• 9th Qatar Classic Squash Championship  • 17-23 Nov 2009 • Doha •  





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Sun 22nd, Semis:

Women's Semis:

[4] Jenny Duncalf (Eng) bt [1] Nicol David (Mas)
             11/6, 2/11, 7/11, 11/3, 11/6 (54m)
[2] Rachael Grinham (Aus) bt [5] Madeline Perry (Irl)
             11/6, 11/8, 11/7 (29m)

Men's Semis

[1] Karim Darwish (Egy) bt [3] Ramy Ashour (Egy)
              11/5, 4/11, 7/11, 11/7, 11/7 (64m)
[4] Nick Matthew (Eng) bt [8] Peter Barker (Eng)
              11/4, 8/2 rtd (17m)

Jenny does it again, Rachael on top

Nicol David will not win a fourth Qatar Classic title, not this year anyway, after the defending champion suffered a second successive defeat at the hands of Jenny Duncalf in today's first semi-final.

As with many of the women's matches here this week, it was a see-saw affair with first one then the other taking control. Having shared the first four games it was Duncalf who asserted in the fifth to end the Malaysian's Qatar reign.  Video interviews

Rachael Grinham repeated her British Open win against Madeline Perry, again in straight games, to reach the Qatar Classic final for the second time. The Australian was on top throughout, opening up a quick 7/1 lead in the first and staying a few points ahead throughout the next two games despite Perry's best efforts.

One thing is sure - there will be a new women's champion tomorrow ...
Darwish still standing, Barker limps out

If the women's champion is out, the defending men's champion is still here, as Karim Darwish won a second consecutive five-game thriller. This time the top seed beat fellow Egyptian Ramy Ashour, but after Ramy had blitzed the second and third games to take the lead, few would have put money on Karim making the final.

Once again though he dug in, refused to be beaten, and took the next two games. It looked all over at 10/3 in the decider, but Ramy pulled four points back, and was then left bemused as his dropshot was called down, leaving Darwish to walk off court the victor.

Darwish's opponent in the final will be Nick Matthew, who prevailed in the all-English match which concluded the evening. After a close opening, Matthew pulled away from 5-4 to take the first, and was totally dominant in the second before Barker, grimacing in pain with a recurrence of a leg injury that started in Santiago, offered his hand in retirement.

"She came out strong, very confident, whereas I seem to more watch what was happening than actually play, I lacked confidence in my shots, I tried and give all I had, that took a lot of energy… and at the end, I just hit the wall.

"She played extremely well, I’ll just have to come back next year to try and win the title again…"

[4] Jenny Duncalf (Eng) bt [1] Nicol David (Mas)
             11/6, 2/11, 7/11, 11/3, 11/6 (54m)

Fram reports

Of course Jenny came on court with confidence loaded in her bag. Of course that court, freezing and true, was suiting her to a T. Of course, Nicol had even more pressure on her as normal, and of course, she had a dangerous game yesterday against Laura, who nearly caused her to stop in the quarters. Of course, Nicol has a very heavy strapping on her right leg, and is obviously not 100% physically.

But most of all, Nicol needs a break from squash.

I don’t know what the pressure to be a number one for three years. I don’t know what it is to have at every match, all the best players in the world wanted to beat you, and using every opportunity to get you out of the way. What I know, is that Catwoman Nicol – like the cat, she always finds her balance back – is a tired 26 year old young lady, and that she deserves a nice Christmas break.

Now, about Jenny.

The girl is on fire. She has lost a tremendous amount of weight, she is fit as a fiddle, she moves like I’ve never seen her move before, she is more accurate at the back, and as lethal as ever at the front.

In other words, the young hope of English squash is becoming a Lady…

If she collapsed physically in the second, mind you, with the amount of attacking Nicol forced her to do in the first game, as she picked up absolutely everything, Jenny was surprisingly back in the third, as mentally, not a long time ago, I think she probably would not have recovered from the loss of the second.

She still lost the game, but the momentum was there, and surprising Nicol and us all, she walks away with the fourth, 11/3. And her authority just went on rolling in the fifth, Nicol making uncharacteristic errors, seemed a bit lost at sea, and more a lost soul than the Reigning Champion and Number One. And Jenny picks up her second victory against Nicol in 20 games, the second in a row, after having lost 18 times.

Which tends to prove that nothing is impossible. Nothing…

"After Hong Kong, when I spoke with you, I was extremely disappointed with my performance, but not destroyed mentally. And today, of course, you feel different after a win. But I saw the heavy strap on her leg, she had a pretty hard match against Laura yesterday, I don’t think she was at her best there. Still, she picks up more shots than everybody else on the tour.

