February 2012

March edition of International Squash Magazine online!

The March edition of International Squash Magazine (ISM) is currently being distributed to the subscribers. Apart from several PSA and WSA tournament news the free interactive digital version of ISM also provides personal story of David Palmer.

Saluting The Marine, it’s headlined and editor Dominic Bliss explains why ‘The Marine’ is not hanging up his rackets quite just yet after 18 years on the World Tour, as the Australian finally calls it a day.

All squash fans who prefer the printed version, they may order it online at www.isquashstore.com

Willstrop tops PSA World Series standings!

Success in Saturday’s final of the Davenport North American Open in Virginia has taken England’s James Willstrop to the top of the latest Dunlop PSA World Series Standings.

A semi-final berth in the second PSA World Series of the year was enough to ensure that the 28-year-old will return to No1 in the March world rankings – but it was Willstrop’s victory over Egyptian rival Ramy Ashour in the final in Richmond that saw him leap over fellow countryman Nick Matthew to head the new World Series Standings.

Matthew, winner of the JP Morgan Tournament of Champions, the 1st World Series event of the year in New York, secures 2nd place after a last 4 finish in Virginia.

Semi-final berths both in New York and Richmond enabled France’s Gregory Gaultier to hold onto 3rd place, while Ashour – despite not competing at Grand Central Terminal – makes his debut this year at No4.

Egypt’s Amr Shabana, a quarter-finalist in the two events to date, is in 5th place – ahead of England’s Daryl Selby and Germany’s Simon Rosner who share 6th place.

The top eight players in the list at the end of the year qualify for a place in the ATCO PSA World Series Finals in London early next year.

The next PSA World Series event this year will be the El Gouna International Open, in El Gouna, Egypt, from 7-13 April.

Latest 2012 PSA World Series Standings (after North American Open):

Position (Prev)
1 2 James Willstrop (ENG) 165
2 1 Nick Matthew (ENG) 140
3 3 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) 80
4 – Ramy Ashour (EGY) 65
5 5 Amr Shabana (EGY) 50
6= 3 Daryl Selby (ENG) 40
6= 9 Simon Rosner (GER) 40
8 17 Karim Darwish (EGY) 35
9= 9 Cameron Pilley (AUS) 30
9= 9 Adrian Grant (ENG) 30
9= 9 Shahier Razik (CAN) 30
12= 5 Peter Barker (ENG) 25
12= 5 Mohamed El Shorbagy (EGY) 25
12= 5 Marwan El Shorbagy (EGY) 25
12= 9 Nicolas Mueller (SUI) 25
12= 9 Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL) 25
12= 17 Thierry Lincou (FRA) 25
12= 17 Olli Tuominen (FIN) 25
12= 17 Alister Walker (BOT) 25
12= 17 Zac Alexander (AUS) 25
12= – Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) 25

Willstrop takes Richmond crown!

England’s James Willstrop (ri) produced a tactical master-class to subdue Egypt’s fiery entertainer Ramy Ashour (le) to win the North American Open squash in Richmond, Virginia.

The top seed admitted that his priority was to contain Ashour’s shot-making opportunities in the 2nd World Series event of the year – but his own play at the front of the court was immaculate to take the 11-7, 11-8, 11-7 victory.

Willstrop’s volley-drops, especially, worked to perfection on both sides of the court. At 6ft 4in, the Englishman is the tallest player competing on the PSA World Tour and Ashour, like so many opponents, struggled to place the ball beyond Willstrop’s reach.

“He has come back after injury to play here in Richmond and it’s good for the game to have him back. I am pleased with my whole week, not just today, and it’s great to win the title again here in Richmond.”

Willstrop’s performances this week have propelled him back to the world number one position in March. Willstrop was celebrating his 6th PSA Tour final in his last eight events – and has now racked up his 4th Tour title since November, and the 16th of his career.

“I don’t think many people expected that,” tweeted world champion Matthew. “James played a tactical master-class and deserved the win.”

[1] James Willstrop (ENG) bt [4] Ramy Ashour (EGY) 11-7, 11-8, 11-7 (51m)

Rocket Ramy rocks into Richmond final!

