Round ONE(2)

• 11th Qatar Classic Squash Championship  • 14-21 Oct 2011 • Doha •  




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TODAY at the Qatar Classic 2011:
Mon 17th, Day Four                                        Fram & Steve in Doha

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Ashour and Brown bow out in Doha

Day four of the Qatar Classic in Doha saw some tough men's matches in the bottom half of the draw, five upsets in women's round one including the demise of a poorly sixth seed Kasey Brown, and a dramatic end to match yesterday's dramatic start as second seed Ramy Ashour limped out.   Read all about it ....

Men's Round One, Bottom Half:

[7] Peter Barker (Eng) bt Ong Beng Hee (Mas)
                 11/6, 11/6, 9/11, 11/2 (63m)
Thierry Lincou (Fra) bt Hisham Ashour (Egy)
                  9/11, 7/11, 11/9, 11/6, 11/6 (63m)
Simon Rosner (Ger) bt [Q] Chris Ryder (Eng)
                 11/6, 11/4, 7/11, 11/5 (56m)
[4] James Willstrop (Eng) bt [Q] Mohamed Abbas (Egy)
                 11/6, 11/4, 11/3 (30m)

[8] David Palmer (Aus) bt Alan Clyne (Sco)
                12/10, 11/9, 7/11, 11/4 (56m)
Stewart Boswell (Aus) bt [Q] Marwan El Shorbagy (Egy)
                 11/7, 11/8, 11/2 (35m)
Cameron Pilley (Aus) bt Saurav Ghosal (Ind)
                  11/6, 12/10, 11/7 (54m)
Tom Richards (Eng) bt [2] Ramy Ashour (Egy)
                  11/4, 11/6 rtd (18m)

Women's Round One:

[1] Nicol David (Mas) bt Line Hansen (Den)
                 11/4, 11/4, 11/4 (25m)
Kanzy El Dafrawy (Egy) bt [16] Delia Arnold (Mas)
               11/8, 4/11, 6/11, 11/6, 11/8 (73m)
[7] Camille Serme (Fra) bt [Q] Tenille Van Der Merwe (Rsa)
               11/3, 11/8, 11/5 (26m)
[9] Raneem El Weleily (Egy) bt [Q] Tania Bailey (Eng)
                11/4, 11/6, 8/11, 10/12, 11/3 (41m)
[3] Rachael Grinham (Aus) bt [Q] Yathreb Adel (Egy)
                11/8, 11/5, 11/2 (26m)
Aisling Blake (Irl) bt [14] Sarah Kippax (Eng)
             11/1, 11/9, 11/3 (32m)
Emma Beddoes (Eng) [8] Omneya Abdel Kawy (Egy)
               6/11, 11/3, 11/7, 13/11 (44m)
 [15] Joey Chan
(Hkg) bt Heba El Torky (Egy)
                6/0 rtd

[12] Low Wee Wern (Mas) bt [Q] Emily Whitlock (Eng)
               11/3, 11/9, 11/5 (28m)
[5] Laura Massaro (Eng) bt [Q] Merhan Amr Mahmoud (Egy)
               11/4, 11/3, 11/5 (22m)
[Q] Farah Abdel Meguid (Egy) bt [11] Jaclyn Hawkes (Nzl)
               11/3, 5/11, 11/8, 11/7 (30m)
[4] Madeline Perry (Irl) bt [Q] Siti Munirah Juson (Mas)
                11/6, 11/4, 11/2 (20m)
[10] Donna Urquhart (Aus) bt Victoria Lust (Eng)
                 11/3, 12/14, 6/11, 11/6, 11/8 (53m)
Nour El Sherbini (Egy) bt [6] Kasey Brown (Aus)
                 11/9, 7/11, 11/5 rtd (36m)
[13] Nour El Tayeb (Egy) bt Gaby Huber (Sui)
                 11/1, 14/12, 11/8 (25m)
[2] Jenny Duncalf (Eng) bt [Q] Sina Wall (Ger)
                  11/6, 11/3, 11/6 (20m)

Whose shoes?  Line, Nicol, Kanzy, Delia

Men's Round One (bottom half)

If yesterday's afternoon matches were quick, today's openers certainly weren't, with Peter Barker and Thierry Lincou both taking over an hour to make their expected ways into the last sixteen.

