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ROWE British Grand Prix 2010
12-20 Sep, Manchester


Mon 20th Sep, Final:    UK time 
[2] Ramy Ashour (Egy) bt [5] James Willstrop (Eng)
           11-7, 3-11, 11-3, 11-5 (40m)
Ashour Beats Willstrop To
Deny English British Grand Prix Win

"He's got my number at the minute," admitted a dejected James Willstrop after the English hope went down in four games to Egypt's world number one Ramy Ashour in the final of the ROWE British Grand Prix, the biggest squash event in Europe this year at the National Squash Centre in Manchester.

The climax of the $92,500 PSA Super Series event was the eleventh meeting of the pair's careers, and their fourth this year - Yorkshireman Willstrop winning the first in the Tournament of Champions final in New York to take the first PSA Super Series title of the year, and Ashour twice gaining his revenge in his home town Cairo and last month in Hong Kong.

Willstrop, the world No6 who claimed his unexpected place in the final after outlasting France's world No5 Gregory Gaultier in a 100-minute semi-final marathon, led 7-3 in the opening game.

But Ashour, the 22-year-old from Cairo who reclaimed the world number one ranking this month from Willstrop's England team-mate Nick Matthew, immediately turned things round by taking the next eight points in a row to win the game.

In a remarkable reversal of fortunes, it was crowd favourite Willstrop who then came out firing - racing to game ball at 10-0 before Ashour picked up a couple of points to prevent a whitewash.

At one game apiece, a more assured Ashour returned for the third and Willstrop seemed unable to match the speed and accuracy of Egypt's latest squash star. After 40 minutes, it was second seed Ashour who raised his hands in triumph to celebrate his 11-7, 3-11, 11-3, 11-5 victory.
"It's such a letdown when you can't produce," said the distraught runner-up afterwards. "It was too physical - he was just too good.

"I wasn't physically good enough today - I don't know why," explained 27-year-old Willstrop, from Leeds. "I expected to come out stronger. I gave it everything I could."

A jubilant Ashour expressed his delight at competing in the event - and winning his 17th PSA Tour title: "I'm really glad I came here and really glad to win. I think it was a really good match, but I think we were both tired - James had a very long game yesterday for more than 100 minutes.

"I was a bit stuffed mentally when I arrived here - I was OK physically - but I really pushed myself during the week. My brother (Hisham) has done a great job - I've learned a lot from him.

"And I have been able to phone my parents every day - and that helped me a lot too.

"James is a great player - I played him in Hong Kong last month, but this was tougher. He has a special kind of game - a mixture of Egyptian and English.

"It's always great to play him,"
concluded the new champion Ashour.


Sun 19th Sep, Semis:  

[5] James Willstrop (Eng) bt [4] Grégory Gaultier (Fra)
                         11/7, 11/9, 9/11, 5/11, 11/9 (101m)

[2] Ramy Ashour (Egy) bat [8] David Palmer (Aus)
                         5/11, 11/6, 13/11, 11/9 (57m)


"When both of us are playing at the highest of intensities - which both of us were today - you can't keep it going for five games," explained Willstrop afterwards. "When we were good, we were very good.

"I'm just glad to have come back in the fifth.

"That third was a most bizarre game. The injury break didn't help me - but I remember thinking at 8-5, 'I can't settle down',
" said the England number two from Leeds.

"It's brilliant to be in another Super Series final," added Willstrop, now in the 22nd Tour final of his career. "I love playing here - the crowd was incredible."
Willstrop Survives Marathon
To Make Final
Howard Harding In Manchester
[5] James Willstrop (Eng) bt [4] Grégory Gaultier (Fra)
                         11/7, 11/9, 9/11, 5/11, 11/9 (101m)

England's James Willstrop reached the final of the biggest squash event in Europe this year after surviving an incident-packed semi-final in the ROWE British Grand Prix in Manchester today (Sunday) - and will now meet Egypt's world number one Ramy Ashour for the event title.

The Yorkshireman's clash with Gregory Gaultier was his latest encounter with the life-long French rival whom he first competed against as a fellow 14-year-old. Leading by two games, the now 27-year-old world No6 from Leeds suffered a dead leg after an accidental collision with the Frenchman, ranked one place higher.

After a seven-minute injury break, Willstrop returned to the court and recovered from 1-5 down to lead 9-7 - two points away from a straight games victory. But the determined Gaultier fought back to take the game - and then won the fourth to force a decider.

The world No5 twice led - and also had injury break for four minutes after treatment for an ankle injury. But Willstrop held his nerve to clinch a remarkable 11-7, 11-9, 9-11, 5-11, 11-9 win after 101 minutes.

A dejected Gaultier admitted that he hadn't stuck to his game-plan: "I didn't follow the tactic I wanted at the beginning. I was a bit disappointed to lose the second game.

"In the third, I think he was a bit tired and I tried to make the rallies longer. The fifth was anybody's game.

"I am really disappointed to lose - but I will come back stronger next time,"
added the former world number one from Aix-en-Provence. 
[2] Ramy Ashour (Egy) bat [8] David Palmer
(Aus)               5/11, 11/6, 13/11, 11/9 (57m)

Ramy Ashour, who despatched his three earlier opponents 3/0 in little more than an hour of playing time, dropped the first game against veteran Australian David Palmer, the 34-year-old from New South Wales who is the event's No8 seed.

Palmer, who celebrated ten unbroken years in the world's top ten a month ago, was playing the game of his life - while 22-year-old Ashour was scurrying around the court to keep up with the former world No1 and two-time world champion.

Second seed Ashour reclaimed the upper hand in the second game, but the US-based Aussie battled back to earn four game balls in the third before his younger opponent forged a 2/1 lead.

Palmer twice led in the fourth, but again Ashour recovered before closing out the match 5-11, 11-6, 13-11, 11-9 in 57 minutes.

"I couldn't believe it - he was incredible today," Ashour acknowledged to the crowd afterwards. "Sometimes, there was nothing I could do against him."

On the prospect of the final, Ashour said: "James is a great player - very skilful on court. I'm sure it will be a great game."
Despite losing, Palmer took positives from his performance: "It's given me encouragement," said the four-time British Open champion. "I haven't been able to play a match like that for the last four or five months.

"The Commonwealth Games is very important to me - and it looks as if I'm back in form. It's better late than never! "So I can go back home and be happy now.

