• Punj Lloyd PSA Masters  • 12-18 Dec 2011 • New Delhi, India •  

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TODAY in Delhi - Friday 16th, QUARTER-FINALS


[4] Gregory Gaultier (Fra) bt [8] LJ Anjema (Ned)
                 11/5, 11/2, 11/5 (38m)
[6] Mohamed El Shorbagy (Egy) bt [2] Karim Darwish (Egy)
                 11/9, 8/11, 11/5, 11/3 (60m)
[3] James Willstrop (Eng) bt [7] Daryl Selby (Eng)
                 11/7, 11/7, 9/11, 11/5 (65m)
[5] Peter Barker (Eng) bt [1] Ramy Ashour (Egy)
                11/13, 11/7, 11/8, 11/1 (45m)

Willstrop and Gaultier march on
as top two seeds crash out in Delhi ...

The quarter-finals of the Punj Lloyd PSA Masters in Delhi saw in-form James Willstrop and Gregory advance to the semi-finals, but the third and fourth seeds will face unexpected opposition after the top two seeds, bothe Egyptian, were beaten ...

With a 13-1 head to head record going into the first quarter-final, Gregory Gaultier showed no sign of letting Laurens Jan Anjema get as close as he did in their last meeting in Rotterdam where the big Dutchman went 2-0 up.

The Frenchman was on top from the beginning and never let up as he went through to the semi-finals with some ease, and in the process ended the Dutchman's remote chance of making January's World Series Finals.

The second match saw a big upset as Mohamed El Shorbagy claimed his first ever win over compatriot Karim Darwish, to #2 seed who had reached the final in both of the last world series events.

Shorbagy got the better of a tight first game, Darwish levelled, then the youngster pulled away from 5-all in the third to take the lead and quickly built a 9-0 lead in the fourth, which Darwish never looked likely to overhaul.

Next up was an all-English match between the in-form James Willstrop and Daryl Selby, appearing in his first world series quarter-final of the year. Willstrop, who needs to win the tournament to become world number one for the first time, had the edge in the first two games but Selby played well to get back into the match by taking the third game.

Willstrop got a good start in the fourth, and although Selby pegged the lead back, Willstrop was able to close out to make it 14 wins out of 14 against Selby, and yet another world series semi-final.

The final match saw another upset as top seed Ramy Ashour, returning to action after pulling up in the World Open with a hamstring injury, appeared to suffer a recurrence in the middle of his second game against Peter Barker.

The Englishman had taken an 8-4 lead in the first, but Ashour took that 13/11 displaying his marvelous skills and built a lead in the second too, but from midway through the game was clearly struggling with his movement.

He made a valiant effort to stay in the match in the third, to no avail, and Barker went through to another meeting with Willstrop after a processional fourth.

Your Predictions - NO all correct answers today

Malcolm reports from Delhi

We've played a lot recently and it's always tough. I was ready today after the match we played in Holland, that match we had in Rotterdam was fresh in my mind and legs!

But I started very fast today, whereas last time, I was far too passive, and today I was in front of my 'home crowd'!

He has improved after making top 10 so congratulations to him.

I'm happy to finish 2011 injury free (well hopefully, it's not finished yet!) because the last few years I've only been able to play for 8 months out of 12. After a bad injury at the end of last season I'm just happy to be fit and playing.

Pour le moment tout roule, j’ai bien joué aujourd’hui et je me suis bien préparé vu le dernier match qu’on avait fait à Rotterdam.

Mais j’ai démarré le match plein gaz alors que la dernière fois j’etais trop passif.

Demain un autre match contre un Shorbagy en forme

[4] Gregory Gaultier (Fra) bt [8] LJ Anjema (Ned)
                 11/5, 11/2, 11/5 (38m)

Gaultier Immaculate

There was much to look forward to on quarter finals night and first on were Gregory Gaultier and Laurens Anjema in a repeat of their World Championship meeting, when Gaultier won from 2-0 down.

Gaultier settled the better, too, looking very focused, leading 6-0 until Anjema hit a cross court nick to register his first point.

He is not one to give way lightly and at 4-8 he was involved. At 4-9 he dominated and won a testing rally, but a quality backhand angle by Gaultier from deep gave Gaultier his first game ball which he gratefully accepted.

Anjema was concentrating hard, but Gaultier looked well in control of matters at 4-0 in the second, playing very well, but especially so on the forehand.

Anjema is an improved player, but Gaultier's extra class and dimensions took him to 9-1. A rare error from Gaultier gave Anjema his second point of the game, but that was as much as he could muster.

Most good judges would have expected Gaultier to win, but not as easily as was now happening. At 3-1 in the third to Gaultier even the durable Anjema looked in some doubt, but he recovered to 3 all before Gaultier pulled away again to win with ease.

Presenter Vanessa Atkinson described Gaultier's performance as immaculate and she was right. He will take some beating on this evidence.

[6] Mohamed El Shorbagy (Egy) bt [2] Karim Darwish (Egy)
                 11/9, 8/11, 11/5, 11/3 (60m)

Shorbagy accelerates to victory

Of the four of the World's top six players playing in the Punj Lloyd, three, Gregory Gaultier, James Willstrop and Karim Darwish have all looked in fine form, joined by Ramy Ashour, hopefully fit again.

After Gaultier's impressive dismantling of Laurens Anjema, it was Darwish's turn to show his skills against Mohammed El Shorbagy. His precision gave him a 4-2 early advantage ,which Shorbagy aggressively turned into a 5-4 lead for him.

The pace was quick which suits Shorbagy and there was little in it at 8-7 to Darwish.A stroke took the score to 9 all and a video review gave Shorbagy a welcome let-to him anyway. 10-9 game ball to Shorbagy and after a ferocious rally Shorbagy won the game on a stroke.

