TODAY at the Qatar
Day SEVEN, Semi-Finals
 Nicol David (Mas) bt Nour El
11/7, 11/2, 5/11,
 Rachael Grinham (Aus) bt 
Jenny Duncalf (Eng)
12/10, 11/5 (41m)
 Amr Shabana (Egy) bt 
Gregory Gaultier (Fra)
11/7, 6/11, 12/10 (71m)
 Karim Darwish (Egy) bt 
Nick Matthew (Eng)
11/8, 12/10, 11/8 (73m)
Champions dethroned in Semi-Finals
worry if you have a feeling of Deja Vu - two of today's
semi-finals were repeats of the 2009 finals, with five Qatar
Classic champions still in contention at the start of the
Nicol David, champion here in 2006, 7 and 8, took on
surprise package Nour El Tayeb, while defending
champion Jenny Duncalf met Rachael Grinham in
a repeat of last year's women's final.
Champion in 2007, Amr Shabana renewed his rivalry
with Gregory Gaultier, and finally Nick Matthew
and Karim Darwish, the 2009 and 2008 champions,
replayed last year's men's climax.
The crows at the Khalifa Tennis & Squash complex were
treated to four quality matches tonight ...
I tried to keep the ball tight, and the rallies long, and to
play all the shots I could possibly play, run and make her
run. To be honest, I never run as much for a single game
than I did in that first one! So after that, I was a bit
But in the 3rd, I decided that I would still play in the
back, but also in the front, because if I only played in the
back, I would lose, she is so much good there! So I decided
to go for my shots too. And as she made a few errors there,
I played a few winners, and that gave me confidence.
Yes, I did believe that I could beat her today….
This tournament has been so great, I think I am on the right
track, I was in the semi final, but more important, I put
Nicol David, world number 1, under pressure!.
David (Mas) bt Nour El Tayeb (Egy)
11/7, 11/2, 5/11,
Boy was I impressed tonight by that little girl, 17, still a
baby in so many ways, and yet, so determined and feisty on
that glass court she probably have played what, 10 times in
to mention that she was so tired, yesterday, after her match
against Joelle, I didn’t think she was going to be able to
walk, let alone run like a lunatic like she did against the
World Best Retriever!!!!
Yes, impressed I was, by her shots, her determination, and
her will to win. The first game in particular was superb of
technical skills, speed, accuracy from both players.
At 7/7 though, the Egyptian got a bit tired, and we thought,
well, well run, good effort, she did well, a feeling
reinforced at the 2nd, when she could barely move….
But Gosh! Whatever she had for breakfast, I’ll definitely
have some, as her second wind gave her wings in the third,
taking a superb start 5/0, finding some stunning shots on
the backhand that really took Nicol on the backfoot. And
Nour built from there, making so few errors, pushing the
Malaysian to some uncharacteristic tins…
fist and adrenalin pumping, the little girl came back on
court in the 4th, ready for action, but the Malaysian Queen
had by then assessed her opponent’s game, as a computer
Nour started to make more errors, the tiredness most
probably, still found a few drops of energy at the end of
the game, coming back from 9/3 to 6/9, but with two feathery
drop shots, Nicol made sure she was not going out in the
semis like she did last year….
Who will she meet in the final? She doesn’t care really “as
long as they run as much as possible tonight”….
been watching her for a long time now, and she has come up
Today, I was so expecting her to play like that, I was
prepared to run for all the nicks, for the four corners, and
did she bring her game up…
I had to keep on working for what’s was coming next… And
like all the Egyptian players, when she gets on a roll, she
is not going to stop!
She has such a great feel of the ball, she moved very well
too, and she is so determined, you can feel she is not there
to win just that rally, but the one after that, and the one
after that! And that was the confidence in her mind I was
trying to push away from her.
After the 3rd, I had to regroup, and pick up my game in the
4th. And you know, it was my first time playing her, so you
try and answer the questions she is asking you…
pressure tomorrow, we'll see how good the world number
one is," said 17-year-old Nour El Tayeb after
winning her semi-final yesterday.
