NBF Group Open 2011
19-25 Mar, Montreal, Canada, $35k
Hisham denies Palmer in NBF Final
an entertaining lightning round won by Montreal’s David Phillips,
Egyptian Hisham Ashour, who has impressed the crowd all week with
his array of attacks and unconventional shot selection, took on the
highly accomplished Australian, David Palmer, to contest the final
of the NBF Group Open.
After the contentiousness last night, this match stood out not only
for its high quality, but also for the good spirit and fairness both
players displayed throughout the match.
Ashour came out firing for winners from the first serve, and was
quick to reach 5-1. But in a big momentum swing, Palmer showed he
too could put the ball away and Ashour began finding the tin. As
quick as Ashour had moved ahead, Palmer had levelled 5-5.
Palmer comeback tapered Ashour’s confidence, and the next few
rallies were riddled with errors as they advanced to 8-8. Seeing his
chance, Palmer stepped up the pace and began forcing Ashour around
the court. Two more tins by the Egyptian gave Palmer the first game
ball, and although Ashour found a winning drop from deep on the
backhand, Palmer used his pressure to take the first game 11-9.
In the second, Palmer continued where he left off, imposing his pace
and playing the ball early, and took advantage of a still flat
looking Ashour. But at 0-2 down, Ashour switched on, and as his
movement improved, he began finding his marks at the front.
However, Palmer’s short game was on too, so in the next few rallies
the crowd witnessed spectacular attacking from both players as they
punished each other to 4-4. Two mishit backhands gifted Ashour two
strokes and a two point lead. Sensing his opportunity, Ashour began
retrieving everything and patiently waited for his chance to attack.
Unable to finish the rallies, Palmer started going too low, and
Ashour’s hard work was rewarded with a 10-5 lead.
A couple of winner’s by Palmer rattled Ashour, but luckily for him,
somehow his shoelace came untied. As he took care of it, he
refocused, and Palmers next serve was returned into the front nick,
levelling the match at 1-1.
Both players returned in the third playing full court squash, and
dazzled the crowd with their holds, flicks and gets. Although the
rallies were evenly contested, Ashour emerged with a 4-1 lead.
Gaining confidence with every rally, he now began to move the big
Although Palmer got close to levelling at 3-5, Ashour went on to
dominate the game 11-3, impressing the crowd with his deft touch and
Clearly fired up, Ashour signalled his intentions early in the
fourth as he leapt on his forehand to crush a Palmer lob cross-court
into the nick, and moved ahead 3-1.
seemed to be no stopping the Egyptian as Palmer increasingly
struggled to cope with his deception. But at 9-2 down, Palmer
changed tactics. No longer trying to break Ashour with pace and
pressure, he began floating the ball around the court and gluing it
to the walls.
The pace change unsettled the Egyptian and Palmer narrowed the gap
to 6-9. But an unlucky bounce caught Palmer off guard, and he sent
his drive out of the court to give Ashour his first match ball. In
the final rally, both players attacked and defended, and although
his strings broke midway through, Palmer fought until an Ashour drop
forced him to dive to the front only to see Ashour crush the ball to
the back to claim his first 35K title.
Draw & Results
Group Open 2011
19-25 Mar, Montreal, Canada, $35k
 Laurens Jan Anjema (Ned)
13-11, 12-10, 8-11, 11-4 (89 min)
Shahier Razik (Can)
 Laurens Jan Anjema
11/6, 11/8, 11/8 (54m)
 Laurens Jan Anjema
11-7, 10-12, 11-4, 15-13 (61m)
 Hisham Ashour
 Hisham Ashour
9-11, 11-7, 11-3, 11-6 (46m)
 David Palmer
Stéphane Galifi (Ita)
13-11, 11-7, 11-7 (46 min)
[Q] David Phillips (Can)
Tarek Momen (Egy)
13-11, 11-6, 8-11, 11-8 (65 min)
[Q] Jan Koukal (Cze)
[Q] Jan Koukal
11/9, 11/5, 11/3 (26m)
 Hisham Ashour
Nicolas Mueller (Sui)
7-11, 11-3, 11-5, 11-7 (43 min)
 Hisham Ashour (Egy)
 Adrian Grant Eng)
10-12, 11-4, 11-2, 7-11, 11-7 (75 min)
[Q] Joel Hinds (Eng)
 Adrian Grant
8/11, 11/8, 11/6, 11/9 (90m)
5-11, 11-5, 8-11, 11-8, 11-6 (92m)
 David Palmer
Alister Walker (Eng)
9-11, 12-10, 11-6, 11-5
Shawn Delierre (Can)
Ryan Cuskelly (Aus)
12-10, 8-11, 12-10, 11-2 (84 min)
[Q] Alan Clyne (Sco)
[Q] Alan Clyne
11/9, 6/11, 4/11, 11/3, 11/8 (73m)
 David Palmer
Julian Illingworth (Usa)
7-11, 11-5, 11-7, 11-8 (68 min)
 David Palmer (Aus)
Palmer & Ashour in NBF Final
Australia's David Palmer took a step towards a second
Canadian title in a week as he advanced to the final, but it took a
second consecutive five-game marathon to get there. Twice behind,
Palmer eventually overcame England's Alister Walker in 92 minutes,
and will face Hisham Ashour in the final after the Egyptian
maintained his recent run of good results against top-seeded
Dutchman Laurens Jan Anjema, taking just over the hour to triumph
15/13 in the fourth.
Runa Reta reports
Laurens Anjema v Hisham Ashour¸
The first semi-final match featured the strong Dutchman facing off
against the imaginative Egyptian. Ashour looked ready from point
one, and started off the quicker of the two, going up 7-1 in a
matter of minutes. Having a field day with LJ's poor length that was
coming off the side walls at mid-court, it was perfect striking
range for the Egyptian to hit a mix of deceptive attacking shots,
including a lethal two-wall boast that has been hurting his
opponents all week. Ashour produced a number of errors, but at 10-5
up, there was no doubt he would take the first. And he did 11-7.
