open this page in new window                                    Day SEVEN in Hull

Today's quarter-finals at the Sports Arena saw the defending champions, world number ones, world champions and seven of the top eight seeds progress to the semi-finals. Read on for full details ...

[3] Raneem El Welily Egy) 3-0 [7] Low Wee Wern (Mas)                11-5, 11-6, 11-8 (32m)
[2] Laura Massaro (Eng) 3-0 Sarah Kippax (Eng)                         11-8, 12-10, 11-8 (41m)

[5] Alison Waters (Eng) 3-1 [4] Joelle King (Nzl)                    11-4, 8-11, 11-5, 11-1 (46m)
[1] Nicol David (Mas) 3-0 [11] Omneya Abdel Kawy (Egy)             11-7, 12-10, 11-4 (39m)

[4] Mohamed Elshorbagy (Egy) 3-1 Mathieu Castagnet (Fra) 11-7, 9-11, 11-6, 11-6 (57m)
[1] Nick Matthew (Eng) 3-0 [Q] Fares Dessouki (Egy)                   11-4, 12-10, 11-9 (45m)

[2] Grťgory Gaultier (Fra) 3-0 [7] Amr Shabana (Egy)                          11-2, 0-0 rtd (11m)
[3] Ramy Ashour (Egy) 3-0 [5] James Willstrop (Eng)                     11-5, 11-5, 11-7 (42m)

Meanwhile at the University of Hull the Masters Competitions are in full swing,
where it was also quarter-final day - Masters coverage

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[3] Raneem El Welily (Egy) 3-0 [7] Low Wee Wern (Mas)
                           11/5, 11-6, 11-8 (32m)


If the first two games, WW seemed a bit sluggish at time, not a length in the sight, and a bit too passive to put any kind of pressure on her opponent, she soon woke up in the 3rd!

Suddenly, we had a few rallies, lovely retrieving from both, and what lovely angles/long drop shots they both found.

Very close indeed, 5/5, 6/6, 7/7, itís hard to call. But a nice push from Raneem and she takes the match on her first match ball, 11/8.

You know, last two times, I won again WW, but the two times before that, I lost, and I was up 8/4 in the 5th, and lost the match.

So today, I tried and avoid that kind of mistake. And when in the 3rd, we were at 6/6, I really focus as much as I could, and made sure she wouldnít run away with points.

For me, the crucial point was 8/7, I won that, and that made the whole difference.

If in the first two games, she was not too alert, not as much as she normally is, in the third, she was the WW I was afraid to meet: patient, picking up everything, her pace is slow, I have to inject the pace to create the opportunity of a winning shot, and of course, I make the error!

Very happy with the matchÖ itís like every tournament, you try and take a match at a time. But I know myself, I can play very well one day, and the next day, Iím not there!

So my aim is to try and stay focused.

[2] Laura Massaro (Eng) 3-0 Sarah Kippax (Eng)
                         11-8, 12-10, 11-8 (41m)

Itís always a bit battle playing Sarah, she brings a lot to the party, she keeps bringing everything back! And whereas with other players I can be more clinical, with her, Iíve got to keep on fighting.

Well, so far in the tournament, I havenít lost a game, so I must be playing alright! Maybe this round I was not as focus as the previous ones.

But I actually worked more on the physical side today, which means that now, Iíve approached all the aspects of the game in the event.

It was tough going into the quarter final against an England teammate and someone Iíve known for years and years. On paper I was a heavy favourite so that is sometimes difficult to handle. Iím pleased to come through, sheís had a couple of giant killings.

After I won the event last year, it was a bit of a surprise. It took me a while to get my head round it and realise that everyone was still gunning for me. I feel really good to be in the next round.

The legacy work they do here and at our British nationals is massive and it helps get more kids playing squash and introduce them into the game. Itís such a great way to get kids involved.

The coverage Iíve had from the World Championships has helped get me a good reception wherever I go and Iím really enjoying it. It was nice to see them getting behind everyone and great to see a full side wall!

Tomorrow, Raneem, she is a phenomenal player, so skilful, and Iíll have to be on my game plan 100%. Weíve been playing a few times recently, she keeps appearing in my side of the draw, which is tough.

I hope that the English crowds will get behind the English players. We love nothing more than a loud and supportive crowd. So please get behind us!!!

Massaro edges
past Kippax

Defending champion Laura Massaro went through to the semi-finals with a second successive straight-games win, but it was far from straightforward for the world champion to get past compatriot Sarah Kippax, taking over 40 minutes for those three games.

Both looked a little edgy in the opening game, Massaro opening up a 6-2 lead which Kippax closed to 8-7 and 9-8 before Massaro took the lead with a deceptive drive and a trickle boast for 11-8.

It was Kippax who made the better start in the second though, leading 5-1 and 6-2 before Massaro, with a couple of typical ďCíMONsĒ fought back to level at 7-all and earning game balls at 10-8.

