Round TWO

• 10th Qatar Classic Squash Championship  • 04-12 Nov 2010 • Doha •  




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TODAY at the Qatar Classic 2010
9th, Day FIVE, Round Two  
The men's and women's events have caught up so today was round two - the last 16, or as it's called by some the "pre-Quarter-Finals" - in both draws.

Sixteen matches then, with the men again on the glass court and the women vying for the right to play on there tomorrow ...

Women's Round Two:

[1] Nicol David
bt [11] Donna Urquhart
            11/5, 11/4, 11/4 (23m)
[7] Kasey Brown bt [9] Vanessa Atkinson
            11/9, 7/11, 13/11, 5/11, 11/6 (67m)
Nour El Tayeb bt [16] Nour El Sherbini
             11/7, 4/11, 11/2, 11/4 (29m)
[13] Joelle King bt [5] Camille Serme
             11/7, 11/8, 11/13, 10/12, 11/8 (70m)

[8] Raneem El Weleily bt [14] Sarah Kippax
             11/8, 11/6, 11/7 (26m)
[4] Rachael Grinham bt [12] Isabelle Stoehr
              11/5, 12/10, 11/4 (33m*)
[6] Laura Massaro bt Dipika Pallikal
              11/6, 11/5, 15/13 (31m)
[2] Jenny Duncalf bt [10] Jaclyn Hawkes
               11/8, 12/10, 4/11, 11/4 (41m)

Men's Round Two:

[2] Amr Shabana
bt  [14] Adrian Grant
             11/7, 11/9, 11/9 (36m)
[6] James Willstrop bt [13] Laurens Jan Anjema
             11/3, 11/5, 11/8 (45m)
[4] Gregory Gaultier bt Omar Mosaad
              11/7, 11/9, 11/4 (46m)
[7] Peter Barker bt  [13] Mohamed El Shorbagy
             4/11, 13/11, 14/12, 12/10 (67m)

[8] Thierry Lincou bt [12] David Palmer
             8/11, 11/4, 11/5, 3/11, 11/5 (75m)
[3] Karim Darwish bt [16] Stewart Boswell
            11/8, 11/7, 6/11, 11/3 (53m)
[8] Daryl Selby bt [15] Cameron Pilley
             11/5, 9/11, 11/5, 5/11, 11/9 (102m)
[1] Nick Matthew bt [15] Alister Walker
             11/5, 12/10, 11/4 (37m)

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En Bref #2


Women's Round Two ...                                               Steve reports   

[1] Nicol David bt [11] Donna Urquhart
            11/5, 11/4, 11/4 (23m)

David still the mistress

Yes, she's well ahead in almost every measurable term - rankings, points, titles etc etc - but Nicol David seems to have an effect on most of the other women in that they never seem to play to their potential against her.

It looks simple, she doesn't blast opponents off court, she just manoevres them around, keeping the ball so so tight, anticipating a lot of their shots, running down the others, and even when she's in trouble she seems to return it with interest - especially that lob that she seems to have perfected off her opponent's dropshot, so slow, so deep, so tight.

Donna Urquhart didn't exactly play badly today, but she certainly didn't play her best, a lot of unforced errors that she'd never normally make, but that's what Nicol does to you.

Off to good starts in the first two games, the World Champion, World Number One, Top Seed, etc etc etc closed both out comfortably enough. A 4-1 deficit in the third certainly didn't faze her - chances are even a 10-1 deficit wouldn't - as she reeled off ten points in a row to reach the quarter-finals.

"It felt good today, I'm getting used to the court and playing it much better.

"Donna didn't play at her best, she made a lot of errors in the second and that gave me a bit of an edge, but she can be so dangerous if you let her play her shots.

"The lob? I've practiced that shot a lot, after seven years it's finally starting to come good!

"I'm feeling good, that's the main thing, looking forward to the next round and to getting on the glass court ..."

[7] Kasey Brown bt [9] Vanessa Atkinson
            11/9, 7/11, 13/11, 5/11, 11/6 (67m)

Brown survives brutal encounter

"Did you see some of those rallies!" asked Kasey Brown after coming through a brutal encounter with Vanessa Atkinson.

You couldn't miss them - for five games they hammered it out, neither willing to give way, neither willing to give up, both hitting the ball powerfully, retrieving determinedly, and the crowd on court three enjoyed every minute of it, which is probably more than can be said for the combatants themselves.

