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ATCO World Series Squash Finals 2012
04-08 Jan, Queen's Club, London

Semi-Finals  |  Pools Day 3  |  Pools Day 2  |  Pools Day 1  |  Info & Previews

David and Shabana take
WSSF titles at Queen's


Nicol David
(Mas) bt Madeline Perry (Irl)
                     11/9, 11/9, 11/9 (41m)

Amr Shabana (Egy) bt  Gregory Gaultier (Fra)
                     6/11, 12/10, 11/7, 7/11, 11/8 (91m)

David takes the title

SkySports continued their live coverage at Queens Club in London, for the final day of the event that saw the reigning world No1 contain a spirited challenge from Madeline Perry, ranked two places below her.

Perry, who knocked out England’s home hope Jenny Duncalf in yesterday’s semi final, played a confident game from the start and took an early lead in the first game. David wasn’t going to let her opponent build up too much of an advantage however, and was always within touching distance.

The scores stayed tight right the way up to 9-all, with Perry stepping forward to volley early and easily matching the higher seed for width and precision. It was only at this stage that David upped the pace, working Perry out of position and finishing off two rallies to take the first game 11/9.

This became the pattern for the rest of the match too. Neither player was ever more than three points away from one another, as the finalists seemed to cancel each other out with their efforts. Similarly, at 9-all in the second game, Nicol again found an extra half-yard of pace and her lethal attacking shots saw off the second game in her favour, also 11/9.

Just as in the previous games, the score-line showed exactly how closely fought this contest was, with every bit of ground gained by one player, the other would immediately pull level. The standard of line and length squash on display was at it’s highest all week and easily the most closely matched contest of the week. Again the scores were tied at 8-8 and again, Perry seemed to lack the quality finishing in the most important periods of the match. David on the other hand, held game-ball’s in the first two games and finished each off on the first time of asking. Match-ball was a similar story, with Perry managing to reduce the deficit by one point before David claimed the title as her own.

The Malaysian played five matches this week and dropped just one game, coming at the hand of Laura Massaro in the semi finals. No player deserved a game more than Perry today for a sterling effort against the world No1 but on this occasion it wasn’t to be.

David said after winning the title: “Winning the World Series Finals title is a great start to 2012 and having the top 8 players here and contending for it makes it very special. It’s never easy but I’ve felt good all week and very pleased to be playing well. Hopefully there’s more to come!

“Knowing that tonight was going to be a longer game felt weird after playing best of three all week. It felt like a longer game today, which is strange as yesterday I played three game too, but I don’t tend to approach matches differently depending on that. I played well during the crucial points tonight and I’m delighted to have won.”

Shabana wins in UK at last
 
The ATCO PSA World Series Squash Finals - covered live by Sky Sports - came to a glorious conclusion today at The Queen's Club in London when Egyptian maestro Amr Shabana rolled back the years to win the $110,000 PSA World Tour title, and his first ever squash trophy on British soil.

The sensational 91-match, in which the 32-year-old four-time world champion was taken the full distance by higher-ranked Frenchman Gregory Gaultier, was a fitting climax to the flagship PSA Tour event which featured the eight most successful players from the nine PSA World Series championships in 2011.

World No3 Gaultier, celebrating his fourth final in four appearances in the championship, came out with all guns blazing and quickly opened up a 5-0 lead before going on to take the game.

Shabana, the former world No1 now ranked eight in the world, seemed revitalised in the second and - helped by a sudden spurt of unforced errors from his opponent - battled to game-ball at 10-5. But the stylish left-hander was unable to close out the game as the younger Frenchman gradually reduced the deficit before drawing level.

The game was characterised by two incredible marathon rallies - the veteran Egyptian matching the 29-year-old Gaultier shot after shot. The courageous Shabana refused to bow down, however, and finally claimed his sixth game ball to draw level.

From 4-6 down in the third, Shabana won five points in a row as Gaultier became embroiled in arguments with the referee. The former champion took another point but it was the Egyptian who maintained the upper hand to take the game and move 2/1 up.

Despite the pundits' view that longer matches would favour the younger player, Shabana capitalised on his momentum to lead 7-6 in the fourth. But the Aix-en-Provence ace refocused to take the next five points in a row to force a fifth game.