Kippax saved those but two winners from the Massaro racket doubled her advantage 12-10.

The defending champ was always ahead in the third, but never enough to be able to relax, Kippax kept closing to within a point ot two, then levelled at 8-all with two tight drives.

Massaro controlled the last three rallies though, mixing drives and drops to close out the match 11-8.

[5] Alison Waters (Eng) 3-1 [4] Joelle King (Nzl)
                          11-4, 8-11, 11-5, 11-1 (46m)

Waters powers into semis

When Alison Waters is on fire, thereís not a lot most opponents can do about it. Itís not a Kawy-type winners from everywhere kind of on fire, more a put-anything-loose-and-youíre-dead kind of annihilation.

And tonight Watersí shots were finding their target from the beginninh, storming to a 6-2 lead in the first, finishing it 11-4 with Joelle King, ranked one and seeded one place higher, unable to do much about it.

The second was more what youíd expect from #4 v #5 in the world, tight rallies, point for point on the scoreboard. Until 7-all anyway, then King found an extra gearm to finish it off 11-8 to level the match.

But from the outset of the third Waters was back on top, making her opponent do the work, forcing errors and/or picking off the inevitable loose return. She pulled clear from 3-all in the third to take it 11-5, then totally dominated the fifth against an increasingly dispirited opponent, 11-1 and she was in the semi-finals.

You only need to be on fire for three games - out of five - and Alison Waters certainly found those three games tonight.

[1] Nicol David (Mas) 3-0 [11] Omneya Abdel Kawy (Egy)
                       11-7, 12-10, 11-4 (39m)

Nicol neutralises Kawy

Four-time champion Nicol David moved into another British Open semi-final with a three-game win over old adversary Omneya Kawy which could easily have gone to four, or more, games.

The Malaysian world number one looked comfortable enough in the early stages of the match, keeping the ball moving and keeping her always-dangerous opponent on the move enough to nullify some of the potential danger of the Egyptianís shotmaking. Not all of the danger, of course, but enough to see David pull away from 4-all to 7-4 and 9-5, taking the lead 11-4.

Kawy was in contention throughout the second, and staged a comeback from 2-5 down to leven at 6-all, going on to lead 8-6 and building up some real momentum as she shots started to make David scramble more and more.

A pair of strokes - one harsh from where I sat but Kawy had already used up her review - and a fluffed overhead from Kawy helped David out of that hole and into a 10-8 lead. Kawy came back with two winners to force extra points, but a boast into the tin from Kawy was followed by a loose boast which Nicol put away to double her lead 12-10.

That seemed to take the wind out of Kawyís sails and the third was all Nicol, over in 6 minutes with David serving into the nick on match ball to complete the win 11-4.

"I played much better today. Omneya is such a crafty opponent, you have to be on your toes all the time, so I just had to try to stick to my game plan and it worked out but I just couldn't afford to relax at all.

It's great to play in this event in front of such a great, knowledgeable crowd, you just get drawn up into the moment.

Hopefully there will be lots of people coming tomorrow, most of them to support Alison but I'm looking forward to having another great match with her."

Mathieu is such an amazing player, and he is going to make it, because he is so strong mentally. All credit to him. Actually, I would like to congratulate the French team, with their coach Renan Lavigne, they have improved so much recently, there is a lot of hard work that came into it. So itís only logical they get good results at the end of the season. Well done to Mathieu, and also Grťgoire, that had a great match yesterday against Shabana.

Before the match, I had a game plan, to make the first game as long and as difficult as possible, because I knew he had a few hours of squash in the legs. But the plan failed as he kept running and running and actually played better in the second game than he did in the first!!! And by the time I realised that I had to change my game plan, I had lost the second game!!

So in the 3rd and 4th, I had to adjust my squash and went for it, forget about the ďmake it longĒ plan, just go for it!

But the turning points of the match are in the 3rd and 4th, at 8/6, where I got those two points cushions from 6/6. And I just didnít let them go. Thatís where the match was played. 8/6 on the 3rd and 4th.

Iím actually happy I made a hard game, because it fired my legs, I was a bit slow on court to start with and my backhand was not working as well as I expected. Now it comes down to the last four players, they are logically the hardest to beatÖ.

Jonah Barrington has won this title six times. All I want to do at the moment is win one, and put my name of the trophy.

[4] Mohamed Elshorbagy (Egy) 3-1 Mathieu Castagnet (Fra)                           11-7, 9-11, 11-6, 11-6 (57m)


I have seen my compatriot play for 10 years now. I saw him as the only thing he could do was run. And run. And run. And little by little, I saw his game evolve. Like Peter Barker, he added a few layers to his game, and now mixes a super physical strength with a lovely attacking game (backhand volley in particular) doubled with a dangerous redrop ability that really put Shorbagy under tremendous pressure, both mentally and physically.

