TODAY at the Qatar
Day SIX, Quarter-Finals
Quick Video Tour
of the Khalifa Squash Complex
En Bref #3
Back together again ...
As defending champion Jenny Duncalf said after her second
round match, "it's felt like two separate tournaments so
far," but today the men and women came together for the
quarter-finals, all on the glass court at the Khalifa Tennis
& Squash Complex.
David bt  Kasey Brown
11/6, 12/10, 11/7 (40m)
Nour El Tayeb bt  Joelle King
11/8, 7/11, 11/9, 11/6 (49m)
 Rachael Grinham bt  Raneem El Weleily
12/10, 9/11, 14/16,
11/7, 11/5 (48m)
 Jenny Duncalf bt  Laura Massaro
11/7, 11/4, 11/8 (36m)
 Amr Shabana bt  James Willstrop
2/11, 14/12, 11/4, 11/7
 Gregory Gaultier bt  Peter Barker
11/4, 11/1 rtd
 Karim Darwish bt  Thierry Lincou
6/11, 11/9 (68m)
 Nick Matthew bt  Daryl Selby
11/3, 11/5 (34m)
David bt  Kasey Brown
11/6, 12/10, 11/7 (40m)
Kasey pretty close
Kasey Brown has taken a few big scalps of late -
Jenny Duncalf and Madeline Perry to name two - and today she
was aiming for the biggest one of them all, and although she
lost 3/0, it was actually a pretty close match and she can
count herself unlucky not to have got anything out of it.
Nicol David, riding high on a 52-match unbeaten
streak (since she lost in the semi-finals here last year) is
a tough nut to crack though, and many players before Kasey
have come close and gone away with nothing.
Nicol started the better, quickly going 5/0 up in the
opening game, then 7/2, but once Kasey settled she was
contesting every rally and worked her way back to 7/6, and
you thought 'she's got a chance here'. But then Nicol pulled
clear again, as she so often does, taking four points in a
row finishing on a stroke.
Kasey stayed in touch in the second, 3-all, 4-all, but Nicol
pulled clear again to 8/5. Nicol was playing her patient
game, confident in her ability to retrieve most things, and
that sooner or later she would place a shot that was just
too tight for her opponent, while Kasey was looking for
opportunities to increase the pace where she could.
She found them too, forced a couple of uncharacteristic
errors from the Malaysian, and got it back to 9/8 with a
perfect length. Nicol replied with one of her own to go
10/8, but Kasey fired in two winners to force extra points.
A lob out of court, 11/10 Nicol, then Kasey seized on a
loose return, volleyed it into the corner, but it wasn't
tight enough, stroke to Nicol. "That was harsh," said Kasey,
and it might have been, too.
Kasey kept her composure though, stayed in touch in the
third - she led 5/3 even - but once Nicol had levelled she
imposed her game, forced a couple of errors from Kasey but
mainly just worked the rallies to open up a chance to put
the ball too tight.
At 10/7 Kasey lobbed her return of serve out. She'll have to
wait a little longer for her next scalp, Nicol marches on
is a tough game you know… I know that all the girls are
systematically raising their game when they play against me,
so from the first rally, my aim is to take their confidence
away. I’ve seen what happens when they take the opportunity
and I don’t want that happening to me again!
I was working very hard to take the ball away from Kasey,
but she was very accurate and actually forced some errors
out of me, with lovely tight drives. Today she played very
well, I think she has taken her game to another level…
I’m happy with my match, I was moving well, now, it’s all
about getting used to the glass court, I’ll be a bit tighter
Last year, we had three months off tournaments, so I decided
to work hard on my training, and I went to Rod Martin in the
States, and his training sessions are pretty brutal, that
explains the trimming down!
Playing Nicol just shows you what you’ve got to work on –
I’m not telling what though – and it’s a great motivation
for myself and all the other girls, everybody’s up to beat
And the motivation is just to try and do better the next
first thing, WHAOUUUU…. Kasey, who was never ever fat in any
stretch of the imagination, was now become so trimmed and
sharp physically, she was just looking absolutely stunning!
She was on top of that wearing a great black number, simple,
efficient, that showed her figure. Again, Whaouuuuu…
But as I am looking at the stats, after the match, I just
realised that the Australian never got a game from Nicol.
They were some pretty long tie breaks, but she never took
one. And that reminded me for a split second what the
“other” players used to say about Jahangir… “How many points
did you get this time? 7? Well, you are in good form, I only
In my book, Kasey didn’t put a foot wrong, but Nicol is just
faster, she reads the game better, and gets there earlier.
