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  TODAY in Hong Kong 2012
   Friday 30th, Day SIX, Quarter-Finals                                    Fram & Steve in HK


WSA World Series $77k:

[1] Nicol David (Mas) 3-0 Kasey Brown (Aus)
           11/2, 11/4, 11/3 (30m)
[8] Natalie Grinham (Ned) 3-1 [3] Jenny Duncalf (Eng)
            11/8, 10/12, 11/2, 11/5 (49m)
Camille Serme (Fra) 3-0 Rachael Grinham (Aus)
            11/6, 11/7, 12/10 (28m)
Omneya Abdel Kawy (Egy) 3-2 [6] Alison Waters (Eng)
          11/9, 9/11, 6/11, 11/8, 11/9 (67m)

PSA World Series $150k:

[1] James Willstrop (Eng) 3-0 Borja Golan (Esp)
           11/7, 11/7, 11/4 (57m)
[4] Karim Darwish (Egy) bt [6] Peter Barker (Eng)  w/d injured

[5] Ramy Ashour (Egy) 3-1 [3] Gregory Gaultier (Fra)
         8/11, 11/8, 11/8, 10/3 rtd (69m)
[2] Nick Matthew (Eng) bt [7] Amr Shabana (Egy)   w/d injured


Photo Galleries

Mixed up men's quarters as the
women's upsets continue in Hong Kong ...

Today was a day when only one of the men's quarter-finals ended with a natural finish, while the upsets continued unabated in the women's draw ...

Top seeds James Willstrop and Nick Matthew will contest the semi-finals, Willstrop against Karim Darwish in a repeat of last year's final, and Matthew against Ramy Ashour, the 2010 champion.

In the women's event top seed and defending champion will meet eighth seed Natalie Grinham and an unseeded finalist is guaranteed with Camille Serme and Omneya Abdel Kawy set to contest the other semi-final.

The day started with the unfortunate news that Peter Barker was having to withdraw from his quarter-final match against Karim Darwish:

"Yesterday during my match against Cameron, at 9/7 in the third, I went for a ball, and I strained my hamstring.

"I’m struggling today, and with the World Open coming up next week, I really don’t want to take any risks to pull my hamstring.

"I’m really gutted, but I’m going to stay here and get treatment with the ES physio Jade, and I’m sure I’ll be fine next week…"

Peter Barker

The first player to win through to the semi-finals on court was Natalie Grinham. The Dutch former world number two faced England's former world number two Jenny Duncalf, the third seed.

After sharing two close first games of 13 and 16 minutes duration, Grinham raced away with the match, taking the third 11/2 in just 5 minutes and closing out the fourth 11/5 after 49 minutes.

Then came the news that Amr Shabana had also withdrawn injured, granting second seed Nick Matthew a day odd and a passage into the semi-finals.

“At 10-all in the second game yesterday I lost my footing when going for a deep crosscourt, resulting in a half full dive on my left side.

"I brushed it off in the heat of the match, but as my body was cooling down later I found breathing difficult, and today it was a struggle to practice because of a bruise on my left ribcage.

“The timing of it left me to choose to rest it and not to play as I want to give myself a good chance for the worlds, the world series and the rest of the season instead of aggravating it or lengthening the period of injury.”

Amr Shabana

The second match saw France's Camille Serme record a straight-games win over Natalie's big sister Rachael Grinham, The Frenchwoman was well on top in the first two games, but Rachael mounted a comeback to lead 10/7 in the third.

Five point in a row for a determined Serme though, and she was into the semi-finals.

Top seed and defending champion James Willstrop was up against Borja Golan, the Spaniard who upset eighth seed Mohamed El Shorbagy yesterday.

The Englishman took two tough opening games 11/7 - from 6-2 in the first and 6-7 in the second - before easing through the third in just 10 minutes.

Women's top seed and defending champion Nicol David was also in fine form, not allowing Kasey Brown a look in as she marched into the semi-finals on the back of a 38th consecutive win in Hong Kong in which she dropped just nine points.

