ē Kuwait PSA Cup  ē 23-29 Nov 2011 ē Kuwait ē  








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TODAY in Kuwait: Tue 29th, FINAL                 Fram & Steve in Kuwait

Kuwait PSA Cup 2011, Final

[3] James Willstrop (Eng) bt [2] 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!

The 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 champion.
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!

Richard Eaton
on the Final

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 paper.

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?

But 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

In 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.

Iím 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.
Not 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 the way!

Deja Vu in Green Island

We've 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.

Overall, Willstrop has won 13 of their 20 meetings, and more impressively 8 of the last 9.

The exception was the World Team 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.

Best 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 !!!

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