Egyptian genius Ramy Ashour (le) showed he is back on top form by crushing world champion Nick Matthew (ri) to reach the final of the North American Open in Richmond.

Ashour, the 24-year-old world No5, has impressed all week on his comeback after injury. But against Matthew, he stepped up a level with a performance that left England’s reigning champion exhausted after 2 games.

The Egyptian fought back from 7-10 down in the 1st game to win 12-10 and produced a phenomenal recovery to win the 2nd 13-11 after being 4-8 down. Matthew was demoralised after blowing two crucial leads and fell away badly in the 3rd as Ashour took the 12-10, 13-11, 11-3 victory in 52 minutes.

The Egyptian was diving around the court to retrieve what looked like certain winners and played shots behind his back and conjured up a succession of astonishing winners due to the enjoyment of the Richmond crowd. Indian number one Saurav Ghosal Tweeted: “That proves Ramy is an alien – he plays squash from another planet.

Ashour meets top seed James Willstrop in the final and will have another point to prove with the Englishman returning to the top of the PSA world rankings in March.

Willstrop wore down French No4 seed Gregory Gaultier with a commanding performance in a 97-minute marathon. After the opening 2 games took almost an hour to complete, the Englishmen’s strength was clearly evident as he won the 3rd and 4th to take the 11-9, 6-11, 11-7, 11-5 win.

The 28-year-old from Leeds – who is celebrating the 30th Tour final of his career, and his 6th over the past 8 events – added: “I am very satisfied to beat the world number three and looking forward to the final. “It’s been a long time since my last one. It’s great to have Ramy back in action this week, hitting nicks from everywhere and entertaining the crowds.”

[1] James Willstrop (ENG) v [4] Ramy Ashour (EGY)

[1] James Willstrop (ENG) bt [3] Greg Gaultier (FRA) 11-9, 6-11, 11-7, 11-5 (97m)
[4] Ramy Ashour (EGY) bt [2] Nick Matthew (ENG) 12-10, 13-11, 11-3 (52m)

Willstrop back on top as Shabana quits!

England’s James Willstrop will return to the top of the PSA world rankings in March after reaching the semi-finals of the North American Open. The top seed’s quarter-final opponent, Egypt’s Amr Shabana, was forced to concede the match in Richmond early in the 2nd game – after just 12 minutes – because of a knee injury. By reaching the last four, Willstrop earned enough ranking points to regain the world No1 position from English world champion Nick Matthew. “It’s great news to be back on top”, Willstrop said.

Willstrop meets French ace Greg Gaultier who overcame young Egyptian qualifier Karim Abdel Gawad, winning 11-6, 11-2, 11-6 in 39 minutes. “I am feeling good this week,” said the Frenchman.

In the other semi-final, Matthew meets Ramy Ashour in a re-run of the last three NAO finals. Ashour won in 2009 but Matthew has won the last two events – and is hunting down a hat-trick of titles this year. Ashour confirmed his return to peak fitness with a devastating 12-10, 8-11, 11-5, 11-3 victory over fellow Egyptian Karim Darwish. Ashour said: “It’s never easy to beat Karim. We had breakfast together, but as soon as reached the court we know that we have a job to do.”

Matthew, who had struggled to hit top form in the first two rounds, beat battling German Simon Rosner in four hard games (11-7, 11-6, 9-11, 11-6). The current world No1 dominated the opening 2 games and seemed as things end quickly as he led 8-4 in the 3nd, but Rosner recovered fought backt to win the game 11-9. But the effort clearly took its toll as Matthew stayed in front throughout the 4th.

Semi-final line-up:
[1] James Willstrop (ENG) v [3] Gregory Gaultier (FRA)
[2] Nick Matthew (ENG) v [4] Ramy Ashour (EGY)

[1] James Willstrop (ENG) bt [6] Amr Shabana (EGY) 11-5, 2-0 ret. (12m)
[3] Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt [Q] Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) 11-6, 11-2, 11-9 (39m)
[4] Ramy Ashour (EGY) bt [5] Karim Darwish (EGY) 12-10, 8-11, 11-5, 11-3 (56m)
[2] Nick Matthew (ENG) bt Simon Rosner (GER) 11-7, 11-6, 9-11, 11-6 (63m)

Rosner makes maiden World Series quarters in Richmond!