The #1 seed strapped on a headband in the second and showed that he
was ready to dig in and get serious. Helped on by a number of errors
from Ashour, LJ established better length and finally started
hitting some winners of his own, taking a 6-2 lead. But Ashour
countered with some scrappy gets to equalize at 6-all, which evoked
an excited pump-fist from the Egyptian who looks leaner and quicker
than ever. A big point at 8-7 ended in a tin by LJ on the backhand
drop, and it looked like Ashour would go up 2-0, however, the
Dutchman did well to keep his nerve and hit a number of tight
winners that allowed him to equalize from 8-10 down, and take the
second game 12-10.
Ashour came on with a renewed onslaught of shot-making in the third,
trying to hit the nick at every given opportunity, and successfully
going up 6-2. At 7-4, the Egyptian hit a ridiculous backhand
volley-drop (shifting the face of the racquet to slice the ball
down- apparently his signature shot) that even got himself clapping
in self-amazement. Insanity continued with two more cross-court
roll-out nicks, to which LJ could only look on helplessly. Ashour
took the third 11-4.
Errors (the Egyptian's Achilles heel) finally started to creep in,
letting the Dutchman get up 8-4 in the fourth. But to his credit,
the lower ranked Egyptian kept clawing his way back, evening out his
errors with fantastic winners. The score was neck and neck from 7-9
onwards. At 10-all, LJ seemed to have decided that he too would try
his luck at going for his shots, but against a player with a family
name like Ashour, it was not a good gamble.
The points went back and forth until the Egyptian hit dying length
at 14-13 to set up match point. And in fitting style, the always
entertaining Hisham Ashour took the match 15-13 with a (surprise,
surprise) backhand drop kill to complete a huge upset, winning 3-1
in 61 minutes.
David Palmer v Alister Walker
The second semi-final match pitted the imposing Australian David
Palmer against the fit and steady Englishman Alistair Walker.
Palmer, who had quite a scare from the speedy Scotsman in
yesterday's quarter-final, again seemed to be having some problems
getting comfortable on the bouncy court today. Walker went up 8-3,
playing a more attacking game than in previous rounds, and mixing up
his shots well. Palmer was sent in the wrong direction on a number
of occasions, making the crowd wonder whether his strapped up ankle
was covering up a real problem. Walker stayed strong and closed out
the first quickly 11-5.
Palmer was visibly upset with the referee right from the start of
the second game, arguing every call at length instead of playing the
game. Nevertheless, the Australian was able to start dominating play
across the T, with Walker yelling out the right observation of his
own loose cross-court shots being systematically picked off: "it's
Despite far too many stoppages due to interference, Palmer was in
control throughout, winning the second comfortably 11-5.
There was not much between the two players in the third. Walker
re-established tight length but was made to work hard to get around
the tree-like Palmer, who claimed it as his right not to have to
move out the way of his opponent after striking his shots. After a
nice hold on a straight drive by Walker at 6-7, Palmer reached down
to his ankle wincing slightly. Two errors by Palmer put the
Englishman up 9-7, and he didn't look back, taking the game 11-8.
This match-up may have looked completely different if it had been
played on a glass court, but on the warm conditions in the snowy
city of Montreal, Palmer seemed unable to really hurt Walker, who
was picking up most shots and taking advantage of his opportunities.
The Englishman came out attacking in the fourth, taking a 3-0 lead,
and taking some risk as he went for his shots. A long rally at 5-all
sent both scrambling and Palmer eventually diving into the wall,
banging his hand into the wall.
He was okay, however, and play continued. Walker kept his nerve
taking the edge again 7-5, but then hit two unnecessary errors to
let the Australian back in 7-all. Again at 8-all, both players
started going ballistic over calls that were being made, as the
contact mounted and neither seemed able to play any shot. Palmer
threatened to forfeit the match, Walker was given a conduct warning
after again making the correct observation: "this is just
In short, it was not a pretty game, but somehow Palmer came out on
top 11-8 after much diving, blocking, cursing and conduct warning.
The ref had to have a pep talk with the two naughty children after
the fourth, which I doubt had any calming effect on either of them.
A bit more squash was played in the fifth, with Palmer collecting
his game and hitting some nice winners, while Walker grew
increasingly frustrated trying to go through to play his shots
(unsuccessfully) and getting no-lets. Palmer took a string of points
to take the lead, which was enough to put him through. A
disconsolate Englishman walked off the court, having lost the game
11-6 and the match 3-2, in an anti-climactic finish to an explosive
So the veteran David Palmer lives to see another day, and will face
the firing Egyptian Hisham Ashour in tomorrow's final.
Draw & Results
Gen Lessard reports
LJ Anjema vs Stephane Galifi
The third quarterfinal match was between LJ Anjema and Stephane
Galifi. Stephane started a little slow in the first, maybe getting
used to the glove he was wearing tonight, and LJ took a quick 4-0
lead after a tin and a few loose crosscourts that LJ put in the nick
in the front. Galifi started tightening up and got LJ moving a bit
more, coming back to 4-7. At 8-4,both players played a long rally,
hitting good length and adding a few drops to move each other. A few
strokes and no-lets brought the game to 10-5, and LJ won the first
game 11-5 on a crosscourt into the tin by Galifi.
In the second game, LJ started out strong, using very tight shots
and forcing Galifi to hit a few looser ones. LJ found the nick in
the front three times, getting the score up to 4-1. Galifi started
going short before LJ could, LJ reaching far for every shot, and
equalled the score at 4-4, but two errors by Galifi gave LJ a lead
again at 6-4. The next points saw about 10 or 15 lets, both players
attacking without taking too many risks, and getting into each
other’s way to the ball. Galifi made a few more unforced errors than
LJ and lost that game 11-8.
In the third, points went to 2-2 after 4 unforced errors. The
rallies were now pretty equal, both players using tight lengths,
going short a few times, and playing some shots on the volley, but
not enough to punish the other. At 6-5 for LJ, LJ hits a winner into
the nick, and Galifi takes a little break and asks the ref what the
call would have been if the ball popped up. This break didn’t really
help him though, as he hits a tin and a ball out, now down 9-6.
Galifi played the next rally by taking the ball early on every shot,
and came back at 7-9.
LJ hit a dead crosscourt nick off the serve to have 10-7 match ball.
Galifi tins the next and LJ takes the match in 3.