Darwish surprisingly seemed happy to take Shorbagy on at pace, which so far was not working. 5 all in the second-crucial times approaching, errors from Shorbagy creeping in; 8 all after a fluke, then a successful but lucky, I thought review by Shorbagy. Another was denied him and Darwish served at 10-8, levelling at the first attempt.

Two Darwish errors took Shorbagy to 5-4 in the third. He wrongly disputed one of his pickups which was a mile down and the scores were level again, the pace unrelenting. At 9-5 with the game running away from Darwish a stroke to Shorbagy and the game and a two one lead was his.

The signs were ominous for Darwish now and he offered only token resistance in the fourth as Shorbagy, revving up raced to 9-0 and then 10-3. One match ball was enough and the youngster had achieved a famous and deserved victory.

"I am really happy...out of words...

I have so much respect for him and everyone knows it.. He helped me a lot before my world juniors and went on court with me a lot at a time when I couldn't compete at all with him...

I did play better than my best... everything was just coming with me even every time I asked for a review it always came my way... I asked for 7 reviews during the match I got 6 out of them right!!! My short game was working really well... it's just one of those days you know when everything is just coming your way...

I play Gaultier now who is in a good form.. I have a lot of respect for him.. first time i have ever watched the professionals playing was in Al-Ahram in 2006 when Gaultier played the final of the world open... I was 14 years old at that time... I have always followed him and always wanted to play like him when I was young and now I am playing him in a semi final of a world serious event its UNREAL for me!!!

So happy right now but i am still in the tournament and it's not over so I need to control that excitement inside me!! "

I was ready for Daryl's dogged phases at the end of those last games.

Even though I might have looked like I was in control, I was under no illusions. I just had to dig it out and play quite boring to stay ahead.

It was very hard but a good scrap, and fair as it always is with Daryl.

[3] James Willstrop (Eng) bt [7] Daryl Selby (Eng)
                 11/7, 11/7, 9/11, 11/5 (65m)

Willstrop wins all-English clash

Here was an all England confrontation between two players who have competed for England together, and against each other for over 15 years.

A fine delay on the forehand, which set the pattern of much what was to come in the first two games brought Willstrop level at one all in the first. He was soon into the now familiar rhythm that has characterised his recent play and delaying regularly-even if the officials don't recognise it-he always led in the first game, controlling matters, winning it 11-7.

Things didn't alter much in the second game, though Selby was resisting strongly, as he does and there were some heavy rallies in the middle of the game. From 7 all the pressure that Willstrop had exerted told and he won the second, also 11-7.

A combination of Selby errors and Willstrop winners gave Willstrop a 7-3 lead in the third, but disruptions at this point and later in the game seem to break his rhythm, as Selby continued to fight hard. His determination paid dividends, too, as he won the third 11-9,something that certainly looked unklikely at 7-3,credit to him for persisting.

Willstrop, probably wondering what on earth had happened, regrouped, playing more restrictedly and quickly reached 8-1.A final flurry from Selby, who refused to go away, but Willstrop won the game and the match 11-5.

Willstrop will be happy enough with his performance, andSelby had shown signs of a return to form in his match against Simon Rosner and these were borne out again here-he will take encouragement from his play in Delhi.

[5] Peter Barker (Eng) bt [1] Ramy Ashour (Egy)
                11/13, 11/7, 11/8, 11/1 (45m)

Ramy out again

Although he got off to a rusty start yesterday against Cameron Pilley, Ashour certainly showed some signs of former brilliance in the last two games. However, the Barker match would be the first real test I felt, the Englishman having beaten him before.

The match started as predicted with Ramy hitting unforced errors followed by ridiculous winners and Barker just trying to contain the unpredictable Egyptian by keeping the ball tight and wide. After going down 3/0 in a matter of seconds, Ashour managed to get a few winners here and there to stay in touch. A string of unforced errors gave Barker 8/4, only for Ashour to put together a string of good rallies to go 9/8. Ashour had a game ball at 10/9 however a successful review by Barker forced a tiebreak. Barker had a game ball at 11/10 only for Ashour to play a perfect forehand drop. A stroke followed by a cross court drop in the nick eventually gave Ashour the game 13/11.

Ashour seemed to be finding his range and he came out firing in the second. He raced to 4/0 and then 5/2 with Barker hanging on for dear life. At 6/3 Ashour seemed to pull up on a shot in the front right and a few points later it was clear something was wrong. He was stretching his hamstring in between points and refusing to chase up his shots. A few moments later they were off court, Barker taking the game 11/7.

Ashour, who seems to struggle to retire during matches to his own detriment, came back on for the third and was clearly unable to move into the front, especially on the forehand. He actually still managed to make it quite hard for Barker, such is the quality of his racket ability and even got as far as 8 all.

However, Barker managed to settle his nerves just in time to expose the Ashour movement, taking the game 11/8.

The fourth was a formality with most of us watching, wondering why Ashour hadn't seen sense yet and retired. It was frankly painful to watch and a sad thing to witness, one of the world's best players breaking down once again through injury. It was almost a relief when they finally shook hands, Barker winning the fourth 11/1.

Let's hope Ashour will learn from this and finally take the time to get the hamstring injury sorted out once and for all. Squash needs him to be around for the long haul, such is his appeal as a player.

He was still really good on one leg! I hope he's not too badly injured.

Ramy's spearheading PSA so hopefully he'll be ably to recover over Christmas.

Tomorrow James again! We've played a good few times over the years especially this year.

I got him once at Canary Wharf earlier in the year but I've lost a few times since then. We always have decent matches though so I'm looking forward to it.

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