January 2012

Power and David clash in Toronto!

It was at the YMG Capital Classic 2000 in Toronto, when Jonathon Power and David Palmer had a major clash in the quarter-finals. How would the new 3-ref-system deal with this situation. Make up your own mind, what’s going on here …

Grinham takes maiden ToC title!

In the women’s Tournament of Champions final squash mom Natalie Grinham (pic ri) taught her 13-years-younger opponent Dipika Pallikal (pic le) a lesson about court coverage and strength.

The 33-year-old, who has played under the Dutch flag since marrying fellow squash player Tommy Berden, kept opponent off guard and off balance and the match victory (11-4,11-3,11-3) for Grinham was never in doubt. The former World No2 used length and width to keep her opponent out of the middle of court to ensure winning the 1st ever ToC women’s title ever.

And Grinham’s 19-month-old son Kieran can add a new phrase to his vocabulary – instead of just saying “Mommy America”, he can say “Mommy America champion.”

Matthew new ToC Champion and new World No1!

An 85-minute all-English climax to the 2012 JP Morgan Tournament of Champions in New York saw Nick Matthew (pic le) not only win the prestigious PSA World Series title at Grand Central Terminal for the 1st time, but also wrest the World No1 ranking from his opponent James Willstrop (pic ri). “This win is right alongside the Worlds and Commonwealth Games gold medals as my best victories,” said the jubilant 31-year-old after his 4th ToC final and playing his 1st tournament after 2 months off the tour to recover from an injury.

It was their first confrontation since Willstrop had run off 3 PSA World Series titles in a row and replaced his rival at the top of the PSA world rankings at the beginning of this year.

The match was marked by physical play, wall-hugging rallies and several mini shifts in momentum. “I think one of the differences tonight was that I did a better job of capitalising on the momentum when it shifted my way,” said Matthew.

The 8-11, 11-9, 11-5, 11-7 triumph earns Matthew the 22nd PSA World Tour title of his career.

Pallikal and Grinham contest for ToC crown!

The women’s ToC final will be a test of experience versus youth as 33-year-old Natalie Grinham and 20-year-old Dipika Pallikal play for the title. Experience carried the day – just barely – in Grinham’s semifinal match against 16-year-old Nour El Sherbini. “It’s not fair. She’s half my age and twice my height”, Grinham said jokingly. After dropping the 1st game, the 2nd seed won the next 2 games. El Sherbini fought back to level, but Grinham came back strong in the 5th to take the match 6-11, 11-5, 11-5,7-11,11-4.

Grinham will meet another young challenger in the final as Dipika Pallikal (pic ri) beat New Zealand’s Jaclyn Hawkes (pic le) in straight games 11-5,14-12,11-9. The success of the 20-year-old from India was a result of the attacking strategy, that her current coach Sarah Fitzgerald did implement to Pallikal’s game.

After coming off the court Pallikal’s competitive instincts were evident. “I won’t be happy until I have finished my job and won the tournament,” she said.

Matthew and Willstrop set up dream New York final!

At stake in tonight’s dream final of the JP Morgan Tournament of Champions in New York between top-seeded Englishmen Nick Matthew (pic le) and James Willstrop will not just be the title of the 1st PSA World Series event of the year, but also the world number one ranking in February.

Matthew, who topped the world rankings throughout 2011, battled to a 75-minute 4-game win over Frenchman Greg Gaultier (pic ri) – while in the earlier semi-final Willstrop, who succeeded his compatriot as world No1 this month, coasted to his 4th successive straight games success at Grand Central Terminal by beating England team-mate Daryl Selby 11-2, 11-3, 11-3 in just 25 minutes.

There will be more than the Tournament to Champions title on the line when the two Englishmen step on court for the final: Matthew, a 3 time finalist, would very much like to take the trophy for the first time. “I’d certainly like to have my picture be added to the gallery of champions,” said top seed, referring to the portraits of the tournament’s titleholders that line the entrance to the venue’s Champions/VIP lounge.

The world number one ranking will also be at stake. “It’s a motivator,” said Willstrop. “But when you get to play in front so many people for the Tournament of Champions title, what more do you need?”

The final will be the 1st time the rivals have faced each other since October last year – since when Willstrop ran off 3 PSA World Series titles in a row and went on to succeed Matthew at the top of the world rankings. But Matthew boasts a formidable 19-8 career head-to-head PSA Tour record over Willstrop – and an unbroken winning streak of 12 matches since December 2007.

Semis in Grand Central Station!

Shortly the semi-final action in Grand Central Station of New York will start. Women and men will find their 2 players for the great final of the Tournament of Champions. And it might be Frenchman Greg Gaultier (pic le) again, who is involved in the match of the night as he will meet World No2 Nick Matthew (pic ri). Support your favourites …

Men’s draw
[1] Nick Matthew (ENG) v [3] Gregory Gaultier (FRA) (12:12)
[2] James Willstrop (ENG) v Daryl Selby (ENG) (13:0)

Women’s draw:
[5] Jaclyn Hawkes (NZL) v [7] Dipika Pallikal (IND) (3:0)
[2] Natalie Grinham (NED) v Nour El Sherbini (EGY) (1:0)

Pallikal downs Urquhart in ToC quarters!

The quarter final round gave audiences at Grand Central Station surprising result of the WSA Tournament of Champions, as New Zealand’s Jaclyn Hawkes ended hopes of an all-Grinham final after beating the elder sister Rachael in 3 games 11-3, 11-8, 11-5. However, her sister Natalie beat Sarah Kippax of England in 3, despite a closely fought final game 11-3, 11-4, 12-10.

The 16-year-old Nour El Sherbini won the battle of the unseeded players for a place in the semi-finals, as Egyptian teenager ended home hopes by beating Latasha Khan 11-6, 13-11, 11-3. Reigning Indian champion Dipika Pallikal (pic le) then caused an upset of as the No7 seed got the better of No4 seed Donna Urquhart (pic ri) of Australia in an intense 5-game battle (11-9, 11-5, 7-11, 10-12, 11-9) lasting over an hour.

Gaultier derails Shabana at Grand Central!

Avenging his defeat by the Egyptian earlier in the month in London, Frenchman Greg Gaultier (pic le) reclaimed his mastery over fellow former world number one Amr Shabana (pic ri) to reach the semi-finals of the JP Morgan Tournament of Champions at Grand Central Terminal in New York.

Contrasting losing to Shabana in an epic final of the ATCO PSA World Series Finals two weeks ago, Gaultier this time beat the 4 times world champion 11-9, 5-11, 11-5, 11-5 to take his semi-final place. “I wanted to peak for this tournament,” Gaultier said after the match – and he looks to be doing just that!

The 3rd seed will now face top seed Nick Matthew after the Englishman denied any Egyptian interest in the last 4 in New York by beating No7 seed Mohamed El Shorbagy in straight games 12-10, 11-7, 11-5.

Matthew, returning to the tournament squash court for the first time this past week after a two month injury hiatus, has been diligently trying to manage expectations for an immediate return to the form that kept him at the top spot in the PSA world rankings throughout 2011.

“Anybody who thinks that you can quickly return to form after being out of commission for two months doesn’t know squash,” he had said earlier in the week.

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