Jan Koukal vs Hisham Ashour
In the last match of the match, we were expecting a lot of attacking
by Ashour. In the first rallies, Hisham used many attacking boast to
move Koukal, but mostly to keep him from guessing the next shot,
which he has been doing very well in his previous matches. Ashour
takes a 8-4 lead with a few winners and good holds. Jan replied with
similar attacking shots that took Ashour by surprise, to equal the
score at 8-8. Hisham took the first game 11-9 after moving Koukal
three times to the front with almost-perfect drops.
In the second, Koukal took at quick 3-0 with a perfect kill and
errors by Ashour. The rallies in the second remain very short, with
a ball sent to the front at every 3 or 4 shots. Ashour takes the
game 11-5 with better accuracy and a few errors by Koukal.
In the third, Ashour was again in control, making very few errors
but many winners, and using his holds to get Koukal twisting the
wrong way. Koukal was doing a good job of defending himself, but got
a little anxious and went for winners as soon as he had a bit of an
opening, many of them finding the tin. Ashour wins the match in 3,
11-3 in the third.
and from Mike Reid ...
In the first quarterfinal between Adrian Grant and Alister Walker,
it was clear from the early rallies that the match would be a long
Both players started basic, establishing their length and finding
their width but at 3-3, Walker stepped up the pace and began taking
the ball earlier and looking to take it short. His aggression paid
off as he pulled away to 6-3, but 3 unforced errors allowed Grant to
level as he began to match Walker’s pace. A string of lets at 7-8,
was followed by a quick run by Grant, and he was at 10-7. A Walker
hold sent Grant the wrong way to make it 8-10, but in the next rally
Walker’s dive was in vain as Grant put the next ball away and closed
out the first game.
Walker came out flying in the second, and was quick to establish a
3-1 lead. But Grant did well to absorb the increased pressure from
Walker, using his lob from the front and off-pace lengths to contain
Walker’s attacks. But from 6-6, Walker managed to pull away, and at
10-7 found just the right width on his cross-court kill to evade
Grant’s desperate lunge, levelling the match at 1-1.
Walker came out fast again in the third and thanks to some
uncharacteristic errors by Grant, moved quickly to 4-0. As both
players upped the pace, Grant’s counter attacks began to find their
mark and he nearly levelled at 4-5. But a not-up call against Grant
threw off his concentration, and Walker widened the gap to 8-4.
Despite a couple of errors, some great attacks by Walker earned him
a game ball at 10-6. Walker then launched a flurry of attacks, and
although Grant retrieved what seemed like 3 winners, the fourth
proved too much and Walker took the lead 2-1.
The first half of the fourth was plagued with strings of unforced
errors by both players and lots of lets, as they fought for position
and tried to take the ball increasingly early. With a few breaks for
discussions with the refs, they slowly worked their way up to 8-8.
Despite both players taking their turn attacking and defending, the
next two rallies ended with Grant not being able to pull Walker’s
backhand drives off the wall, earning Walker a match ball.
Grant pulled one back thanks to a Walker tin, but in the next rally
a loose drive that both players seemed to expect to play a let on
was called a stroke, and to Grant’s frustration and the surprise of
many in the crowd, the 90 minute match was over and Walker became
the first to advance to tomorrow’s semi-finals.
On paper, Scotsman Alan Clyne, one of two qualifiers to make it into
the quarterfinals, seemed to be a long-shot against the highly
accomplished Australian, David Palmer. Palmer came out hitting hard
and taking the ball early, making Clyne do a lot of work in the
This tactic seemed to be paying off as Palmer quickly established a
6-1 lead. But some great gets and a few quick counters caught Palmer
by surprise and Clyne slowly narrowed the gap to 3-6 and then 6-9.
Although Palmer continued to dictate the pace, Clyne didn’t seem to
mind the pressure, and used his speed to force a couple of errors
from the Palmer racket, and moved to 8-9. But Palmer showed his
experience as he tightened up, and one straight drop that clung to
the wall, followed by a forehand kill, locked up the game 11-8.
In the second, Clyne came out determined and raced ahead 4-1. Palmer
tried to up the pace up and unsettle the Scottsman, but Clyne hung
in. Palmer was clearly having difficulty lunging and changing
direction on his braced ankle, and Clyne took every opportunity to
counter attack the big Australian, and used quick flicks to break up
his fluid movement. Clyne slowly moved up to 10-6, and after Palmer
guessed wrong for the third successive point, Clyne had tied it up
Palmer, still struggling with his movement, continued where he left
off, applying constant pressure and moving Clyne around the court.
Nevertheless, Clyne continued to withstand it, and waited for his
chance to quickly counter.
Some great drops by Clyne, and a string of mistakes by Palmer, gave
Clyne a 9-4 lead. In the next rally, a seemingly minor collision
between the players on the T sent Palmer to the ground clutching his
right ankle, but play resumed after only a few minutes. With Clyne
serving for the game, Palmer tried to up the pace again but misread
him at the front, and Clyne took the lead 2-1.
Many in the crowd were beginning to write Palmer off, and as the
players moved to 3-3, it looked as though an upset was in the works.
But midway, Palmer changed tactics and began playing Clyne
predominantly in the back, limiting his chances to hurt him with the
counters that had previously been so effective. Clyne struggled to
respond, and Palmer took the game 11-3.
In the fifth, Palmer was clearly moving better, and again used his
length and holds in an attempt to break the Scotsman’s resolve. And
it seemed to work. But at 7-3, Clyne began to dig in, and some great
gets kept forcing Palmer to play one extra shot. While Clyne began
to find some winners of his own, Palmer began to miss, and the game
levelled at 8-8.
But again Palmer steadied, playing long patient rallies, and not
taking any chances at the front. Eventually, one length and a
straight drop were two tight for Clyne, and Palmer had his first
match ball. In the next rally a short crosscourt caught the nick,
and it was enough to end Clyne’s great run and move Palmer on to the
Draw & Results
22-Mar-11, Round One (bottom)
Grant vs Hinds
The first match of the night saw two England representatives trying
to gain a spot into the quarter-finals. Obviously Grant was favoured
The first game saw both players trying to establish their lengths
with some long rallies. At 5-5, the two collided on the T with both
players clutching their ankle. Hinds needed a short break but was
able to get back on court. Grant then gave up 3 game balls with 3
shots into the tin, giving the first game to Hinds.
