Squash » NorthAmericanOpen2011

  News Archive
  Tumblr Highlights

   Carte Blanche
   Squash Camps
  SquashSkills Blog
  Lest we Forget
  Tumblr Highlights
     SquashSite News
     Fram's Corner
     YellowDot Pages
     Press Alerts
     SquashSite Egypt
     Events & Posters
     Daily Photo
     Yes I remember it well
     Tweets of the Week

  France - SiteSquash

  Photo Galleries
  SquashSite Photos
  Google Squash News
  Squash on TV

  The Old Site
  Useful Info

SquashSite HOME

Premier Squash League

BSPA Circuit

French Sister Site

Other Sites we do:

British Open Squash
National Squash Champs
Squash Photos

North American Open 2011
18-26 Feb, Richmond, Virginia, Usa, $115k
twitter facebook

26-Feb, Final:

[1] Nick Matthew (Eng) bt [2] Ramy Ashour (Egy)
            11/9, 11/5, 8/11, 8/11, 11/6 (83m)

Mighty Matthew masters Ashour to retain Richmond title
Alan Thatcher reports

Top seed Nick Matthew retained the North American Open title after beating his great rival Ramy Ashour in a momentous final of this $115,000 PSA World Series Tour event at the Westwood Club in Richmond, Virginia.

The 30-year-old world champion from Sheffield, England, triumphed 11-9, 11-5, 8-11, 8-11, 11-6 after 85 minutes of magical squash as the two giants of world squash competed in their third consecutive Richmond final.

With honours level at one victory each, Matthew recovered from 8-6 down to win the first game and then powered through the second, playing superb squash to force a succession of errors from his 23-year-old Egyptian opponent.

Matthew continued to dominate in the third game and when he advanced to 8-6 he was within touching distance of the trophy.

However, Ashour suddenly tightened up his game and reeled off five points in a row to fend off defeat.

Matthew continued to play tight, stylish and intelligent squash to generate a 6-4 lead in the fourth game but once again Ashour responded with his own unique brand of attacking play.

The winners began to flow as the capacity crowd at the Westwood Club roared their encouragement.

Ashour collected five points in a row to lead 9-6 and then, after Matthew had crept back to 8-9, he closed out the game to take the match to a fifth game.

But he failed to maintain the momentum as Matthew marched imperiously towards his second Richmond title.

Ashour won the first point of the game but Matthew produced a devastating brand of controlled, almost error-free squash to lead 5-2 and then 8-3.

Ashour had the crowd on their feet as he won three vital points to reach 6-8 but Matthew closed out the match to gain revenge for his defeat in the final of the Tournament of Champions in New York, the first World Series event of the year.

A delighted Matthew said: "Ramy and I are building quite a rivalry but that match in New York was our first meeting since August last year, which shows how many good players there are at the top of the game who stop us from meeting in every final.

"It was a great match and as Ramy is a lot younger than me I hope I can keep the rivalry going for a few more years.

"I know the crowd were cheering for him to come back when I was 2-0 up but I won't hold it against them. This tournament gets bigger and better every year and we have all enjoyed the superb new venue at the Westwood Club.

"The crowds have been great every day and the game is gaining a massive foothold in the United States.

"We had live coverage on ESPN for the semi-finals and finals and we hope that squash fans over here will continue to follow the Tour on our own PSA SquashTV streaming channel."

For a third consecutive evening, the crowd finished the evening's play with a standing ovation. This time Ashour, who reached the final with two spectacular victories against Gregory Gaultier and James Willstrop, failed to deliver.
Ashour said: "Nick is a great champion and today he showed why he is number one in the world. It was a fantastic match and I am sure we will have many more of them as we go round the world playing in so many great tournaments like this one."

Ashour dedicated his victory in New York to the Egyptian nation and did the same in Richmond as he collected the runner's-up trophy.