Brown took the lead, coming from 2/6 to 9/6 in a single hand along the way, but Atkinson held the advantage throughout the second to level. After one particularly brutal rally which Brown won on a mishit, Atkinson looked to be counting to ten before exhorting herself, "don't swear!"

The third was close all the way, Atkinson got to game ball first but Brown won it on extra points and you thought the 34-year-old might fade.

Not a bit of it, she stormed back to take the fourth with a flurry of winners, and went 4/0 up in the decider with more powerful, precise play.

She had a chance to go 5/0 but snatched at a volley into the open court, and Kasey, who was being made to do more of the work but was more than willing to do it, grabbed the lifeline gratefully as she levelled at 5-all.

Finally, something cracked, and Vanessa would make six errors as a relieved and tired Kasey went through to the quarters.

"It was such a tough match all the way, but I sort of stepped back after the third, and she just chopped me in the fourth.

"She started like that in the fifth too. I knew I had to keep attacking, and then she started making errors, after hitting like one tin in the first four games!

"I seem to have had about ten five-setters recently, I wish I wouldn't, I'd much rather save some energy for the next round ...

Kasey Brown

Nour El Tayeb bt [16] Nour El Sherbini
             11/7, 4/11, 11/2, 11/4 (29m)

Tayeb on a roll

Faced with a second fellow-Egyptian opponent, Nour El Tayeb played pretty much the same game she used with great effect against Omneya Abdel Kawy yesterday to score a rare win against her junior nemesis Nour El Sherbini.

Fast-paced, taking everything early, generally hitting low and hard, taking it in short with tight drops and deceptive trickle boasts.

Not a bad plan, against anyone, and today it worked a treat again.

The opening exchanges were close, but Tayeb pulled clear from 7-all to take the lead. Sherbini dominated the second as Tayeb deviated from the plan, and after 13 minutes we were level.

But Tayeb reverted to type in the third and fourth, dominating both games as she once again harried her opponent into loose returns and errors - and it's not many, especially juniors, who can do that to Sherbini.

There was a little fist pump today, but that's all. As she says, Nour's not finished yet ...

"Same as yesterday, except for the second when I thought 'I'm one up against Nour, that never happens', and I decided to go short too early and she just killed me.

"In the third I remembered yesterday's match and started to pin her to the back, and then I could win the points. There were rallies, but not too many long ones.

"We played each other last Friday in a team match and I won 3-2, from 10-6 down in the fifth, which was good, but to beat her 3/1, that never happens!

"I'm happy to be in the quarters, and I'm not done yet - to be in the Qatar quarter-finals, that's something ..."

[13] Joelle King bt [5] Camille Serme
             11/7, 11/8, 11/13, 10/12, 11/8 (70m)

King stops Serme comeback

Another five-setter in the women's last sixteen, and although this one lasted four minutes longer than the Brown/Atkinson battle, it was a touch more cerebral than brutal.

Not that Joelle King and Camille Serme weren't going at it hammer and tong for much of they match, they certainly were, but both also played more carefully when the situation demanded, and the rallies generally didn't have the same brutality.

King had the edge in the first two games, but never by much, pulling away from 7-all in the first and 6-all in the second to take a well deserved two game lead.

Serme stopped the rot early in the third, opening up to 6/1, but slowly King pegged her back, finally levelling at 8-all as Serme lobbed out at the end of another punishing rally.

The Frenchwoman was careful not to make an error from that point, spurning several opportunities for risky winners, taking the safe option of a lob or lofted drive instead. The Kiwi stuck with her though, levelled at 9-all, 10-all and 11-all, but volleyed into to tin at 12/11 to give Serme a lifeline.

The fourth was similar - Serme in front, King exerting relentless pressure but not quite being able to get ahead, and again Serme denied her opponent a match ball as she took it 12/10 with a brilliant pickup to put away a crosscourt drop.

At 5-all the decider looked to be going the same way, but Camille made three crucial errors which came as a surprise because she wasn't going for winners, they just came out of the blue, and Joelle found herself 10/7 up.

Camille could only save one match ball, with a lovely blocked dropshot, but on the next rally Joelle's dropshot was tight enough to elicit a loose return which was put gleefully away.