The packed Queen's Club crowd certainly got their money's worth - and no more so than at two-all in the decider when Shabana twice dived full length in the rally to keep the ball in play, and Gaultier inexplicably responded by putting the ball into the tin to give the Egyptian the point!

The next two points went to Gaultier, but thereafter it was Shabana who maintained the lead - and after one match-ball was saved, it was an irretrievable backhand drop shot from the back of the court that gave Shabana his historic 6-11, 12-10, 11-7, 7-11, 11-8 victory.

The crowd gave the two players a standing ovation while Shabana lay flat on his back outside the court. When Sky MC Natalie Pinkham began to interview the new champion after he sat up, he urged her to keep on talking while he got his breath back!

When asked to sum up his feelings about his win at this stage of his career, Shabana admitted that he had considered quitting the game a year ago: "I can't player better. I was nearly out last year - thinking about if it's time to watch the players play rather than competing with them.

"If it wasn't for my friends and family - one of whom was Greg, who kept telling me to push - I think I would have retired. I tried my best."

How special was it to win his first title in the UK, asked Ms Pinkham: "I'm not going to miss that question, so I thank god I won't be asked it again now that I have won," said the Cairo-based star, who now boasts 28 PSA World Tour titles.

Gaultier also joined in the post-match interview: "I am disappointed to lose - but I am really happy for him as he was struggling last year. I learned a lot from him - he's great for the game," said the Frenchman.

"Hopefully I will win the next one!"
  

AS IT HAPPENED...

Women:

In the first two games, Madeline had the upper hand, but made a few errors at crucial times.

In the 3rd, Madeline never let go, dug in, hitting extremely hard and accurately, saving one match ball. But again today, Nicol too good...

Men
An excellent start for the Frenchman, in control most of the game, even if Shabs' old legs are starting to find their mark by the end of the game.... The second game was all about Shabana up to 10/5, Greg catching up 10/10 only to bow 12/10...

In the third, Greg can only blame himself to get annoyed with the ref, losing concentration and tinning most of the balls after his last chat with the ref...

The fourth well, very close up to 7/7, Greg managing his temper better, and Shabana maybe just a bit tired on the last points...

And that 5th, well, Shabana was just too... Shabana really. Fast, accurate, clever. Greg had just too many chats with the ref, lost precious points, and allowed Shabs to get confident when he needed to.

This mark the first EVER victory from Shabana on English Soil. 'Bout time too.... Hail Shabana and Mabrook...

Semi-Finals  |  Pools Day 3  |  Pools Day 2  |  Pools Day 1  |  Info & Previews

Sat 7th Jan, Semi-Finals

PSA Semis:
Amr Shabana bt James Willstrop                  13/11, 11/5
Gregory Gaultier bt Karim Darwish                11/5, 11/5

SHABANA: FINAL CLASH WITH GAULTIER TOMORROW

Egypt’s Amr Shabana pulled off a stunning semi-final victory against England’s World No. 1 James Willstrop in today’s semis to set up an eagerly anticipated final tomorrow against France’s Gregory Gaultier.

England’s James Willstrop had been hoping to take his first series victory since becoming World No.1 earlier this month; however an inspired performance from Amr Shabana saw the Egyptian take the game 13/11, 11/5 in 44 minutes.

Shabana’s opponent in tomorrow’s final will be Gregory Gaultier after the Frenchman defeated Egypt’s Karim Darwish 11/5, 11/5 in 33 minutes to continue his hot run of form in the series.

Elsewhere, England’s Laura Massaro gave World No. 1 Nicol David her biggest test of the finals so far. Massaro stormed into a one game lead with an 11/8 score, however Malaysia’s David came back strong to take the following games 11/4, 11/3.

 “To reach the final is amazing considering the quality of players in the game at the moment and how well everyone is playing too.

“James has the best hands in English squash and I’m very happy to get this victory.”





 “Amr was the best player in the world a few years ago and now I believe he is back.

“He looked very sharp today and beat the World No. 1, so I’ll have to be at my best.”