The tournament poster, by Dan Bogosh

Photos by
Patricia Lyons

North American Open 2011
18-26 Feb, Richmond, Virginia, $115k
Round One
20/21 Feb
Round One
22/23 Feb
24 Feb
25 Feb
26 Feb
[1] Nick Matthew (Eng)
9-11, 11-6, 11-6, 11-7 (49m)
[Q] Julian Illingworth (Usa)
[1] Nick Matthew
11/7, 11/4, 11/8 (34m)
Shahier Razik
[1] Nick Matthew

8/9 rtd (23m)

David Palmer

[1] Nick Matthew

11-8, 5-11, 11-6, 11-5 (40m)

[4] Amr Shabana

[1] Nick Matthew

1/9, 11/5, 8/11, 8/11, 11/6 (83m)

[2] Ramy Ashour

Shahier Razik (Can)
12-10, 11-7, 11-7 (59m)
Gilly Lane (Usa)
Stewart Boswell (Aus)
 12-10, 11-9, 5-11, 11-4 (64m)
Alister Walker (Eng)
Alister Walker
11/6, 3/11, 11/6, 11/9 (61m)
David Palmer
David Palmer (Aus)
11-2, 11-8, 11-7 (40m)
[8] Wael El Hindi (Egy)
[7] Daryl Selby (Eng)
9-11, 11-4, 11-3, 11-5 (60m)
Azlan Iskandar (Mas)
Azlan Iskandar
9/11, 11/1, 11/5, 11/7 (48m)
Simon Rosner
Azlan Iskandar

11/7, 6/11, 12/10, 12/10 (48m)

[4] Amr Shabana

Simon Rosner (Ger)
11-3, 11-8, 9-11, 11-5 (48m)
Joey Barrington (Eng)
Jonathan Kemp (Eng)
11-7, 11-5, 11-5 (24m)
 [Q] Cesar Salazar (Mex)
Jonathan Kemp
 11/8, 13/15, 8/11, 11/7, 11/8 (54m)
[4] Amr Shabana
Arturo Salazar (Mex)
11-8, 11-8, 11-5 (29m)
[4] Amr Shabana (Egy)
[3] James Willstrop (Eng)
 2/10, 11/6 11/8 (37m)
[Q] Yann Perrin (Fra)
[3] James Willstrop
11/7, 11/7, 11/5 (38m)
[Q] Martin Knight
[3] James Willstrop

7/11, 11/4, 11/4, 11/5 (49m)

[6] Peter Barker

[3] James Willstrop

11-8, 12-10, 5-11, 11-6 (45m)

[2] Ramy Ashour

[Q] Mathieu Castagnet (Fra)
11/7, 2/11, 11/7, 11/8 (55m)
[Q] Martin Knight (Nzl)
[Q] Stephane Galifi (Ita)
6/11, 11/8, 11/5, 6/11, 13/11 (93m)
[Q]Nafiizwan Adnan (Mas)
[Q]Nafiizwan Adnan
 11/2, 11/3, 11/5 (26m)
[6] Peter Barker
Omar Abdel Aziz (Egy)
11/2, 11/6, 11/4 (29m)
[6] Peter Barker (Eng)
[5] Gregory Gaultier (Fra)
11/4, 11/6, 11/4 (41m)
[Q] Aaron Frankcomb (Aus)
[5] Gregory Gaultier
11/6, 11/6, 11/1 (36m)
Olli Tuominen
[5] Gregory Gaultier

 11/5, 9/11, 11/4, 6/11, 11/8 (68m)

[2] Ramy Ashour

Olli Tuominen (Fin)
11/8, 10/12, 11/2, 11/9 (43m)
Mohammed Abbas (Egy)
Hisham Ashour (Egy)
9/11, 15/13, 11/8, 11/7 (56m)
Tom Richards (Eng)
Tom Richards
6/11, 12/10, 11/6, 11/9 (45m)
[2] Ramy Ashour
Nicolas Mueller (Sui)
12/14, 11/5, 11/5, 12/10 (43m)
[2] Ramy Ashour (Egy)

19-Feb, Qualifying Finals:

Aaron Frankcomb (AUS) bt Joel Hinds (ENG)                            11-6, 11-4, 11-7 (56m)
Cesar Salazar (MEX) bt Mark Krajcsak (HUN)                    7-11, 11-5, 11-7, 11-8 (58m)
Martin Knight (NZL) bt Dylan Bennett (NED)                      9-11, 11-5, 11-9, 11-9 (72m)
Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) bt Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) 8-11, 14-12, 11-8, 9-11, 11-9 (122m)
Nafiizwan Adnan (MAS) bt Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY)
                                                                           11-9, 8-11, 14-12, 2-11, 11-6 (101m)
Stephane Galifi (ITA) bt Siddharth Suchde (IND)              11-7, 11-6, 6-11, 11-8 (65m)
Yann Perrin (FRA) bt Zac Alexander (AUS)             13-11, 9-11, 8-11, 11-6, 11-7 (92m)
Julian Illingworth (USA) bt Christopher Gordon (USA)    17-15, 9-11, 11-4, 11-9 (71m)

