at the ROWE British Grand Prix:
Fri 23rd, Day FIVE
Steve Cubbins at the NSC, Fram in France
Fun with the Fisheye effect
Quarters take Two,
three Egyptians in the semis ...
Last night we had three Englishmen and an Egyptian on court
as Nick Matthew and Amr Shabana secured their semi-final
places, tonight saw three more Egyptians and a Frenchman
aiming to join them in the last four.
The form book said it would be Karim Darwish and Ramy
Ashour, and so it came to pass ...
already beaten one of his younger compatriots Tarek Momen, Karim
Darwish faced another tonight in the form of Omar Mosaad.
It was a different test altogether though - whereas Momen was
small, nippy, and loved mixing it up, Mosaad, with a much
greater physical presence to call on, was happier to play the
patient game that Darwish dictated tonight.
The third seed barely got above walking pace in the first game,
stroking the ball around, making Mosaad do the majority of the
moving - although at 6'4" he doesn't have to reach a long way
for most things!
The first two games were similar, slow tactical battles, with
plenty of long rallies, but it was Mosaad's error count that
made the difference as the younger player frequently lost
errors from Mosaad in the first, which he lost 11/5, four in the
second which he lost 11/9 after being level at 4-all.
The work he was being made to do took its toll in the third as
Darwish quickly established a 5/0 lead.
Mosaad steadied, but Darwish had the finish line in his sights,
extended to 8/2, 10/6, and put in a short drive that was too
tight on the wall to finish it off 11/7.
Three games, just under an hour, but Darwish never really had to
get into top gear and he'll be fresh enough for whatever
challenge he has to face tomorrow ...
played very patiently today, he played really well to get to
this stage but we train and play a lot together and I know his
game, I knew I had to try and get him to move around the court
and make him turn.
"I'm happy with my performance this evening, I think I'm getting
back there after playing a few smaller tournaments at the start
of the year, and now Australia and here I'm playing well.
"It's a bit like the Nationals for me, I've played two Egyptians
already, and I may have to play a third tomorrow! That's what
it's like on tour these days though with a lot of Egyptians
around, we've all got used to it.
"The World Teams is a major event, it's very important in Egypt
as a World Championship, there was a lot of pressure on my
shoulders playing the deciding match.
"Doing well there has definitely improved my confidence - it's
80% in the head when you play the top guys in events like this."
we thought the first match was a long 'un for three games, but
the second quarter-final of the night was even longer. It was
played at a much higher pace too as Gregory Gaultier and Ramy
Ashour thrilled the full house at the National Squash Centre in
"The first game was thee longest ever," declared Ashour
afterwards, adding "it was like playing a ten-setter not just
Neither were strictly true, but you get the idea. It was fast,
furious, long rallies, short rallies, winners and crucial
errors, disputes and the obligatory Ramy dive (which I missed,
made the better start, leading 3/0 quickly, then 4/1. The
Frenchman came back well though, levelled at 4-all and stayed a
point or two ahead, getting to 10/8 as Ashour tinned with broken
The new racket worked fine though as he took the next four
points to win the game after 27 minutes. Not the longest ever
(we had a 34-minute game last night) but longer than most, for
From 4-all in the second it was the Egyptian who asserted,
opening out to 6/4, 7/5, 9/6 and 10/7, winning it as Gaultier
hit the tin.
He continued to hold the ascendency, moving supremely well as he
does and forcing Gaultier to rush shots, creating the occasional
error. 3/1 extended to 8/3 and Gaultier, who was starting to
have a few 'issues' with the referees, looked in danger of
losing focus. He didn't though, he fought back well, getting as
close as 8/9 before two errors, both forced, put Ramy through to
an all-Egyptian semi-final.
was a tough three-setter, it was as hard as a ten-setter! He was
on fire, always ready to attack and hitting winners from
everywhere, you really have to be on your guard all the time.
"It was a good match, good quality squash and entertaining for
the crowd I hope too.
"I'm glad to be in the semis and to be playing my fellow
countryman. It's a great tournament and it's been good for me so
far, I hop I can play well again tomorrow."