• Kuwait Open 2010 •  28 Oct - 02 Nov •


TODAY in Kuwait                                     Fram in Kuwait, Steve in Manchester ...

Sun 31st, Quarter-Finals:

[5] Gregory Gaultier (Fra) bt [9] Daryl Selby (Eng)
           11/6, 11/2, 11/1 (35m)

[3] Amr Shabana (Egy) bt [8] Peter Barker (Eng)
           11/8, 11/5, 11/5 (38m)

[6] James Willstrop (Eng) bt [4] Karim Darwish (Egy)
           5/11, 11/8, 11/3, 6/11, 11/6 (85m)

[2] Ramy Ashour (Egy) bt [7] Thierry Lincou (Fra)
            11/4, 11/7, 11/4 (33m)

Kuwait Time

En Bref #4

"I was fine all yesterday, although my glut has been playing up recently, but I normally can get by, but today, at the start of the second game, it really flared up. I’m not sure why, but suddenly, I was really in pain.

"I don’t say I would have won against Greg though. He was fantastic, he came off the block so well. At 7/0, I started to play well, I’m happy with that.

"When I lost in Egypt in the first round last year, Greg had some nice words of advice for me. And that helped me a lot. It’s really nice when squash players can help each other out like that.

"Now, I’m going to get treatment, as we’ve got a heavy schedule ahead of us. And I really wish Greg all the best, he is playing really well this week, and he is hard to beat…"

[5] Gregory Gaultier (Fra) bt [9] Daryl Selby (Eng)
           11/6, 11/2, 11/1 (35m)


The Englishman is so tired mentally that he didn’t even realise when he got injured….

After giving it such a big push as he was down 7/0, and starting to take Greg to the front, making the Frenchman doubt till the end of the game, Daryl was still very much in it, when at 2/1, he slipped on Greg’s foot apparently, and found himself on the floor. Really quickly he stood up, and went on with things, the but damage I think was done.

From that moment on, he was moving with difficulty, and I didn’t see him stretch once after that. Mathieu Benoît, who was sitting next to me, who happens to be not only Greg’s coach here but also a physio, told me immediately that Daryl couldn’t push on the right leg, and that he injured his back.

And perfectly right he was.

"I’m enjoying the court so much, and I’m glad I had a tough match yesterday, it helped me a lot for today.

"We had a very hard first game, I was up 7/1, and he gave it a big push, all credit to him, as I knew he would probably struggle today after his big win yesterday.

"Sometimes, players get through phases where they lose motivation, it was the case with Daryl last week in El Gouna, and it’s nice to see him playing well again yesterday."

[3] Amr Shabana (Egy) bt [8] Peter Barker (Eng)
           11/8, 11/5, 11/5 (38m)


Shabana was so good and accurate tonight. Honestly, he didn’t give much chances to the Englishman, who still made it hard for him in the first rallies by making them last very long indeed.

But the Egyptian’s length was just too perfect, on both side, and that “battle of the lefties” quickly turned to his advantage, Peter looking a bit flat to me, more mentally than anything else either.

And I don’t think the extreme hot temperature on the court helped him much either… They rarely get those kind of conditions back in England, I tell you!!!!

"I felt that I had a great advantage on him, as I played already twice on that court, and that at some point on the match, he wouldn’t see the ball as clearly as he would have wished.

"Peter is a fighter, he won’t give you anything, and I’m happy to get through 3/0…"


I’m not going to make any excuses, as Shabana was just too good, and he dealt with the court much better than I did. Mind you, that’s maybe something to do with the fact he had two more matches than me on it!!!

No, I was mentally a bit flat after my two first rounds. I thought that I was actually hitting the ball well, but he was much too sharp, stepped up and punished me.

Shabana is class, and whether win or lose, he is always a class act. His racquet skills and temperament are second to none.

Now, two days rest, and then Qatar. What a change of conditions that will be, playing on a air con court…

"It was not easy, and why should it be… The Man has such a trade record…. It was a real battle out there, a real battle, and I’m happy to be at the better end of that.

"Yes, I did expect to win, like I do expect to win any matches really. I feel good, and I had a good week here, much better than last week that was a bit of a disappointment. I didn’t feel I was at my sharpest, but then again, that may be coming from the heat.

"The conditions wer hot, so hot, so hot, I think we both had periods there where we suffered, but maybe it’s a good thing in a way, your body gets warm quicker. And you just have to make sure you drink a lot of water, because you are losing gallons!!!

"Do I still want to get to number 1? Yes, I’m doing everything I can to achieve it, and if I get there, fantastic, but at least, I’ll know that I would have done my best."

[6] James Willstrop (Eng) bt [4] Karim Darwish (Egy)
           5/11, 11/8, 11/3, 6/11, 11/6 (85m)


This was the match all the players came to see. And boy were they right to do so…

James looked impressive to me all week. He was accurate, strong both mentally and physically, and sharp. Very sharp. Karim was a bit “wobbly” on the first round, as it often happen between a qualifier that has nothing to lose for one, and in this case, a player that has improved and change his game completely (Mark K), but very strong, fit and determined on the second round.

And tonight, it started very well for Karim, who had the advantage to have played his two matches on the glass court, whereas James played his opening match on it, then yesterday went back to a traditional court.

I guess that helped the Egyptian to a point, but also, Karim really took an excellent start, leaving very little for James to achieve.

But in the second, the match started to unfold, with the Englishman taking the lead, 3/1, 6/3, then 9/6. A few lets, crucial point for both, the difference between down 2/0 or 1/1, & 2/0 up or 1/1 being immense. And it’s James that gets his way, 1/1.

Extremely disappointed with the loss of that game, and maybe suffering a bit from the heat on the court as well, Karim just lets that third go, 11/3 for James.

But if the Yorkshire man thought that it was a done deal, he had something else coming. Karim, refreshed, pumped up, comes back explosive, aggressive, playing a clever accurate game that sends James to the four corner, forcing him to retrieve an awful lot and under pressure, and to make a few unforced errors. And we are at 2/2.

The decider is bound to be close. And it is. 1/1. 2/2. James slips on the floor, whereas it has been pretty good so far. He takes a little while to come up. I always worry when a player falls… But no, everything is fine. James goes ahead, 4/2, then 5/3. Karim claws back by wrong footing his opponent twice. 5/5.

But James suddenly gives it a big push. Some ridiculous rallies, stunning squash, volleying, lobbing from James, superb drop shots from Karim. A long long LOOOONG rally at 6/5, that the Englishman finishes on one leg, completely out of balance, and still finds the volley nick.

At that point, my brain tells me that James is the winner tonight. A few rallies later, 10/6 match ball. And match to James. As often, it was came down to a few last points. After 85m of wonderful, beautiful and fair squash.

[2] Ramy Ashour (Egy) bt [7] Thierry Lincou (Fra)
            11/4, 11/7, 11/4 (33m)


The Boy is not from this planet. The pace, the shot selection, the accuracy that he shown us tonight made us wonder if Ramy is really from Planet Earth. Because choosing shot angles that fast, that precise, again, and again, and again, and being so focus, so hungry on every shot. I mean, every shot.

Yes, Thierry played still some great squash, found some lovely lobs, a few beautiful volley drop shots and drop shots, but whereas the Egyptian was in control, he still run like a lunatic, retrieving every single shot that Thierry sent him.

Tonight, Ramy reminded me of Nadal. Who fights for every ball as if it was match ball. They are both unreal of talent and determination.

Ramy deserves his number 1 status. He is hungry for every match, every tournament. His pace was just incredible tonight…



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