18-Feb, Qualifying Round One:    

Aaron Frankcomb (Aus) bt Shaun le Roux (Eng)          
3-11, 12-10, 11-5 70 mins
Joel Hinds (Eng) bt Sean Steinour ( local )                  
11-5, 11-6, 11-4 16 mins
Cesar Salazar (Mex) bt Jan Koukal (Cze)                    
11-9, 11-1, 11-7. 43 mins
Mark Krajcsak (Hun) bt Eddie Charlton (Eng)              
 7-11, 11-7, 11-6, 11-1. 65 mins
Martin Knight (Nzl) bt David Hetherington ( Local )       
11-2, 11-3, 11-8. 22mins
Dylan Bennett (Ned) bt Francis Johnson ( Local )          
11-4, 11-5, 11-5 19mins
Mathieu Castagnet (Fra)bt Eric Galvez (Mex)               
 11-8, 7-11, 12-10, 11-6 75mins
Ryan Cuskelly (Aus) bt David Letourneau (Can)           
11-7, 11-6, 11-2. 41mins
Zac Alexander (Aus) bt Campbell Grayson (Nzl)           
14-12, 11-8, 11-4 51mins
Yann Perrin (Fra) bt Jorge Ferreira (Mex)                     
11-7, 7-11, 11-7, 11-5. 50mins
Siddarth Suchde (Ind) bt Wade Johnstone (Aus)         
11-5, 11-5, 5-11, 11-6. 55mins
Stéphane Galifi (Ita) bt Andrew Wagih (Egy)               
11-6, 7-11, 11-6, 11-9. 63mins
Karim Abdel Gawad (Egy) bt David Phillips (Can)
         11-6, 11-8, 8-11, 11-6 37mins
Nafiizwan Adnan (Mas) bt Patrick Chifunda (Zam)       
11-5, 11-8, 18-16. 70mins
Christopher Gordon (Usa) bt Arshad Burki (Pak)        
11-5, 11-4, 11-7. 35mins
 Julian Illingworth (Usa) bt Kamran Khan (Mas)   
 7-11, 11-6, 8-11, 11-8, 12-10. 89mins

2010 Event

Alan Thatcher reports

World champion Nick Matthew meets Ramy Ashour in the final of the $115,000 North American Open for a third year running after the top two seeds stormed through their semi-finals at the Westwood Club in Richmond, Virginia.

The two matches were both England-Egypt affairs, with Matthew overcoming Amr Shabana in just 40 minutes and Ashour taking five minutes longer to beat James Willstrop.

Matthew played tight, controlled squash to win the opening game but Shabana responded in spectacular style to take the second with a succession of dazzling winners.

However, Matthew regained control to dominate the third and fourth games to book his place in the final.

Matthew said: "Amr was unplayable in that second game and you have to try to restrict his shot-making opportunities or he will destroy you. It feels great to be in another Richmond final. I'm feeling good and looking forward to it."

Ashour and Willstrop received a standing ovation from the enthusiastic Richmond crowd after an incredible display of shot-making.

Willstrop played some superb squash in patches but No.2 seed Ashour was in extravagant, outrageous form with sensational winners from all over the court.

Ashour edged the first game but Willstrop wasted game ball in the second, allowing Ashour to hit back and take the game on a tiebreak.

Willstrop tightened up in the third game and played immaculate squash to win 11-5. However, Ashour got off to a flying start in the fourth and although Willstrop clawed his way back to 5-7 with some fine shots the Egyptian genius closed out the match in spectacular style.

Two weeks ago Ashour joined the demonstrations on the streets of Cairo but he clearly was unperturbed by any disruption to his training schedule. He said: "That inspired me so much I didn't worry about any gap in training.

"I love playing here in Richmond for such a knowledgeable crowd. They inspire me, too.

"James is always a difficult opponent. He is so skilful and we always have great matches, so I'm pleased to win and pleased that the crowd enjoyed it as much as I did."

Ashour's meeting with Matthew is a repeat of their showdown in the final of the first World Series event of the year, the Tournament of Champions in New York, which the Egyptian won.

