open this page in new window                                            Day EIGHT in Hull

Top seeds through to finals in Hull as Gaultier dethrones Ashour

It will be the top two seeds who contest the Allam British Open finals tomorrow in Hull, and in both cases it will be the World Number One versus the World Champion, with home interest - but no Egyptians - in both matches.

[2] Laura Massaro (Eng) 3-1 [3] Raneem El Welily (Egy)
                                                     6-11, 11-8, 11-4, 11-7 (44m)
[1] Nicol David (Mas) 3-1 [5] Alison Waters (Eng)
                                                     8-11, 11-5, 11-4, 11-2 (43m)

[1] Nick Matthew (Eng) 3-2 [4] Mohamed Elshorbagy (Egy)
                                          4-11, 14-12, 3-11, 11-7, 11-8 (104m)
[2] Grťgory Gaultier (Fra) 3-1 [3] Ramy Ashour (Egy)
                                                    11-7, 12-10, 3-11, 11-7 (72m)
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[2] Laura Massaro (Eng) 3-1 [3] Raneem El Welily (Egy)
                           6-11, 11-8, 11-4, 11-7 (44m)


Squash is such a mental game itís a joke,  young James Willstrop told me once, years ago in New York.

Basically, I dare say the match was not on the court, but in the brain of those two players. Raneem was confident and played superbly in the first, dominating a bit of a nervous Laura Massaro, who a truly a shadow of herself to start with.

Pressure was on her, and we all felt it. 3/0, 4/2, 9/3, 10/5, 11/6, the Egyptian playing absolutely superbly, 6m!

And the second started in the same vein, 3/0 Raneem, but suddenly, Raneem didnít adapt to the change of pace that Laura did. The English lady started lifting the ball beautifully, and Raneem went and tried to play her shots as quickly as she did in the first game. But it just wasnít working anymore. And basically, in the middle of the game, Laura was up 5/4, 5 tins from Raneem.

Frustrated, she was. To say the least. She fought back, but that was it. Laura got confidence and her squash back, and even if Raneem stayed level for a while, 6/6, 7/7, Laura did her first loud COME ON, then strung the points to 10/7, then 11/8.

Furious with herself I guess, Raneem hit the self-destruct button patented by Ong Beng Hee, bless them both, and just never found the balance right between attacking and patience. While Laura, on a warm court, in front of her friends and compatriots, shows how strong and accurate she was.

Nicol, watch out, here I comeÖ

I win to see another day!

I get a bit frustrated when I play her, and she gets frustrated when she plays me, I donít think she enjoys playing me, but there is nothing I can do about it!!!

Raneem came out springing around, which is not something that is normally done in womenís game, like a steam train, but there is a reason why itís not normally done, because it takes so much out of you to actually keep it at the same pace.

In the same token, I started a bit edgy, but it was probably caused by the fact she was not giving me any time on the ball.

From the second on, I tried and hit the back corner better, picked up the pace and lift the ball. That I think was the key and had a great incidence on the game.

Iím lucky I stayed solid at the right time. It was all about sticking to my game plan, and tighter my game.

Tomorrow, if I play Alison, the pressure would be on me, because Iíve got a higher ranking, but if I play Nicol, although Iím the title holder, she is the world number oneÖ

[1] Nicol David (Mas) 3-1 [5] Alison Waters (Eng)
            8-11, 11-5, 11-4, 11-2 (43m)

Star Trek Nicol again,
and again, and again

Every time Nicol loses a final, she sheds about 5 kilos. She did after losing the British Open last summer, and guess what, she did it again. After losing that title in Penang, that must have been so distressing for her, she punished the gym, again, and again.

There is nothing left of her, not that there was much to waste before I tell you. She has got stronger quads as well, her butt is now officially the skinniest on the WSA tour, and if she loses anymore final, sheíll have to get a bone removed, cause I donít see how she could lose any more!?!!


Today, Alison played her game superbly in the first game, absolutely perfect tactic and execution, dominating the T beautifully, and squeezing errors from Nicol beautifully (3).

And if the game is pretty close all the way to 8/8, Alison has the perfect shots, speed and energy to take the next three points, 11/8.

After that, StarTreck Nicol was so fast on the ball, I had the impression that Scottie was beaming her from one side of the court to the other!