"But it's going to be very tough in Delhi - James looks like he's in great form,"
concluded Palmer.

Malcolm in Manchester

Normally the quarter finals of super series events are guaranteed to provide quality and excitement, but, unfortunately that was not so at the British Grand Prix in Manchester.

Amr Shabana had to withdraw after a game, injured, leaving everybody wondering why he has never won in England - a real oddity when he has won five Cathay Pacific Opens in Hong Kong in a row. The other three matches were all 3-0 and two of them less competitive than might have been expected.

But the semi-finals made up for that.

Gregory Gaultier-James Willstrop

The match was full of incident, distraction and drama. Willstrop won the first game well, edged the second to take what seemed a decisive lead. Gaultier led 3-1 when a heavy collision caused Willstrop a dead leg and a lump in his calf. With the help of physio, Jade Elias he was back on court after seven minutes and recovered from 5-1 down to lead 8-5.

At 9-7 he was two points away from victory, but Gaultier held together, won the game and then won the fourth comfortably, after much dispute with referee John Masarella. At 9 all in the fifth came the most bizarre happening of all when Gaultier served a fault below the cut-line. Willstrop converted the match ball without further ado and suddenly it was all over. It was a high quality match, spoiled only by some of the distractions.

David Palmer-Ramy Ashour

David Palmer may be nearing the end of his illustrious career, but there were no signs of deterioration in his fine performance against the World no. 1, Ramy Ashour. It cannot be easy maintaining his standards from America, but here he played extremely well, taking the game to Ashour, who looked frustrated from time to time at his inability to dominate.

Ashour is the quickest of all starters, but it was Palmer who won the first game comfortably 11-5 and although Ashour levelled at one all, Palmer remained in contention, had game balls to win the third before losing it 13-11.

Nor was he done with and he only lost the fourth 11-9.It had been a splendid effort by the Australian, who will go to Delhi much encouraged. Ashour, in his gracious post match interview, explained how he had to hit many nicks to thwart Palmer and was full of praise for his opponent, respect it is called.

Appropriately, just in case it was his last appearance in Manchester, in view of his outstanding record in the British Open, tributes were paid to the Australian and the capacity crowd rose to its feet to acclaim him-a suitable ending to semi finals night.



Sat 18th Sep, Quarters: 

[5] James Willstrop (Eng) bt Saurav Ghosal (Ind)
                            11/7, 11/5, 11/4 (37m)
[4] Grégory Gaultier (Fra) bt [7] Daryl Selby (Eng)
                            11/3, 11/8, 11/5 (57m)

[7] David Palmer (Aus) bt [3] Amr Shabana (Egy)
                           11/3, 2/0 injured (10m)
[2] Ramy Ashour (Egy) bt [6] Thierry Lincou (Fra)
                           11/3, 11/4, 11/3 (24m)

"You can't help but think about the friendship when you play someone like that, but I think I was a bit more ruthless than him today," said Willstrop after his 11-7, 11-5, 11-4 victory.

"There's a lot of respect between both of us," added the former world No2. "He's extremely quick - in fact, probably the quickest on the Tour. You have to be very accurate against him."

"To be in the semis of a Super Series event is a pretty good effort. It feels great – but that's not it; there's a lot more to do. I've now got to get ready for the next one."

When asked if he was particularly focussed on regaining his England No1 status, Willstrop said: "To be England No1 is a big thing, without doubt – but I don't think about rankings.

"But I aspire to achieve what players like Nick (Matthew) and Ramy (Ashour) do. They're at the top of their game. That's my next step – and I'm playing well."
Willstrop Waltzes Into Semis
Howard Harding In Manchester
[5] James Willstrop (Eng) bt Saurav Ghosal (Ind)
                            11/7, 11/5, 11/4 (37m)

Hopes of home success in the ROWE British Grand Prix Squash Championship rest exclusively with James Willstrop after the fifth-seeded Yorkshireman beat his Pontefract club-mate and Indian number one Saurav Ghosal in straight games to claim a semi-final berth.

It was a dazzling display of master v student as the experienced 27-year-old from Leeds, ranked six in the world, despatched the now 24-year-old from Calcutta who honed his game while earning a first class honours Economics degree at Leeds University.

Willstrop, winner of the first Super Series event of the year in New York, is celebrating his fourth semi-final appearance in 2010.

Ghosal, who was making his Super Series quarter-final debut, was full of praise for Willstrop: "He's playing really well – his accuracy is incredible," said the world No26 from Chennai. "Most of the points I won, I really had to work hard to get.

"I was with him for two games – and then he really went away. He came out in the third game firing – playing ridiculou
s shots. I must have said 'great shot' to him about four times!"

On the effect of the friendship when they play each other, Ghosal explained: "I think it's harder for me than it is for him.

"It was a privilege to play him – I really hope he goes on to win the tournament."
[4] Grégory Gaultier (Fra) bt [7] Daryl Selby (Eng)
                            11/3, 11/8, 11/5 (57m)

Willstrop will now face life-long French rival Gregory Gaultier, the former world number one who denied the crowd an all-English semi by beating Daryl Selby, the world No9 from Essex, 11-3, 11-8, 11-5.

Selby was disappointed with his reversal of form over 24 hours: "I played really well yesterday to reach the quarters, but I just didn't replicate that today," admitted the England international.

"That was half down to Greg playing well and half to me feeling a bit sluggish. He started the match playing perfect squash – and once he has that confidence, he's hard to break down.

"His movement is excellent and he's a phenomenal athlete – I've got tremendous respect for his squash
," added Selby, who will now turn his focus on next month's Commonwealth Games in Delhi.
"I have had seven weeks of great preparation and think I am playing well – in fact I think I am better than I was at my peak," explained the 27-year-old from Aix-en-Provence Greg Gaultier, who slumped five places in the rankings just four months after reaching No1 last November.

"I played really badly earlier in the year – I was really wasting my capacity. But now I am happy with my life, and I think it shows on court. I really want to get back to world number one."
"It's a nagging back problem which I've been aware of throughout the tournament," said the 31-year-old from Cairo as he grimaced with pain while undergoing physiotherapy treatment within minutes of leaving the court.

"I felt that if I pushed it hard, I might inflame it. I didn't want to risk doing any serious damage
," Shabana explained.
[7] David Palmer (Aus) bt [3] Amr Shabana (Egy)
                           11/3, 2/0 injured (10m)

The other semi-final will feature Egypt's world No1 Ramy Ashour and Australia's former world No1 David Palmer.