Ashour won the NAO title two years ago but was forced to concede in last year's final because of injury.

The tournament poster, by Dan Bogosh

Photos by
Patricia Lyons


Matthew marches into Richmond
semi-finals as injury KOs Palmer

Alan Thatcher reports

England’s world champion Nick Matthew was given a walkover into the semi-finals of the $115,000 North American Open when his Australian opponent David Palmer was forced to retire through injury.

Matthew, the Sheffield-based world No.1, was trailing 8-9 in a tense and physical opening game when the two players collided in mid-court as Palmer tried to chase a ball into the back left corner.

After lengthy treatment to a twisted ankle, the 34-year-old veteran announced that he could not continue play in this World Series Tour event, the second of the year, at the Westwood Club in Richmond, Virginia.

Palmer said: “I have another tournament coming up soon and it would be silly to risk it. The ankle swelled up really badly. It’s a shame because Nick and I were both playing well and it was shaping up to be a great match.”

Top seed Matthew, the reigning NAO champion, meets Amr Shabana in the semi-finals after the No.4 seed overcame Malaysian Azlan Iskandar in a wonderful match full of attacking squash.

It was so tight that Shabana needed to squeeze home in two tiebreaks before winning 11-7, 6-11, 12-10, 12-10 in 48 minutes of brilliant shot-making and phenomenal retrieving.

No.3 seed James Willstrop maintained his unbeaten record against England team-mate Peter Barker. In their 12th PSA Tour meeting, Willstrop recovered after losing the first game to win 7-11, 11-4, 11-4, 11-5 in 49 minutes.

It was a stylish, measured performance and No.3 seed Willstrop will need a repeat performance in the semi-finals against Ramy Ashour. The Egyptian genius overcame Gregory Gaultier in a spectacular finale to the evening.

Gaultier played superbly but Ashour’s speed around the court and a succession of deadly crosscourt kill shots proved the decisive factors.

After clinching a 68-minute victory, with a scoreline of 11-5, 9-11, 11-4, 6-11, 11-8, Ashour acknowledged the contribution of his opponent. He said: “Greg has been out of action with an injury for a long time since the World Open and he is back playing better than he was before.

“That’s why I needed to be so fast, just to get the ball back. He was playing incredible squash and I am very happy and relieved to be through to the semi-finals against James. That should be another great match.”

The tournament poster, by Dan Bogosh

Watch the ankle ...

Photos by
Patricia Lyons

23-Feb, Round Two (Bottom):
Ramy's relief as Richards rocks Richmond
Alan Thatcher reports

Rising England star Tom Richards came desperately close to a shock win over No.2 seed Ramy Ashour in the second round of the North American Open in Richmond, Virginia.

Richards won the opening game but squandered game ball in the second and let slip a 9-4 lead in the fourth before the Egyptian maestro clinched victory 6-11, 12-10, 11-6, 11-9.

Richards dominated the opening game and held game ball in the second at 10-9 but was unable to close it out. Ashour squeezed home 12-10 and from 5-4 down he won the third 11-6.

However, Richards roared back in the fourth and looked set to take the match the full distance as he led 9-4, but the Egyptian maestro put together an astonishing run of seven points without reply to clinch victory.

Ashour said: "Tom played a great game and was ahead in all of the games. I am a little bit disappointed with the way I played but all credit to Tom. He played very well. But I will need to play a lot better in the next round."

Richards said: “I am very disappointed to have lost because I was in some very good positions in the second and fourth games and should have finished them off. But in a couple of days I might feel a bit differently.”

James Willstrop meets England team-mate Peter Barker in the quarter-finals after both players crushed qualifiers.

Barker took just 28 minutes to beat Malaysian Nafizwan Adnan and Willstrop took two minutes longer to beat New Zealander Martin Knight in straight games.

With world champion Nick Matthew already through, the quarter-final schedule features three Englishmen.

The draw features four outstanding contests, with Ashour facing Frenchman Gregory Gaultier, who outclassed Finnish No.1 Olli Tuominen 11-6, 11-6, 11-1.

Matthew meets Australia’s David Palmer, and four-times world champion Amr Shabana tackles Malaysian Azlan Iskandar, who has looked impressive this week at the Westwood Club.

The tournament poster, by Dan Bogosh

Photos by
Patricia Lyons



Tom Richards is one of the rising stars of the game. He played a great match to beat Egyptian Hisham Ashour in the first round and tonight he meets his brother, Ramy.