You add to that the
fact he doesnít have an ounce of nastiness, or anger, or aggression in his body, he never gets angry at the ref, doesnít push, doesnít argue: he just keeps on playing, hence his nickname, the IceManÖ.

Cut to Paderborn in October 2009. Decider in the semis between France and Egypt. Against all odds, Mathieu is leaving 2 game and 7/4 up against Shorbagy, already ranked much higher than him. Mohamed came back to give his country the place in the final, that led to the title when James bowed to Karim for the first time ever. Canít forget moments like that, they are engraved in my head.

Since then, I think Mohamed and Mathieu have developed a real respect for each other. And I think that Mohamed was dreading this encounter. Remember one thing. Mohamed is here for one thing, and one thing only. To win the title. And for him, matches are like energy hurdles. He sees his opponents like people that are going take energy away from him for the finalÖ

So when the match started, Mohamed was stressed. And Mathieu wasnítÖ

First game went Mohamedís way, but Mathieu already surprising me by the speed he displayed to start with. He matched Mohamed up to 3/3, a bit of a drop of energy (I was not surprised!) for a few points, a few tins, then gets his second wind at3/7. Now itís Mohamedís turn to be a bit tired (heíll make 4 errors in this game, same number for Mathieu), but Mohamedís got the shots and uses them, 11/7.

The second is a bit of a wake up call for Shorbagy. 3/0 for Mathieu. Ah. The game plan, trying to make the Frenchman tired didnít work at all. He is a fresh as a French rose my Mathieu is, and will keep not only retrieve the shots that Mohamed is banging all over the court, but also counterattacking and volleying superbly.

The Egyptian hangs in there, and itís all level, 5/5. Mathieu another push, 7/5, 8/6, and 10/7! It will take three game balls for the French to get it, but he does on a no let, 11/9, games are one all.

The third is probably the most beautiful game wise. Yes, score is less close, but the squash from Mathieu was something I never saw him play before. And Mr IceMan (because he never shows any kind of anger or nastiness) is playing the match of his life.

But like Mohamed stressed in him aftermatch interview, both the 3rd and 4th went to 8/6, and thatís the crunch time. Mohamed hanged to that cushion and made sure Mathieu wouldnít come back. Mathieu didnít score another point in either gameÖ

A very intense match, truly. The score/time doesnít start to reflect the quality, sportsmanship, respect, intensity, ridiculous squash that went on on there.

Bien jouť les petitsÖ.

I felt super great on the court today, and thatís all credit to my fitness coach Arnaud Hays. With Renan, they really made me work very hard for 5 weeks in view of the Europeans and the British Open, because we knew that a top 20 ranking was possible. I worked very hard, but after that, I felt like a machine!!!

Today, not too unhappy with the first two games, but to be able to compete with Mohamed, I have to cover so much more ground than he does! So I got a bit tired at the end, went too quickly to the front, and made too many errors.

Just a word about Mohamed, all credit to him and the way he played today, I could feel he was a bit stressed to start with but he is in an ascension phase, going I hope for him to world number 1 and World Champion. And itís such a pleasure to see him play.

[1] Nick Matthew (Eng) 3-0 [Q] Fares Dessouki (Egy)
                          11-4, 12-10, 11-9 (45m)


It was not the best ever performance from either player today, but then again, like Nick said afterwards, job done. Fares showed for the first time today that he was just out of the juniors bless him. Extremely nervous in the first game, he just was outplayed by Nick, 2/0, 3/1, 7/2, 10/4, game Nick in 10m.

The second, the young man was a bit more positive, and was able to lengthen both his game and the rallies. A longer game, 18m, nice rallies, and a few winners that really put Nick under pressure.

And itís neck to neck the whole way to 9/9. A stroke, 10/9, game ball. A little junior moment for Fares, goes for too much, and a superb tin instead of a winner. Nick says thank you and hop, take the game 12/10.

The young man still kicks and fights, while Nick is struggling a bit (he got treatment from England Physio after the second game on his left leg). Fares goes 5/2 up, courtesy of a few unforced errors from the World Champion. But Nick give the big push, levels it up at 6/6, 7/7, 8/8, 9/9. But this time, itís not one but two tins that young Fares does, and itís 11/9 for Nick. A big relief in the English/Matthew camp, as Mr Shorbagy awaits. A fourth game wouldnít have been welcome at allÖ

Job done!

It was a bit unusual to play somebody that didnít have that much experience at such a level of the competition. I had a game plan, a bit rigid, sorry if it wasnít flamboyant squash. Heís got a few nice tricks, and when he matures, heíll be hard to beat.

Mohamed has beaten me the last two times we have played. Shorbagy has go the qualities that comes with youth, at the same time, a lot of maturity, and is definitely the complete article.