Alison was still playing the perfect shot at the perfect time, but Nicol managed to get on the ball so fast that not only she was picking up the English lady great attacks, but she also had time on the ball to adjust her shots and kill it.

Alison never put a foot wrong today, but StarTreck Nicol was just zooming from one side to the other side, controlling, hitting, lifting, and just kept in the War Path to her 5th British Open Title. No time to waste she seemed to say. I have a title to win tomorrow.

She started firing, but after I lost the first game, I just increased my intensity, and I was happy with the turn around.

I tried and put more pressure on her, and stop her taking the control of the rallies, like she did in the first game, taking her out of that zone in the middle where she is so comfortable. And I managed to stay in front of her.

I donít think that we will do anything different for the final, Laura and myself will just try and play our best squash. No matter who you play in the British Open final, you just go out there, and be competitive from the beginning. Thatís my goal.

The British Open is like wining the World Title, itís such a prestigious event. It is part of the History of Squash, and to know that you are part of it is enough to keep you wanted more and more.

Yes, Fram, I did work even harder after losing the Worlds, I just worked everything I could think of really, to make myself stronger physically, because when you are stronger physically, it makes you stronger mentally.

And you know what? Practice makes perfect. So tomorrow, nothing to lose, just hope it will be a good show.

" It was such a brutal match...we both gave it everything we had ... I had a chance to go 2/0 up and another chance when I was leading in the 4th too but he kept coming back at me and never gave up.

There is something that I really appreciate about Nick that he always believe whatever happens on court stays on court..for people who watched they would think we both hate each other because of how agressive both of us we are at each other but in fact that's how squash matches should be played we both fight each other and once the match is finished everything stays on court ...

You have to be aggressive we don't come to squash tournaments to be nice on court or to make friends we come to win squash matches and that's what we both tried to do today and there is nothing mean about that...we both have a lot of respect for each other once this fight was done you could see in our eyes the appreciation we have and the respect that we both got the best out of each other.

I have grown up watching him play and for me he is the most clever squash player I have seen out of his generation ... he is truly one of a kind and the way he fought today was inspirational to me and I will remember it for the rest of my career.

Really want to thank Hadrian for being with me during this week and for the work he does with me in Bristol.

My season is done now and it's been a very interesting one...I have to be happy with it but I know that I am very close to that world Number one spot now and I know that my summer training will be very hard for it"

[1] Nick Matthew (Eng) 3-2 [4] Mohamed Elshorbagy (Egy)       4-11, 14-12, 3-11, 11-7, 11-8 ((104m)


To be fair, when Mohamed took the first game, and the way Nick looked, drained, white as snow, and a bit sluggish, we thought that we were on for a quicky.


First game, Shorbagy wheezes through 11/4, but still took 12m to do so. He was so fast and offensive, Nick didnít react and like I said, looked out of the British Open.

A truly amazing massive game, hard work doesnít start rendering it justice, both players having their go, a bit of block here, Nick going ďthere is one player blocking, one player trying to play the ballĒ, a little double bounce there, Iím told (couldnít see it myself), another cracker from Nick after a no let three times for the same situation that looked like a stroke for the rest of us ďif I hit him in that position, is that point for me? Yes says the ref. Nooooooo goes MohamedÖ

All happening.

5/1 for Nick, 6/6, 7/7, Mohamed goes up 9/7, kindly playing two tins, 9/9. 10/9, game ball Nick, Mohamed saves it with a huge winner, shouting in Nickís ear. Nick get another game ball at 11/10, and render the favour by shouting in his face.

Testosterone running full blast!!!

Digging in, fighting his way through thanks to intravenous drip of adrenalin, Nick clinches it 14/12, in 33 minutes.

Nick catches his breath in the 3rd, 11/3 in 7m, the shortest game of the match.

Fourth, it could be the end. Yeah right. M Matthew is on the Playing-in-front-of-my crowd Drip again, and dominates the game against a Baggy that looks as white as Nick did in the 1st, 11/7 in 15m.

The fifth, surely, SURELY Nick is going to fold and die gracefully. Or is he? Absolutely not. Shorgagy is beaten. Fighting, yes he is. But itís a lost one. From 2/2, Nick goes from strength to strength, 4/2 8/3, 10/7, and on a tin, Mohamed bows to the Will King, 11/8.