And it must be mentally freaking hard to try again and
again, and to see that ball coming back, again and again.
Ah, and Nicol didn’t look bad either, by the way, wearing a
little white outfit – she fancies that colour – that was not
out of date I tell you….
Tayeb bt  Joelle King
11/8, 7/11, 11/9, 11/6 (49m)
Tayeb takes another step
"Semi-finals of the Qatar Classic ... I can't believe it!"
said Nour El Tayeb after completing a third successive
stunning upset in today's second match.
It's true Nour, it's true, and well deserved too. This was a
17-year-old against one of the rising stars of the Wispa
tour, and she matched her opponent in every area and
bettered her in a couple of crucial ones.
would have been a mistake for the young Egyptian to utilise
the game plan that had beaten Omneya Abdel Kawy and Nour El
Sherbini, she was never going to be able to overpower and
rush Joelle as she had her compatriots, and she and her
coach obviously realised that.
From the outset the young Egyptian was mixing it up more
than she had previously, placing the ball more deliberately,
and engaging Joelle in up and down the wall rallies where
necessary before launching the attacks which would
inevitably come. They rallied a lot, but it was almost
invariably Nour who would initiate the attacks, and almost
invariably she who would find the shots to finish the rally.
Nour held a slender advantage for most of the first game,
was caught at 8-all but pulled away to take the lead. Joelle
was always a point or two ahead in the second as she
The Kiwi was ahead for most of the third too, but not by
much. Nour levelled at 9-all, then on each of the next two
points worked her opponent around the court, prizing open
opportunities and finished them off well.
A quick 3-0 start in the fourth was just what Nour needed,
and as her confidence grew Joelle's seemed to slip away. The
Kiwi simply didn't have the weapons to put the ball away
today, largely due to some incredible retrieving by her
The rally at 7/5 to Nour typified this - Joelle had
two good opportunities to finish the rally but Nour just
wouldn't let them be winners, she ran them down and then on
the first chance slammed a crosscourt into the nick.
There was no stopping Nour today. Joelle certainly didn't
play badly, but Nour certainly did play well.
I'd played a fast pace against Joelle I would have been
finished after the first three points! Deep drives and
crosscourts, and not many boasts at the front, it's not my
game but it's how I had to play to win this match.
"I had to try to keep the ball tight, she has a great reach
and she'll volley anything in the middle and she would reach
angles at the front.
"I haven't played on this court before but I coped well with
it, it suits my game as shots to the front stay in, it's a
bit dead in the corners.
"I can't believe I won, quarter-finals of the Qatar Classic
is huge for me, I'd only looked at the points and prize
money for the first round!
"Tomorrow I play Nicol David, the pressure is off I'll just
try to enjoy myself and see how good the world number one is
Grinham bt  Raneem El Weleily
12/10, 9/11, 14/16,
11/7, 11/5 (48m)
Shootout at the Qatar Corral
Take two of the most skilful, two of the quickest, two of
the players least afraid of going for their shots you can
find, put them onto a relatively cold glass court after
they'd played on traditional courts, and what you get is
First game, 22 points in six minutes. Second game, 20 points
in eight minutes. Third game, 30 points in twelve minutes
... and so on. Short, sharp, fast, furious, all of that.
Very few rallies where the shot count hit double figures,
hardly any lets, but lots of winners, lots of errors.
Grinham and Raneem El Weleily were trading shots and errors
for 45 minutes, scrambling after each other's shots, firing
in their own - drops, volley drops, boasts, kills, lobs lots
of lobs, shots I don't know the name of, but very few of
your basic down the wall drive ... no-one knew what was
coming next, possibly not even the players themselves, and
the scoreboard struggled to keep pace.
For three games it was as close as could be, the Egyptian
youngster taking a two-one lead, but in the final two games
it was the experienced Australian who found the tin less,
found the corners more, and she it was who came through to
another Qatar Classic semi-final.
You won't get a mixture like this again for a while, and
it's hard to decide if that's a good thing or not.
Breathtaking ... Fascinating ... Error-Strewn ... Tactical
Battle ... can't decide, so Shootout it is.
33 now and I hate to admit it, but it's definitely getting
harder to keep pace with these youngsters!
"Raneem's just recently gone up a gear and seems to have
developed more patience - not today though, were were both
making a lot of errors, whether it's because it's the first
time on the glass court, the different conditions, don't
"She started out going for shots in the first few points,
and I was happy enough with that, but when she's attacking
like that the whole time you don't get a chance to think
about what you're doing yourself, it's coming at you so fast
and you're just reacting.