Well she found out today that Nicol David is
pretty good, but she also found out that she can give
her a run for her money - David has won everything she's
entered since losing here in the semi-finals last year,
and she's gone through a good number of those
tournaments without dropping a game.
Not tonight though, as the unseeded Egyptian - whose Dad
made the trip to come and watch - gave the World Number
one more than a few things to think about.
After Nour worryingly fluffed her shot on the first ball
deep in the corner, the first game developed into a
pretty even contest with both of them playing patient
rallies, working the ball around the court nicely. Nicol
led 4/2 and 7/5 but Nour levelled after a particularly
is so often the case against the top players, and Nicol
especially, the game ran away from her at the business
end, Nicol helped by a dead nick on the back wall along
the way. Eleven minutes, 11/7.
The second was one way traffic, there were still some
lengthy rallies but Nicol looked in calm control, 22
minutes elapsed for two-nil, 11/2, and you thought the
third might be much the same.
no, Nour came out attacking from the outset, put Nicol
under severe pressure and found some lovely winners to
boot. 5/1, 7/2, and although Nicol pulled a few points
back, for once her prey escaped her as Nour pulled a
game back, finishing with a well worked rally and a
Would Nicol dominate the third? After a fashion - she
led in the early stages but Nour was making her work for
everything she got. At 4/3 though a run of five measured
rallies took Nicol clear and the writing was on the wall
fort the youngster.
She kept working to the end though, pulled three points
back, but Nicol made her work in the last two points,
finishing them off with dropshots before they engaged in
a hug as the crowd, Malaysian and Egyptian alike,
applauded a thoroughly entertaining match.
Grinham (Aus) bt  Jenny
12/10, 11/5 (41m)
Rachael dethrones Jenny
Steve reports, Fram speaks to
It was a repeat of last year's final, but while the names on
the scoresheet were the same, as matches go it couldn't have
been much more different.
Then, Jenny Duncalf had just beaten Nicol David for the
second tournament in a row, and Rachael Grinham, in her own
words, had a nightmare and it was all over in little more
than twenty minutes.
though it was a real match, Rachael utilising her deadly
arsenal of shots to great effect, very few errors - compared
to last year or last night anyway - and Jenny trying to cope
with the onslaught but getting frustrated as she made simple
It went well enough for the Englishwoman in the first, she
was in the ascendancy and in the lead, but from 4-all in the
second Rachael pulled away with a run of six unanswered
points and soon we were level.
A poor start to the third - two easy tins with he opponent
nowhere helped Rachael to a 5-2 lead - did nothing to
improve Jenny's state of mind, but to her credit she buckled
down, worked her way back into it and earned two game balls
Rachael intercepted a drive to save one, Jenny screamed
"ASK" as she stretched for and missed a dropshot on the
next. A trademark crosscourt drop and a precise volley drop
gave Rachael the game, as Jenny vented her frustration on
the side wall.
The momentum was with Rachael now, and she kept the pressure
on, making Jenny twist and turn. 7/2 always looked a winning
lead, 10/5 definitely did. A boast millimetres above the tin
sealed the match, and the revenge was complete.
year was a shocker really, one of those days, I just
couldn’t hit anything. Not to mention that Jenny was
chopping everything…. I’m quite looking forward to the
Funny thing with those lucky nicks! She got a lucky bounce
out of a drive, I run, got it, and got myself another lucky
bounce out of her lucky bounce!
Yes, you are right, I do apply ice to my lower body quite
regularly after my matches, as I don’t have any physical
trainer with me, I had to take care of my body, ice,
stretching… Yesterday actually, I got out and just couldn’t
move my left knew, maybe I hit it while playing and didn’t
feel it! And the back was not good either… But today, I felt
good, and I’m rather happily surprised with the way I pulled
Well, I’m going to try and loosen myself up, to try and get
prepared to play Queen Nicol! I used to beat her, I haven’t
for a while though, and it’s a nice challenge to look
can’t play a lot of matches like that anymore. Between
yesterday’s against James and this one, I’m not THAT
In that rally in the 5th, 6/5, when I threw myself on the
floor twice, Greg got a bit edgy about the floor, and he was
right, but it was a very fair match, like it’s always the
case against Greg.
