (4) Gregory Gaultier (FRA) 335
5 (6) Karim Darwish (EGY) 270
6 (5) Amr Shabana (EGY) 265
7 (7) Peter Barker (ENG) 240
8 (8) Mohd Azlan Iskandar (MAS) 170
9 (9) Stewart Boswell (AUS) 150
10 (12) Mohamed El Shorbagy (EGY) 145
11 (11) Laurens Jan Anjema (NED) 135
12 (10) David Palmer (AUS) 120
12 (12) Tom Richards (ENG) 120
14 (12) Nicolas Mueller (SUI) 115
14 (16) Cameron Pilley (AUS) 115
16 (17) Daryl Selby (ENG) 110

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