"I'm just glad I came through and won it in the end!
"There's lots of these Egyptian kids, they just keep coming,
but it definitely keeps us all on our toes, and the way they
play their squash is an inspiration too ..."
Duncalf bt  Laura Massaro
11/7, 11/4, 11/8 (36m)
JENNY COMFY OUT THERE
Only in the last points I found that Laura was letting go of
her arm freely and hitting the ball as sharply as she
normally does. I nearly didn’t see her power today, and God
knows she’s got some…
No, today, it was all about Jenny finding some stunning drop
shots and winners at the front. She was free to do more of
less what she wanted on there, although Laura didn’t really
make any errors. I’m just not sure she played the right
Duncalf now plays Grinham in a repeat of last year's
plan is to keep the confidence of your opponent to a
On that court, you’ve got to move well, and almost push off
before they’ve played their shot, or at least have a few
shots in mind ready to play…
In the second, my length dropped a bit at times, and she let
me get away with it, which probably didn’t help with her
confidence. Overall, it was all about trying to mix shots up
and make her move… It was a 3/0 but in no means an easy one,
as even with 2/0 up, and a good lead in the 3rd, she started
to come back very strongly…
I feel pretty good at the moment, I’ve been playing bunches
of tournaments, I’ve been away from home for a couple of
months. I guess I’m in a “playing matches mode” at the
moment, but at the moment, I keep on wnining…
It’s nice to be out on this court, my victory last year here
was a great platform for me, it got me to world number two…
And it would be a great birthday gift if I could go back
home with a trophy…
I feel that I didn’t put the ball in the good enough areas.
And if I’d played a bit more during the match as I did at
the end, I probably would have had a better result, instead
of trying to match her game…
Jenny played really well, but I didn’t play the way I
should, and that allowed her to play in her comfort zone.
 Amr Shabana
bt  James Willstrop
2/11, 14/12, 11/4, 11/7
SHABANA WARMING UP…
of those matches where I got the result wrong… In my blond
head, I gave James as the winner, 3/1 probably. And when the
Egyptian didn’t move at all in the first, I thought, well,
here we go… And it’s not with his start in the second that I
changed my mind, 3/0 down.
But little by little, he gets mentally in the match,
especially as James is tinning his shots here and there.
Shabana seems to have trouble getting past James, and asks a
few lets in a row.
Is that helping him to get mentally in the rallies? I’m not
sure. One thing is sure, is that by the middle of that game,
Shabana’s motivation seems to be awakened, and the rallies
are getting longer and feistier.
It will take the Egyptian four game balls to clinch the game
14/12 [he saved James' one with an audacious service
return into the nick], but by the end of that game,
Mighty Shabana was back in town, and from that moment on, it
was like James lost a bit of confidence in his own game,
while Shabana was letting his arm go free…
Once he gets hold of you, he just doesn’t let go, we saw
that after he took the second..
My hat to him, he keeps being written off, written off, and
he keeps coming back. He is obviously back into a good
physical shape… I watched him last week in Kuwait, his
matches were just before mine, and watching him just helped
me, nobody strikes the ball better….
I have an immense respect, an IMMENSE respect for the guy,
he’s got an outstanding attitude on court.
I don’t think I could have done much better today, when he
gets in a roll, he get in a roll. And I hate losing, I
absolutely hate losing to anyone, but there is nobody I’d
rather lose to…
the start, he played well, but especially, he stuck to his
game plan, while I didn’t stick to mine…
You know, for a few times I’ve been playing against him, I
developed a sort of mental block, but after a while, I just
thought to myself, might as well play, I’ve got nothing to
lose… And from that point on, it was pretty close….
You’ve got to be careful with James, because he can shut you
out if he gets into a zone… I was playing every point not
caring if I won or lose, just playing each and one of them.
And when I played my winners, I didn’t care if it was up or
down, but at least, you know the odds, it’s 50/50…
So I’m really proud that I succeeded to stick in there
Darwish bt  Thierry Lincou
6/11, 11/9 (68m)
THE PASSION IS STILL ALIVE…
Karim raised his two arms in the air after taking his fourth
match ball… The relief on his face was obvious to all….