For Omneya Abdel Kawy it was far, far tougher as she beat her third seed in a row. This time England's Alison Waters was the one to suffer as Kawy came from two-one down to win a match that truly could have gone either way.

In the end though it was the Egyptian former world number four who prevailed over the current world number four.

In the final match of the day Ramy Ashour and Gregory Gaultier met in a repeat of their 2010 HK final. The first three games were close, third seed Gaultier taking the first 11/8, fifth seed Ashour taking the next two by the same score.

Ramy was rampant in the fourth, leading 9/3 when he dived to retrieve a ball, Gaultier went over in pain, and was unable to continue after his allowed three minute recovery period.

[8] Natalie Grinham (Ned) 3-1 [3] Jenny Duncalf (Eng)
            11/8, 10/12, 11/2, 11/5 (49m)


Body language. It tells you 99% of the story 99 times out of a 100. And a so trim and fit Natalie got on court – and back from the rest time – with that “bring it on, Jenny” attitude. And it worked wonders.

But it all started very well for Jenny I thought. Better the devil you know, she was much more relaxed playing Nat than she was playing a new comer Dipika I felt. She was calm, her shots were well executed, well thought as well. But as the first game unravelled, Natalie perfect length and lobs, and her excellent movement started to put the English girl under a lot of pressure. The Dutch takes the first game 11/8.

And strangely enough, it’s the reverse in the 2nd! Natalie starts really well, up 8/4 rather quickly, but it’s Jenny that will take the game 12/10.

The third is really weird. Jenny just doesn’t seem there at all, and Natalie just strings the points easily, with little or no reaction from her opponent that seems outplayed.

And the last game, well, Jenny seems much more fired up body language wise, but again, Natalie dominates her in all the departments of the game, and takes the match after having led 9/2, 11/5.

To be noted the low numbers of errors for the Dutch, 6, while Jenny’s count is higher, 13.

Well, I’m nearly back to my normal weight – before Baby – but some months, a bit overweight, a kilo or two to lose still…

Yes, there are very few girls that came back, Vicky Cardwell, Salma Shabana – but she stopped before she got back to her best, it was a bit difficult with her husband being very busy…

I played Jenny a lot before the baby, and one or twice since, but every time I played her since then, I was playing with the wrong game plan, whereas today, I had the good one, and I stuck to it.

Until the middle of the second that is, where I went a bit defensive and short length, and she stepped up as well. But in the 3rd, I refocused, went back on the plan, and just did what I had to do.

In the 4th, I was a bit scared as I won the 3rd so easily, and my first short shots were as high as lobs! But after a few points, I calmed down and went back to normal.

Jeeezz, I’m so focus on what I have to do, I can’t even be happy…

Camille Serme (Fra) 3-0 Rachael Grinham (Aus)
            11/6, 11/7, 12/10 (28m)


I never hid my complete admiration for Rachael’s game. I’m a big fan of hers, and just luuuve the way she thinks Squash. Her mixing of the shots/pace and her delayed lob has frustrated more than a player over the years.

Yesterday, she had a pretty tough 4 setters, ending 17/15 in the fourth against up and coming Joshana, a pretty intense match. Camille had also an hard match, but not as long as Wee Wern had to retire in the 4th after getting injured in the 3rd.

So, Camille, up and roaring, took the game to Rachael early on, forcing a few errors from her in the first game, and basically playing the Australian’s game in the second to great result really.

The Frenchgirl lobbed her way through the game, to lead 6/0! Rachael, as the experienced player she is, didn’t let go, and started lobbing back, and clawed back from 3/9 to 7/10, but Camille closed the game out, 11/7.

The third saw a rejuvenated Rachael that comes back on court, very sharp and assertive and take a comfortable lead, 4/1, 5/2 and 6/3. Camille clings back and 6/6 we are.

Rachael, still with a great energy/momentum, gets three game balls 10/7, but cannot transform any of those, as Camille is playing far more aggressive squash as she was at the start of the game. One match ball at 11/10 will be enough for the French, who gets to a semi in a major for the first time since the Singapore Masters in July 2011.