"I've lost so many close matches, and so many from two-nil up - I did that in Hong Kong last week - that I told myself in the fifth I couldn't let it happen again, I wasn't going to get a chance to play the match again in ten minutes.

"I played well at the start but then she played much better in the third and fourth and made it hard for me. In the fifth I was down the whole game and then she gave me a few points, I just wanted to play steady and make her work to get those points back.

"Winning the medals at the Commonwealths has given me a confidence boost I think. The CWG are a big think in New Zealand so when I get home there's usually just my Gran and boyfriend waiting for me, but this time, coming back as the most successful New Zealand athlete, it was just huge!

"It's funny, Nour and I played each other in qualifying here last year, and now we'll be playing the quarter-finals ..."

[8] Raneem El Weleily bt [14] Sarah Kippax
             11/8, 11/6, 11/7 (26m)

Error free Raneem

After a first game comprising 19 points in just six minutes and one rally of any significance, it looked like this match could be over very quickly.

Raneem El Weleily, double world junior champion and just starting to make major inroads onto the senior scene, overcame an early 2/4 deficit to take the first, but Sarah Kippax was always only ever a point or two behind.

The next two games followed the same pattern scorewise, Kippax getting a couple of points ahead at the start, El Weleily overtaking her at the midway point then pulling away towards the end.

Playwise though, they were very different - virtually every rally was well contested, both moving the ball well and utilising a wide variety of shots, both making very very few errors, but the Egyptian always looked the more likely to finish the rally off, the Englishwoman more on the defensive, but not massively so.

It would only have taken a couple of tins, a couple of lengths that didn't die so nicely, and Kippax could easily have taken one of those games, and then it could have been different.

In the event though, Raneem didn't tin, she did find those perfect lengths, and even though Sarah played well, the Egyptian was an impressive winner.

"Last time we played I was 2/0 and 10/6 up and I lost, so I knew I couldn't afford to relax for one second, she's a good player, she has good basics and gets to everything.

"We had some long rallies after the first game, but I just managed to stay ahead.

"It's good to get to the semi-finals, and for the first time there will be two Egyptians in the last eight!"

Raneem El Weleily

[4] Rachael Grinham bt [12] Isabelle Stoehr
              11/5, 12/10, 11/4

Rachael lobs her way to the quarters

To be honest, I didn't see too much of this match, but what I did see suggested we had two players intent on playing their shots whenever the opportunity arose.

Rachael Grinham is a master at mixing it up, and Isabelle Stoehr is pretty handy in that department, a recipe for some fast, entertaining rallies.

You can see from the scoreline that Rachael was pretty much in control in the first and third, and she also led 4/1 and 10/7 in the second, Isabelle possibly a little unlucky not to take that game.

The rally that stood out though was at 9/7. First Isabelle played it short into the front right corner, then Rachael lobbed it crosscourt deep into the opposite back corner.

Isabelle lobbed it back crosscourt off the backwall and raced up court for the inevitable drop. Rachael, seeing her coming, lobbed it back to where it came from.

They went through this process at least four times, each time Rachael looked almost embarrassed to do it again, but do it again she did. And so did Isa. Great skill from both, and the closest you can get to stalemate in squash I guess.

To be honest, apart from the fact that Rachael won the point I can't remember how it finished - everyone was too busy chuckling away ...

"You never know how it's going to be with Isa, she changes tactics a lot, she can come out hitting hard or playing slow, and change at any time. All you do know is she's going to jump on anything loose with her volleys, you just need to try to keep your own focus whatever she's doing.

"She probably wasn't moving as well as she can, I was moving ok but I wasn't too confident in my hitting, not sure if it was the court, or the bouncy ball.

"On that lob rally, I kept checking to see whether she was coming up for the drop, and she was so I just lobbed it back - she might have guessed if I'd tried to drop or drive it, and Isa's one that you're generally confident of getting a lob over her, so I just kept playing it safe! I wasn't doing it to have fun, I really wanted to drop it but I couldn't!

Raneem next - I lost to her last time we played. She was always dangerous, but now she seems to have gone up a level, she's got serious as if she's going for the top spot ... you're pretty sure she's going to turn up these days ...

[6] Laura Massaro bt Dipika Pallikal
              11/6, 11/5, 15/13 (31m)

Laura survives tense finish

England's Laura Massaro reached the quarter-finals with a generally assured performance against Dipika Pallikal, who created one of only two upsets yesterday.

