Round One, Bottom Half:
Adrian Grant (Eng) bt [Q] Chris Simpson (Eng)
11/8, 11/6 (74m)
 Mohamed El Shorbagy (Egy) bt Joe Lee (Eng)
11/7, 11/4, 11/5 (38m)
 James Willstrop (Eng) bt Saurav Ghosal (Ind)
11/7, 7/11, 11/4, 10/12, 11/5 (84m)
Tarek Momen (Egy) bt Marwan El Shorbagy (Egy)
12/10, 13/11, 11/7 (43m)
Alan reports on
Willstrop survives Saurav fightback
Alan Thatcher reports
number one James Willstrop weathered a phenomenal
fightback from his training partner Saurav Ghosal before
clinching a place in the quarter-finals of the Canary Wharf
The two players practice together at Pontefract and are
neighbours in Leeds, but there was no room for friendship or
sentiment on court as they engaged in a battle of enormous skill
and brutal physical commitment.
Willstrop’s superior quality delivered victory in 84 minutes of
high-quality entertainment, but the Indian number one earned
repeated bursts of applause from the packed crowd at Canary
Wharf’s spectacular East Wintergarden venue for his
After winning 11-7, 7-11, 11-4, 10-12, 11-5, Willstrop paid
tribute to his opponent:
have repeatedly warned people in pre-tournament interviews that
there are no easy matches at this level. If you step off the
pace by the tiniest amount, players like Saurav will jump on the
ball and punish you.
"He is so fast around the court and kept getting the ball back.
His retrieving was so amazing that I could sense the crowd were
getting on his side and willing him to do well."
Ghosal, who has yet to beat
Willstrop in a PSA tournament, held match ball against him in
the WSF World Cup last year.
match was very close but this is certainly the best I have
played against him in a PSA event. James is playing so well at
the moment, and his straight game is so immaculate that he
hardly gives you anything to hit.
"We all saw what he did to Ramy Ashour in the North American
Open and he is the best in the world at that because he is so
good at holding the ball. With some players you know where the
ball is going but James keeps you guessing."
quarter-final opponent, Tarek Momen, won an all-Egyptian
match against world junior champion Marwan El Shorbagy,
12-10, 13-11, 11-7.
Momen said: “I guess I’m hoping James might be feeling a little
bit tired after his long match tonight. I enjoyed my first-ever
match against Marwan. He is one to watch for the future, for
El Shorbagy’s elder brother, number four seed Mohamed,
overpowered English wild card Joe Lee in straight games.
am so pleased to be back at Canary Wharf again, playing in this
fantastic venue in front of a wonderful crowd. It’s a tough
draw, but I was very keen to come back and try to do my best
"I am living in England now so I’m hoping to get a bit of
support this week!
"Life in Egypt had been very difficult under the former
president for so many years and change was long overdue. We are
now looking forward to some stability after the forthcoming
His quarter-final opponent, Londoner Adrian Grant, needed
a strapping applied to his right leg during his match against
qualifier Chris Simpson but still had enough class and
control to win the match in four games.
After taking the opening game, Grant was clearly struggling in a
long second, which Simpson won 13-11. Grant immediately summoned
the England physio Jade Elias to apply bandages but he failed to
allow it to upset his concentration as he won in four games.
was no way I was going to give up. The adrenalin kicked in and I
was happy to play on.
"I had enjoyed a session with the England coach Chris Robertson
at Wimbledon on Sunday and he was encouraging me to attack more
and finish rallies more quickly.
"I am glad he did because that tactic seemed to work on the
glass court here tonight."
AS IT HAPPENED...
Well, it was a very strong performance from Chris Simpson
I thought. Adrian, slow starter, did very well today, and
took the first one, to find himself under a lot of pressure in
the second game, with Chris having game ball 10/7. Adrian gave
it a big push, 10/10, but Chris finished it off, 12/10.
A bit of a worrying time for the Grant camp when Adrian took 3m
injury time during the break, but he came back, and a mixture of
accuracy/patience from Adrian, plus experience on court, and
maybe a bit of pressure Chris put on himself at the end of the
third, that led to a few errors too many, and Adrian takes it in
4 in a very decent game indeed.
Now, Joe Lee, wild card, against Egyptian/English
Mohamed El Shorbagy. It's been very well publicised that
Mohamed has been training for years at Millfield, with Jonah
Barrington and Ian Thomas, although a bit less now, as he is in
Bristol. Joe used to train in Dolphin Square with Peter Genever,
now National Coach for Malaysia, and I heard that Joe was
working very hard with Chris Robertson, who replaced David
Pearson as English National Coach.
I would say that Joe has improved immensely. Yes, he got back to
his too many errors at the end, but that was quite
understandable, as Mohamed made him work a heck of a lot on
there... Joe has added pace and delayed shots to his game, I
felt him more solid, and more threatening for a game and a half,
which, against a player of Mohamed's standard, is a true reward
for the hard work he's been doing. He can only be encouraged by
Mohamed, after a first game where he started as a junior player
- he'll know what I mean - reassessed, got more patient,
building good rallies, to finally let his talent shine once the
physical work he imposed on his opponent paid its dividends....
Best match of the day, of the tournament so far was between
James and Saurav.
Training partners, a stunning match
really. On one side, Saurav, Beep Beep as a SquashSite reader
calls him, who runs and retreives superbly, and got a title
tonight of Better Retriever of the Year!!! James, well, never
gave him anything for free, attacked, varied the pace, lobbed,
increased the rhythm. It was a masterclass in retrieving, Wolrd
Class match, with Saurav saving a few match balls in the 4th, to
finally bow to the World Number One, but in style.
What a match,
people, and if you can,
just watch the replay!!!!!
The last match of the first round was all-Egyptian, and as fast
and furious as that implies, with Tarek Momen and
Marwan El Shorbagy taking each other on shot for shot,
winners and errors and generally short rallies.
The younger Shorbagy made a good start, but his 8/4 lead in the
first disappeared as Momen took it 12/10. Momen then let his own
9/4 lead slip in the second before taking it 13/11, but made no
mistake after taking a quick lead in the third.