It cannot be easy to play for your country and to be first on
(mind you, can’t be easy at ANY position), but both players
started extremely well. Cameron, as ever, was playing at an
extremely high pace, and although he was very patient – by his
standard anyway – up to 4/4. James made him work a heck of the
lot, and the rallies were pretty long.
4/4, Cam tried to attack more quickly, and James was able to
find better placement of the ball as the game went on. The score
was close, 7/6 for James, but a bit of lack of accuracy allowed
James to get to game ball, 10/6. A tin from the Englishman (only
the second of the match), but he still take the game 11/7.
In the second, Cameron was obviously looking for solutions, but
he was under tremendous pressure from his opponent against he
never won so far (9/0 H2H). A few too many errors from the
Australian, but then again, he had to try to be positive and
aggressive. The game was pretty close all the way, with Cam
leading in the middle, but again, James finishes strong, from
7/7 to 10/8, very much to the frustration of his opponent,
forced to throw his racquet to touch the ball, as far he was
from it… On a baaaaad mishit in the middle of the court from
Cam, James takes the second, 11/8.
The third was a “masterclass in squash skills” really. James was
now in complete control, and just placed the shots where he
wanted, when he wanted, and how he wanted. It was a superb
display of talent against which Cam couldn’t do much, I don’t
think many players would have been able to been M. Willstrop
Against James, you’ve got to be pretty accurate, and I think
that in the first and second, I was able to play him the way I
wanted, patient, accurate and straight. We’ve played a couple of
5 setters, so I know I have a game that can trouble him.
But in the third, he took me by surprise, and I just couldn’t
is very dangerous because of his attacks. Still, he is the style
of player you can’t just sit and wait, you’ve got to be
Yes, I have a good record against him, but we had some pretty
close ones, the final in Canary Wharf comes to mind, so, I had
to be at the top of my game, especially in such a big occasion.
It’s good to secure the first point, because although we have
complete confidence in Nick, everything can happen in the World
Teams, and David has such high experience…
So, good to have a win not too long or heavy, which means that
there still will be some left in the tank for tomorrow…
DAVE, SUPERB, NICK, IMPERIAL
to describe this match?
Well, you take the world number one, giving the former world
number 1 all the respect due, and pushing him every step of the
While the former number one could see exactly what he had to do,
tactically, but physically, just couldn’t push hard enough
“anymore”. Come on, the man is 35, and to be honest, I had to
remind myself of that today, as he is still as strong as it
Nick had to retrieve an awful lot of attacks from the Marine,
who was controlling a lot of the rallies, but when Dave thought
he had Nick at the wrong end of the very hard rallies, Nick
would still finish on top. “I wasn’t sharp enough to finish the
point” apologised the Australian.
Well, I can only say that David played a superb tactical game of
squash today and dug as deep as he could. It needed a world
number one to beat him.
Superb Palmer, Imperial Nick.
James led the way by wining the first match, we said that
whoever was going to win the first match would have the
momentum, so, it was great to get up to a good start and made my
This is the best I’ve played all season. At the start, I was a
bit nervous, but good nerves, the nerves you get in your belly
before the big matches, and normally, it means that you’ll be
playing well. Sometimes, you don’t get that feeling, because
you’ve played so many matches, and you’ve got to find a way to
win with that excitement, but it’s so much better when you have
David is such an experienced player, I had to work very hard for
each point, he made it very hard. I knew that in all logic, he’d
have to come out firing from the start and take the first, so I
made sure that I would make the rallies as hard as possible,
playing him as a 100% fit player, ignoring the fact he’s got
trouble with his ankle.
We are in the final, but it’s only half the job done, we came
here to win, not to get to the final.
Greg or Ramy? Easy match!!!!!!!!! No, I just hope that they’ll
have a veeeeeery long 5 games tonight, but who ever comes on
top, it will be incredibly tough. So now, rest, food, no beer,
no, only food, and physio.
In World Teams, we had highs and lows, let’s hope that tomorrow,
it will be a high…
could see what needed doing, but I just couldn't push hard
enough today. Because of the ankle, I couldn’t play enough, and
today, I was just not sharp enough. When I was younger, I was
able to miss a lot, and still be alright, but now, everything
has got to be perfect, otherwise it just doesn’t work. And even
more so when you are playing the world number one.
Overall, I’m happy with my week, but I wish I would have been
able to push a bit more today…
The logical bet was to put your money on Karim. Younger, fitter,
better ranked. Safe bet. But it was without counting the upsets
a world team event can bring.
having some doubts in his head at the moment, arrived on court
probably with all the hopes of Egypt on the shoulders, and he
just didn’t want to do anything wrong tonight. But in the
process, he was not “wanting to do anything good” either. What I
mean, he was too negative, left Thierry take the initiative far
too often, and was most of the match pinned to the back wall, or
running around the court picking up the Frenchman volleying.
The pattern was the same each time. Thierry was dominating the
game, took it. Then flat as a pancake, going short, thanks was
saying Karim. Game 2, Karim. And again, Thierry was dominating,
same game plan, and taking the game.
And Karim the next one. Unfortunately for Egypt, the same thing
happened in game 5, with a superb start from the Frenchman, 4/0,
Karim clawing back 4/5, then 6/6, but again, Thierry finding the
game he knows how to play, and Karim just a bit on the backfoot,
never really putting his opponent out of his comfort zone, as
in, in the red.