In the second game, Adrian started strongly to take a quick 6-2 lead
by controlling the T and making Hinds do most of the work. Too many
errors from Hinds gave the game to the lefty 11-4.
The 3rd game was quite similar with Grant getting more and more
confident. Hinds looked very tired while Grant ran everything down.
The beginning of the 4th game was also pretty quick with Grant
taking a 7-3 lead. But he lost his focus on a close call and let
Hinds back into the match. Grant’s errors opened the door and Hinds
seemed to get fired up. Three more mistakes and Hinds took the
The 5th game was a repeat with Grant taking a quick lead to 7-2. But
this time, he stayed ahead and took the match in 75 minutes.
Delierre vs Walker
La wildcard du tournoi et le favori de la foule, le Montréalais
Shawn Delierre était à l’œuvre dans ce deuxième affrontement de la
soirée. Il faisait face au champion de l’édition 2009, l’Anglais et
top 20 mondial, Alister Walker.
Au début du premier jeu, les échanges furent chaudement disputés et
surtout très longs. L’Anglais prit une avance de 7-4 mais Shawn
n’avait pas dit son dernier mot. Quelques coups gagnants de sa part
et des erreurs d’impatience d’Alister ont effacé le déficit, et
Shawn a remporté la partie 11-9.
Tout au long de la deuxième partie les échanges étaient longs et
épuisants pour les deux joueurs. Shawn faisait travailler l’Anglais
avec ses nombreux « working boasts » et ce dernier ripostait avec de
nombreuses volées. La fin de la partie était remplie de plusieurs «
lets », mais deux « no-let » de suite ont permis à Alister de gagner
cette deuxième partie.
Le début de la troisième partie fut marqué par de nombreux échanges
rapides ponctués de plusieurs décisions des arbitres. Deux « no-let
» et un « stroke » contre Shawn donnent l’avance à Alister 6-2, mais
avec deux amortis parfaits, Delierre revient à 4-6 et la foule se
met de la partie avec des encouragements pour le Montréalais. Par la
suite, Walker domine la plupart des échanges et remporte la partie
La quatrième partie fut assez rapide avec l’Anglais qui prit une
avance considérable de 10-3 pour ensuite échapper 2 balles de match,
mais Shawn finit par s’envoyer la balle au corps pour s’avouer
vaincu 11-5 et 3-1.
Ryan Cuskelly vs Alan Clyne
This match between two small and quick players promised a lot of
excitement. The Scottish Alan Clyne already had 2 wins in this
tournament. Would he be able to keep it up? The lefty from
Australia, Ryan Cuskelly, is back in Montreal for a 2nd year in a
The first game saw both players hitting most of their shots to the
back of the court with Clyne trying to open the court and Cuskelly
answering with good volley drops. The score was pretty close for
most of the game bringing both players to 10-10. Then a boast into
the nick and a stroke on a disputed call gave the Scot the first
The second game started with both players trying to attack a bit
more, but the rallies were still long. Cuskelly started to get
frustrated with a few calls and earned a conduct warning by throwing
the ball out of the court. Both players were still hitting the ball
with power resulting with many balls coming back into the middle.
Cuskelly added a bit of hold in the last few points and won the game
The third game also started with long and intense rallies. Cuskelly
was trying to attack more by taking the ball in but Clyne was able
to get to every shot. He was also trying to change the pace of the
game. Ryan seemed to get a bit frustrated with some of the calls by
the refs. Ryan took an injury break at 11-10 for something pinched
in the forearm. But Clyne ended the game with a beautiful drop shot
in the front-right corner to win 12-10.
The fourth game saw Alan taking an early lead of 4-2 with some good
counter-drops. Then Ryan got a cramp in his left hand and Clyne
quickly won 11-2 to move to quarter-finals in an 89 minute match.
David Palmer vs Illingworth
The last encounter of the night saw the top US and the top
Australian players battling out for a spot in the quarter-finals.
Palmer just won his last tournament in Calgary. Would he be able to
keep it up after 4 long matches at high altitude?
The first game saw long rallies to begin, both players putting the
ball in well and Palmer using great kills on his forehand side but
Illingworth having great answers with counter-drops. Palmer seemed
to get a bit frustrated at the end of the game and Julian took the
In the second game Palmer tried to increase the pace by volleying
more and hitting the ball with more power, especially on his
forehand. He kept the ball tight on his back-hand to force Julian to
hit looser balls. Tins, as well as loose shots from Julian, gave
Palmer the second game 11-5.
The third game saw both players working really hard. At the
beginning, Palmer was controlling the rallies by volleying almost
everything and putting the ball into the front corners. Both players
worked hard to retrieve great drops and kills at the front. But
Palmer seemed to get the better of these rallies with tighter drop
shots and took the game 11-7.
The fourth game saw Illingworth taking an early 4-1 lead and Palmer
looked frustrated with some of the calls. But he came back quickly
to even the score at 4-4. The following rallies saw both players
doing gruesome work retrieving every shot deep in all corners. The
end of the match saw more controversy with the calls, as a let was
played following a nick in the back of the court, after Illingworth
had won the rally. He then got awarded a conduct stroke to give
Palmer a match ball. Palmer was able to capitalize and reaches the
Draw & Results
22-Mar, Round One, Bottom:
Clyne cuts Cuskelly in Montreal
The second day's first round play in Montreal again saw the
seeded players stretched, as Scotland's Alan Clyne carried on
his qualifying heroics to make the quarter-finals.
Second seed David Palmer, looking for a second Canadian
title inside a week, took 68 minutes to see off the challenge of
Julian Illingworth after dropping the first game to the US number
Palmer now meets Clyne, who outlasted Australian Ryan Cuskelly, who
was suffering from cramp towards the end of their 84-minute four
Third seed Adrian Grant survived a see-saw five game
encounter with qualifier Joel Hinds, and now faces another
Englishman in Alister Walker, who came from a game down
against Shawn Delierre to end Canadian interest.
21-Mar, Round One, Top:
Seeds stretched as Koukal
qualifies for Montreal quarters
Runa Reta reports...
Hisham Ashour bt Nicolas Mueller 3/1
The first game started a bit slowly, with both opponents trying to
feel each other out and get used to the court conditions. There was
not much between the two, as they exchanged short rallies that
contained many more angles than we saw in the previous marathon
between LJ and Razik. Mueller drew first blood, taking the game 11-7
due to a number of unforced errors from Ashour, who was likely
coming onto the court a bit wary of his Swiss opponent, who had a
fine run in Calgary last week.