Greg has got the ability, when he is down and out, under
incredible pressure, to com up with some stunning attacking
shots. In that 4th, I didn’t feel I did much wrong, but he
just found 6 or 7 winners. Normally, under that kind of
pressure, you’d be lucky to get two, but he made so many.
Really surprised me….
Today, I don’t feel like he lost, I just feel that I’ve
played an incredible match against an incredible player, and
in the end, it was just a flip of a coin. One minute it was
me, then the next minute it was him, next it would be me
again…. And we’ve played so many times, like 20… Honestly,
it was a flip of a coin…
Shabana (Egy) bt  Gregory
11/7, 6/11, 12/10 (71m)
GREG BREAKS THE JINX, BUT…
Would you believe that out of the six matches those two have
played, Greg had to retire three times for injury, the last
time, well, a few days ago, in the semis of Kuwait Open. And
we were all dreading that Greg’s body wouldn’t hold it today
again. But thank God – and his two physios on this one,
Caroline and Ronald – that was not too much of a problem it
sorry Shabs, but you were not the winner I picked. I had you
a bit tired from James’ match yesterday, and thought well,
no offense, 3/0 Greg. And once again, the first game, it
went according to my estimation, 11/3 for the Frenchman,
with the Egyptian not exactly moving at his best, a few
errors here and there….
But once again, the 31 year old Mighty Shabana started to
think that after all, as long as he was there, might as well
try it for a while and see what happened. 5/1, 7/2 and 11/4,
that’s what happened!!! Level we were, 1/1.
And in the third, it didn’t get too much better for the
Frenchman, too many errors, not really grounded, not playing
badly, but certainly not playing his best squash, a bit
nullified by Shabs' squash. 3/0 and 8/3 in no time. And even
if Greg stuck in, scoring four points in a row to catch up
7/9, Shabana did his wizardry, taking a serious option of
the victory by leading 2/1.
if people were expecting Greg to fold, that’s when he got
his best shots!!!! He forced Shabana to make error upon
error, getting winners in like a knife in warm butter, not
making one unforced error the whole game. 11/6. And two all.
Into the fifth we went, the Frenchman looking awfully good,
4/1, solid squash, with flair, and determination, great
rallies, intelligent and brilliant squash, what an advert
for the game, not a bad word, very few lets, and yet,
intense and feisty. A dream match.
At 6/2, it seems that the Marseillaise is going to be sung,
but comes the rally of all rallies, with Greg shooting
everything in sight, to the front, to the back, and Shabana
throwing himself not once, but twice on the floor,
retrieving, counterattacking, an IMMENSE rally finally won
by the Egyptian.
“He has put sweat everywhere on the court, what am I
supposed to do, how am I supposed to play,” asks Greg to the
Ref. Good point I guess, but the noisy crowd – that the
players themselves have to try and keep quiet themselves, as
they are disturbing them – doesn’t care. Their hero is
The central ref, under strict instructions not to ask for
the crowd to pipe down, is asking them twice “not to make
too much noise during the rallies”.
SCRAP THAT NEW LAW ABOUT THE CROWD BEING ALLOWED TO MAKE
NOISE. IT’S RIDICULOUS. AND DISTURBS THE PLAYERS FOR CRYING
And climbing back, Shabana is. From 2/6 to 7/7. The
Frenchman loses a bit of concentration, two tins. 9/7. It’s
now Shabana who loses his, 10/9 match ball Greg. A stunning
backhand low drive, 10/10. A tin, 11/10 match ball for
An immense rally, incredible tension, suspense, ending with
a let. I’m getting greyer by the second. Another long rally,
that ends with a great backhand drop shot from Greg on the
left front corner. “Let” decide the refs. Greg is fuming.
This time round, Shabana goes for a mid court boast, and the
French can only return in the tin. Mighty Shabs is in his
second final in a row….