Rising German star Simon Rosner celebrated his 1st appearance in the quarter-finals of a PSA World Series event after beating world No16 Alister Walker in the 2nd round of the North American Open in Richmond, Virginia. The 6ft 3in 24-year-old from Paderborn overcame Botswana’s Walker 11-6, 11-6, 11-6 to record his career-first victory over the former world No12 with a consistent display of solid hitting and confident court movement.

Rosner, ranked 20 in the world, will now face No2 seed Nick Matthew. The world champion again made life difficult for himself, struggling against Finland’s Olli Tuominen before winning 11-9, 4-11, 11-8, 11-2 in 55 minutes to finally force his way through to the last eight. “I know I will need to play better against Rosner,” added Matthew. “He is playing well and looking relaxed. We played each other in the World Team Championships in Paderborn and it felt like the whole of Germany was against me!”

Top seed James Willstrop endured a fierce onslaught from former world champion Thierry Lincou before beating the Frenchman 16-14, 11-7, 11-6. Willstrop will meet 4-times world champion Amr Shabana in the quarters who overcame England’s Adrian Grant in the encounter of lefthanders 11-8, 11-5, 4-11, 11-6 after 59 minutes of play.

3rd seed Greg Gaultier powered his way through to the quarter-finals by overwhelming Canadian Shahier Razik in just 29 minutes. The French maestro looked very sharp indeed as he won 11-1, 11-4, 11-4.

Ramy Ashour was 10 minutes late on court but attacked right from the start against Cameron Pilley. The 24-year-old Egyptian won 11-6, 11-7, 11-9 in just 28 minutes. Both players produced fast, attacking squash but Ashour was always likely to be the man hitting more winners. Ashour, who is returning to action after injury, echoed Gaultier’s comments about diet and fitness. He said: “I love the food here in Richmond so I have to be very careful about what I eat and how much.

In the quarter-finals, Ashour meets fellow Egyptian Karim Darwish, who beat Australian qualifier Zac Alexander 11-5, 11-4, 11-3 in 30 minutes. Darwish said: “Zac is a very strong player and improving all the time. I am looking forward to playing Ramy. He is one of my best friends. The last time I played him, I lost 3/2 in Hurghada.”

Number 8 seed Azlan Iskandar conceded his match against young Egyptian Karim Abdel Gawad because of a thigh injury. The Malaysian world No10 stayed in his chair after losing the first two games and said: “I have been suffering for a few days and trying to play through it. The adductor muscle is causing the problem and it started bruising badly.”

Gawad now meets Gaultier in the quarter-finals, a huge challenge for the skilful 20-year-old from Alexandria.

Quarter-final line-up:
[1] James Willstrop (ENG) v [6] Amr Shabana (EGY)
[3] Gregory Gaultier (FRA) v [Q] Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY)
[4] Ramy Ashour (EGY) v [5] Karim Darwish (EGY)
[2] Nick Matthew (ENG) v Simon Rosner (GER)

2nd round:
[1] James Willstrop (ENG) bt Thierry Lincou (FRA) 16-14, 11-7, 11-6 (50m)
[6] Amr Shabana (EGY) bt Adrian Grant (ENG) 11-8, 11-5, 4-11, 11-6 (59m)
[Q] Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) bt [8] Mohd Azlan Iskandar (MAS) 11-8, 11-4 ret. (26m)
[3] Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt Shahier Razik (CAN) 11-1, 11-4, 11-4 (29m)
[4] Ramy Ashour (EGY) bt Cameron Pilley (AUS) 11-6, 11-7, 11-9 (28m)
[5] Karim Darwish (EGY) bt [Q] Zac Alexander (AUS) 11-5, 11-4, 11-3 (30m)
Simon Rosner (GER) bt Alister Walker (BOT) 11-6, 11-6, 11-6 (46m)
[2] Nick Matthew (ENG) bt Olli Tuominen (FIN) 11-9, 4-11, 11-8, 11-2 (55m)

World Champion Matthew survives in Richmond!