Ramy Ashour won the 2008 World Open and has featured in the past two Richmond finals. He has met England's current world champion Nick Matthew on each occasion. Ramy won the 2009 championship match but had to concede last year because of injury.

He and Nick met in the recent Tournament of Champions final at Grand Central Station in New York, with Ramy claiming the first "Major" squash title of 2011.

Although Tom and Ramy have never played each other on the PSA Tour before, they contested both the British Junior Under-13 Open final in January 1999, then the Under-15 final two years later in 2001.

Tom and Ramy meet in the third match of this evening's session, which completes the second round schedule.

Ramy won both times: 9-0. 9-0. 9-0 the first time, and 5-9, 9-1, 9-5, 9-2 the second

It will be interesting to see what a difference 10 years makes!

22-Feb, Round Two (Top):

Alan Thatcher reports

World champion Nick Matthew admitted to “getting the demons out of my head” after he and Egyptian superstar Amr Shabana advanced to the quarter-finals of the North American Open in contrasting styles at the Westwood Club in Richmond, Virginia.

The two are seeded to meet in the semi-finals of this $115,000 PSA World Series event on Friday.

Matthew, the reigning NAO champion, beat Canadian No.1 Shahier Razik in straight games, but Shabana had to fight back from 2-1 down to overcome England’s Jonathan Kemp.

Matthew looked uncomfortable during his first round match with Julian Illingworth, having complained about a slippery floor, but he encountered no such problems against Razik, who tried his hardest slow the game down.

Matthew won 11-7, 11-4, 11-8 and said: “It was a battle of contrasting styles. Shahier was trying to slow the ball down and I was trying to speed things up. He is a very tricky opponent and I was much happier with the way I played tonight. I was more relaxed after getting the first match under my belt and I managed to get the demons out of my head.

“There are so many good players around that competition is always tough, no matter what round you play in and the pressure is always on to deliver your best. Sometimes you have to take stock and remember just how much you love playing this game for a living”

In the quarter-finals Matthew meets Australian veteran David Palmer. The former world champion showed that he can still play phenomenal squash at 34 as he overpowered England’s Alister Walker in four games, 11-6, 3-11, 11-6, 11-9.

Palmer admitted: “I relaxed a bit at 8-2 up in the fourth and Alister showed what a dangerous player he is. It was very hard and I lost the plot a bit in the second game but I’m happy to be playing well and pleased to be in the quarter-finals.”

Shabana was forced to battle all the way by Kemp, finally winning 11-8, 13-15, 8-11, 11-7, 11-8 after a brilliantly entertaining match full of dazzling shots at the front of the court.

Kemp matched Shabana’s magical qualities for most of the match and recovered well to win the second game tiebreak after trailing 10-8. He maintained the momentum to win the third and a shock looked on the cards as he led 3-0 in the fourth. But Shabana showed confidence and composure in a crisis and strung together a run of points to win the game.

At 5-5 in the fifth it was wide open, but Shabana’s experience shone through as he clinched his place in the quarter-finals.

After the match he was typically gracious to his opponent, saying: "The way Jonathan has come back from hip and back surgery to continue his career in squash is a phenomenal achievement.

“Those injuries would have finished the careers of many athletes and he is a very talented player - always difficult to play against.

"At 5-5 in the fifth I wasn't really worried. I just knew that the player who would win would be the one who could keep to his game and not make too many mistakes. Fortunately that was me."

Shabana now meets Azlan Iskandar, who followed up his first round win over new British champion Daryl Selby by beating German No.1 Simon Rosner. The Malaysian changed his approach after losing the opening game and simply crushed his opponent 11-1 in the second.

The cool court suited his attack at the front of the court and Rosner admitted: “I was hopeless. He changed his tactics and got in front. After that I simply couldn’t get the ball past him to the back of the court.”

Iskandar admitted: “They weren’t big changes, just a few subtle alterations. I knew that I couldn't play anything loose because Simon is such a good player these days that he was able to punish all my mistakes.

“He has improved so much in the last few months and there are a lot of guys like him who are putting pressure on the top guys. The cool court may have looked like it suited my game but I grew up in Malaysia with 100 per cent humidity so it's not something I'm used to."