Barker looked comfortable enough in taking a 2-0 lead against Ong Beng Hee, but the Malaysian struck back to take a close third before Barker reasserted in the fourth.

Lincou found himself two games down against Egyptian shotmaker Hisham Ashour, but for the umpteenth time in his career the Frenchman made it all the way back, leaving Ashour, who was receiving treatment from the physio between games, pretty frustrated with life.

"Anything I was putting at the front ended in the tin, and I couldn’t find any length either, as he was twisting and turning me too much," said the Frenchman about the first two games. "I was only able to play one rally the whole match where I was in control. I’ll be ready and sharp for playing against Peter tomorrow!"

Germany's Simon Rosner, who had won his last four encounters with Chris Ryder, extended that run with a 3/1 win over the English qualifier.

"Happy to get through," said Rosner, "although I don't think either of us were playing at our best, and I was disappointed that I relaxed a bit in the third, still you have to win those matches."

Rosner will next face James Willstrop, after the fourth-seeded Englishman beat Egyptian qualifier Mohamed Abbas 11/6, 11/4, 11/3 with little fuss.

David Palmer, playing his last Qatar Classic, was given a good workout by Scotland's Alan Clyne, the Aussie eighth seed winning 3/1 in just under an hour.

"At the end it wasn’t the best," said Palmer, "but I'll take the win, nowadays, I take what I can! But tomorrow, I’ll have to play better…"

Stewart Boswell had lost after leading two-nil against Mohamed El Shorbagy last week in Philadelphia, but having taken the first two games against the younger Shorbagy, Marwan, 11/7 118, the Aussie finished it off this time, racing through the third 11/2 to set up a meeting with long-time adversary and team-mate Palmer.

When Cameron Pilley got the better of speedy Indian Saurav Ghosal in straight - but never easy - games it brought up an Aussie hat-trick Aussie hat-trick.

Pilley might have been looking forward to a rematch with Ramy Ashour after taking a game off the Egyptian in the British Grand Prix in Manchester. If so he was to be disappointed as Ashour, clearly struggling with an injury that hampered his movement, retired after losing the first two games to Englishman Tom Richards.

"I know he could barely move on there," admitted Richards, "and yet I still had to play the best squash I ever played to beat him."

So, a first round which had started yesterday with the defeat of our Egyptian third seed Amr Shabana, ended with the removal of the Egyptian second seed leaving gaping holes in both halves of the draw.

Women's Round One

An eminently predictable first winner as day four got under way at the Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex in Doha as defending champion Nicol David eased to an 11/4, 11/4, 11/4 win over Line Hansen, the Malaysian moving as sweetly as ever and showing no after effects of her unexpected loss in Philadelphia.

"It's just the start of another tournament and I'll learn a lot from the last one," said the world number one who will be looking for a record sixth World Open title in a few days' time in Rotterdam.

"I wanted to come in strong at the start, and I don't think Line was feeling the court as well as I was so I tried to take advantage of that as much as I could. It's good to get a nice solid match under my belt to build up for the second round."

France's Camille Serme was next onto the same court, and completed her 11/8, 11/3, 11/5 win over a similarly-attired Tenille Van Der Merwe a few minutes before the first match on the adjacent court came to a dramatic end.

Young Egyptian Kanzy El Dafrawy had taken the first game against Delia Arnold, but the Malaysian struck back to lead 2/1. Slowing the pace down, Kanzy, diving all over the court - three times in one rally apparently - took the final two games, holding her nerve in a series of long rallies at the end of the decider.

"I played well in the first game," said the delighted winner, "but I was too fast and I was dead after a few points in the next two - she was playing my fast game but she's better at it than me so I had to try to slow it down.