Palmer faced Amr Shabana, the reigning world champion from Egypt. The capacity and knowledgeable crowd at Sportcity were anticipating a high quality clash between two giants of the game – but were treated to a brief encounter which lasted just 10 minutes when Shabana offered his hand to the Australian just two points into the second game.

[2] Ramy Ashour (Egy) bt [6] Thierry Lincou (Fra)
                           11/3, 11/4, 11/3 (24m)

The final quarter-final was also short – a 24-minute display in which second seed Ashour despatched a less-than-fully-agile Frenchman Thierry Lincou 11-3, 11-4, 11-3. By contrast, the exuberant young Egyptian was positively bubbling with enthusiasm for his performance.

"I feel my age is catching up on me – some weeks I feel older than others, and this hasn't been a good week for me," said the 34-year-old from Marseille.

"I have a problem with my left leg and this is restricting my movement. When my movement is not efficient, I suffer. And Ramy was playing at such a ridiculous pace, I couldn't do anything
," explained the forlorn Frenchman.
"I was very confident in my play today, but I knew he was not playing his normal game," said 22-year-old Ashour, who has only spent 70 minutes over his three matches on the Manchester all-glass court.

"But tomorrow will be the biggest test – and if I am in the final, that will be even bigger!"


Fri 17th Sep, Round Two:    

[14] Saurav Ghosal (Ind) bt [Q] Chris Simpson (Eng)
                         4/11, 11/7, 14/12, 11/3 (55m)
[5] James Willstrop (Eng) bt [11] Stewart Boswell (Aus)
                        11/6, 11/9, 11/9 (45m)
[4] Grégory Gaultier bt [9] Adrian Grant (Eng)
                        11/4, 6/11, 11/6, 11/9 (75m)
[7] Daryl Selby (Eng) bt [10] Alister Walker (Eng)
                       11/5, 11/4, 11/9 (61m)

[8] David Palmer (Aus) bt [12] Aamir Atlas Khan (Pak)
                       11/4, 11/4, 9/11, 11/6 (53m)
[3] Amr Shabana (Egy) bt [13] Hisham Ashour (Egy)
                       11/7, 11/8, 6/11, 11/4 (38m)
[6] Thierry Lincou (Fra) bt [15] Ali Anwar Reda (Egy)
                       11/9, 5/11, 11/7, 11/8 (60m)
[2] Ramy Ashour (Egy) bt [Q] Alan Clyne (Sco)
                       11/5, 11/7, 11/4 (23m)

Draw & Results

Malcolm pops up in Manchester...
[4] Grégory Gaultier bt [9] Adrian Grant (Eng)
                        11/4, 6/11, 11/6, 11/9 (75m)

Adrian Grant has invariably troubled Gregory Gaultier and things were no different in their second round match in the British Grand Prix at Sports City Manchester.

Gaultier, seemingly revitalised this season, reaching the final of the Cathay Pacific in Hong Kong where he lost narrowly to Ramy Ashour, began sharply as he does and aided by errors from Grant, won the first game with some ease.

Surprisingly perhaps Grant came out strongly in the second and levelled matters. Although Gaultier went 2-1 up the fourth was always in doubt and with the Frenchman making some errors Grant led 9-7, before Gaultier clinched a quarter final place.

The match was played with overlong gaps between rallies, which were at Gaultier's doing and to which Grant rightly took exception. Frequent lets also rather spoiled what could have been a decent match.

[5] James Willstrop (Eng) bt [11] Stewart Boswell (Aus)
                        11-6, 11-9, 11-9 (45m)

Stewart Boswell, on familiar territory in Manchester, and James Willstrop were next on. They often practise together and there was scarcely a let in the match.

Boswell still retains high class form and competed all the way through the match, two games going to nine. But in truth he never threatened to win and Willstrop looked comfortable throughout.

He will now face Pontefract clubmate, Saurav Ghosal, the Indian no.1 reaching his first super series quarter final.

[14] Saurav Ghosal (Ind) bt [Q] Chris Simpson (Eng)
                         4/11, 11/7, 14/12, 11/3 (55m)

To get there Saurav beat Chris Simpson, who had advanced because of Nick Matthew's enforced withdrawal.

Simpson began slowly and Ghosal won the first game very easily, perhaps too easily, since Simpson found his stride in the second as the game lengthened out and drew level at one all.

The third was close and Ghosal was behind for much of it. He won it on a tiebreak, though,and as Simpson tired, He won the fourth and the match comfortably.

He will need to raise his game tomorrow,but as he showed in his 3-2 loss to Amr Shabana in Hong Kong, he is quite capable of doing just that.

Howard Harding chats to Greg

Gregory Gaultier became one of two Frenchmen to make the last eight when he beat England left-hander Adrian Grant, the No9 seed. Gaining revenge for an acrimonious clash on the same court in the Manchester World Open almost two years ago, Gaultier beat London-born Grant 11-4, 6-11, 11-6, 11-9 in 75 minutes.

"I knew Adrian would be up for it as he's had some good results - and he would want to play well in front of his home crowd," said the Frenchman. "I managed to push hard in the fourth to close the match. I wanted to make him work hard.

"I'm happy to go through. I played really well in Australia and Hong Kong - that built up my confidence," added the 27-year-old from Aix-en-Provence who is bidding to return to the form which saw him reach No1 in the world rankings in November last year.

... And James

"Stewart is not only very good, but experienced too. I know him pretty well - we train together a lot

When asked what are his goals, Willstrop replied: "Kuwait, Qatar, India, Egypt," referring to the locations of the PSA Super Series events which follow the British Grand Prix.

"To win a Super Series event is huge," admitted the 27-year-old Yorkshireman. "And of course there's the Commonwealth Games, and finally the World Open," added the former world No2.

Does the current world No6 yearn to reclaim his No2 position - then move on to become the world's top-ranked player? "I concentrate on the tournaments - I don't think too much about rankings. Do well in the tournaments and hopefully the rankings will follow!"

...And Saurav

"It's my first quarter-final in a Super Series event - I am so happy," said the Calcutta-born 24-year-old who is India's highest-ranked player of all-time.

"Playing James is always a pleasure. I've learned so much from him.

I'm going to try and play the best I can - hopefully we'll play some good squash," added the world No26.

And to finish....