The tournament poster, by Dan Bogosh

Photos by
Patricia Lyons



21-Feb, Round One (Bottom):
Alan Thatcher reports

Rising England star Tom Richards played some of the best squash of his career to beat Egyptian firebrand Hisham Ashour in the first round of the North American Open at the Westwood Club in Richmond, Virginia.

Now he aims to produce a similar performance against Hisham’s brother Ramy, the former world champion who is the No.2 seed in this star-studded $115,000-dollar PSA World Series event.

Richards triumphed 9-11, 15-13, 11-8, 11-7 in 56 minutes of non-stop attacking squash and both players deserved the ovation from an enthusiastic audience.

It was a similar story in the following match as Ramy overcame Swiss underdog Nicolas Mueller, the world No.36 from Zurich, in four games of extravagant shot-making and breathtaking retrieving.

A shock looked on the cards as Mueller took advantage of a string of errors from his opponent to win the opening game 14-12 on a tiebreak, but Ashour responded in dazzling style, winning the next two games 11-5 with an array of winners from all over the court. He then had to hold his nerve as Mueller fought back in the fourth and forced the game to another tiebreak. This time Ramy edged home 12-10.

Richards is looking forward to meeting the Egyptian maestro and said: “Confidence is 80 per cent of what this game is all about. I feel that I am now producing the type of squash that will help me do well against the top players.

“I knew what to expect from Hisham and definitely came with a solid game plan in mind and I am pleased that it worked. It was a great game to play in and I was pleased to hang in at times when Hisham was going for everything. We all know he can hit nicks from anywhere in the court.”

Ramy was full of admiration for his Swiss opponent and said: “Nic is improving all the time and one day I am sure I will be playing him in finals of events like this instead of the first round.

“I often take a while to get my concentration going in the first round but I was very pleased to get through a very difficult match. I love coming here to Richmond. It’s a fantastic tournament and I have been in the last two finals, so I hope I can reach another one.”

Former world No.1 Gregory Gaultier made an impressive return to the PSA tour after an injury suffered in last year’s World Open kept him off court for eight weeks.

He overcame battling Australian Aaron Frankcomb in straight games and said:

"I am so pleased to be back playing. After my injury in the World Open I was out for two months and I got fed up with sitting on the sofa putting on weight. I was playing very well at the time I got injured and there was some great competition between the top five or six players.”

Gaultier was striking the ball with pace and precision and his immaculate line and length gave Frankcomb few openings.

Leading English players James Willstrop and Peter Barker joined compatriots Jonathan Kemp, Alister Walker and world champion Nick Matthew in the second round after victories.

Willstrop overcame Frenchman Yann Perrin in a scrappy affair while Barker simply overpowered Egyptian Omar Abdel Aziz.

Both face qualifers in the second round, Willstrop meets Martin Knight from New Zealand while Barker tackles Malaysia’s Nafiizwan Adnan, who overcame the volatile Italian Stephane Galifi in a physical battle.

Galifi received several conduct warnings and was reported after the match by referee Wendy Danzey for unsporting behaviour.

Photos by
Patricia Lyons

20-Feb, Round One, Top:
British champion Selby crashes as Azlan roars in Richmond

Alan Thatcher reports

New British squash champion Daryl Selby admitted that he was "feeling flat" as he crashed out of the North American Open first round to lion-hearted Malaysian Azlan Iskandar.

The London-based Iskander defeated Selby after losing the opening game, hitting back to win 9-11, 11-4, 11-3, 11-5 in 60 minutes.

Selby, the No.7 seed from Essex, said he found it difficult to repeat the fantastic form he showed a week ago to beat world champion Nick Matthew in the final of the British Nationals in Manchester.

Selby said: "I have to admit I was feeling a bit flat after winning the Nationals. It's very difficult to play that well on a regular basis and Azlan played superbly today. I didn't feel I was doing much wrong but often felt half a yard off the pace. I guess that's a sure sign that I was feeling a bit flat. But Azza deserved to win, definitely. He hardly made a mistake."

Asked about the draw, which paired the world No.10 against the world No.13 in the first round, Selby said: "I can't have any complaints. I have benefitted in the past and I am sure these things even themselves out over the year. I have heard that some fine tuning might take place to sort out one or two possible anomalies, but I have no complaints.”

Iskander said that he was fine-tuning his game under coach Peter Genever in London. He said: "There are no massive changes, just some subtle adjustments about how you play certain shots. You do the same stuff all the time but Peter gets you to think creatively about some subtle differences in playing certain shots.”