  


“It was a really close first game. It could have gone either way really and I felt I was playing well anyway. I started to gain momentum after a couple mistakes from Jenny in the second game. I wore her down. I was really happy with how today went. ”

 “I’ve beaten Nicol before but she’s a fantastic athlete and I’ll have to be on top of my game tomorrow.”

“It’s great to be in a World Series Final and it’s going to be tough playing the world No1 in the best of 5 tomorrow.

It’s a great occasion, all the girls were so excited this morning about being live on Sky. Obviously we’ve done television before but Sky TV is an extra step up and it’s a really great opportunity.”



“Laura came out strong in the first game and played some really good shots.

“I started to find my rhythm in the second game and am really pleased to be in the Final of the World Series, it’s a huge privilege.”

WSA Semis:
Nicol David bt Laura Massaro               8/11, 11/4, 11/3 (33m)
Madeline Perry bt Jenny Duncalf        11/13, 11/8 11/5 (42m)

David and Perry progress to the final

On an occasion where SkySports were broadcasting the event live, this is the kind of spectacle that most squash players are unfamiliar with these days. That said, the WSA’s world top four players were focussed and well up for the televised semi finals day.

Laura Massaro recorded a number of scalps throughout 2011, attributing to her sharp climb up the WSA rankings. A similar result seemed on the cards today as her opponent Nicol David was made to work for her points in the first game. The world No1 hadn’t been made to work too hard in the group stages of the event this week and was yet to drop a game.

But Massaro cut an imposing figure on court from the first point, maintaining a careful and patient approach but not shying away from attacking opportunities. To an extent the Englishwoman was encouraged by some uncharacteristic errors from David, as she hit the tin on a few occasions from a comfortable volley position. Massaro held three game balls against the Malaysian and finished off the first game, 11/8.

David renewed her focus in the second game. Her attacking shots early on had been prone to hitting the tin. But after the break, her length was tighter and her drop shots rarely retrievable. Under the added pressure, Massaro was unable to respond with the same consistency and succumbed quickly as David drew level with an 11/4 win.

Momentum was really with David following the quick second game and she shot out of the blocks again to a 4-1 lead. Massaro was able to show only glimpses of her first game form as David upped her game to such an extent that the English No2 was extremely limited with her attacking options. David marched on to hold seven match balls and consummated her progression to tomorrows final with an 8/11, 11/4, 11/3 win in 33mins.

Continuing the battle at the top of the WSA rankings, world No2 Jenny Duncalf then played No3 Madeline Perry. Some very close early exchanges saw neither player take an advantage, until Duncalf, using front court boasts to good effect, extended the biggest gap of the game so far at 6-4. The lead didn’t last long though, and the game continued to be neck and neck until the tiebreak at 10-all. Neither player deserved to lose such a tightly contested first game, but Duncalf edged another game ball and was able to finish off the game, 13/11.

Perry fought back in the second, taking a 5-1 lead early on as Duncalf struggled to exert the same pressure she had in the first game. The Northern Irish international’s lead grew, and on the whole proved too consistent for Duncalf, who did manage a small fight back towards the end of the game but the deficit was too great and Perry took the game, 11/8.

The third game was a similar story. Duncalf’s retrieval efforts were starting to slow, with Perry appearing to have worn down her opponent and as a result, the error count began to rise. Perry’s length had been accurate all match and that didn’t look like wavering and her tactics were spot on for containing the Englishwoman’s attacking efforts, as she edged towards her place in tomorrow’s final. Perry held firm as she booked her place in the final, overcoming Duncalf 11/13, 11/8, 11/5 in 42mins.

 “I don’t think James was on top of his game, possibly thinking about tomorrow’s semi-finals.

“It gives me some redemption and I’m happy to get the win.”
 “It wasn’t easy, I’ve had to give a big push as this game is always unpredictable.



 “Mohamed beat me last time so it was good beat him this time round.

“I’m just happy to be in the semi-final of such a prestigious event.”





“Tomorrow’s game against Karim will be a tough battle. We know each other well so I am looking forward to it and will be doing my best to stay focussed.”