"In the second, I don’t know what happened, it was a complete wipe out, I was flat, and at that level of game, you can’t afford feeling flat…

"I know a lot of people have been telling me that I’ve been losing weight, but I’m not doing anything in particular, or training more. I’m just doing a bit of core stability at home every day, because when I was younger, I didn’t fancy it really, the only thing I wanted to do was play, play, play… No I think I’m probably getting more mature now, and also, I maybe have lost some puppy fat…

"I was lucky in New York, I had such a gap, that when I started having the “oh my God I’m going to win against Nicol for the first time ever” thoughts, I was way ahead. But today, I didn’t have that gap, and I think it was an extremely good thing I already had a win, because I was able to keep it together at the end."

[2] Rachael Grinham (Aus) bt [5] Madeline Perry (Irl)
             11/6, 11/8, 11/7 (29m)

Rachael on top
Steve reports

Rachael Grinham repeated her British Open win against Madeline Perry, again in straight games, to reach the Qatar Classic final for the second time - having been in six semi-finals here.

The Australian was on top throughout, opening up a quick 7/1 lead in the first,, and although  Madeline clawed a few points back the game was effectively gone.

Playing her trademark lobs and drops with impressive accuracy, Rachael stayed a few points ahead throughout the next two games despite Perry's best efforts, frustration growing as she saw each hard won point answered by one or more flicks or drops from her opponent.

"Madeline's been in good form and had some very good wins, so I knew it wasn't going to be easy, although she had a tough match with Alison yesterday which didn't do me any harm. It's good to get off 3/0, I'm very pleased with that.

"The other girls are after blood these days, Jenny's just beaten Nicol twice in a row, and I've lost to a few of them now, outside the top ten too, so there's no easy rounds for me these days.

"I'm probably ahead of Jenny overall, but we've played four times this year already and it's two-all, so it should be a good final - there will be a new champion tomorrow, that's for sure ..."

"I felt ok physically, but she was pretty sharp tonight, she was moving well and putting in dropshots from all over the place, and most of them went in.

"I couldn't seem to get the ball to where she couldn't drop it from. She's more used to the court, which suits her game anyway, but she played very well.

"It's disappointing after I played so well, it was a good opportunity with the draw opening up after Jenny beat Nicol, but Rachael just played too well ..."

[1] Karim Darwish (Egy) bt [3] Ramy Ashour (Egy)
              11/5, 4/11, 7/11, 11/7, 11/7 (64m)

Fram reports

What a champion Karim is. Tonight, everybody’s money was on Ramy. First of all, because his impressive performance last night against Dig In James who just couldn’t do anything against the Egyptian. And also because of the heavy match Karim had to produce to beat Thierry, more than 80m of great squash.

But it’s the former world number one who took the reins in an impressive first game, where Ramy produced six unforced errors. Typical Ramy, a bit looking for his marks at the start.

The second was all about the young man, he was patient, and helped by Karim who kept feeding him balls at the front, he took the game 11/4, and with the same momentum, took the third, 11/7, with his opponent again making far too many errors (four in the third, four in the third).

But from that point on, Ramy seemed to lose his way a bit, made six unforced errors in the fourth, still producing extraordinary shots, but Karim just being more consistent, determined and controlling.

The fifth was going to be the same story, Ramy’s frustration growing rally after rally, to arrive to the first match ball at 10/5. Legend Ramy was to save two match balls, but at 7/10, Ramy found an exquisite backhand trickle, which was called down by the three refs. Very unhappy with the decision, the former World Champion left the arena, livid with disappointment…

"I was a bit tired from yesterday of course. As I couldn’t make it physical, like we did yesterday with Thierry, I made sure I played as accurate and tight as possible, and tried to keep him away from his winning shots.

"After losing the third, because I played the ball short too early, I had to concentrate to take it to the back and when I had the opportunity, take it to the front.

"We always have big matches Ramy and I, we know each other’s game pretty inside out. And when you are playing against such a great player as Ramy, if you are not 100% body wise, you’ve got to be smart…"

[4] Nick Matthew (Eng) bt [8] Peter Barker (Eng)
              11/4, 8/2 rtd (17m)

Fram reports

It was a strange match. The first rally went on a while, but after that, the rallies were short, and what I found very strange was that one winner from Nick would normally win the point, whereas normally, at that level of squash, you need about 10 of those to take the rally!

So, everything came clearer when Peter just went and shook his mate’s hand…

"I just hope it’s nothing serious, but Peter is professional enough to not make it worse, and I’m sure he stopped at the right time…

"He made me play just enough to get my body going, but short enough not to tire me, he’s been a good friend!

"Pete and I are close friends, I know he was not at his best this week, he had a bad flu coming here, you could see the drop of energy yesterday in the third, that was the flu showing up… I wish him a speedy recovery…"

"I had a leg problem since Spain, and I didn’t know if I was going to be able to make this event, and it all flared up again yesterday.

"But I can’t complain with my week really…"

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