I would have never ever ever ever ever put a penny on Nick today. Ill the whole week, having received physio treatment in his match against Fares, I had all my money on Shorbagy.

Thank Heaven Iím not a betting woman.

Please people, just give another round of applause while I get my breath back!!

"I was running on fumes for the last two hours of that match, and it only lasted an hour and a half!

The pace was relentless, it was a bit of a blur and Iím really lucky to get it in the end.

I think that both of us could have played a little bit better, it got a little bit scrappy at times, a little bit edgy . We both hit the wall at times. In terms of the mental effort, it was up there. There are different ways to win.

I mentioned experience before and I used my experience in the end especially considering the topsy-turvy week that I had, it summed my week up perfectly. In terms of mental effort, it was up there from me. Thereís different ways to win, you have to find that way sometime

Before I knew it I got it back to 4-4 in that [fifth] game. That was probably a little bit of a turning point and it was down to how I responded there because I knew that he would come back. He did but I just managed to win it. Maybe he just saw that finish line and, as good as he is, I've probably got a little bit more experience than him.

I would have signed for a tough semi-final 48 hours ago when I was ill. Beggars can't be choosers. I've recovered from such matches before. You have a lot of time to recover if you lose but I'd rather be recovering for a match. I've got a physio here who helps me.

I just have to focus on my recovery. The crowd were amazing today, they were very supportive. And I just hope they all turn up tomorrow.

[2] Grťgory Gaultier (Fra) 3-1 [3] Ramy Ashour (Egy)
          11-7, 12-10, 3-11, 11-7 (72m)


Itís strange to think that there wonít be a single Egyptian in the final. The warm conditions didnít suit their game for one. But most of all, the mental strength the English displayed, along with bad luck for Ramy and StarTrek Nicol speed that did the trick todayÖ.

Ramy, troubled since the start of the tournament by back trouble, didnít start well. But that was neither surprising nor worrying. Heís got a habit of getting back and stringing points at the end of the first, or take the second to another speed/level.

And today was a bit the same, excellent start from a very focused Greg, 4/0. Good recovery from Ramy, 4/5 after a massive rally, I mean massive from Massive City. Greg seems to recover better, stringing the points beautifully up to 9/4. Ramy comes back a bit, again another superb astonishing rally at 10/5, but Greg will finally take the game, in 18m, 11/7.

The second game is pure Chef díOeuvre, a Masterpiece really. I rarely such an accuracy, intelligence, craft, chess moves, between two players. It was squash at its best. You have to watch it, truly. Incredible of control and cat/mouse side to side, corner to corner.

But at 9/9, itís all over. Ramy starts by stretching his back. Then the next point, itís the inside of his left leg, could be the hamstring or the abductors, but itís the high insertion. Ramy not concentrating anymore on the game, takes a winner to save the game ball, but will tin the next two points.

Away from the SquashTV camera, Ramy is stretching. Trying to. Not looking good.

When he comes back, completely relaxed, he gives it a go. Lob and nicks. He takes the game 11/4. But Greg, having had a little breather, will stop him in the 4th, at 6/4. Ramy will score one more point, but thatís it. 11/7 Greg.

For the third time of his career, the World number one in his final of the British Open.

Itís always a great feeling to reach a major final. But I could see that Ramy had pulled a muscle at the end of the second. Iím not blind. I know him very well. I could see in the third that he would only do lobs and drop shots, he didnít move or push.

So, yes, happy, but itís difficult to rejoice when you see your opponent injured. I know the feeling too well, and itís so sad that it ended with an injury.

In the 3rd, I lost a bit my concentration, but you know, even at 30%, itís hard to win a point against Ramy!!!! I just hope heíll be alright.

Last year, I got into the final, but Ramy was in such a form, he was beating everybody, wining all the finals, he was so strong. I did what I could but it was not enough.

Nick is an unbelievable fighter and he's had an amazing career, such an athlete. He has achieved so much but he is always still hungry and he has a real fighting spirit which he showed today against Mohamed.

And he can back it up too. As he always says ďwe train for playing in those kind of conditionsĒ, so I donít expect him to be tired. At all. I just hope he is not injured!

He always tries to the last point but I'm here to win and this tournament is one of my main targets for the season. Winning the title for a second time would be just as amazing as the first so I'll give it everything tomorrow.

Tomorrow is another day, another match, another trophy to raise maybe. May the best player win.

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