• Punj Lloyd PSA Masters 2009 • 05-10 Dec • Mumbai •  





En Francais


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TODAY in Mumbai ...          Fram in Mumbai, India, Steve in Saudi

Wed 9th, Day 5 - Semis

[3] Ramy Ashour (Egy) bt [2] Amr Shabana (Egy)           11/9, 13/15, 11/8, 11/2 (44m)
[4] Nick Matthew (Eng) bt [8] Peter Barker (Eng)                     13/11, 11/6, 11/5 (55m)


What is amazing here is the passion that the spectators feel for the game.

At the end of every match, the players are submerged by waves of kids and fans begging for autographs. Honestly, since the Commonwealth Games.... read more...

Action photos by Vishal Kelkar

  Photo Gallery

Pradeep's Diary - Day Four

[3] Ramy Ashour (Egy) bt [2] Amr Shabana (Egy)
    11/9, 13/15, 11/8, 11/2 (44m)


Forget the end of the match, as we were a few to see from the end of the second game – after he slipped a few times – that Shabana injured his hamstring, and let's concentrate on the first two games.

Guys, I’ve seen a few squash matches by now, and I’ve also seen Ramy and Shabana battle a few times.

But today, they were both amazing at the front. What they both saved, counterattacked, retrieved, reflex volleyed, the angles they found, the pace at which they played in particular in the first game, was just purely incredible… Like I thought out loud after the end of the first, no need to clean the back of the court, court cleaners, they won’t be going there soon…

Ramy was on fire from the start and was leading 90% of the attacks, all at the front, and Shabana just got a bit sucked into Ramy’s style. The audience – I was part of it – was just stunned, amazed and seduced by those two lunatics' flair, reflexes and shot inventions.

The second, Shabana wised up, and decided it was time to impose HIS squash from now on. And it worked. Slowing down the pace, he was able to frustrate Ramy and led quickly 9/4. But after slipping twice at 8/3 and 9/7, Shabana seemed to lose of bit of focus, and let Ramy get back in the game, 9/9.

The Challenger was just in one of those zones, but strangely enough, never got a game ball. Shabana needed four to close that game 15/13 finally.

Right at the end of that game, I could spot him uneasy with his leg, touching the top of the hamstring, stretching it. And from that moment on, although he still tried, he tinned most of his volley kills, made unforced error upon unforced error. I counted 8eightin that third game.

The fourth was just a formality, he just didn’t want to/couldn’t run anymore.

But this doesn’t take anything away from a formidable performance from Ramy, whose squash was just “époustouflant” tonight. Out of this world, and way way out there, so close to the Gods of Squash themselves… Purely amazing stuff.

"Forget about the match.

"I’m really happy with my mental focus today. I nearly got really annoyed with the refs one more time, and I could have really lost it, slipped out of the match tonight. But I didn’t. I stayed mentally strong, which I’m very proud of.

"Also, I’m really happy with the way I handled my squash today. The way I hold the racquet, the way I run, the way I played tactically. I’m really proud of what I’ve done.

"I hear that Shabana injured himself out there. Maybe he is injured, maybe he is not. I’ve been playing Shabana so many times, I know that when he is losing or injured, Shabana is so clever he gets even more dangerous than he is fit! I just hope that he’ll get better soon if he is injured, and that he’ll be back strong for Saudi…"

[4] Nick Matthew (Eng) bt [8] Peter Barker (Eng)
                     13/11, 11/6, 11/5 (55m)


I thought that Peter played fantastically well in the first game. Honestly, I was expecting a bit of the wait and see I’m going to run you down physically kind of game from him, but none of that tonight. He was at the front, he was putting a lot of weight on the ball, pushing Nick way back and attacking superbly, and counter attacking "surprisingly" well.

At 8/3, did he start to think? Did Nick decided it was time for him to push up the pace a bit? A bit of both? Whatever the reason, Nick came back strong, 8/8. Still with the momentum, Peter got the next two points, game ball 10/8. But none of the 3 he got did him any good, as Nick just clinches that game, with no fault of Peter…

From that point on, Peter could not find the magic he got at the start, and gradually, Nick got under his skin, in his brain, and Peter got frustrated. A few errors crept in, Nick was more and more comfortable at the front, and Peter less and less dominant in the rallies.

I guess that if Peter took the first game, it would be been a completely different game. And well done Pete, not a word from you. Well done… Tonight, Nick was the one doing a bit of the talking…

"Last time I played him, about 10 days ago in Qatar, he had to stop on injury, and the time before that, in the British Open, he was so flat after his victory against Greg, I knew that the first game was bound to be crucial.

"I thought he was hungrier that I was in the first game, he really came out firing, which I expected as the last two times we played really didn’t do him any justice. And at the time, I was just pushing the ball around, not much purpose in my shots. So way down in the game, I started playing with more thoughts, and I got lucky to just sneak in that game…

"The sweat just stands there, so every time we had a long rally, we could hardly stand up!

"I’m not going to tell you what Peter should do to beat me, Fram!!!! Peter knows he can beat me, when we train together, he beat me, I beat him… At the moment, I think I’ve just got a little more experience, a little bit more mileage on the glass court, which allow me to win matches even like today in the first game, when I’m not playing my best squash…

"Peter reminds me a lot of me, we were both good juniors, but not the best, we had to work extremely hard, and we start to meet in semis, soon, I know it will be in the finals, because there is only one ways Peter is going, up.

"I’m so glad for England Squash at the moment, with the girls doing so well, and Peter, Daryl, Ali also going really strong. Hopefully, we can keep it going…

"This is a great venue, we are all loving it, the crowd is amazing, and I just hope that they’ll keep on giving me support tomorrow…

"Tomorrow, this is the kind of moment we are putting the hard work in for, for the pressure match, the big crowd, the excitement. If you do not enjoy it, why do you play squash for then????

"Ramy is playing well at the moment, his confidence is up, and I’ll have to play very well to beat tomorrow…"

"Am I happy about my tournament? Right now, no, I’m not that happy right now!

"There were a few things I was not happy in my game today, and Nick played so well at crucial times.

"In the first game, I was mixing the pace very well, and I was in front of him. But then, he was able to get in front of me, and he is so dangerous from there, I got frustrated then…

"No offence to anybody, but the floor was really disruptive tonight. If we want squash to go forward, we’ve got to sort it out, we’ve got to find a system to make it right. We had something like 15, 20 stoppage to wipe the floor, that’s just so difficult to play in those conditions.

"I think those stops suited his game more than mine, the ball got cold, and I had to start every time from scratch… But then again, Nick is really the playing in form at the moment…"

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