6th Jan 2012, Day Three:
 
Azlan Iskandar bt James Willstrop
                       
11/6, 6/11, 11/9 (41m)
Karim Darwish
bt Mohamed El Shorbagy
                        11/9, 11/9 (40m)
Peter Barker bt LJ Anjema
                        11/8, 9/11, 11/9 (51m)
Greg Gaultier v Amr Shabana
                       
11/7, 11/4 (20m)
(players in violet in the semis)

England’s James Willstrop’s 17 match unbeaten run came to an end with a shock defeat to Malaysia’s Azlan Iskandar 6/11, 11/6, 9/11. Willstrop however still progresses to tomorrow’s semi-finals as winner of Group 1 and will be looking to put the defeat behind him as soon as possible.

A tense all-Egyptian match-up between Karim Darwish and Mohamed El Shorbagy, saw Darwish also progress into the semi-final finishing behind Willstop in second place.

A crucial game between Gregory Gaultier of France and Egypt’s Amr Shabana, saw Gaultier win the match and take first place in Group 2. Tomorrow’s semi-final will now see Gaultier play Karim Darwish, whilst Shabana will face World No. 1 James Willstrop.

Pool A
[8] Donna Urquhart (AUS) bt [6] Camille Serme (FRA)
                     9-11, 11-8, 11-8 (31m)
[1] Nicol David (MAS) bt [3] Madeline Perry (IRL)
                    11-6, 12-10 (25m)
Pool B
[5] Laura Massaro (ENG) bt [7] Low Wee Wern (MAS)
                      11-3, 11-4 (18m)

Camille Serme and Donna Urquhart were first on court, with Serme needing a win to stand a chance of progressing from from Group A. Neither player completely dominated the first game, but Serme pulled ahead of her opponent at 7-all to gain the upper hand. A late Urquhart surge saw the Australian pull level, but Serme held her nerve and closed the game out 11/9.

Urquhart showed a more consistent performance in the second game, cutting out the errors, chasing relentlessly and she deservedly took a close 11/8 win. As the game progressed, Urquhart’s confidence grew and with it her anticipation of Serme’s attacking shots also improved.

This attribute frustrated Serme, but retrieved well and there was nothing separating the pair throughout. At 8-all it could have gone either way, but Urquhart came through to take the match, and consigning Serme to third place in the group, just missing out on the qualification spot.

Massaro needed a win against her opponent Low Wee Wern to see her through to the semi finals, having had a day off yesterday due to Rachael Grinham’s withdrawal. The England No2 made short work of things in the first game, with her opponent amassing just three points.

More of the same confident squash followed, with Wee Wern struggling to establish herself at all on court. Massaro length was tight and she pushed forward on the tee well and ran out the game 11/4.

For the third match in a row, Nicol David started quickly against Madeline Perry, jumping to a 6-2 lead. From here, she rode out a confident game 11/6. The second game was a much closer affair. Despite Nicol again winning six points on the bounce, Perry found her range and was much more dangerous hitting into the corners.

 The game saw plenty of down-the-wall squash, with neither play wanting to give each other a hint of an opportunity. David held two match balls at 10-8, but was unable to apply the finishing touch and Perry forced the tiebreak at 10-all.

A succession of three let balls in a row followed, all from backhand drives showed just how tight the game had become, and only a stroke in favour of David broke the deadlock. From there she needed only one more opportunity to finish of the match 12/10.

Semis Line up
Nicol David v Laura Massaro
Jenny Duncalf v Madeline Perry


 



"Comme je le disais hier, les jours passent et ne se ressemblent pas...

Malheureusement, les choses ne se sont pas déroulés comme je l'espérais aujourd'hui.

Je suis déçue de ma prestation contre Donna et du coup déçue de ne pas atteindre les demi-finales...

J'étais stressée, pas vraiment en confiance, ce qui m'a amené à faire beaucoup de mauvais choix tactiques, et donc qui a permit à Donna de bien jouer.

De plus, je me suis trop vite énervée, ce qui n'a pas vraiment arrangé les choses... Bref, il y a des jours où la tête ne suit pas...ce fut mon cas aujourd'hui.
Tant pis, il y aura d'autres masters...

Maintenant je me concentre sur Cleveland (qui se déroulera fin janvier) où il y aura plus d'enjeux et où je devrais mieux gérer tout ça.


Thanks to Jordan for the use of his photos

Day 1

"It wasn't an easy game but was a crucial win for me.