Quickly onto the front foot in the first two games, she controlled most of the rallies, and the scoreboard, limiting the Indian teenager's opportunities to play the winners she so likes.

It was a different story at the start of the third though, as Pallikal found some lovely shots to go 7/2 up. Massaro steadied, and worked her way back to 8-all with a low crosscourt kill, only to see Pallikal regain the lead with one of her own. Great retrieving from both on the next point but Massaro won the counterdrop battle to level at 9-all.

They traded points and shots for a while - a clinging straight drive from Pallikal brought game ball, a similar one glued to the backhand wall took it to extra points; Massaro's volley drop for match ball was answered by Pallikal's from deep in the back court, very brave that one.

A stroke for Massaro, followed by a tin, 13-all. Massaro's boast was just too tight, bringing up a third match ball, and when Pallikal's shot came down the middle on the next point everyone except two (or maybe three) of the referees thought a let was coming ...

To her credit, Dipika didn't argue the point, but even her opponent didn't think it was a stroke. A disappointing way to finish, but a quarter-final spot for Laura nonetheless, and a pretty solid performance overall too.

"I just wanted make a lively start today, I made sure I was ready from the off, hitting through the ball with some pace as I made a slow start yesterday. She started a bit sluggishly and made a few mistakes, which helped.

"The third was much tougher though, I made a few silly shots at the start and she punished me big time. I knew that if I could just get a couple of shots back it could become tight, and that's what happened. She went for and got a couple of great shots when it was really tight, and was unlucky in the end.

"I've made my seeding so I have to be pleased with that, but obviously you want to do more ..."

[2] Jenny Duncalf bt [10] Jaclyn Hawkes
               11/8, 12/10, 4/11, 11/4 (41m)

Duncalf finishes with a flourish

Defending champion Jenny Duncalf moved smoothly enough into the quarter-finals, despite a third game blip against the tenacious  Jaclyn Hawkes.

The world number two was never completely in control of the first two games, but kept her opponent working hard enough to stay ahead, only when Hawkes levelled at 9-all in the second was there a real scent of danger, but that was snuffed out, Duncalf finishing the second with a stroke to take a seemingly comfortable lead.

From the outset of the fourth though she was pressurised into mistakes, and made more as she tried to recover, seven in all as Hawkes pulled a game back with some comfort.

All that was put aside in the fourth though as the Englishwoman took a 6/2 lead, and finished the match with five well constructed rallies, all ending with winners.

"You never feel a million dollars on these outside courts anyway, and Jaclyn picks up a lot of balls so you always have to play that extra shot against her.

"At the beginning of the third I felt a little something in my leg, it was nothing but I just backed off for a few rallies, got a few points behind and tried to get them back too quickly.

"I regrouped after that, got moving and thinking again and thought I was playing quite well at the end.

"It will be nice to get on the glass court with the men tomorrow, it feels like it's been two completely separate tournaments so far ..."


Men's Round Two ...                                                              Fram reports   

[2] Amr Shabana bt  [14] Adrian Grant
             11/7, 11/9, 11/9 (36m*)


Shabana was on the war path today, hungry for victory. Only went for “cheap” winners once per game, at the second rally. Apart from that, length, patience, accuracy, and flair.

Normal day at the Shabs office really.

Adrian didn’t do much wrong honestly. Nice length, good pace, good hands, placing some great boast or slide drop shots.

But in this All Lefties battle, Shabana was just more strong all the way through, never letting one rally go without fighting hard, whereas Adrian seemed, as he does sometimes, to drift in and out of it.

“People will expect me to fall off my focus, even if I’m playing very well, they’ll just weather the storm”, noted Adrian after his match.

Spot on.

That’s the time of the tournament where you play well and stay, or not play well, and lose! You can’t slack it off…

The court was a bit warmer than usual, which suited his game. Adrian gets faster and faster as the match goes, and if you are not careful, you can get sucked in his game plan. And he is very hard to finish off, I’m happy to get off in 3.

I was playing well in patches, playing well for 3 or 4 rallies, pushing hard, then sitting back for 3 or 4. It’s the consistency of the mental approach that I still got to work on, to try and keep that level of game all the time.