Today, he had all the pain in the world to shake that
bleeping Frenchman off his racquet. The Old Man wouldn’t say
die, and ran, volleyed, drop shot-ed his way through three
out of four games, giving a real scare to the former number
In my opinion, Karim probably made the error tonight to let
Thierry play within his comfort zone. No twisting and
turning. No change of pace. A bit passive at the back
defending instead of asking the questions at the front. But
as all the great champions, he still wins when maybe not
playing at his best…
first game was a bit surreal, as Thierry played as when he
was a young man, honestly, I haven’t seen him play that
well, for a very long time. He was all over Karim, and the
Egyptian was rather happy to take that opening one, as it
took him four game balls to do so, 13/11….
In the second, Karim took an excellent start, and the
Frenchman was flat as it comes, a formality for the
Egyptian, 11/2. And maybe the Egyptian relaxed a bit? Maybe
he thought that his opponent was bound to be tired after his
70m on court the day before?
Well, Thierry got himself in the lead, 7/4, in that third
game, controlling the court, and forcing Karim on his
backfoot again and again, especially with a stunning short
And the momentum went on, Thierry actually keeping on
controlling the start of the fourth, and to be honest, I had
the impression the Egyptian had lost a bit of confidence in
his game. 4/0 for the Frenchman….
Who then makes six unforced errors in eight points. Thanks,
Passion was flying high at that moment, some surprising to
say the least decisions got Thierry boiling, and he actually
threw his racquet across the court when refused a let! That
was, in all the years I’ve seen Thierry play, a first….
Still, strong Karim got match ball, 10/7. The Frenchman,
having nothing to lose, started playing as he did in the
beginning of the match, with a loud crowd cheering BETWEEN
the games, thank you guys, and well, you know the rest…
had to push myself to come back on court today, I was a bit
flat after yesterday’s big match we had with David, I was
struggling a bit mentally today, and that’s why I had some
bad patches, where I lost my focus.
When I was able to stick to my game back, I was fine, and I
really felt fine physically, it was harder mentally…. But
then again, I told myself I didn’t have anything to lose,
and that’s when I play my best. Well, I still can play well,
but I can’t win anymore!!!!
It’s a shame that I lost a bit my way when I was 4/0 up in
the 4th. That’s what is becoming difficult now, to keep that
lucidity match after match, game after game, and point after
point. And it all came down to that moment really, because
the rest of the match was rather balanced..
I had two good wins this week, then a good match today, so
of course I want to keep going, and I’m lucky I’ve got my
family that supports my choices, and I’m so lucky to be able
to live my passion…
Overall, really happy with this trip, one semi final, two
quarters in a short time, I tell you, I would have signed
immediately for such a result before leaving Marseille!!!!
And I feel that the more I do, the more I play – like here,
for three weeks, being immersed completely – the more I feel
comfortable in my game.
last time was in my mind, of course, but it was different
this time, it's hard to do what he's done in the last couple
of days and pitch up again.
"He did well to see off Olli and Pilley in really tough
matches, we've all been in the position of breaking into the
top ranks when those just outside see you as a good draw,
but it had to take its toll on him.
"I wasn't in any mood to le him settle into any slow rallies
which might have helped him loosen himself up, and on an
unforgiving court like this he was having to stretch for it
instead of counterattacking as he likes to do, the pressure
kept building and I knew the opportunities for winners would
Matthew bt  Daryl Selby
11/3, 11/5 (34m)
Not this time ...
repeat of last week's upset result in Kuwait, where Nick
Matthew faltered at two games up against Daryl Selby was
never really on the menu tonight, partly because Daryl had
survived two really tough matches to reach this stages
compared to Nick's much easier passage, and partly because
the top seed would be acutely aware of not letting it happen
And so it proved as Nick, for all Daryl's efforts, dominated
the match, working the ball around the court, attacking
incisively and never letting his opponent settle.
Daryl never led, and apart from love-all the only time he
was even level was at 2-all in the third as the defending
champion moved impressively into the semis and a repeat of
last year's final against Karim Darwish.
I talk? Just about! The lungs are ok, it’s just the legs…
I tried hard…
Yes, I’ve got more than 3h on court, he’s got less than 1,
so, big difference. But that said, Nick was really sharp
I thought I hit the ball well, I didn’t make it easy for him
by giving him easy rallies, but he got good shots, and
didn’t give the any time, he played fast…
You know, Nick is the kind of guy, if he has a bad time, he
comes back strong, and I hope I lost against the winner of
the tournament tonight.
I’m happy with my week, I run every ball down, gave my 100.
I want to thank ES Physio, Jade, who’s helped me this week,
as I was really struggling last week, and without her, I
don’t think I would have been able to do much. Also wanted
to thank Joe and Wendy back home….