 As for my world title, that was a lifetime ago!!!! Trust me, Mohamed doesnít give aÖ. toss about the fact Iím world champion, or of my ranking or anything. He doesnít care about that kind of things, if he was to play againt Jahangir Khan at his best, he would just play him! In Squash, itís not about what you have achieved, itís about your next matchÖ

The British Open is the reason I became a squash player, I remember going to Wembley to watch the greats like Jahsher and Jahangir Khan and that is what inspired me to play.

I feel like my week is just getting going now, Iíve not hit my stride like I need to and I hope with the crowd tomorrow I can up it a few more levels. I expect we'll have another hard battle tomorrow when hopefully experience will sway it for me.

I was very nervous, it was a whole different level for me. And playing Nick Matthew who I admire so much, he is such a fighter, very accurate, very fast on the ball, and all that made it very difficult for me to win a point.

At 10/9, I went for a winner, not sure what happened there, but it just found the tin. That was my last chance to get a game I thought! A bit unlucky there maybe, but it was such a great experience for me to play such a player.

Iíve just no energy. had a bit of a gastro, took all the pills I could, but Iím just flat as it comes.

Just canít moveÖ.

[2] Grťgory Gaultier (Fra) 3-0 [7] Amr Shabana (Egy)
                     11-2, 0-0 rtd (11m)

Stomach bug ends Shabana's BO bid

Amr Shabana's bid to win a first British Open title was brought to a premature end as the Egyptian four-time world champion retired from his match against Gregory Gaultier, at the start of the second game having barely contested the first.

I feel sorry for Shabs as he's my best friend on tour and it's a shame when a match ends this way. Iím sorry really, he was riddle last year with injury, illnesses, and he came back, at 34, itís just amazing.

Last time we played in the US, he hammered me 3/0 in like 30m. Not a nice feeling I tell you. But that shows the talent he has. I just hope he is going to be alright soon, and that weíll have many more great battles.

Tomorrow I'm playing Ramy and he's the man in form at the moment. He's won the last two tournaments on the PSA World Series and his body is looking in great shape.

But even though he is the man in form I'm here to do my best and try and beat everybody else so I'll just go back and get myself ready for tomorrow. I'll be fresh which is good so I'll give it my best tomorrow and we will see.

Now, I just hope that Ramy and James are going to have a verrrrrry long match, that will finish tomorrow morningÖ

[3] Ramy Ashour (Egy) 3-0 [5] James Willstrop (Eng)
             11-5, 11-5, 11-7 (42m)


It was hard to watch.

What it reminds me of, was a match, years ago, between James and John White, where John didnít sleep for days as his wife just had twins. He was beyond exhaustion, and played slow motion from the 2nd game on. He gave everything he had. And more.

Today, thatís what James did. Like Ramy said, it was inspiring for him. He could see that James was impaired, but at the same time, he knew that had he relaxed for a split second, James would have been to his throat and wouldnít have let goÖ

The Englishman showed clear signs of back trouble Ė confirmed by Jamesí Manager Mick Todd right after the match. But he was also empty mentally I felt. His match yesterday, his outburst Ė very unlike James to speak ill of anyone Ė the fact that his dad was not happy with his behaviour, all that I feel played its role tonight.

OK, you are going to say that Iím stretching beyond reality here, but it was like James kept playing to redeem himself for having lost his temper yesterday and allowed his emotions to dictate his behaviour. I donít know. Thatís what I felt.

He knew that he probably had very little chances to win. And he was probably in deep pain. But he kept the ball going until the last point of the match. Because thatís what men with honour do.

Donít think for a minute that it was easy for Ramy tonight. Of course, it didnít last as long as a real match, but Ramy had to play his A game to beat Gentleman James.

And that, the Artist did.

Iím delighted with the win. I think I had a great preparation, I was patient, and I played the right shots. Our aim is not to play in patches, but actually to play consistent squash.

I noticed that James was slower than usual, I thought it was the week that was catching up with him, especially the match he had yesterday.

He kept behind me, and that made the difference today. He was just a step behind, and I could feel he still wanted it, that he was fighting.

 And that if I gave him 1% opening, he would grab it. So I had to be on my toes, and I couldnít play anything else but my best.

I hope there is nothing wrong with him, but actually, he inspired me tonight, because I was thinking this is the way to behave, when you are down, just keep digging, keep fighting.

And I thought, next time Iím tired, thatís the way Iíll have to behave. He is such a great ambassador, and itís always great to play against him.

You can see how all exhausted the players are, itís been a very busy season, and whoever stays fit enough at the end is happy. Iím happy with my body at the moment.

And if the H2H are in my favour against Greg, it doesnít mean anything on the day. I just hope I can keep that fine line alive.

And although heíll be a bit fresher, I am going to prepare for it, recover, and not think too much about it.

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