I tried to play as tight and as simple as I could, to prevent her from playing her natural game, she loves changing the angles and varying her shots.

Plus on that court, the accuracy of your length is paramount. So I tried and play simple, keeping it straight, and only crosscourting with the best width I could.

I was a bit worried of course, with all the great results she had recently, she is playing really well.

And in the 3rd, she started to play really well, her shots started to really get in. I’m really happy I was able to come back to 10/10, and to take the match 3/0.

It’s a great feeling to be back in the semis, didn’t happen to me for a while!!!!!

[1] James Willstrop (Eng) 3-0 Borja Golan (Esp)
           11/7, 11/7, 11/4 (57m)


Pretty hard to back up a performance as strong as the one Borja produced here yesterday against Mohamed El Shorbagy. Add to that a different court all together, and playing against the World Number 1. That’s a lot for one man.

Borja took about a game to get used to the court, he was lead 10/3, did well to claw back to 7/10, but James was not to be denied.

The second, as it was expected, was a much closer affair, with both player being neck to neck, 5/5, 7/7, a few too many lets for a fluid game (in particular on James’ backhand, Borja seemed to have trouble getting to the ball), but it’s James that give it a big push when it counts and he is soon 2/0, taking the game on the same score than the first one.

The third is more or less all about James, 6/0 then 9/3. It’s not that Borja didn’t try, but James was by then far too confident by then, as like a rollercoaster, just squashed Borja’s attempts to come back in the game.

[1] Nicol David (Mas) 3-0 Kasey Brown (Aus)
           11/2, 11/4, 11/3 (30m)


The Australian girl is no push over. I saw her played a very strong performance last night against Madeline, and trust me, the battle that went on there was stunning. But exactly like Borja the match before against James, she had to back it up, plus changing from a traditional court to a cold glass court, plus, playing world number 1! How’s that for a challenge.

“I just kept on doing what I do best”, said Nicol. As in, picking everything up and killing everything on site… bless her. Her performance today reminded me the squash lesson she gave to Jenny Duncalf – at the time world number 2 – in Rotterdam in the World’s final last year. Jenny didn’t do anything wrong, she was not given the chance to do even that…

On a brighter note, the two girls were pretty fashion icons today I have to say. Nicol, in a stunning Canary outfit, and Kasey, in the Pink version of THAT black dress that everybody talks about, both showing off their figure. A pretty good advert for WSA if you ask me. Not that anybody does, I’m aware of that…

Kasey had to get used to the court, whereas I played already twice on there, so it was a bit difference for her, and that definitely worked for my advantage. I think that it made a big difference today.

When you play, you have your game of course, but also a solid game plan. Still, the players are solid players, and they change as the match unfolds, so you need a plan A, a plan B. Today, I just tried and stay solid, and do what I do best.

I’m so happy to get to the glass court in the semis, really excited.

What happened? That’s an excellent question. I don’t have a clue!!!! She just didn’t give me an inch, she was playing so tight I couldn’t do anything with the ball. And then, I tried and take it short, she was getting everything back.

Just too good today.

Omneya Abdel Kawy (Egy) 3-2 [6] Alison Waters (Eng)
          11/9, 9/11, 6/11, 11/8, 11/9 (67m)

Omneya 3 England 0

Or Omneya 3 HK Seeds 0, if you prefer. Whichever way you look at it, Omneya Abdel Kawy is on a roll and today she came through yet another tough battle to complete a full set of victories over the England team that were top seeds in Nimes, and a third consecutive seeded scalp in Hong Kong.

Alison Waters, like Jenny Duncalf, Laura Massaro and Joelle King before her, tried all she could to stay with the Egyptian, to knock her out of her stride, but she too fell just short.

There really was nothing to choose between them though, each of the games could have gone either way with neither player able to assert control fro more than tow or three rallies at a time.