"This will give me a boost and confidence going forward."

"I absolutely enjoyed every single minute of that match...

I played really well much better than yesterday...

My accuracy was much better... so I am really happy with my performance...

But oh well you know I was playing against the world number 1 so my best wasn't good enough...

Tomorrow I play Darwish.

We both know whoever win will qualify to the semis, and when you play in such an amazing venue like this one, I am sure neither of us will want to go home tomorrow"



"It's great to keep this good streak going and continue where I left off.

"There's no added pressure being world No1 - just excitement, enjoyment and motivation towards the next game."

5th Jan 2012, Day Two:
 
Karim Darwish bt Azlan Iskandar        11/4, 8/11, 11/4 (36m)
James Willstrop bt Mohamed El Shorbagy   11/7, 11/6 (31m)

Amr Shabana bt LJ Anjema                        11/5, 11/4 (24m)
Greg Gaultier v Peter Barker                    14/12, 11/6 (44m)

A swift straight games victory over Dutchman Laurens Jan Anjema  has guaranteed Egypt's Amr Shabana a place in the semi-finals of the flagship PSA World Tour event at The Queen's Club for the sixth year in a row.

After making his debut in the championship in 2004, Shabana reached the last four for the first time two years later - and in 2008 finished as runner-up. The 32-year-old - the veteran of the Queen's field - made the final for the second time last year.

His second win in a row at Queen's ensures his place in Saturday's semi-finals - but first he will face Group 2 rival Gregory Gaultier tomorrow to decide the Group winner.

Frenchman Gaultier notched up his second pool win after beating Londoner Peter Barker 14-12, 11-6 in 44 minutes.

Gaultier, whose remaining pool match with Shabana will be a repeat of the 2008 final, boasts a remarkable World Series Finals record, having reached the climax in all three previous appearances, with title successes in 2008 and 2009.

But it was in Group 1 that James Willstrop kept home hopes alive with an impressive win over 20-year-old World Series Finals debutant Mohamed El Shorbagy.

The experienced Yorkshireman, who became England's second successive world number one at the beginning of this month, contained the exuberant and often brilliant play of the young Egyptian in 31 minutes, winning 11-7, 11-6.

The 28-year-old from Leeds was marking his 17th successive Tour match win in a run which included successive World Series event title triumphs in Hong Kong, Kuwait and India.

El Shorbagy and fellow countryman Karim Darwish will compete for the other semi-final slot from Group 1 in Friday's final pool round. In tonight's opening match, Darwish earned his first win of the event when he beat Malaysian Mohd Azlan Iskandar 11-4, 8-11, 11-5.

SQUASH LIVE ON SKY SPORTS

Live coverage of the semi-finals and finals Saturday and Sunday from this week's ATCO PSA World Series Squash Finals on Sky TV is the latest breakthrough for SquashTV, the PSA's dedicated online and TV operation launched just two years ago.

In addition to the Sky Sports feed, SquashTV is producing coverage for a separate world feed throughout the event on www.psasquashtv.com

The Sky programme will be hosted by Sky Sports presenter Tony Wrighton and the MC for the event will be Natalie Pinkham, known for her role in the channel's Formula 1 coverage.
 
Camille Serme bt Madeline Perry 11/6, 5/11, 11/7 (30m)
Nicol David bt Donna Urquhart             11/4, 11/4 (15m)
Jenny Duncalf bat Low Wee Wern        11/7, 11/8 (27m)
Rachael Grinham v Laura Massaro

Grinham out, Nicol and Duncalf on course

Rachael Grinham was forced to retire from the competition early this morning, due to injury. The Australian took a fall in the final points of her match against Low Wee Wern yesterday and spent the night trying to recuperate ahead of her fixture with Laura Massaro this afternoon. Grinham took the decision not to risk pushing her injury however, and Group B will now be comprised of just three players.

First onto court was Madeline Perry against Camille Serme. The cool conditions on court seemed to better suit Serme in the opening exchanges and she confidently attacked with dropshots and picked off Perry’s loose shots from the T. At 3-9 down, Perry began to show signs of improvement, finding a tighter length and moving her opponent around but the French international was too far ahead and Serme closed out the game 11-6.

