TODAY in Kuwait: Tue 29th, FINAL
Fram & Steve in Kuwait
Kuwait PSA Cup 2011,
 James Willstrop (Eng) bt  Karim Darwish (Egy)
11/7, 10/12, 11/4, 11/2 (65m)
It's James Again
James Willstrop claimed a second consecutive World Series
title as he beat Karim Darwish for the second time in just
over a week, this time in Kuwait City's Green Island rather
than on the harbourfront in Hong Kong.
At the time that was his biggest ever win, a record that
lasted just over a week!
match itself was pretty similar though, as the Englishman
won a close first game in which both players were initially
cautious - 24 lets in the first 28 rallies, but from 6-all
Willstrop pulled away to take the lead.
Darwish got the better start in the second, leading 6/3, but
Willstrop recovered to earn a game ball at 10/9. The
Egyptian took three in a row though to end Willstrop's run
of 28 consecutive games won.
That didn't seem to affect the Yorkshireman, on the contrary
he was soon 6/1 up in the third, controlling play and
frustrating his opponent who struggled to get the Englishman
off the T, and not long afterwards Willstrop was back in the
lead after finishing the game 11/4.
The fourth was one way traffic, as the final game in Hong
Kong had been, Darwish only scoring two points, but
Willstrop being if anything even more delighted than last
week when he took the last one to become Kuwait PSA Cup
Two major titles in a row, set to move up to world number
two, joint top of the Wold Series standings ... not a bad
fortnight for James!
Meet the Sheikha and get to know Kuwait
We had a ball with the closing ceremony I must say. It was
an enchantment from beginning to end, and despite the
freezing temperature, we all enjoyed our time beautifully.
The crowd was ecstatic when Karim was introduced. It was
really a superb atmosphere, chanting, waving flagsÖ What
squash is all about really.
James must have been confident. First, his record against
Karim is spotless (well, if you ignore the faux-pas in
Paderborn, that is) since November 2006. Plus, against
anybody else, the mental factor Ė Iíve just been through a
final, Iím bound to be tired Ė well, didnít exist, as they
were both finalists in Hong Kong. Mentally, there again, a
plus. If you add to that the fact that James beat him in
Kuwait in 2010 and 2009, James was really the favourite on
Now, on Karimís side, you had the cold court Ė Karim is an
attacker, a patient one, but still an attacker Ė and the
crowd. So, odds were, say 60/40?
itís James who drew first blood, taking a point for point
first game, up to 6/6. The rallies were long, great accuracy
from both, perfect length, great patience and rally
construction. But from 6/6, James found winner after winner,
and Karim just couldnít finish the points.
The second could have been Jamesí, he had game ball 10/9,
after yet another very close and disputed game, great
squash, really superb of accuracy from both. This time, itís
Karim that clinched it, 12/10, but having produced an
enormous work physically to retrieve Jamesí short game.
And in the third, instead of keeping his momentum, Karim
seemed to hit the wall. Not helped by a traffic problem with
James Ė at 6/1 down, Karim asked for 6 lets before James
finally tinned his shot. But Karim, like Greg yesterday, got
more and more frustrated with Jamesís game, his mixture of
lobs and volley drop shots seem to do damage both on the
physical and mental side of the Egyptian.
After James took the third, there was no stopping him. On a
freezing court, James was like a fish in an enormous tank,
enjoying his move, enjoying his squash, and with confidence
at his highest. Like Greg the day before, Karim just
couldnít stop the Yorkshire man, who is at last yet again,
getting the rewards of his hard workÖ
the third, I didnít hit the wall physically, but mentally
more. I was fine physically, but I was just frustrated. I
just couldnít get the ball to the back of the court anymore.
In the first two games, the ball was still alive, and I
managed to get it to the back corners, but from the third,
the ball was just dead on that freezing court, and I
couldnít get in front of him and get any kind of length. And
at that game, he is the best in the world.
Still, very happy with two finals in a row, itís very
positive, and now Iím going to go home and get ready for
India and the rest of the season.
incredibly pleased, Iím sure you could see by my reaction
how pleased I was.
This event has grown is such a prestige event, itís a
massive tournament, a massive event, and Iím so proud I
manage to beat Karim to win it. We fought hard on there but
hopefully itís in a good spiritÖ
When you try and backup two tournaments, the odds are
against you I guess but I was pleased with the way I played,
and maybe you actually can manage back to back wins when you
keep on winning 3/0. That way, you put yourself under less
pressure physically, even though itís still a hard battle
mentally, turning up for every match, and trying to win each
and every one.
I guess I was always working on my weaknesses, but now Iíve
managed to tapping a bit more in my strength. Iíve been
receiving tremendous help from my team back home that helped
me improve my physical side. And I basically adapted my
squash to my physical constitution.
sure what was going on there traffic wise. Iím ready to look
into it and improve if I have to. I got warned by the ref,
and I canít expect that Iím right every time. And then,
sometimes, I am right, and itís only normal traffic, and one
of us was not moving well enough.
Getting to number 2, yes, it really matters! The higher it
gets, the better it is! But still, Iíll just keep
concentrating on winning the next matchÖ
Can I win 3 in a row? Well, I guess it can be done, if I can
produce squash like that, I can win the next one! And Iím
not going to let the fact that itís three in a row get in
Deja Vu in Green Island
been here before - nine days ago, in Hong Kong, to be
precise, when Karim Darwish and James
Willstrop faced up in the
final of the
Hong Kong Open, and here they are again, both
obviously playing rather well.
Third seeded Englishman Willstrop is actually on a run
of 9 consecutive three-nil victories since losing
in the semi-finals of the World Open.
Darwish, the number two seed from Egypt, has been almost
as impressive over those two weeks, dropping just 2
games in 7 matches - although he was of course one of
Willstrop's 3-0 victims in that Hong Kong final which,
to be fair, was anyone's for the first two games.
Willstrop has won 13 of their 20 meetings, and more
impressively 8 of the last 9.
The exception was the
Championships decider in Paderborn two months
ago, so that will surely still buoy the Egyptian's
confidence, as the score so far this year is 1-all.
of three, anyone ???
Before that we have what promises to be a spectacular
Closing Ceremony at Green Island courtesy of
Great Big Events (read all
about them in En Bref).
Certainly if the noise and lightshow of the rehearsals
are anything to go by it really will be big, and great.
One last time .... stay tuned !!!