And that’s the difference with the top 5 guys, they don’t drop below that level of game, they don’t fall under that medium, if anything they go higher.

But I felt comfortable on there, the pace was fine…

[6] James Willstrop bt [13] Laurens Jan Anjema
             11/3, 11/5, 11/8 (45m)


Through the whole match, James made four unforced errors, and LJ one. I know, I know, LJ thinks that it’s not the point in his case. But it’s to point out the match quality those two produced today.

I’m not sure why LJ is so hard with himself. Maybe, after the excellent performances he gave in KW in particular against Ramy, he was expecting more of himself. But the court conditions were completely different, as in, a burning oven, compared to a fridge here!

James luuuuves this court, he won the Title here a few years back, and I guess is pretty confident. And he went for not too much, not too little, his balance was perfect really.

Game wise, this match was a pleasure, so much reach, retrieving, attacking from both part, a few decisions, so few if you think how those boys are tall and strong! Honestly, an intense and fought hard match.

All I can say is I prepared well for this match, mentally, physically, tactically, but I didn’t play at all what I had planned to do. It was a terrible, terrible performance today. I made tactical errors, and it’s my lack of accuracy that allowed him to play his good shots.

I’ve got to improve, and I can tell you that I played terrible today. I tried to stay positive, but…..

And yes, he is very good on this court…

"I played well, and I don’t think he played that badly at all, I had to play very solid squash to win. I was pretty pleased with my performance, it went as it was expected to go.

"It’s a very hard flooring, if you can stay as little as possible on there, all much the better if you intend to go far in the tournament, so a 3/0 is a good result really."

[4] Gregory Gaultier bt Omar Mosaad
              11/7, 11/9, 11/4 (46m)


This was a match between a player with a recovering injury, Greg, and one who just contracted one, Mosaad. During his excellent match against Wael, the Egyptian injured himself, I remember him telling me about his back right after.

He went to see the physio who strapped him like a mummy, bless him, and he tried to play. From my point of view, I was wondering why he was not attacking with his normal power, why he was not volleying….

Well, that explains it!

In front, Greg did what he had to do, trying to find his marks and body on there. A lot of unforced errors for the French, 7 in the second game, but overall, the job that needed done was so….

I’m extremely happy. I’ve been impaired so much with my thigh injury since last week, and I’m so grateful to Ronald (from the Malaysian Corner) and Caroline Glain for the work they both have done on it.

Two days ago, I couldn’t move or run, and I knew I was going to suffer for the first two rounds. But now, I guess it’s starting to relax, and although I can still feel the pain, it’s not deep as it was.

I didn’t play that well, but it will be coming, it’s so much better than the first match, it’s all going to fall into place. I guess it’s like in KW, in the first match, I was playing like a blind goat, but as the tournament advances, must be something on the mental side that just clicks….

I shouldn’t have lost that match. I was up in each game, 10/8 in the 2nd, 10/8 in the 3rd, and 6/1 in the 4th.

I was so unlucky, slipping at such crucial times in both the 2nd, that would have taken me to lead 2/0 up, and in the 3rd, twice within the last 3 rallies. I don’t have the words to describe it… So unlucky.

I tried to come back each time in the match, to stay positive, but I feel he played the crucial points better than I did today.

[7] Peter Barker bt  [13] Mohamed El Shorbagy
             4/11, 13/11, 14/12, 12/10 (67m)


All due respect for the enormous match Peter produced today, but mentally and physically, Shorbagy is the unluckiest boy in town….

He started the match superbly, finding the ideal balance between attack and length. After a very hard fought game – where Peter realised that if Mohamed's shots were extremely rewarding at the front, his could be too! – Mohamed succeeded to take the lead, 10/8. But at 9/10, he slips into a full splits in the left corner. Peter gives it a big push, and takes the game, 13/11.

In the middle of the third, the Egyptian, feeling the floor getting a bit slippery, asks the ref if Peter – who is renowned to sweat rather a fair bit – to change his shirt. Peter explains that he changed his shirt between games, and that he can’t keep on changing shirts during the game! He actually proposes to play naked, which I regret to say is not picked up by the ref….

Mohamed comes back in the third. Both are neck to neck, 3/2, but again, Shorbagy flies off, 6/2. Patiently, Peter scores, one point, then another, but the Egyptian prevails, 9/5, and sets himself another game ball, 10/8.