Perry settled in well after the break and shot ahead to a 6-0 lead utilising a faster pace and much improved width. With her improved range, she closed out the second game 11-5 with Serme unable to mount any consistent challenge.

Serme handed her opponent a further lead early in the first game, with a number of errors, but kept her nerve to stay close to her Irish opponent and took the lead at 7-6 with a renewed attacking style and saw out the match 11/7.

Nicol David continued her progression through the group stages with a controlled and precise 2-0 win over Australian Donna Urquhart.

The Malaysian played a tight and patient game from the start and was quite happy to wait for her chances to attack, and for errors from her opponent. Urquhart was limited to only the occasional scoring chance throughout the match, and under pressure hit a number of balls out of court. David is through to the next round now after consecutive 2-0 wins, with Madeline Perry still to play tomorrow.

Due to Grinham’s withdrawal, Jenny Duncalf versus Low Wee Wern played the final WSA match of the day. The first game was a close affair, with Duncalf always slightly ahead of her Malaysian opponent.

After establishing a small lead early on, she did enough to stay ahead of Wee Wern throughout the game and closed out a 11/7 win. The Englishwoman took an early lead in the second, winning five points in a row and putting herself in a good position to see out the game.

Wee Wern’s strong retrieval kept the match from being a whitewash, and she came close to a comeback in the second game after some good recovery squash forced some errors from the England No1. Duncalf weathered the storm though and came through her second win of the group stage with an 11/7, 11/8 win.

“After a long break I’m pleased with my form and am happy to have two wins under my belt.

“I’m not thinking about any other players in particular, I’m just looking to the semi-finals on Saturday and will be taking one game at a time.”



"Et bin voilà une petite victoire qui fait plaisir! :) Les jours passent et ne se ressemblent pas: défaite sur la numéro 1 mondiale hier, mais victoire sur la 3 aujourd'hui :)

Je suis assez contente de mon match car j'ai bien joué tactiquement. Je savais qu'il fallait l'agresser à l'avant du court, ce que j'ai très bien fait dans le 1er jeu.

Dans le second, j'ai fait des fautes et j'avais perdu un peu ma longueur.. Dur de revenir après avoir été menée 6/0!

Dans le dernier jeu, elle menait toujours d'un ou deux points. Jusqu'à 6/4, et je suis revenue à 6 partout. J'ai bien tenu, je n'ai pas lâché et c'est un point très positif pour moi car j'aurai pu faiblir au niveau mental.. Mais j'ai pris le dessus jusqu'à 10/6, puis 7/10 et finalement 11/7 :)

Encore un gros match demain sur Donna pour se qualifier en demie. J'espère que ça va le faire...

À demain :)"
 



"Un peu dur d'attaquer l'année 2012 en jouant Nicol David comme 1er match, mais je suis plutôt contente de mon niveau de jeu.

J'ai eu de bonnes séquences où je menais l'échange et faisait bien bouger Nicol. Malheureusement au bout d'un moment, pendant ce même échange, elle ramenait tellement que je faisais une erreur tactique et du coup les rôles s'inversaient...

Cette semaine n'est que du bonus alors pas de prise de tête...

Demain sera un autre jour, un autre match donc on verra ce que ça donne :)"

     

4th Jan 2012, Day One:
 
Madeline Perry bt Donna Urquhart       11/7, 11/6 (18m)
Nicol David bt Camille Serme               11/6, 11/6 (17m)

Jenny Duncalf bt Laura Massaro   5/11, 11/6, 11/6 (32m)
Rachael Grinham bt Low Wee Wern 9/11, 11/8, 11/9 (36m)

Top ranked women on form
at day one of World Series Finals


Madeline Perry and Donna Urquhart were first onto court this afternoon. World no3 Madeline Perry started well, climbing to an 8/4 lead against her Australian opponent before closing out the first game 11-7.

In a similar run of form to the first game, she led the second 8/2 with Urquhart unable to respond with a successive run of points. The Irish international closed out the match in 18minutes, 11/7, 11/6.