On the 2nd day of 1st round action of the North American Open in Richmond, reigning champion Nick Matthew (pic le) survived a 1st round scare before beating Colombian outsider Miguel Angel Rodriguez (pic ri) 14-12, 10-12, 11-9, 9-11, 11-5 in a 92-minute marathon.

The Englishman, who is bidding for a third consecutive NAO title, said: “Miguel is capable of giving all the top guys a scare and I was almost ready to get on the plane home at the end of the fourth game.”

The 31-year-old world No1 now faces Finland’s Olli Tuominen, who withstood a fierce fightback from America’s seven-time national champion Julian Illingworth (8-11, 11-7, 11-2, 15-13).

Ramy Ashour, runner-up to Matthew for the past two years, returned to action after an injury break and overwhelmed Australian Matthew Karwalski 11-8, 11-1, 11-8 in just 23 minutes. The Egyptian said: “I don’t want to talk about my injuries any more. That’s all I have talked about for the past few months and all I want to do is concentrate on playing squash. I am so happy to be back, and especially here in Richmond.”

His opponent, Karwalski, admitted: “That was just like going to squash school and being given a lesson. It didn’t matter what I did, Ramy had an answer for it.”

Ashour, the No4 seed this week, now meets another Australian Cameron Pilley, who won a colourful clash with Canadian Shawn Delierre. The match ended in controversial fashion as the qualifier from Montreal was punished with two conduct strokes for audible obscenities, the second coming on match ball.

The biggest casualty of the day came when Alister Walker of Botswana removed number 7 seed Laurens Jan Anjema of The Netherlands 7-11, 11-8, 8-11, 11-5, 12-10.

Australian Zac Alexander became the second qualifier to claim a place in the last 16 round when he upset Scotland’s Alan Clyne 11-6, 11-3, 11-8. The New York-based Queenslander will now fifth seed Karim Darwish, the experienced Egyptian who needed almost an hour to quash French qualifier Mathieu Castagnet 12-10, 11-6, 7-11, 11-5.

1st round (lower half of draw):
[4] Ramy Ashour (EGY) bt [Q] Matthew Karwalski (AUS) 11-8, 11-1, 11-8 (23m)
Cameron Pilley (AUS) bt [Q] Shawn Delierre (CAN) 11-6, 11-8, 9-11, 11-8 (60m)
[Q] Zac Alexander (AUS) bt Alan Clyne (SCO) 11-6, 11-3, 11-8 (40m)
[5] Karim Darwish (EGY) bt [Q] Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) 12-10, 11-6, 7-11, 11-5 (59m)
Alister Walker (BOT) bt [7] Laurens Jan Anjema (NED) 7-11, 11-8, 8-11, 11-5, 12-10 (70m)
Simon Rosner (GER) bt Chris Ryder (ENG) 5-11, 11-5, 11-5, 11-9 (57m)
Olli Tuominen (FIN) bt Julian Illingworth (USA) 8-11, 11-7, 11-2, 15-13 (55m)
[2] Nick Matthew (ENG) bt Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL) 14-12, 10-12, 11-9, 9-11, 11-5 (92m)

2nd round line-up:
[1] James Willstrop (ENG) v Thierry Lincou (FRA)
[6] Amr Shabana (EGY) v Adrian Grant (ENG)
[8] Mohd Azlan Iskandar (MAS) v [Q] Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY)
[3] Gregory Gaultier (FRA) v Shahier Razik (CAN)
[4] Ramy Ashour (EGY) v Cameron Pilley (AUS)
[5] Karim Darwish (EGY) v [Q] Zac Alexander (AUS)
Alister Walker (BOT) v Simon Rosner (GER)
[2] Nick Matthew (ENG) v Olli Tuominen (FIN)

Squash could be played everywhere!

The I love squash community broke the 26,000 fan barrier. This might a good reason to play squash today. Don’t worry if there is no partner or no squash club, you can play (almost) everywhere. The funny Frenchman shows how it works …

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