Against all odds, France was leading 1/0.
I think we were both pretty nervous
at the start.
France couldn’t have had a better start than this, it put Greg
in an ideal mood, he needs to feel the energy, knowing that
there is only one to win. I’m really glad for the team,
hopefully our number 3 won’t have to play tomorrow.
From a personal point of view, I’m delighted with the way I
played, it was a hard, pretty grim journey that took me back
from injury, after losing in the first round in Hurghada, in
Australia… But with the support of my closest friends and
family, I found the motivation to give it another big push, and
at my age, it’s a great feeling.
Tonight, thanks to my experience, I was focused enough to keep
the intensity, and relax enough not to get stressed. It’s not an
easy balance to find.
My return gave me another determination, another energy. And
tonight against Karim, I think it’s probably my experience that
helped me, I was able to keep and manage my energy. I had a few
lapses in concentration, of energy, I lack competition, of
course, but I can still improve and it’s a good feeling at the
start of the season, I can still enjoy my squash….
with a team goes well with my nature to be honest. I like
sharing, I like to give friendship, love, and also make people
happy around me, so, it’s so nice to share those moments – so
rare – with a team, with your team. When you have the chance to
live that, you grab them with both hands…
And of course, a win for the team is far more intense than for
GREG LOST HIS WAY
The strangest thing happened. I haven’t spoken to Greg, but here
is what I felt. Greg was probably thinking that Thierry was not
going to make it, and he was probably ready for a very hard
fight against Ramy, especially with the way he’s been playing
he had only a few minutes to regroup after Thierry’s victory,
and I could see in his eyes as he walked onto the court that he
was well, afraid. Not of Ramy, no. But of losing, of
disappointing his team mates and France. I’m not saying he would
have won had Thierry lost, but I’m 100% sure his match would
have been entirely different.
His game plan out of the window, lucidity gone with it, he
started a “anything you can do, I can do better” with the
Egyptian who was in the best of mental state tonight. Focused,
accurate, inventive, imaginative how only him can be, he made
sure he never gave Greg a chance to get really into the match.
Still the Frenchman played awfully well, left his shirt on
there, and won’t be accused of not trying. He just played the
wrong game tonight.
defending champions, we are under a lot of pressure, as all the
teams are trying to give us a hard time, and that’s what France
I was trying to be at the top of my game, I had to be
responsible for my team, I had to be at my 100%.
Karim did his best, but it wasn’t his day, Thierry was playing
his best match ever, I think he is going to come back at number
2 or 3, not number 1, I would try and beat him!!! But now,
Thierry was just too good
So I had to try and cover for Karim. I was trying to stay
pressure free in my head. Greg didn’t play bad at all, but there
was a few rallies that were crucial, and I managed to win them.
It was all about mental today…
He was playing very fast, and I probably played the wrong tactic
by trying to play as fast as him, and at that game, he is much
better than me. I should have been more accurate. So, it’s
partly my fault, but also, Ramy played superb today.
The French player, for his first World Team Champion, has
impressed us all in the French camp. Ranked 56 in the world,
with not much experience of the glass court, he really forced
Mohamed, the “English Egyptian” as I call him, to find fast
played out of his skin with the French shirt on his back, and
the way the Egyptians erupted at the last rally can only prove
that Mathieu scared the heck out of the World Champions.
Mohamed didn’t do much wrong, even if he found himself down 2/1.
He took the first one, a very intense and disputed game, on his
third game ball, 14/12. The game was a bit scrappy, both players
getting in each other way, both really wanting to get on top
territorially and mentally of course.
The rallies were as long in the second than they were in the
first, with two patient boys, decided to up and down the wall
until the other dropped, and finding some astonishing volley
drop shots, and both retrieving a heck of a lot.
clinched the two next game, 11/9, but had to do so much work,
spend so much energy to not only retrieve Mohamed exquisite
skilful drops, but also to stay positive, aggressive, and
keeping his opponent under pressure.
And in the 4th, happened what had to happen, at 7/5, Mathieu
just run out of gas. He still fought with all his heart, will
and determination. But Mohamed, having the experience of that
kind of long matches (he just played an extremely intense and
long final against Thierry in the Internationaux de la Réunion,
nearly 2 hours), kept on hammering where it hurt.
Running on fumes, Mathieu was just returning the ball as well as
he could in the 5th, but the writing in Arabic was all over the
glass wall, and on his second match ball, Mohamed offers a
superb but tight victory for his team for his first
participation in the World Team senior.
Never in doubt…
I was 2/1 down, and 7/5 down, I tried to find that “eye of the
tiger” energy!!! And I decided to play pretty safe, to cut down
the unforced errors.
I thought that Mathieu played very well today, and I’m so happy
I overcame the enormous pressure I had to win this decider for
"I am so happy!
"Ramy is an unbelievable player and if he can play like he did
just now in tomorrow's final, England will find it very tough.
"France gave us a fantastic match and Mohamed played a great
game to get us through. He will learn from this experience and
it will do him a lot of good in the future
"It's another great performance by him for Egypt - he's getting
more experienced all the time."