At that point, the game becomes fast, furious, a bit scrappy, with the two players not exactly letting each other clear path of the ball, and chatting to each other between points, not that happy with each other…

Mohamed gets his third game ball of the game, 12/11. And slips miserably again in that back left corner, to find himself on his bottom, unable to move. 12/12. Not happy, is the poor boy. A looooong rally, that Peter clinches with a stunning backhand drop shot, game ball, 13/12 Peter.

And as Mohamed is going to a simple crosscourt in that same damn left corner, he slips exactly the same way. Again. Game Peter.

“You know, I can’t believe this”, Shorbagy says to the ref as he leaves the court…. Neither can we.

In the fourth, Peter plays as well as I ever saw him play. He is accurate, fast, determined, and reads his opponent’s shots like a clairvoyant. Mohamed, although he fights for every shot, his spirit is broken, and quite understandably, really.

But the Egyptian is a tough trouper. He goes up 6/1, is caught up at 7/7. Peter has 3 match balls, from 10/7. All saved by Mohamed. But the young man can’t save the last one, and hands the match to his opponent at 12/10…

Heart breaking for one, superb fighting spirit reward for the other…

"I played him only once before, in Saudi last year, and he took me by surprise, his speed, especially for a big guy, is just excellent. I wanted to win, to get back on parity, and I was expecting a tough match, it didn’t disappoint!

He played incredibly well in the first game, and made it very tough for then on. I’m pleased I was able to come back each time, I was down in every game, I didn’t panic, just kept to my game plan, and keep it straight.

It’s so unfortunate that he slipped at the end of the games, he is so tall, it’s the same for James, they have bigger strides than I have, that must come into it as well.

Needless I’m happy to win, and I’m glad to say it was played in a pretty decent spirit, which every game of squash should be played in."

[8] Thierry Lincou bt [12] David Palmer
             8/11, 11/4, 11/5, 3/11, 11/5 (75m)


I’m happy with that one… Double entendre I think you English say???

Yes, it was a game between two Vets of the game, who have been around for so long, and will make a biiiiig empty space when they go.

They didn’t exactly start at 200m/h, it was a slow paced game, gruelling, with a lot of moves around the court. 18mn to be exact, with Thierry’s game plan rather obvious – make it as hard as possible for the Australian.

And he lost the game, the Frenchman, but won the next two, quite comfortably, 4 and 5, with still long rallies, accurate squash from both of them, but a David just a bit late on the ball, and a Thierry control most of the court.

In the 4th, the Frenchman just relaxed a fraction, and David was in there in a shot, taking an excellent start, 5/1 then 9/2, to get equal, 11/3…

The 5th was all about Lincou really, 6/0, then 9/4. At 9/5, Thierry was awarded a stroke that David was not too happy about, and on match ball, David’s ball was called down. The Australian was not happy AT ALL with that decision, nor with one of the side refs who kept on laughing apparently, which really really wasn’t to the Marine’s taste.

After a handshake and a bit of wobbly discussions, Thierry gave David a let, and Thierry served again for the match. David couldn’t return a drop shot, and it’s with a great handshake they sealed the Frenchman’s victory, his 12th out of 21 matches those two Legends played.

Today, I felt relaxed, especially after yesterday’s match, I was able to let go of the stress. And I did feel that I could develop my game, and I had the will to show a different style of squash today.

I played well, sometimes I even fell in the trap of playing a “ Beautiful Squash”, but at that game, David is one of the best players, with his volleying and attacking skills, and I got caught out.

Globally, I was able to keep the level of intensity today, and vary from that base. But it has to be said that I benefitted from a Palmer just back from injury, and probably not at his best, either physically or mentally.

Today, he was just too good, far too good, and I didn’t have enough control of the ball to make enough damages to him…

Things haven’t really gone my way this year, and I haven’t hit the ball enough since the CWG, it showed today. Physically, I was fine, but Thierry was in total control, and that’s his trademark.

My shots were too loose, I wasn’t sharp enough, and I wasn’t confident with my shots, neither to the front nor to the back! I played better in the 4th, but he came strong in the 5th.