Lincou now lines up against Egypt's new world number one Ramy Ashour, the 22-year-old from Cairo who ended Alan Clyne's run with an 11-5, 11-7, 11-4 win over the Scottish qualifier from Edinburgh.

Ashour will be joined in the quarters by fellow countryman Amr Shabana, the reigning world champion from Cairo who beat his older brother Hisham Ashour 11-7, 11-8, 6-11, 11-4.

Shabana, a four-time world champion, boasts 26 PSA Tour titles - as does his quarter-final opponent David Palmer, the eighth seed from Australia who defeated Pakistan's Aamir Atlas Khan 11-4, 11-4, 9-11, 11-6.

... While Howard camps there...
[[7] Daryl Selby (Eng) bt [10] Alister Walker (Eng)
                       11/5, 11/4, 11/9 (61m)

Daryl Selby, the No7 seed from Essex who broke into the world top ten this year, was looking for his first Tour win over English rival Alister Walker after defeats in their two previous Tour clashes.

And the world number nine finally made his breakthrough with an 11-5, 11-4, 11-9 win over Walker, the Leeds-based world No17 from Gloucestershire.

"To get Alister in three games is no mean feat," said the jubilant 27-year-old. "I want to do well in this tournament, and if I carry on playing like that, anything can happen."

Selby feels he is back on track after a shock defeat to lower-ranked fellow countryman Tom Richards in the first round of the Australian Open last month. "That gave me quite a kick start as I was playing well - but he played better and thoroughly deserved the win.

"In hindsight, it perhaps did me some good, as I've been playing better since then - sometimes you can learn more from a loss than a win. You can turn a negative into a positive.

"Perhaps I owe Tom a vote of thanks," added Selby.

[6] Thierry Lincou (Fra) bt [15] Ali Anwar Reda (Egy)
                       11/9, 5/11, 11/7, 11/8 (60m)

Gaultier will be joined in the last eight by fellow countryman Thierry Lincou, the sixth seed who fought for exactly an hour to quash rising Egyptian Ali Anwar Reda, the 15th seed, 11-9, 5-11, 11-7, 11-8.

The 34-year-old from Marseille has little to prove - having won the world title and reached world number one in his illustrious career. "My goal for this season is to qualify for the Super Series Finals. I need to be consistent and make a few quarter-finals and semi-finals.

"But I still love the game, and love the training - and I get great support from my family," added Lincou. "But my aim isn't to get back to world No1 - I'd like to stay in the top eight.

"And it would be nice to keep causing a few upsets!"


Day Two Head 2 Heads

Thu 16th Sep, Round One, Bottom Half: 
[12] Aamir Atlas Khan (Pak) bt [Q] Amr Swelim (Ita)
                         11/3, 11/5, 11/7 (23m)
[8] David Palmer (Aus) bt Julian Illingworth (Usa)
                          11/3, 11/7, 11/6 (38m)
[13] Hisham Ashour (Egy) bt Rafael Alarcon (Bra)
                           11/4, 11/6, 9/11, 11/7 (31m)
[3] Amr Shabana (Egy) bt Davide Bianchetti (Ita)
                            11/8, 11/7, 11/5 (28m)

[15] Ali Anwar Reda (Egy) bt Campbell Grayson (Nzl)
                            13/15, 12/14, 11/7, 11/7, 11/8 (75m)
[6] Thierry Lincou (Fra) bt Omar Abdel Aziz (Egy)
                              9/11, 11/4, 11/4, 11/5 (45m)
[Q] Alan Clyne (Sco) bt [16] Farhan Mehboob (Pak)
                             11/6, 11/8, 8/11, 5/11, 16/14 (61m)
[2] Ramy Ashour (Egy) bt [Q] Laurence Delasaux (Eng)
                             11-4, 11-7, 11-5 (23m)
Howard in Manchester

British interest in the ROWE British Grand Prix Squash Championship was unexpectedly boosted in Manchester tonight when Scotland's Alan Clyne claimed the first upset at the National Squash Centre.

The 24-year-old qualifier from Edinburgh took a two-game lead over 16th seed Farhan Mehboob - but the world No29 from Pakistan struck back to level the match before forging an 8-0 lead in the decider.

The flying Scot reclaimed seven points in a single hand, however, and went on to save three match balls before finally celebrating a sensational 11-6, 11-8, 8-11, 5-11, 16-14 victory after 61 minutes.

"That's definitely my best win ever," said the Inverness-born world No55. "He's the first top 30 player I've beaten - and it's in a Super Series event too. It's a great result!"

Clyne now faces second seed Ramy Ashour, the new world No1 from Egypt who dismissed English qualifier Laurence Delasaux, from Hull, 11-4, 11-7, 11-5.

It was third time lucky for Mohd Ali Anwar Reda earlier when he recovered from two games down to beat unseeded New Zealander Campbell Grayson 13-15, 12-14, 11-7, 11-7, 11-8 in 75 minutes - the longest match in the first round.

It was the 15th seed from Egypt's first win in Manchester in three attempts. "When I was two games down, I thought 'oh no, not again'," said the jubilant 21-year-old from Cairo.

Reda will line up against experienced Frenchman Thierry Lincou after the sixth seed from France, one of six former world number ones in the event, beat Egyptian Omar Abdel Aziz 9-11, 11-4, 11-4, 11-5.
Shabana on way back

The reigning World Open champion Amr Shabana also progressed in straightforward fashion to the last sixteen with an 11-8, 11-7, 11-5 victory over Italian Davide Bianchetti 28 minutes.

The distinguished Egyptian, a four-time winner of the world title and the world number one for 33 months in a row until December 2008, has yet to win a title in England – and was reminded of the fact by tournament MC Andrew Nickeas.

"There are still a few tournaments here – we'll see if it can happen," quipped Shabana, who boasts 26 PSA titles.

The 31-year-old from Cairo also admitted that he is fighting back to full fitness after suffering with tendonitis in both knees, coupled with a back injury.

"I'm on my way back – but I feel I am currently only at about 60%! It's been about two years now that I've been suffering with injuries – and my main ambition is to get back my world number one ranking. But first, I've got to get my health back," concluded the third seed.

Shabana will meet Hisham Ashour in the next round after his compatriot, the No13 seed, beat Brazilian Rafael Alarcon 11-4, 11-6, 9-11, 11-7.