"I managed to do that, ad at 8-ll in the fifth I told myself that she'd beaten me once, that I'd not qualified for Qatar in three attempts, and that I didn't do all the work over the summer for nothing so I wasn't going to lose now!

"I kept the ball deep, played patient and waited for her to make the mistakes which thankfully she did!"

Third seed Rachael Grinham wasted no time in despatching her young Egyptian though, beating qualifier Yathreb Adel 11/8, 11/5, 11/2 in 26 minutes, but Raneem El Weleily, who has been knocking over top ten players for fun of late, had a touch of trouble with a former top-tenner.

After taking the first two games, it looked like the two-time world junior champion was going to ease past her predecessor of eight years, but Bailey struck back to force a decider. The Egyptian resumed control though, taking it 11/3.

The demise of two seeds followed as first Aisling Blake, then Emma Beddoes upset the apple cart. Blake, apart from the middle of the second game, was always in control against Sarah Kippax, the 14th seeded Englishwoman looking short on confidence while Blake was buoyed by between game advice from Nicol David and won 11/1, 11/9, 11/3.

"We've had some good battles, Sarah and I," said the Irishwoman, "but I went in with a gameplan today and stuck to it. There was a bit of a hairy moment when I was 9/6 down in the second, but I just settled down and refocused. I felt good on there today, and Nicol told me all the right things, she knows me well."

Beddoes went a game down to 8th seed Omneya Abdel Kawy, but dug in to take the next three for a big upset. Two tins when the Englishwoman was 10/8 up in the fourth might have been costly, but Kawy found the tin herself on her one chance to take it to a decider as Beddoes won 6/11, 11/2, 11/7, 13/11.

"She was well on top in the first," admitted Beddoes, "but she's always a bit up and down and it takes you a while to see where the ball's going. In the second I was seeing it much better and just took it on from there.

"I'm really pleased to win that one, especially after missing on those first two match balls, I was pleased to be able to tough it out after that.
Hong Kong's Joey Chan completed the afternoon session, easing through the first few points against Heba El Torky before the Egyptian retired with a shoulder injury sustained a few days ago.

The evening session saw four qualifiers back in action, and three of them were despatched in straight games - Low Wee Wern beat Emily Whitlock, Laura Massaro beat Merhan Amr Mahmoud and Madeline Perry beat Sitih Munirah Jusoh, all straightforward enough with only Whitlock coming close to taking a game.

Farah Abdel Maguid did take one though, earning a surprise lead against Jaclyn Hawkes as she more than matched the 14th seed. Trailing 5/2 in the second, Hawkes put together a run of nine unanswered points to level, but she was quickly in trouble again as Meguid picked up the pace again, and played the next two games in the vein of the first to complete the upset 11/3, 5/11, 11/8, 11/7.

"That's my best win by far," said a delighted 19-year-old. "I really didn't know what to expect, but everyone told me I had a chance and I wasn't nervous at all, I was just looking forward to playing one of the top players.

"It was my 19th birthday just before the world juniors which was pretty disappointing, but this is pretty good!"
Next up were two Australian seeds and we almost lost both of them.

Kasey Brown was having a tough, hard-hitting and hard-running encounter with Nour El Sherbini. The young Egyptian took the first 11/9, Brown came from 5/2 down to take the second 11/7, but she looked to be hurting after some particularly tough rallies.

Sherbini took an early lead in the third, 3/1 then 6/2, and although Brown fought back she was clearly in some sort of trouble. A couple of uncharacteristic attempts at quick winners from Brown gave the game and the lead to Sherbini 11/5.

After taking the interval Brown came back onto court and offered her hand to her opponent.

"I've not been feeling well, I was in hospital earlier today," said last week's US Open finalist. "I thought I'd come and give it a go and I was ok for a while but I just couldn't carry on."

Donna Urquhart, on the adjacent court, was having just as tough a time with England's Vicky Lust.