Hisham came back much more assertively in the second, taking the
ball early and making good use of a wide range of attacking boasts.
The Swiss man was on his back foot as Ashour took a 5-1 lead and
never relented. He took the game 11-3.
The Egyptian continued hitting with creative flair and brilliance,
to which Mueller obliged with his own array of attacking shots and
impressive counter-drops. The result was a bit of an erratic (but
highly entertaining) game, with Ashour keeping an edge throughout,
showing why he is the higher ranked player; he took the third 11-5.
The fourth was again a streaky affair, with almost as many shots
going to the front of the court than to the back. Though Mueller
valiantly tried to compete with Ashour on the ingenuity scale, he
could not quite keep up, and 4 errors in the game cost him the
match, as the Egyptian took the fourth 11-7 and the match 3-1.
Jan Koukal bt Tarek Momen 3/1
This contest saw two diminutive players facing off against each
other- both whizzing around the court, hitting at a fast past and
going for their shots from the get-go; in fact, neither one looking
interested in working the rallies any longer than they had to.
Taking any half-opportunity to attack, the result was an up and down
game of winners and errors, and a close affair in the first. At
10-all, the rallies lengthened out, and the pace varied as each
displayed their varied arsenal of shots. Unfortunately, Momen was
let down by an unwarranted no-let at 12-11 which gave the first game
The second was neck and neck until 6-all, when Koukal pulled away,
thanks to some cutting kill shots, a few calls in his favour, and a
number of unforced errors from Momen, who didn`t seem able to get
ahead of his opponent. Koukal took the second 11-6.
The rallies extended in the third game, though there was a
noticeable increase in physical contact, and many loose balls from
which each could attack. At 5-all, Koukal made three critical
unforced errors that were enough to allow Momen to pull away to
10-5. Three solid points from Koukal brought him to 8-10, but that
was as far as he could get. The Egyptian took the third game 11-8.
Momen started the fourth with greater spring and confidence, but
Koukal stayed with him to 5-all, with both players still looking
fresh and energetic. However, four unnecessary errors from the
Egyptian at 8-7, 9-7, 9-8, and 10-8 betrayed his youth and sealed
his fate, as qualifier Koukal completed the upset, winning the
fourth 11-8 in 65 minutes. He advances to the quarter-finals with
this 3-1 win.
Mike Reid reports ...
Stephane Galifi bt David Phillips 3/0
The first match of the night saw one of the qualifiers and the MAA’s
own, David Phillips, take on Italian, Stéphane Galifi. Phillips
looked comfortable on his home court from the beginning, applying
pressure with crisp length and straight kills. Galifi, on the other
hand, seemed content absorbing Phillips’ pressure with some great
gets and counter-attacks.
There wasn’t much between them until Phillips pulled ahead 8-6 after
Galifi slipped changing directions--he then received a conduct
warning for slamming the wall in frustration. After a few short
rallies ending in a stroke and two tinned drop attempts, Phillips
had his first game ball at 10-7. But a couple of tough rallies and a
Phillips tin at 9-10 allowed Galifi to level and push the first game
into a tiebreak. A long rally culminated in Galifi diving in
desperation to retrieve Phillips’ two-wall boast, only to see his
lob get smashed down the wall to give Philllips another game ball.
In the next rally Galifi dove again but this time Phillips missed
his opening, and he put the ball into the tin, allowing Galifi to
level again at 11-11.
The next few rallies were intense and after a few lets, two winning
backhand drops earned Galifi the game and he moved ahead 1-0.
In the second, Phillips appeared more tentative in his shot
selection, choosing to rally more rather than impose his game as he
had previously. Meanwhile, Galifi seemed energized from the last
game and began to increasingly dictate the pace and move Philips
around the court.
Starting to find his range at the front, it wasn’t long before
Galifi was ahead 7-2, and looked ready to close out the game. But
Phillips slotted in a few winners to move to 7-10. Just as it seemed
that Phillips might mount a comeback, Galifi smashed his next serve
crosscourt into the front nick, taking a 2-0 lead
The crowd got behind Phillips in the third, and this game saw the
most attacking as each player enjoyed streaky periods until they
levelled at 6-6. But after some great rallies, with both players
attacking and retrieving at will, Galifi managed to pull away to
10-6. To the disappointment of the home crowd, it wasn’t long before
Phillips found the tin on a straight kill, and Galifi emerged the
winner 3-0 in 46 minutes.
LJ Anjema bt Shahier Razik 3/1
Many predicted the second match between the tournament’s top seed
Lauren Jan Anjema and Canadian #1 Shahier Razik would be a long one,
and they weren’t disappointed. There wasn’t much between them in the
first game as Anjema used his power and consistency to pressure
Razik, who countered with his smooth movement and ability to close
down the court.
They went point for point, enduring long, gruelling rallies all the
way to 10-10. But then, several lets upset the flow of the game, as
neither player was willing to give up any space in the middle of the
court. Eventually, Razik hit the top of the tin with a boast trying
to move Anjema to the front, and in the next rally, Anjema’s
crosscourt found the nick, ending the game in his favour 12-10.
The second was more of the same, long rallies and lots of lets, with
Anjema managing to hold a slight lead up to 10-7. However, a couple
of unforced errors and then an Anjema slip on a Razik hold, allowed
Razik to level at 10-10. But Razik’s comeback was short-lived as
Anjema responded with a straight kill on his backhand, and then a
serve into the nick to close out the game.
Anjema opened the third with another serve into the nick, and then
the players returned to brutally moving each other around the court.
Several lets later, the players drew level again at 5-5. But two
strokes against Anjema left him frustrated, and Razik, quick to take
advantage, moved ahead to 10-6. Anjema narrowed the gap to 8-10, but
his next attempt at a kill clipped the tin and his lead was reduced
In the fourth, Anjema came out refocused and looked intent on
finishing the match. Although Razik got close to levelling at 4-5,
he seemed to unable to absorb the increased pressure Anjema had
begun to apply. It wasn’t long before Anjema was up 10-4, and one
loose ball at the front was all he needed as he cracked a crosscourt
past Razik to finish the game 11-4, and closed out the match 3-1 in
Draw & Results
Qualifying complete in Montreal
Gen Lessard reports
Galvez vs Clyne
The first match of the day was between Alan Clyne and Eric Galvez.