Palmer will take on Aamir Atlas Khan, the 12th seed from Pakistan who defeated Cairo-based Italian Amr Swelim 11-3, 11-5, 11-7.
David Palmer speaks to Howard

Eighth seed Palmer, the 34-year-old from New South Wales who slipped to No12 this month to end a remarkable unbroken ten-year run in the world top ten, despatched Illingworth, the world No35 from New York, 11-3, 11-7, 11-6 to reach the last 16.

"To win three love on a pretty dead court is not bad," said US-based Palmer after his 38-minute win. "We play a lot in the US. He's done well – he's dangerous."

The former world No1 and two-time world champion was struck down by tonsillitis a week before the Australian Open, and was on antibiotics for a month. "I haven't quite got back to my full strength. I still feel a bit run down – though my results haven't been disastrous.

"But I was terrible in Australia," admitted Palmer.

Winner of four British Open titles in England, Palmer now has his sights on success in the Commonwealth Games in Delhi: "It's my fourth Commonwealth Games, and I'm pretty proud of that. I've got a few medals, but I'm still missing the gold!

"It's going to be pretty tough - but I feel, on my day, I can pull off an upset. I just hope I get my health back."

Ambitions? "I would love to get back into the top eight again – and also get one more World Open title!"
Wed 15th Sep, Round One, Top Half:
[10] Alister Walker (ENG) bt [Q] Ivan Yuen (MAS)
                  11-4, 11-9, 11-5 (38m)
[7] Daryl Selby (ENG) bt [Q] Robbie Temple (ENG)
                  11-5, 11-3, 11-2 (38m)
[9] Adrian Grant (ENG) bt Jens Schoor (GER)
                  11-4, 11-7, 11-4 (30m)
[4] Gregory Gaultier (Fra) bt Martin Knight (NZL)
                   11-6, 11-2, 11-3 (27m)

[11] Stewart Boswell (AUS) v [Q] Kashif Shuja (NZL)
                       11-7, 11-2, 7-11, 11-13, 11-3 (57m)
[5] James Willstrop (ENG) bt [Q] Max Lee (HKG)
                       11-7, 11-5, 11-2 (26m)
[14] Saurav Ghosal (IND) bt Chris Ryder (ENG)
                  11/6, 11/4, 9/11, 11/8 (54m)
[Q] Chris Simpson (ENG) bt [1] Nick Matthew (ENG) wo


Round One Head 2 Heads

Grant Back On Form
In ROWE British Grand Prix Opener

Howard Harding in Manchester

After suffering the worst experience of his life, causing him to be hospitalised for six days in Australia, England international Adrian Grant was clearly back at his best in today's first round of the ROWE British Grand Prix Squash Championship in Manchester where he despatched German opponent Jens Schoor in straight games.

A high quality field, boasting six world number ones and seven players from the current world top 10, are in action at the National Squash Centre in the $92,500 ROWE British Grand Prix – Manchester 2010, one of ten Professional Squash Association Super Series events in 2010, and the only PSA Super Series event to be staged in the UK this year.

It was after winning his first round match in last month's Australian Open in Canberra that London-born left-hander Grant was taken ill within an hour of eating an evening meal with his England team-mates.

"I have never felt so ill – and it came on so suddenly," said the Leeds-based former world No9 who was later diagnosed with severe gastro-enteritis, and spent six days in hospital where he lost almost a stone in weight.

"It's the worst experience I've ever had - I was in an absolute mess."

Grant then played at the Hong Kong Open, losing in the first round: "I was only playing at about 20% - I'd lost all my muscle strength.

"Getting home in itself was massive – and, with help from the EIS here in Manchester, I had a really good two weeks, building my strength back up.

"So my season starts here," said the event's 29-year-old ninth seed after his 11-4, 11-7, 11-4 win over wildcard Schoor. "I'm taking this as the first tournament of the season - and I'm really focussed."

Grant will now face Gregory Gaultier after the fourth-seeded Frenchman defeated New Zealander Martin Knight 11-6, 11-2, 11-3.

The 27-year-old from Aix-en-Provence is making a notable return to form after failing to exploit his world number one ranking last November, when he slumped to sixth place within the next four months.

"The most important thing was to get myself back in shape and get my motivation back," said Gaultier, who became the first Frenchman to win the British Open title on the same all-glass court three years ago.

"I'm looking for good times again – and I feel pretty confident," added the world No5.

Grant was joined by two fellow Englishmen in the second round after tenth seed Alister Walker, from Leeds, beat Malaysian qualifier Ivan Yuen 11-4, 11-9, 11-5 in the opening match of the day, and Essex's No7 seed Daryl Selby defeated Gloucestershire qualifier Robbie Temple 11-5, 11-3, 11-2.
Matthew Forced To Withdraw

Nick Matthew, the top-ranked Englishman who was hoping to reclaim his world number one ranking following success in the ROWE British Grand Prix Squash Championship, was forced to pull out of the $92,500 PSA Super Series event today less than two hours before his opening match in Manchester

"During my practice session yesterday afternoon, I felt strange - my heartbeat was going at about 200 beats a minute – and by the time I got back to my hotel room I was really shivering," Matthew told the crowd at the National Squash Centre after seeing the EIS (English Institute of Sport) doctor in the same building.

"I woke in the middle of the night with a heavy fever and covered in sweat. I left it as long as I could today before making my decision, but the doctor has advised me not to play.

"I'm very disappointed to pull out," said the clearly emotional Yorkshireman. "It's my favourite venue and I was really looking forward to playing here."

Later Manchester favourite James Willstrop, the No5 seed who was expected to line up against his England team-mate in the quarter-finals, pulled away from seven-all in the first game against Max Lee to beat the Hong Kong qualifier 11-7, 11-5, 11-2 in 26 minutes.

"I really feel for him - he must be feeling dreadful at the moment," said the 27-year-old from Leeds when asked about Matthew. "Nick being out of the event is obviously a bitter blow for the tournament, but devastating for him.

"It's the worst thing getting injured - we all feel for him, we know what it's like!"

Asked about his match against Lee, a 22-year-old making his Tour debut in Manchester, Willstrop agreed that there are no easy games. "I had to be on my toes - it was really level at seven-all - there was not too much of a gap, to be honest."  
From the Stands ... Simon Ho with the Fans' view ...

Had a great time, atmosphere amongst players and spectators is good. Players are really approachable, and mingle amongst us. As it was my first time at a big event, I wasn't sure what to expect, so it was nice to see.