After taking the first with some ease Urquhart found herself 2/1 and 6/4 down, but managed to recover to take the win 11/3, 12/14, 6/11, 11/6, 11/8 in 53 minutes, the longest match of the round.

"I never expected it to be easy," she said, "but you're always a bit nervous when you're the seed and expected to win. It was a bit scrappy at times but I just managed to hang in there."

The final pair of matches saw contrasting 3/0 wins for players who have done well here in Qatar.

Jenny Duncalf, winner here in 2009, beat German qualifier Sina Wall comfortably enough, and although world junior champion Nour El Tayeb, who reached the semis here last year,  also won in three, Switzerland's Gaby Huber gave her a sterner test.

Tayeb raced through the first 11/1, had to save game balls in taking the second 14/12, and let a good lead in the third slip to 7-all before finishing it off.

Kasey considers as others find ways to keep the cool at bay ...

[7] Peter Barker (Eng) bt Ong Beng Hee (Mas)
                 11/6, 11/6, 9/11, 11/2 (63m)


Immediately, I could note two things.

One, that Peter had added layers in his game, as in the frequent use of the lob and the counter dropping, which put Beng Hee under a lot of pressure.

The second was that Beng Hee actually didn’t play his normal drop shot/lob/flick game until… 6/6 in the 3rd, the game he – surprise, surprise – won!

The Malaysian played very well in patches, being aggressive and positive, only to let the four five next points run away from him with a string of too early too soon errors and silly shots.

The score in the fourth doesn’t tell the whole story, as Beng Hee attacked very well until mid game, only to see his efforts annihilated by a perfectly in control Peter Barker that confirms his supremacy over the Malaysian, having never lost yet against him in PSA.

It could have been better, I could have won 3/0, but it could have been far worst! It’s a good lesson, not to switch off in the 3rd!

Difficult conditions, the court is very cold and dead, yet quick!

I’ve been working for the past 6 to 9 months to adding more subtlety and complexity to my game, and tried to leaf out of Nick’s book really…

Thierry Lincou (Fra) bt Hisham Ashour (Egy)
                  9/11, 7/11, 11/9, 11/6, 11/6 (63m)


To be honest, at the end of the second game, after so many tins from the Frenchman, so many stunning shots virtually error free from Hisham, I really didn’t see my compatriot meeting Peter Barker tomorrow…

Ok, it’s true that Thierry had, as ever, a very slow start in the first, down 3/8, he came back to 9/9, only to lose on a stroke and another nick from the Egyptian. The second, well, was all about Hisham, who got his first game ball at 10/4, with the Frenchman coming back, but far too late, 11/7 to Hisham.

The tide started to turn in the 3rd, with a much tighter score from the start, and a Frenchman cutting drastically the unforced errors that has hindered his game so far, and moving much more freely and quickly onto Hisham’s lethal boasts.

5/5. 6/6. 7/7. Now, it was the Egyptian that was going for too much too early, and tinning crucial points. At 8/6 for him, the Frenchman shouted to himself “Come on Titi, dig in for crying out loud”. It didn’t prevent Hisham to come back to the score, 9/9, only to offer the last two points to the Frenchman, on a silver tin.

In the 4th, Hisham seemed to take the control again, 5/2, but Thierry moving better and better, caught up, 5/5, 7/6, and from that moment on, the Egyptian tinned 3 out of the 4 points, only to let go of the 4th. 11/6 to Lincou.

“Get the physio”, he shouted to his brother as he stepped off the court. The three of them (physio, Hisham, Ramy) disappeared in the corridor, and Hisham came back, visibly unhappy, one leg of his shorts still tucked it, giving him a bit of a weird look…

The 5th was anything but a walk in the park for the Frenchman, because even if Hisham had problems with his hamstring, he was still hitting some lethal shots and placing the ball where Lincou just couldn’t reached it.

But the Frenchman pushed and pushed, until Hisham just couldn’t compensate his lack of mobility. Thierry takes the match, once again, I wouldn’t have bet on that result at the end of the second….