Iskander meets Simon Rosner in the second round after the German No.1 beat Joey Barrington 11-2, 11-8, 9-11, 11-5 in a physical battle in which Barrington received a conduct warning for remarks made to referee Wendy Danzey.

Reigning champion Nick Matthew was almost floored himself in the first round. He blamed the slippery floor for his flawed performance against US No.1 Julian Illingworth and needed to show his trademark resilience to avoid a shock defeat.

The world champion complained of slipping on the recently-painted court floor as he lost the opening game but he battled back to win the three tight games that followed.

Matthew, the top seed from Sheffield, eventually triumphed 8-11, 11-6, 11-6, 11-7 in 49 minutes and was relieved to book his place in the second round.

Matthew said: "Julian played very well and put me under pressure for the whole match. The floor was very slippery and I was struggling badly at the start.

"Julian has come through qualifying and was obviously feeling a lot more comfortable then I was at the start. He read the conditions very well and was hitting a lot of hard, low shots that seemed to shoot through on the floor.

"Julian is constantly improving and has the type of game that could trouble a lot of the top guys, as he did with me tonight."

Illingworth was pleased with his performance and is doing all he can to help squash grow in the US. He said: "We have a lot of schools programs in place that are introducing young people to the sport and staging major tournaments like this one helps to raise the profile of the sport in America."

His compatriot Gilly Lane fell in straight games to an in-form Shahier Razik, the Canadian No.1 who meets Matthew in the second round. Razik won in straight games but had to fight back from game ball down in the first. He eventually won the tiebreak 12-10 and managed to close out the second and third by an identical 11-7 margin.

Former world champion David Palmer powered past Egyptian No.8 seed Wael El Hindi to book a second round meeting with New York-based Englishman Alister Walker, who overcame another experienced Aussie, Stewart Boswell, in four games of high-paced, aggressive squash.

Amr Shabana, the four-time world champion from Egypt, cruised through against Arturo Salazar but the Mexican earned the accolade of “shot of the day” for a spectacular diving recovery shot from behind his back after being sent from the front to the rear of the court several times in a row. Earlier the Mexican’s brother, Cesar, lost to a sharp-looking Jonathan Kemp from England.

Photos by
Patricia Lyons

19-Feb, Qualifying Finals:
US star Illingworth draws world champion Matthew

US squash star Julian Illingworth's reward for cementing his domestic supremacy in the qualifying finals of the North American Open was to draw world champion Nick Matthew in the first round.

Illingworth overcame US team-mate Chris Gordon in a 71-minute clash, triumphing 17-15, 9-11, 11-4, 11-9 after a marathon tiebreak in a 28-minute opening game.

It was far from the longest match on a day of brutal battles as the game's rising stars fought for eight vacant places in the first round, Mathieu Castagnet of France overcame Australia's Ryan Cuskelly 8-11, 14-12, 11-8, 9-11, 11-9 in 122 minutes.

And Malaysian Nafizwan Adnan was not far behind with his 11-9, 8-11, 14-12, 8-11, 11-6 victory over Egyptian Karim Abdel Gawad taking 101 minutes.

Another Frenchman, Yann Perrin, recovered from two-one down in games to beat Australia's Zac Alexander 13-11, 9-11, 8-11, 11-6, 11-7 in 92 minutes. Perrin meets No.3 seed James Willstrop of England in the first round.

19-Feb, Qualifying Round One:
Gordon & Illingworth Boost US Interest In North American Open

US interest in the main draw of the North American Open will be doubled after Christopher Gordon and Julian Illingworth set up an all-American qualifying finals clash. New York-born Gordon despatched Pakistan's Arshad Iqbal Burki in straight games in the first qualifying round.

But US number one Julian Illingworth was taken the full distance by Kamran Khan before beating the Malaysian son of the legendary Jansher Khan. Khan, the 20-year-old world No80, twice led in the 89-minute marathon - but Illingworth, the New York-based 27-year-old ranked 40 in the world, maintained his focus to close out the match 7-11, 11-6, 8-11, 11-8, 12-10 in the longest battle of the day.

Gordon and Illingworth will now resume their domestic rivalry to fight for a place in the main draw to join Philadelphia wild card Gilly Lane in the first round.