I chatted to Max Lee, who sat next to me in the stand whilst Walker was playing Yuen. I made it easier for him by speaking Chinese, but his English is good, and to Martin Knight after losing to Greg Gaultier in straight games ...

First time in Manchester? "Yes, but I have spent a lot of time in England over the last two years, first impressions, it's freezing!"

"I've never played James before, but have watched a lot of him. I just hope to have a good game, play well, and to stay with him as long as possible" (It got to 7-7 in the first game).

What next? "Staying in England to train, in preparation for the Asian Games."

before his match with Willstrop

"It was a pretty severe loss. He's in good form, and didn't let me in. Pretty tough."

Looking ahead?

"Commonwealth Games are next. Squad training in Singapore for a couple of weeks, before heading to Delhi. It's a massive event for squash.

"Haven't seen seedings yet but hope to be top 8, 16, in the singles. We got 4th place in the doubles last time, I'd like to better that." (Partnering Campbell Grayson)

ROWE British Grand Prix 2010
13-20 Sep, Manchester, $92k
Round One
Top 15 / Bottom 16 Sep
Round Two
17 Sep
18/ Sep
19 Sep
20 Sep
[1] Nick Matthew (Eng)
[Q] Chris Simpson (Eng)
[Q] Chris Simpson 4/11, 11/7, 14/12, 11/3 (55m)
[14] Saurav Ghosal
[14] Saurav Ghosal

11/7, 11/5, 11/4

[5] James Willstrop
[5] James Willstrop

11/7, 11/9, 9/11, 5/11, 11/9

[4] Grégory Gaultier

[5] James Willstrop


[2] Ramy Ashour

[14] Saurav Ghosal (Ind)
11/6, 11/4, 9/11, 11/8 (54m)
 Chris Ryder (Eng)
[5] James Willstrop (Eng)
11-7, 11-5, 11-2 (26m)
[Q] Max Lee (Hkg)
[5] James Willstrop
11-6, 11-9, 11-9 (45m)
[11] Stewart Boswell
[11] Stewart Boswell (Aus)
 11-7, 11-2, 7-11, 11-13, 11-3 (57m)
[Q] Kashif Shuja (Nzl)
[4] Gregory Gaultier (Fra)
11-6, 11-2, 11-3 (27m)
 Martin Knight (Nzl)
[4] Grégory Gaultier
11/4, 6/11, 11/6, 11/9
[9] Adrian Grant
[4] Grégory Gaultier

11/3, 11/8, 11/5

[7] Daryl Selby
[9] Adrian Grant (Eng)
11-4, 11-7, 11-4 (30m)
 Jens Schoor (Ger)
[7] Daryl Selby (Eng)
11-5, 11-3, 11-2 (38m)
[Q] Robbie Temple (Eng) 
[7] Daryl Selby
  11/5, 11/4, 11/9 (61m)
[10] Alister Walker
[10] Alister Walker (Eng)
11-4, 11-9, 11-5 (38m)
[Q] Ivan Yuen (Mas)
 [Q] Amr Swelim (Ita)
11/3, 11/5, 11/7 (22mn)
[12] Aamir Atlas Khan (Pak)
[12] Aamir A. Khan
11/4, 11/4, 9/11, 11/6 (53m)
 [8] David Palmer
 [8] David Palmer

11/3, 2/0 inj.

[3] Amr Shabana
 [8] David Palmer

 5/11, 11/6, 13/11, 11/9 (57m)

[2] Ramy Ashour

 Julian Illingworth (Usa)
 11/3, 11/7, 11/6 (38m)
[8] David Palmer (Aus)
 Rafael Alarcon (Bra)
11/4, 11/6, 9/11, 11/7 (31m)
[13] Hisham Ashour (Egy)
[13] Hisham Ashour
11/7, 11/8, 6/11, 11/4[3] Amr Shabana
Davide Bianchetti (Ita)
11/8, 11/7, 11/5 (28m)
[3] Amr Shabana (Egy)
Campbell Grayson (Nzl)
13/15, 12/14, 11/7, 11/7, 11/8 (75m)
[15] Ali Anwar Reda (Egy)
[15] Ali Anwar Reda
11/9, 5/11, 11/7, 11/8 (60m)
[6] Thierry Lincou
[6] Thierry Lincou

11/3, 11/4, 11/3 (24m)

[2] Ramy Ashour

Omar Abdel Aziz (Egy)
9/11, 11/4, 11/4, 11/5 (45m)
[6] Thierry Lincou (Fra)
 [Q] Alan Clyne (Sco)
 11/6, 11/8, 8/11, 5/11, 16/14 (61m)
[16] Farhan Mehboob (Pak)
 [Q] Alan Clyne
11/5, 11/7, 11/4 (23m)
[2] Ramy Ashour
[Q] Laurence Delasaux (Eng)
 11-4, 11-7, 11-5 (23m)
[2] Ramy Ashour (Egy)

Mon 13th Sep, Qualifying Finals:

Laurence Delasaux (Eng) bt Jaymie Haycocks (Eng)     11-8, 11-13, 11-5, 11-3 (57m)
Ivan Yuen (Mas) bt Adrian Waller (Eng)                          9-11, 11-8, 11-8, 11-8 (79m)
Chris Simpson (Eng) bt Siddarth Suchde (Ind)                           11-8 11-8 11-4 (52m)
Kashif Shuja (Nzl) bt Matthew Karwalski (Aus)                7-11, 11-7, 11-7, 11-8 (42m)
Robbie Temple (Eng) bt Steve Finitsis (Aus)                 12-10 16-14 11-4 11-9 (78m)
Alan Clyne (Sco) bt Joe Lee (Eng)                            8-11 11-4 8-11 11-3 11-6 (80m)
Max Lee (Hkg) bt Clinton Leeuw (Rsa)                                   11-8, 11-9, 11-4 (37m)
Amr Swelim (Ita) bt Christopher Gordon (Usa)               8-11, 11-8, 11-6, 11-8 (50m)

12-Sep Qualifying Round One:

Jaymie Haycocks (Eng) bt Stephen Coppinger (Rsa)     1-11, 11-8, 12-10, 13-11 (55m)
Laurence Delasaux (Eng) bt Charles Sharpes (Eng)                 11-6, 11-9, 11-8 (42m)
Adrian Waller (Eng) bt Pete Goodings (Eng)                         11-7, 11-1, 11-6 (25mins)
Ivan Yuen (Mas) bt Eddie Charlton (Eng)                              11-8, 11-8, 11-8 (41mins)