Galvez started the match in force, moving Clyne from corner to
corner and dictating the rallies. Galvez was quick to volley,
staying solidly on the T, and using great lengths and kills, and is
up 3-1. The next rallies were very fast paced, Clyne starting to
move Galvez to the front of the court with good drops. Galvez then
hit two unforced errors, to have Clyne up at 5-4. Clyne continued
his use of the front left corner and forced Galvez to hit two shots
back to himself. He ended the game on two winners at the front, 11-5
The beginning of the second game saw both players being more
patient, extending the rallies and not going for anything risky. The
second rally saw both players doing tremendous effort to get shots
from the front, finishing with a perfect drop by Clyne to take a 2-0
lead. Galvez started going for winning kills on his forehand,
hitting 1 winner and 1 error. He seemed to be running out of steam
in the middle of the game, as Clyne was making him stretch and reach
for every ball. Clyne won the 2nd 11-4 after 3 errors from Galvez.
The third was definitely the best game of the match for Galvez, who
seemed to look stronger and calmer on court. Galvez took a 4-2 lead
as he tightened his shots and went short before Clyne. Galvez
extended his lead to 5-2 by putting Clyne under pressure. The next
rallies saw both players hitting very few shots to the front,
waiting for the opponent to make a mistake. Clyne started pushing
Galvez to the front again, bringing the score to 6-6. Galvez then
went up to 8-6 after an error from Clyne and a perfect drop.
Galvez now seemed to be very tired, and tinned 3 drop shots. Clyne
ended the match on a perfect cross court that Galvez couldn’t reach.
Clyne will play against Ryan Cuskelly on Tuesday.
Knight vs Hinds
In the beginning of the match between Martin Knight and Joel Hinds,
the ball was pretty bouncy and both players were looking to find
their length. Hinds took a lead 5-2 by putting a lot of pressure on
Knight using low kills from the backhand side. Knight was then able
to bring the score to 6-6 by hitting perfect drops on loose shots
The next rallies were played mostly in the back, each player hitting
tight lengths and trying to twist the other when they had the
opportunity; Martin was able to use a loose shot and hit a winning
drop to take the lead 8-7. Hinds seemed to be losing his length,
between loose and either too short or too long, not able to
capitalize on Martin’s loose shots. Martin had game ball at 10-7,
but returned 3 sets of loose shots that put him under pressure and
brought Hinds back to 10-10. Hinds took the first game 12-10 on a
controversial no-let after Hinds hit Knight.
In the second game, Hinds was more in control of the game, being
aggressive to the front and adding in a lot of drops on the backhand
side, while Knight was unable to punish Hinds on his loose shots. A
lucky front wall nick gave Hinds a 7-3 lead. Knight then started
using the front court again, and able to come back to 5-8. He
tightened up his game and became more patient, controlling the
rallies and twisting Hinds, and was able to come back to 8-9. Hinds
came back with kills and attacking shots to win the second game
The third saw Hinds frustrated by a few calls and losing a bit of
concentration. Knight took a quick lead to 5-2. Knight played some
great cross court drops from the front that took Hinds by surprise,
and was up 7-5. In the second part of the game, we had a great
display of fitness by Knight as he was put under a lot of pressure
by Hinds on the backhand side, moving him front and back, but Knight
fought through and won the game on a perfect crosscourt nick 11-7.
In the beginning of the 4th, Knight clearly seemed more confident in
his shots and was dictating the rallies. Hinds looked a bit tired
and frustrated with some calls, and was quickly down 4-0. Two errors
by Knight and a perfect drop by Hinds saw Hinds back in the game at
3-5. Knight then took a lead at 8-4, after making some incredible
retrieving, Hinds looking like he doesn’t know what shots to play to
win the rallies.
Knight had a 4 point lead at 10-6 after a few errors by Hinds, but
Hinds seemed to regain focus, and caught Knight offguard on a few
shots to get back to 8-10. Hinds brought the score equal at 10-10
with some great rallies on the backhand side, and got a first match
ball when Knight hit a boast into the tin. Knight was able to save
on, but then lost two points on very tight shots by Hinds, who won
the match 3-1. Hinds will play Adrian Grant tomorrow.
Phillips vs Schnell
Le match entre David Philips et Andrew Schnell a fait un gros
contraste avec le match précédent de Knight versus Hinds, comme les
échanges étaient beaucoup plus rapides, les deux joueurs cherchant
les coups gagnants. Dans la 1e partie, Phillips cherche à attaquer
tous les coups décollés du mur d’Andrew, surtout avec des ‘kills’
sur le coup droit. Andrew réussi à rester dans les échanges, mais
sans vraiment faire mal à David, qui a une avance de 6-5. David
gagne les prochains échanges avec des coups retenus, ne laissant pas
la chance à Andrew de deviner où ira la balle. Il gagne la 1e 11-8.
Dans la 2e, David commence en force en faisant arrêter Andrew et
l’obligeant à deviner avec des bons coups retenus, il gagne 3-0.
David perd un peu de patience et donne des points à Schnell avec des
coups dans la ‘tin’ et des mauvais choix, Schnell prend l’avance
5-4. David essaie encore de forcer le jeu au lieu d’être patient et
Andrew prend de la confiance dans son jeu en avant, Schnell gagne la
Dans la 3e, David redevient patient et fait des coups moins risqués
à l’avant du terrain, il prend l’avance 2-0. Les deux joueurs font
ensuite une série de coups gagnants et d’erreurs, et essaient
d’attaquer à l’avant du terrain dès qu’ils ont la chance. Phillips
prendre une bonne avance de 8-4 alors qu’Andrew mets des coups dans
la tin et se retrouve sur la défensive, donnant des balles dans le
centre du terrain à Phillips qui utilisent ces opportunités et gagne
la partie 11-4.