[3] Karim Darwish bt [16] Stewart Boswell
            11/8, 11/7, 6/11, 11/3 (53m)


The match lasted less than an hour, which is for a dour game match not that long, especially when Bozza is playing in it! There were some really long rallies, but again and again, the Australian just clipped the tin and it must have been mentally exhausting to be at the wrong end of some many tiring rallies…

Yesterday, I didn’t play much, so it was good today to have a good run on the court, especially as my squash always gets better after a few matches, my shots are getting sharper…

He played really well today, in particular in the third, I thought I had him, I relaxed for a second… But he is so experienced, and as I didn’t put enough pressure on him, he walked away with the game.

After that, I was able to send him to the back corners and keeping him moving around…

I played some OK attacking squash, but I kept catching the side wall, and that gave him the ball at ¾, right into his racquet… I think that was the main problem today.

[8] Daryl Selby bt [15] Cameron Pilley
             11/5, 9/11, 11/5, 5/11, 11/9 (104m)


Guys, going to have to make it quick, as this has been a long day, and I have very little time.

First game went rather comfortably to Daryl, who didn’t seem to suffer from his 90m encounter against Olli the night before. But in the second, Cameron seemed to settle, find his game and accuracy, and he takes it only just though, after a series of lets, 11/9.

In the third, we had an Englishman who dominates the game to a point that frustrated Cameron big time, and at 10/5 game ball, he says something between his teeth, but loud enough to be heard by the ref, conduct stroke for obscenity, 11/5 Daryl.

The way the match/rallies were going, I must say I expected Cameron to fold, but none of that. It’s quite the opposite, and it’s Daryl who seemed to have a big drop in energy – not exactly surprising – in that game.

And as some mobile ring tone played the Titanic theme, rather appropriate, Cameron equalised at 2/2.

At the end of the 5th, it was Daryl’s turn to get a nice conduct stroke for dissent. It was all happening I tell you!

Cameron seemed to take the upper hand, leading 5/2 and 6/5, but Daryl’s momentum was not to be stopped. From 6/6 he went in one hand to 10/6 match ball. Cameron gave it a last push, spilled it all out, hit, run, pushed Daryl to the end of his tether, saving three match balls.

But Lady Luck chose Daryl tonight, and it’s a lovely deep backhand crosscourt that just rolled off the side wall, giving the victory to an ecstatic Englishman.

I've worked pretty hard this week I would say….

I hung in there. The court was a bit warmer tonight, and it shows on the length of the match…

Cameron hits the ball so well, he is such a great player. He’s got one of the best forehands on the circuit, and everybody knows that… He played some stunning winners tonight, but luckily, I managed to weather the storm.

My length was good, I feel I moved the ball in the right areas, and I think he was pretty tired by the end of it! So was I…. He’ll be gutted to lose today, pretty gutted, but you win some, and you lose some, tonight it was my turn.

I want to apologise if I shouted out there, it’s all about passion coming out on court, but I apologise if I went a bit strong.

This match was a lot about mental strength, and maybe we don’t practice or work enough in that area. We concentrate on the physical side of things. But when it comes to hard matches, I’m not too bad, I thing…

I did it the hard way, maybe not the prettiest one, but I'll take it.

[1] Nick Matthew bt [15] Alister Walker
             11/5, 12/10, 11/4 (37m)


Ali will kick himself from here to the Airport after this match…..

If Nick was pretty much in control in the first game, Alister played some stunning squash, fast, accurate, inventive, that took Nick completely unaware, to lead the second game 9/2 and 10/5. Yes, you read correctly.

But Nick isn’t world number two for nothing, and patiently, little by little, he started to infiltrate the doubt in Ali’s mind. And little by little, the young man disintegrated… to finally lose the game 12/10.

Needless to say that it was impossible for him to mentally overcome the loss of that game, and Nick continued applying the pressure where it hurt, suddenly reading Ali’s game as a gifted clairvoyant, to take the match in less than 40minutes.

It’s not as awkward it was to play Ali, as we don’t train 3-4 times a week anymore, so he surprised me with a few things I forgot he did, then I surprised him with a few things I did!

The second was crucial, I think that if he’d won that one, he would have taken a lot of confidence, and it would have become a hard match.

From the start, I tried not to let him settle, I saw his match yesterday…!!!!

So I guess I was playing a bit too fast, and I probably got a bit too complacent in the second, but in the third, settled into my game again.

I know we all say that, but it was so nice to get through in three, especially after the long matches today.

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Round TWO

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