Chris Simpson (Eng) bt Adam Murrills (Eng)                            11-2, 11-5, 11-3 (29m)
Siddarth Suchde (Ind) bt Lewis Walters (Eng)                     11-7, 11-9, 11-7 (62mins)
Kashif Shuja (Nzl) bt Ben Ford (Eng)                                    11-7, 11-9, 11-3 (30mins)
Matthew Karwalski (Aus) bt Henrik Mustonen (Fin) 8-11, 7-11, 11-8, 11-8, 13-11 (70m)

Steve Finitsis (Aus) bt Ollie Holland (Eng)                                11-4, 11-7, 11-2 (35m)
Robbie Temple (Eng) bt Anthony Graham (Eng)             10-12, 11-9, 11-7, 11-7 (52m)
Joe Lee (Eng) bt Andrew Birks (Eng)                              11-9, 11-4, 11-13, 11-6 (63m)
Alan Clyne (Sco) bt Joel Hinds (Eng)                               9-11, 11-4, 11-4, 11-5 (57m)

Max Lee (Hkg) bt Shaun Le Roux (Eng)                 11-8, 11-7, 11-13, 6-11, 11-2 (84m)
Clinton Leeuw (Rsa) bt Karim Abdel Gawad (Egy)         11-9, 14-12, 7-11, 11-7 (65m)
Christopher Gordon (Usa) bt Richard Birks (Eng)         11-7, 11-4, 11-13, 11-7 (52m)
Amr Swelim (Ita) bt James Snell (Eng)                        8-11, 11-4, 12-10, 11-6  (44m)

Qualifying complete in Wolverhampton

It was a good day for the Brits in the British Grand Prix Qualifying Finals, with half of the eight main draw places going to home players.

In the opening matches of the night four nationalities took to the court - England’s Adrian Waller who took the first game 11-9 before Malaysia’s Ivan Yeun dug deep to prevail 9-11 11-8 11-8 11-8 in a 79-minute match characterised by a large number lets. On the adjoining court New Zealand’s Kashif Shuja overcame Matthew Karwalski of Australia 7-11 11-7 11-7 11-8.

Third seed Chris Simpson had a relatively straight forward 3-0 win over India’s Siddarth Suchde but local interest Jaymie Haycocks, who despatched No.1 seed Stephen Coppinger in the first round, was unable to repeat the heroics against compatriot Laurence Delasaux who, having lost the second game, dominated the final two to close out 11-8 11-13 11-5 11-3.

Second seed Amr Swelim conceded his opening game 8-11 but fought back to win the next two games 11-8 11-6 against USA’s Chris Gordon. In the fourth trailing at 2-8 Swelim transformed the game with punishing rallies, pushing his opponent to all parts of the court eventually winning 11-8 to secure his place in the first round, starting on Wednesday.

Late addition Clinton Leeuw, who had defeated 8th seed Egypt’s up and coming star Karim Abdel Gawad in the previous round, could not continue his form losing out to Max Lee 11-8 11-9 11-4 who claimed one of the remaining first round draw places in Manchester.

In the longest match of the night, a full 80 minutes, No.4 seed Alan Clyne finally overcame England’s Joe Lee 8-11 11-4 8-11 11-3 11-6. The final match of the evening saw Robbie Temple, who seemed to have overcome the injury he sustained in qualification of the Kuwait Open last week, overcome Australia’s Steve Finitsis who at 1/0 and 11-11 sustained a blood injury, requiring a 27-minute break. Finitsis went on to win that game 16-14 to equal the match at 1-1 but Temple fought to take the third and fourth to secure the final place in the main draw.

Tuesday is a rest day.

BGP Ticket competition

Congratulations to David Turner and
Christine Christoffersen, who win tickets to the finals and semi-finals.

Thanks to everyone who entered - even if you don't go along you can still watch the action, all 31 matches, on
Squash TV ...

Hero Haycocks Leads Local Hopes Into Grand Prix Qualifying Finals
Howard Harding reports

Local hero Jaymie Haycocks produced the biggest shock in the first qualifying round of the ROWE British Grand Prix when he beat the event's highest-ranked player Stephen Coppinger in a dramatic 55-minute encounter at Wolverhampton Lawn Tennis & Squash Club in Wolverhampton, England.

English players dominated today's action which has reduced the field to 16 players who will compete in Wolverhampton for the eight qualifying places available in the ROWE British Grand Prix, Europe's biggest squash event this year, the $92,500 Super Series championships.

Jaymie Haycocks, the world No 101 who has been a member of the Wolverhampton club for more than ten years, defeated Coppinger, ranked 57 places higher, 1-11, 11-8, 12-10, 13-11 in 55 minutes.

After the first game dominated by Coppinger, Haycocks slowed the place and played tight accurate squash producing a stream of mistakes from the South African's racket. The fourth game could have gone either way and a controversial point at 9-9 could have upset the local hero, but Haycocks held his nerve to close out the match.

The Shrewsbury-born 26-year-old will now face fellow Englishman Laurence Delasaux, a 25-year-old Yorkshireman from Hull who beat Surrey teenager Charles Sharpes 11-6, 11-9, 11-8.

Former England junior international Adrian Waller, from Enfield, was too strong for local Over 35 player Pete Goodings, in a game played in good spirit by both players - whilst Kashif Shuja of New Zealand recorded an 11-7, 11-9, 11-3 victory over Kent's Ben Ford, who made the draw following a late withdrawal.

Guernsey's Chris Simpson enjoyed a convincing straight games win over compatriot Adam Murrills, as did Australia's Steve Finitsis who defeated Nottingham's Ollie Holland 11-4, 11-7, 11-2.

Australian Matthew Karwalski recovered from two games down to beat Finland's Henrik Mustonen 8-11, 7-11, 11-8, 11-8, 13-11 - with both players having served for the match which lasted a full 75 minutes.

After losing the first game, Scot Alan Clyne got into his rhythm and ran out a comfortable winner over Derbyshire's Joel Hinds, whilst Italian Amr Swelim defeated Devon's James Snell 8-11 11-4 12-10 11-6.