Dans la 4e partie, Schnell prend le contrôle dès le début avec une
série de coups gagnants à l’avant et du jeu très près du mur sur le
revers, il prend l’avance 6-2. Phillips se concentre et veut
vraiment gagner cette 4e partie, il utilise des coups qui ne sont
pas dans son répertoire habituel et surprend Schnell en ramener le
pointage à 6-7. Phillips utilise ce regain d’énergie, et Schnell
visiblement nerveux fait quelques erreurs de suite. Phillips
capitalise avec des coups gagnants dans les coins arrières, et la
partie se termine sur une erreur de Schnell, Phillips gagnant donc
3-1. Il jouera contre Stéphane Galifi demain.
Qualifying under way at MAA
Runa Reta reports
Rafael Alarcon v Andrew Schnell
Though his Canadian compatriot couldn't pull off an upset in the
previous match, it was a good day for the ginger-haired Andrew
Schnell, who beat Rafael Alarcon 3-1.
The first game started with both players firing away, trying to
settle down on the bouncy court. The experienced Alarcon maintained
a slight edge over young Canadian Andrew Schnell, closing out the
first game 11-9, with not much between the two players. The fast and
fit Canadian upped the tempo noticeably in the second game, which
started to have its effect on the Brazilian mid-way through. The
Canadian rattled off 5 points in a row to take the game 11-6.
It was more of the same in the third, with Schnell taking the ball
early and hitting a series of winners off of impressive dying
length. Alarcon had no answer, and Schnell took the game in full
control, 11-3. An Injury break was taken from Schnell in between
games for bleeding, which threatened to pull him out of his groove,
but he managed to keep close to Alarcon in the 4th, though not
dictating with the same pace and authority as before.
It was clear that the match's outcome would depend on Schnell, as
Alarcon was doing more or less of the same throughout. In the end,
the Canadian did well to keep his composure after a streaky period
of unforced errors mixed with all-out winners (including a
successful cross-court nick attempt at 10-all). Schnell completed
the upset by taking the match 12-10; an impressive performance for
the up-and-coming Canadian, on his first year of the PSA tour.
David Phillips v Maxime Blouin
Two locals were facing off against one another, the in-form Phillips
against the youthful Quebecois Maxim Blouin. Though Blouin is much
improved, Phillips was comfortable throughout, dictating the pace
with crisp shots and cutting winners; he took the first 11-3.
In the second, a number of errors from Blouin added to his
frustration and only made things easier for Phillips, who won the
second 11-2, and 11-4 in the third, to take the match 3-0.
Maxym Leclair v Zac Alexander
Left-handed local Maxym Leclair had the odds stacked against him, as
he was facing the confident Australian Zac Alexander, but the
Canadian made the most of the opportunity by staying in the rallies,
and surprising his opponent with a few early winners.
But a cracking cross-court roller from the Australian at 8-4
reminded Leclair and the audience who was boss. He took the next 3
points to win the first comfortably 11-4. Alexander seemed like in a
rush to get off court, and set a blistering pace in the second, to
which Leclair could simply not contend; the second ended quickly,
Leclair was finally able to engage his opponent in some longer
rallies in the third, getting to 4 points, partly due to some
impatient errors by Alexander (who was still rushing and couldn't
seem bothered to even wait for the score to be called). The
Australian ended the match on 3 dead nicks, taking the game 11-4,
and the match 3-0.
Jan Koukal v Chris Gordon
The final match of the day promised to be a competitive one between
the American Chris Gordon and Czech Jan Koukal who was encouraged by
a very important friend in the stands this afternoon- Montreal
Canadian's star hockey player Thomas Plekanec.
Despite the long rallies, Koukal took the first comfortably 11-3,
mostly due to 5 unforced errors by Gordon. The lanky American
returned in the second resolved to dig in and cut down the errors;
he took the lead 5-3, and aided by poor length from the Czech,
managed to stay ahead. But two errors allowed Koukal to equalize,
and it was neck and neck from 7-all onwards. Two no-lets awarded
against Koukal was enough to throw him off his concentration and
help Gordon take the second 12-10.
Gordon was looking the more assertive and positive of the two in the
third, as Koukal's head started to bow a bit, and a number of errors
hurt him; Gordon took the third quickly, 11-7. Gordon raced out to a
5-1 lead in the fourth, playing patiently and hitting tight length,
while Koukal didn't seem willing to do anything other than follow
Gordon's straight-forward play, and hope for his opponent to crack.
Gordon produced 4 errors in the second half of the game that didn't
help his cause, and allowed the rather flustered Czech to take the
fourth 12-10. Koukal awoke somewhat from his slumber, and started
hitting with more authority in the fifth, mixing in some boasts and
straight drops from the back to take an 8-3 lead.
Gordon clawed his way back with some great pick-ups, reaching 9-10,
and then hitting a leaping forehand smash that levelled the game at
10-all. Though the American looked like he wanted it more and was
ready to take the match, he ended with an error, and a stroke call
against him that led to the angry flinging of the racquet, and a
very lucky and narrow win for Koukal.
Mike Reid reports
Joel Hinds v Eric Dingle
The match started quite basic with both players trying to find their
length and get a feel for the court. Hinds moved to a quick 3-1 lead
and his increasing comfort on the court became apparent as he
started to stretch Dingle, twisting him, and often sending him the
wrong way with his holds. Hinds went on to take the first with
relative ease 11-3.
The rest of the match followed much of the same pattern. Dingle
hanged in for patches with some impressive gets and few great kills,
but Hinds’ length and holds proved too much for Dingle, and he took
the final 2 games decisively 11-5 and 11-7. With only 26 minutes on
court, Hinds should be fresh for tomorrow’s qualifying finals.
Martin Knight v Gilly Lane
The second qualifying match pitted the #4 against #6 qualifier and
on paper, promised lots of excitement. The first game began with
long rallies and was played at a much faster pace than the previous
match. But both players were clearly struggling to adjust to the
court as the balls were loose, and the length was over-hit,
resulting in much of the play taking place in the middle of the
court. A couple of straight kills gave Lane an early 3-1 lead.
As Knight closed the gap, both players started to find their range
and began to move each other around the court. They advanced point
for point with Knight winning a monster rally to level at 9-9. Lane
went for the nick off the serve, but found the tin instead. The
final rally was anticlimactic as an unthreatening crosscourt by
Knight floated into the sidewall nick and rolled out at Lane’s feet.