Australia earned the lion's share of the places in the qualifying finals, with Hobart's Aaron Frankcomb, New South Welshman Ryan Cuskelly and Queenslander Zac Alexander all safely overcoming first round opponents.

Mexican Cesar Salazar took a step closer to joining his twin brother Arturo in the main draw when he upset higher-ranked Czech number one Jan Koukal 11-9, 11-1, 11-7. The 23-year-old world No59 from San Luis Potosi will now face Hungarian Mark Krajcsak for a place in the first round.


World's Leading Squash Stars Renew Rivalry In Richmond

World champion Nick Matthew will be seeking revenge from his great rival Ramy Ashour next week in the North American Open, the PSA World Series Gold event which is being staged at the stylish Westwood Club in Richmond, Virginia.

The two players enjoyed a series of phenomenal battles last year as they competed for the world number one ranking position.

That rivalry was renewed in the first major PSA World Series event of the year in January, when the mercurial Egyptian Ashour triumphed over Englishman Matthew in the final of the JP Morgan Tournament of Champions in New York.

Now the world's leading players are heading to the USA for the second 2011 World Series event. The $115,000 championship takes place from 20-26 February, with qualifying on 18-19 Feb.

Defending champion Matthew is looking forward to returning to Richmond. His maiden victory in the tournament last year helped propel him to the world number one ranking status for the first time in his career, in June 2010, and provided the springboard for a sensational season of achievements.

"Reaching the number one spot in the world rankings was one of the main goals I set myself last year," said the 30-year-old Englishman. "Winning the World Open and achieving a gold medal in the Commonwealth Games in India were the others - and there is no doubt that winning in Richmond helped that process.

"Winning matches and winning tournaments gives you the confidence you need to succeed. There is no doubt that the NAO is up there among the greatest tournaments in the world, and that is a special tribute to a dedicated team of people who make it happen every year.

"All the players look forward to going to Richmond," Matthew continued. "They know they will be well looked after, the hospitality and the administration is first class, and we are all looking forward to playing in a new venue at the Westwood Club this year."

Top seed Matthew is preparing to lock horns again with Egyptian genius Ashour. The duo have shared the world number one ranking for the past year and have featured in the past two Richmond finals, Ashour winning in 2009 and Matthew triumphing last year.

Despite Matthew's ascendancy for most of 2010, Ashour began 2011 in style by winning the sport's first "Major" of the year, the JP Morgan Tournament of Champions, staged at Grand Central Terminal in New York.

Despite the distractions of a revolution back home in Egypt, Ashour produced a focused performance to regain the title he had won in 2009.

Now free of injuries, Ashour is also determined to regain the Richmond trophy. He dedicated his triumph in New York, his 19th PSA World Tour title, and the 13th World Series crown of his career, to the people of Egypt, where squash ranks second only to soccer in popularity.

Ashour said: "The really good thing about New York was that I was moving well and in touch with my body. I was so happy to be feeling good again and moving so well on court. Nick moved me to a lot of corners in the final."

Matthew, who has also returned to the fray fitter and stronger after a shoulder injury two years ago, was also pleased that Ashour was injury-free. He said: "It is good to have Ramy back on the tour. He is a much more exciting player to watch than I am."

New British national champion Daryl Selby, who produced the most sensational performance of his career to beat Matthew in Sunday's final, faces Malaysian Mohd Azlan Iskandar in the first round, with a seeded quarter-final against four-times world champion Amr Shabana of Egypt.

Gregory Gaultier is another new national champion making his Tour return in Virginia. The fifth seed won his fourth French national title at the weekend - and will face a qualifier in the first round in Richmond before a likely quarter-final clash with Ashour.

The tournament wild card is US international Gilly Lane from Philadelphia. He faces Canada's leading player Shahier Razik in the first round, with the winner due to face top seed Matthew in the second round.

Ashour meets rising Swiss star Nicolas Mueller, who was promoted into the main draw following the withdrawal of England's Adrian Grant.

The tournament features the new PSA seeding system, which has thrown up some tremendous first round clashes, including Australia's former world champion David Palmer against New York-based Egyptian Wael El Hindi.

With several qualifiers drawn together in the bottom half of the draw, a guaranteed second round place for at least two lower-ranked PSA members.

HOME ] Calendar ] Rankings ] Search ] Archive ] Links ] Contact ] Jobs ] Tournaments ] Players ] Categories ] Rules ] Tumblr ]

©2014 SquashSite