Also in Group A, World Champion Nicol David showed the kind of form that makes her the favourite to win the WSA event, as she dispatched Camille Serme in 17minutes. The Malaysian never allowed Serme into the match and a comfortable scoreline of 11/6, 11/6 is evidence of David’s desire to progress through to the final stages of the event, to be broadcast live on SkySports this weekend.

The first Group B match was contested by an all-English pairing. Jenny Duncalf and Laura Massaro clashed a number of times in 2011 with the higher seed Duncalf winning only once in four, though she did claim the last battle in the World Open quarter-finals. Massaro started the sharper of the pair winning four points on the bounce to extend an 8/4 lead and closing out the game 11/5.

The World No2 responded well though, capitalising on some lose front-court play from Massaro to claim the second game 11/6 and force the first three-game match of the tournament. Duncalf continued her punishing form into the third game, despite a stern effort from her opponent, and pulled ahead at 6-all to claim five points in a row and the first win in Group B.

Experienced Rachel Grinham then faced Low Wee Wern in the final WSA match of the day. Wern came from behind to surprise Grinham in the first game, coming from 5/9 down to win 11/9. A refocused Grinham came back to court and leapt to a 6-point lead before closing out the second game 11/8. She then fought her way through a close third game and despite taking a nasty looking fall into the front of the court, finished the match 11/9.

[7] Mohd El Shorbagy (Egy) bt [6] Azlan Iskandar (Mas)
                     11-7, 11-5 (22m)
[1] James Willstrop (Eng) bt [3] Karim Darwish (Egy)
                     11-6, 11-5 (25m)

[2] Grégory Gaultier (Fra) bt [8] Laurens Jan Anjema (Ned)
                     11-5, 13-11 (40m)
[4] Amr Shabana (Egy) bt [5] Peter Barker (ENG)
                    7-11, 11-8, 11-7 (45m)

England's James Willstrop celebrated his new world number one ranking in perfect style tonight in London by beating Egyptian Karim Darwish in the first pool round.

In his first match since topping the Dunlop PSA World Rankings for the first time at the beginning of this month, Yorkshireman Willstrop gave a convincing display to overcome Darwish, the world No5 from Cairo, 11-6, 11-5 in 25 minutes.

In the other match in Group 1, Egyptian Mohamed El Shorbagy despatched fellow World Series Finals newcomer Azlan Iskandar, the world No10 from Malaysia, 11-7, 11-5 in just 22 minutes.

El Shorbagy was a late addition to the field after the withdrawal of fellow countryman Ramy Ashour, the 2007 champion. The 20-year-old world No6 from Alexandria is a student at the University of the West of England - and had to sit an exam this afternoon in Bristol before racing back to London to play his opening match!

There was further Egyptian success later in the evening when four-time world champion Amr Shabana fought back from game down to beat Londoner Peter Barker, the world No7, 7-11, 11-8, 11-7 in 45 minutes.

Shabana, at 32 the oldest player in the field, is making his eighth successive appearance in the World Series Finals. Despite reaching the final both in 2008 and 2011, the mercurial former world No1 from Cairo is looking for his first title - and success at Queen's would mark his first ever title triumph in England.

In the other Group 2 match, Gregory Gaultier demonstrated some excellent pressure squash early on in the first game and had Dutch opponent Laurens Jan Anjema struggling right from the start.

The Frenchman's powerful lengths were forcing loose balls from the Dutchman, and Gaultier looked under no pressure to give up his comfortable spot on the tee. The second game was closer however, and Anjema was able to force Gaultier to a tie-break after a marked improvement in his length and width.

The world No3 from Aix-en-Provence - a finalist in all three previous appearances in the event and twice a winner of the title - always looked the more dangerous on the attack though, and closed out the match 11-5, 13-11 after 40 minutes.

“It’s phenomenal to be world no.1 and the way I played at the end of 2011 to earn the ranking – I couldn’t have hoped for more.

“I had a good rest over the Christmas break and felt relaxed coming on to court. Me and Karim have had so many matches in the past, it’s just great to beat a top player 2-0.

“To get this first threat out of the way and do so well is a great start.”





"I am very happy to win today...I cant believe how well I played...

I didn't expected it at all considering I had the exam this morning in Bristol...

It's very cold there but it does suits my game a lot... The venue is amazing, the best I have been...