Darwish (Egy) bt  Nick Matthew
11/8, 12/10, 11/8 (73m)
“BALL WISPERER” KARIM
Yes, a new nickname for Karim. For years I’ve been trying to
describe the way this Egyptian plays. Not easy, as he's just
good everywhere, no real weakness anywhere, maybe less fancy
shots than other boys, but a soft approach to the front,
feather drop shots, delicate counterdrop, great width… Yes,
I think the ‘Ball Whisperer” suits him fine…
he said in his aftermatch interview, we had two matches .
The first one, with a Karim avoiding any stress on the left
ankle – heavily strapped – not putting any weight on that
side, hardly moving to the right left corner, and not having
much impact on the match to be honest, letting Nick have his
shots wherever and whenever he wanted…
And suddenly, a complete change of scenery. An offensive
Karim, taking the game back and forth, forcing Nick to make
a few errors, establishing a good lead, 7/3 then 9/5, to
take that third 11/8 after 40m of match.
“Well, Nick’d better take that fourth, otherwise the Selby
thing might pop back in his mind,” said Geoff Hunt, sitting
next to me. To be honest, at the time, I didn’t think that
Nick could lose the match…. Listen and Learn from the
Greatest, I say, last week JK, this week, Geoff, it doesn't
get better than this...
that’s exactly what happened. Doubt started to crawl in
Nick’s brain, he took an awful bad start in the 4th, 4/0 and
7/1 down. Smelling the burning pot of coffee on the stove,
he slowing came back, point by point, to 8/9. A tin from
Karim allowed him to save a first game ball, 10/9. No let,
10/10. But a backhand dropshot from Dreamland and a tin gave
Karim the right to a decider.
The crowd, as you may expect in majority Egyptian is
chanting in the stands. It was a great atmosphere….
And it seemed in that fifth that Nick had found his
composure again, well at last! 4/2. 5/3. Suddenly, Karim
gets in a zone, and scores 4 points in a row, 7/5 then 9/6.
Nick, still alive and kicking, saves a match ball, but tins
the last ball, 11/8. The crowd, along with Karim, goes
you really have two different Karims tonight! The Karim of
the first two games, and the other Karim, for the next three
I was really thinking about my foot for the first two games,
I was being careful, thinking too much and a bit flat, but
then I told myself to start enjoying it. And I decided to
change my game, and forget everything…
Why? Well, I just didn’t want to lose to Nick 3/0. It
wouldn’t have been good either for the rest of my season, or
for the mental side of things.
I played tight especially on the backhand because he volleys
particularly well from there. Anything loose and he would
have killed me. And my forehand drop shots worked pretty
well today, that’s my area of predilection.
Nick has been winning pretty much everything last year, he
was world number one still a few months back, so beating him
tonight is very special to me.
When I can play like that, I’m alright…
Against Shabana tomorrow, I won’t be able to afford to wait
the third game to play, I’ll have to start from the first
It was not a physical match as such, even if the pace was
fast, the rallies were not gruelling, it was more mental I
No, really disappointed to lose from 2/0 up, that didn’t
happen many times in my career, and now, it happened twice
in two weeks, and I’ve got to look into why it has happen,
especially as I was each time a few rallies away from
breaking their spirit down.
Maybe I was expecting him to give it a big push, and didn’t
react enough to it, and when I actually reacted in the 5th,
it was already too late? I’m not sure really.
I’m also disappointed because I got the hunger back,
physically, I was fine, I am playing well. I got found out
in Kuwait because I didn’t have the motivation, etc, but
here I came a week earlier, I stayed with Geoff Hunt and
then Debbie Algosaibi – Tournament Director’s home, I had a
good week of training, which I didn’t expect to get, so it
was a bonus for me.
Karim did well, to come back from 2/0 down, it’s really a
good effort, well done to him.
You are never too old to learn!!!!! Oh well, now, a few
weeks of hard work for the Worlds, whatever the result here,
that’s always been my target…
accomplished what only three people have done before. Wining
from 2/0 against Nick Matthew. First one, in 2002, Shabana,
and James in 2007, in the SS Finals. And of course, Daryl
last week in Kuwait. (source, SquashInfo)