Brothers Andrew and Richard Birks, both of whom play at Wolverhampton, both took games from their higher-ranked opponents - but England's Joe Lee went on to beat Andrew 11-9, 11-4, 11-13, 11-6 and USA's Christopher Gordon defeated Richard 11-7, 11-4, 11-13, 11-7.

Max Lee of Hong Kong overcame England's Shaun Le Roux to earn his place in the second round with a hard fought 11-8 11-7 13-11 6-11 11-2 win - whilst late addition (due to a no show) Clinton Leeuw of South Africa caused a further significant upset when he defeated Egypt's rising star Karim Abdel Gawad 11-9, 14-12, 7-11, 11-7.

In the final match of the night Robbie Temple defeated fellow Englishman Anthony Graham 10-12, 11-9, 11-7, 11-7 to progress to the next round.

English Rivals Set For ROWE British Grand Prix Quarter-Final Clash In Manchester

The world's top two squash players Nick Matthew and Ramy Ashour are seeded to meet in the final of the ROWE British Grand Prix, to be staged at the National Squash Centre in Manchester from 15-20 September.

But, according to the draw, the standout match in the biggest international championship to be staged in Europe this year is likely to be the predicted quarter-final clash between career-long English rivals Matthew and James Willstrop.

The $92,500 ROWE British Grand Prix - Manchester 2010 is the sixth of ten PSA Super Series events in 2010, and the only PSA Super Series event to be staged in the UK this year.

Matthew, who became England's first world number one for six years in June, leads a star-studded field which boasts eight players from the current world's top 10 and five former world number ones.

Twice a British Open champion, Matthew is enjoying the best form of his career - and on Sunday beat Egyptian rival Ashour, ranked two in the world, in straight games in the final of the Australian Open to clinch his fifth PSA  title in a row - becoming the first player to achieve this feat for more than five years!

The 30-year-old top seed from Sheffield in Yorkshire is scheduled to face second seed Ashour in the final on the spectacular all-glass court in Sportcity on Monday 20th September - but the knowledgeable Manchester crowd will no doubt be attracted by the quarter-final prospect of Matthew taking on fellow Yorkshireman Willstrop, the fifth seed.

The England team-mates enjoy one of the country's biggest rivalries of all-time. The pair contested the 2009 British Open final on the Sportcity court - which Matthew won in 122 dramatic minutes after saving a match ball. In February, back on the same court in the climax of the British National Championship, Matthew again prevailed to win his third title.

Matthew opens his 2010 British Grand Prix campaign against a qualifier and is likely to face India's rising star Saurav Ghosal, the No14 seed, in the second round before his mouth-watering last eight clash.

Willstrop, the 27-year-old world No6 from Leeds, also faces a qualifier in the opening round - with the prospect of a second round meeting with 11th seed Stewart Boswell, the former world No4 from Australia who is based in Manchester.

In the semi-finals, Matthew is expected to meet fourth seed Gregory Gaultier, the former world No1 from Aix-en-Provence who made his mark in squash history when he became the first French winner of the prestigious British Open title - on the same Sportcity glass court in September 2007.

An all-Egyptian semi-final is predicted in the other half of the draw where Ashour is drawn to face reigning and four-time World Open champion Amr Shabana. Third seed Shabana, who held the world number one ranking for 33 months until last year, is one of the sport's biggest attractions.

The 31-year-old left-hander from Cairo boasts 26 PSA titles - but has yet to win a trophy in England.
British Grand Prix joins Super Series
Manchester have announced that they will host the British Grand Prix squash championships at the National Squash Centre in SportCity from the 15th to 20th September.

The internationalSPORTgroup™ British Grand Prix – Manchester 2010, the first event of a pioneering three year agreement between Manchester City Council and event promoters, will be the first European Super Series event on the restructured PSA World Tour, boasting the largest prize money offered by any World Tour ranking event in Europe.

This latest agreement builds upon a successful partnership between Manchester and internationalSPORTgroup™ which has flourished since first staging the British Grand Prix at the National Squash Centre in 2004, and ensures that a leading international squash championship will remain in the city alongside the British National Championships which Manchester have hosted for the past fourteen years.

The British Grand Prix reinforces Manchester’s ambition to be recognised as one of the world’s leading squash destinations, alongside New York, Mumbai, Cairo, Canberra, Hong Kong, Kuwait City, Doha, and Saudi Arabia.

Eamonn O’Rourke, Head of Leisure, Manchester City Council, said: “We’re delighted to be hosting the British Grand Prix for the next three years and we look forward to welcoming the world’s finest squash players to Manchester for such a prestigious tournament which will attract thousands of sports fans to the city.

"Since the highly successful 2002 XVII Commonwealth Games, Manchester has developed a reputation for hosting world class events. The British Grand Prix, alongside the National Championships which have found a home in Manchester for the past fourteen years, will play a pivotal role in showcasing the city’s unrivalled squash development programme and further cement our position as a world class sporting destination. In addition, this event will support our plans to once again bring the World Squash Championships to the City.”

Rebecca Livesey, Interim Chief Executive of Manchester Sport and Leisure Trust who manage sports facilities in the City, said: “The National Squash Centre is regarded as one of the finest purpose built squash venues in the world and we look forward to welcoming the world’s very best players back Manchester for another fantastic squash event.”

PSA Chief Executive Officer Alex Gough echoed the comments of the hosting city:

"This latest announcement is further proof of Manchester’s world class sports programme and it is exciting that squash should be showcased in this way. We saw Manchester host the Men's and Women's World Opens in 2008 and are delighted that we are continuing this partnership with such an important sporting city. We are also working to redevelop the British Open in a new and unique way, including moving it to April, and so have both a magnificent curtain raiser and an exciting finale to the English season."

Nick Matthew, the reigning British National Champion and a winner of the British Grand Prix title in 2007, said: “This is a very exciting time for squash and the elevation of the British Grand Prix to Europe’s leading PSA Super Series World Tour event is further evidence of the success of the men’s international circuit and great news for the players who love playing in front of Manchester’s loyal and knowledgeable crowds”.

Paul Walters, internationalSPORTgroup™ Chief Executive Office , concluded: “We are very appreciative of the continued support of Manchester City Council and are confident that the British Grand Prix will prove to be a hugely successful long term addition to the PSA World Tour.

“Furthermore, the proposed dates of the 15th to 20th September will ensure that this year’s event will be the last major event prior to the Commonwealth Games in India, which in turn will further raise media interest and awareness of the championships,” added Walters.


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