In the second, a clearly irritated Lane produced a string of
unforced errors, which combined with some winners by Knight, to move
Knight ahead quickly to 9-0. Lane seemed to refocus momentarily and
pegged back two points, but another unforced error and a crosscourt
flick that sent Lane the wrong way, gave Knight the second 11-2.
The final game produced the best squash of the match as both player
began to play more structured rallies and calculatedly moved each
other around the court. As the quality of the squash increased, so
did the tension, resulting in both players appealing for far more
lets than in the previous games.
However, Knight held the lead throughout the game, and although Lane
got close to levelling at 5-7, some tight squash from Knight, mixed
with a couple more unforced errors from Lane, gave Knight the game
11-5 and the match 3-0 in 45 minutes
Scott Arnold v Alan Clyne
The third match of the day saw Australian Scot Arnold take on the
Scotsman Alan Clyne. There wasn’t much between the two during the
early part of the first game, but Clyne established a two-point lead
thanks mainly to a couple of fortunate/unfortunate bounces.
From that point on, Arnold began dictating the rallies, moving the
Scotsman around the court and moved ahead 7-5. However, the Scot
didn’t seem to mind being shown the four corners of the court, and
as he continued to return everything thrown at him, Arnold appeared
to become increasingly frustrated. With a few tight lengths and an
irretrievable drop, Clyne moved ahead to 9-7.
But a drop that stuck to the left wall and a forehand kill, allowed
Arnold to level. After a long tense rally, Arnold’s mid-court boast
clipped the tin, and then Clyne didn’t waste much time as he put in
a winning drop on the first opening, and took the game 11-9.
Arnold came out firing in the second and established a quick lead
with some great kills and accurate backhand volley drops. Some good
retrieving from Clyne again frustrated Arnold, who made a few
unforced errors to bring Clyne to 5-7. But Arnold steadied, started
to hit his targets at the back of the court again and went up to
10-5. A couple of great counters, combined with two unforced errors
from Arnold brought Clyne to 9-10. But Arnold managed to bear down,
and he intercepted Clyne’s crosscourt from the front left and
hammered it to dying length just past Clyne’s reach, and levelled
the match at 1-1.
The third game took off at fast pace, with both players showing
confidence going short. Arnold pulled away midway with a couple of
impressive kills and took a 5-3 lead. Clyne seemed to lose his way a
bit, losing his width and length. Arnold took full advantage
punishing Clyne at the front, as he moved ahead 9-5.
Some great retrieving from Clyne seemed to contribute to a couple of
unforced errors from Arnold, and Clyne closed the gap to 7-9. A
tight forehand drop gave Arnold his first game ball, but he lobbed
out to give Clyne another chance. A great rally with an array of
attacks and gets from both players ended in an outrageous down call
from the ref, who immediately apologised and asked the players to
replay the point. Both expressed their frustration with this
untimely error, but after little discussion decided to get on with
it. A tight drop in the front left forced Clyne to lob out, and
Arnold took the game 11-8 and he moved ahead 2-1.
Both players started the fourth attacking at every opportunity and
quickly moved to 4-4. But a string of errors from Arnold’s racket
handed Clyne a rather eventless fourth game 11-5.
In the fifth both players demonstrated their determination to win,
as each played patient and careful squash. Arnold eventually moved
ahead 4-2 with some punishing lengths off Clyne’s loose crosscourts.
The next few rallies were brutal as neither player was willing to
give an inch and retrieved everything thrown at them.
Never more than a point between them, they slowly moved up to 8-8,
with most points coming from unforced errors. The next rally was
massive with Arnold moving the resilient Clyne around the court
until he finally got a loose ball in the front right. But his drop
caught the top of the tin and Clyne moved ahead 9-8. Nevertheless,
Arnold bounced back, crushing a forehand volley into the nick,
levelling again at 9-9.
Another long rally, but Clyne’s counter-drop was beyond Arnold’s
reach, giving Clyne his first match ball. Clyne hit a loose
crosscourt that Arnold lined up for a straight kill, but to Clyne’s
relief, he clipped the tin and put an end to the 84 minute
Andrew McDougall v Eric Galvez
Both Mcdougal and Galvez started out at a fast pace, but Galvez
found his length earlier as Mcdougal seemed to struggle with his
timing. After a series of lets, both seemed content to play basic
squash and took turns mixing winning drops with unforced errors as
Galvez built a 9-7 lead. A loose ball from Galvez down the backhand
wall won Mcdougal a stroke and he moved to 8-9. But two Galvez holds
fooled Mcdougal and he finished the game 11-8.
Mcdougal came back refocused and stepped up the pace, and a string
of errors from Galvez saw Mcdougal establish a quick 5-2 lead.
Mcdougal’s steadiness seemed to frustrate Galvez as fell off the
pace a bit, and Mcdougal moved to 8-4. But a couple of cross-court
winners brought Galvez back to 6-8. The next rally was long as both
players patiently exchanged lengths and straight drops trying to
create an opening.
Following a series of drops and counter drops, Mcdougal was able to
get on one quick, and he crushed a crosscourt out of Galvez’ reach.
Two more quick unforced errors seem to give Mcdougal the game, but
the referee told them to replay the last point because they weren’t
sure if the last ball was down. Nevertheless, Galvez’ counter
attempt found the tin, and the match was tied at 1-1.
The third game got off to slow start as the early rallies were
repeatedly replayed due to collisions at the front and in the
mid-court. But Galvez’ increasingly aggressive play started to pay
off, and he reeled off a string of winners to go up 7-3. Mcdougal
hung in and made some great gets and counters to narrow the gap to
7-8, but another winner put Galvez up to 9-7. Then a Mcdougal mishit
left him yelling in frustration and gave Galvez his first game ball.
A no let moved Mcdougal to 8-10, and in the next rally he picked 3
balls out of the nick before he received a no let, and was forced to
concede the game 11-8.
Galvez came out in the fourth looking more confident, pressuring
Mcdougal with good, tight length and taking the ball short at every
opportunity. The pressure appeared to take its toll on Mcdougal, and
he wasn’t able to stop Galvez’ run to 10-2. A great counter gave
Mcdougal another chance, but Galvez’ next drop-shot was too tight,
and he closed out the game 11-3, and the match 3-1 in 68 minutes.