I am enjoying my stay here and I hope I can carry on the good form"

Tournament Info & Schedule

World's best head for Queen's

The top eight points earners from the World Series events of 2011 are invited to the World Series Finals, to be held for the third successive year at London's prestigious Queen's Club.

PSA Men's Qualifiers:

1  James Willstrop (Eng)     525
2  Nick Matthew (Eng)         425       w/d 2 Jan
    LJ Anjema (Ned)
3. Ramy Ashour (Egy)        400     w/d 28-Dec
    Mohamed El Shorbagy (Egy)
4. Grégory Gaultier (Fra)    335
5. Karim Darwish (Egy)      270
6. Amr Shabana (Egy)       265
7. Peter Barker (Eng)        240
8. Azlan Iskandar (Mas)     170

2010 PSA World Series Events: 
ToC | NAO | Australia | BGP | US Open | Qatar | [World Open] | Hong Kong | Kuwait | PSA Masters 

WSA Women's Qualifiers:

1. Nicol David (Mas)          625
2. Jenny Duncalf (Eng)      330
3. Madeline Perry (Irl)       215
4. Rachael Grinham (Aus)  200
5. Laura Massaro (Eng)      190
6. Kasey Brown (Aus)        170
7= Camille Serme (Fra)     145
7= Low Wee Wern (Mas)    145
9= Donna Urquhart (Aus)   135

2010 WISPA World Series Events:
Cayman | Malaysian | Australia | US Open |
Qatar | World Open | Hong Kong

Wed 4th to Fri 6th:

---------------- POOLS -------------
PSA 1          PSA 2     WSA 1   WSA 2

Willstrop     LJ Anjema   David     Duncalf
Shorbagy    Gaultier      Perry     Grinham
Darwish      Shabana     Serme    Massaro
Iskandar     Barker       Urquhart  Low

Pool matches are best of three,
WSA matches from 13.00 (available to media only), PSA matches from 18.00

Wed:
Perry v Urquhart, David v Serme
Duncalf v Massaro, Grinham v Low

Willstrop v Darwish, Shorbagy v Iskandar, Anjema v Gaultier, Shabana v Barker

Thu:
Perry v Serme, David v Urquhart
Duncalf v Low, Grinham v Massaro

Darwish v Iskandar, Willstrop v Shorbagy
Anjema v Shabana, Gaultier v Barker

Fri:
Serme v Urquhart, Massaro v Low
David v Perry, Duncalf v Grinham

Willstrop v Iskandar, Shorbagy v Darwish
Anjema v Barker, Gaultier v Shabana

Sat 7th:
Semi-finals (4) from 13.00

Sun 8th:
Finals (2) from 14.00

2011 World Series Finals

Major event coverage on our TOURNAMENTS page

2012 ATCO World Series Finals
returns to Queen's

The ATCO World Series Squash Finals will return to The Queen's Club in London for the third time next year, from 4-8 January.

The flagship PSA event, which celebrates its 18th staging since 1993, will feature the top eight players from the 2011 Dunlop PSA World Series Standings following their achievements in this year's nine PSA World Series events (two of which have yet to be completed).

But new for 2012 will be the simultaneous staging of the WISPA World Series Finals - featuring the top eight women in the now-completed 2011 WISPA World Series programme, led by Malaysia's record six-time world champion Nicol David.

The women's event, launched in 1998, has not been staged since 2004 - and never before in England. It will be run alongside the men's championship for the first time.

Nick Matthew, the men's world number one and world champion from England who currently leads this year's PSA World Series Standings, said: "The ATCO World Series Finals are a culmination of a year's hard work and graft on tour and you truly have to earn the right to be amongst the eight players in the finals.

"Queen's has proved to be an amazing venue for the last couple of years and it would be a great honour to become Tour champion in this iconic British venue."

Nicol David added: "This is such an important event for women's squash as the top eight women are going to be joining with the top eight men in the ATCO World Series Finals. We have been playing hard all year around the world and it will be great to come together with the men to fight for this title, especially somewhere as well known as the Queen's Club and where our association is now based.

"I'm very glad to be part of this event for the first time and looking forward to a spectacular event in London."
 

 

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