Kawy made a fast start, rushing Waters into errors as she took a 7/3 lead, but the Englishwoman settled, levelled at 9-all only to lose on a stroke and a Kawy winner. The second went point for point to 9-all, this time though it was Waters who took the last two points to level.

Waters surged ahead from 6-all in the third as Kawy found too many tins, but the Egyptian always had a point or two advantage in the fourth, holding on to it to set up the decider that always looked likely.

In the fifth they seemed to feed off each other's errors and winners, 'anything you can do' sort of squash, but it was fast, mainly accurate, and hugely entertaining.

Waters led 6-5 and 7-6, Kawy edged ahead 8-7 but Waters tied it up again with a dying length. Kawy replied with the same for a 9-8 lead, hit a lovely counter-drop to earn match balls. Waters volleyed a loose ball into the nick to save the first but Kawy pounced on Waters' loose shot in the next rally, dropping it into the nick to book herself an unexpected match on the harbour.

"It's always close between me and Ali, but she normally wins 3/1, I really needed this one to stop that run and thank God I managed to win.

"My head was much better than it normally is against her, I usually can't stop myself going for everything but today patience was the key, but I couldn't have done it without help from Darwish and Mohamed in my corner.

"I'm really looking forward to playing Camille in the semis on the harbour now, but I'll need to get some rest first!"

[5] Ramy Ashour (Egy) 3-1 [3] Gregory Gaultier (Fra)
         8/11, 11/8, 11/8, 10/3 rtd


It was a strange day to say the least. Peter retiring this morning for hamstring troubles, closely followed by Shabana with a possible broken rib, the Boys draw was pretty decimated, and Karim/Nick quite lucky boys, as they got a day of rest while James/Borja and Ramy/Greg battled on court….

And I can tell you that the atmosphere was weird on court when Ramy and Greg got on. Ramy was troubled, I could see it, he was all over the place – made sooo many errors in the first game to be led 9/1, got back to 8/9 but lost the last two points to Greg who also was making uncharacteristic errors all over the place, not only in the first, but also in the second (Ramy 6, Greg 3 in the 1st, Ramy and Greg 5 in the second).

The second was very disputed, 3/3, 4/4, Greg then taking the lead 6/4 then 8/6, but to be caught up 8/8. Two tins helped Ramy take the second to come back to 1/1.

The third, well, they both looked pretty relaxed on court, I mean, far too relaxed really, it was looking more like an exhibition in the second than a quarter, both smiling, chatting to the ref… Ramy took it 11/8.

That seemed to really get to Greg, who got a terrible start, 1/6, 2/8, 3/9, and then, it all happened so fast! Ramy plunged yet again to pick up a drop shot on the right side of the court, a bit of a battle of short balls in that corner, and suddenly, Greg is on the floor, in apparently excruciating pain, as he slips and falls and twists his ankle.

The ref comes to check on Greg, gives him 3m self injury time. Greg, not happy with the decision, states very loudly that it is a contributed injury, as he slipped on Ramy’s sweat!

“He is a nice man, but he keeps on jumping everywhere on the floor and leaves sweat everywhere!” says Greg to the ref at the end. “It’s not self inflicted, do you think I just slip like that for no reason? I didn’t slip once the whole match!!!”

The ref doesn’t have any of it, and declares at the end of the 3m that Greg has retired due to injury….

When somebody gets injured on court, I really feel the pain, because it happened to me, and today, I really felt what Greg must have been feeling tonight, because we are so close to the worlds.

Shabana and Peter were clever to withdrew I think as they were worried, and I just hope that Greg will be fine and fit in a few days for the Worlds.

Yes, I was thinking about the strange draw we have at the moment when I came on, with the Worlds so close, feels a bit like do we give it our 100% or play it safe, but there is nothing one can do, you just got to get on with it really, and play.

Tomorrow, I’ll just have to take it as another day, and hopefully, I will have recuperated and will be fresh for my match.

I really enjoyed my match with Greg today, we have a lot of respect for each other, we had fun, he was pretty relaxed, there was a lot of love on there, and I really enjoyed it. I really really hope he’ll be fine.


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