I was very nervous from the start, he really put me under pressure mentally. I knew that I had to take the ball early, hit hard and volley, but anything I was putting at the front ended in the tin, and I couldn’t find any length either, as he was twisting and turning me too much, and I just couldn’t follow the pace I had to impose!

In my opinion, I was only able to play one rally the whole match. Only one where I was in control, and where I think I did hurt him mentally and physically…. Only one. Mind you, talk about a nice opener for ball spotting! I’ll be ready and sharp for playing against Peter tomorrow!

Hisham is such a difficult player, he makes the game, both the winners and the errors, plus he is so good at the back, and yet, can put you completely flat out at the front!

Simon Rosner (Ger) bt [Q] Chris Ryder (Eng)
                 11/6, 11/4, 7/11, 11/5 (56m)

Rosner rolls into round two

Having won their last four meetings, Germany's Simon Rosner made it five in a row as he beat English qualifier Chris Ryder.

I don’t know what exactly happened in the 3rd, at 5/2 up, I think I relaxed too much, I was already in the second round in my mind! And I’m a bit disappointed with that, because I’ve been working on that a lot, keeping playing the match through.

Still, you’ve got to win those matches when you are not playing as well as you wish. Actually, I don’t think either of us played at his best today.

I was a bit nervous, I think I was thinking too much about my second round, and maybe the chance to get even further, so I put a bit too much pressure on myself there.

Happy to get through…

[4] James Willstrop (Eng) bt [Q] Mohamed Abbas (Egy)
                 11/6, 11/4, 11/3 (30m)


Today, the Slender Abbas was only a shadow of himself. Having played two matches on the traditional court, he seemed to have trouble to get used to that glass court, which is, as James described it, “a completely unique court”.

Abbas was kind enough to give James far too many shots in the middle of the court, that the Englishman was gladly transforming in irretrievable backhand and forehand volley drops….

Sweet and short for James, very frustrating and disappointing for Abbas…

I don’t think that Abbas was quite, well, he played matches in the traditional court, probably was not seeing the ball that well.

It’s difficult for him to come back after so many injuries, he is not used to the pace anymore, and it’s difficult for him to come back to the level that we used to play, like a five setter in Bermuda, and a lot of other tough matches.

Still, I think it’s really good that players still play at their level, look at a Peter Nicol, he wasn’t the style to stop when he was number one, he just kept on playing because he just loved the game too much…

I got some good dividends from playing in short, but it’s very difficult on there to get the right timing, you’ve got to be careful, it’s a completely unique court.




[8] David Palmer (Aus) bt Alan Clyne (Sco)
                12/10, 11/9, 7/11, 11/4 (56m)


Running like a headless chicken, attacking all the balls he could put his racquet on, picking up lovely attacks from David, while finding some stunning short game of his own, both in drop shots and counter drop shots, Scot Alan Clyne came very close to an upset tonight. He could have very easily taken the first two games, being up two points each time until the very end where the Australian just gave it the “experience” push.

Alan did not get tired really, but his concentration maybe dropped and bit, and he was sometimes losing his length, trying to finish the point too early (who can blame him, David was turning and twisting him perfection).

The third game was a well deserved win for the Scot, who didn’t let David come back this time. But in the 4th, David just raised his game, Alan probably a bit out of energy by then even if he kept on digging for each and every rally, and the Australian wrong footed his opponent one more time to take the match in 56m…

I’ve played here since 97, I came here to qualify, to be honest, I can’t remember if I did qualify or not! But I know that this court has always been my favourite, and the organisation, well, it keeps on getting better and better every year…

I played Alan several times, and recently, we played on a traditional court, and I was lucky to get a win there. He is playing better on the glass court now as well, so I’ll have to watch it next time we play at the Worlds!

He gets you in a sort of rhythm, and then he changes it suddenly, he surprised me a bit there, he really reminds me of Simon Parke, we had a lot of tough matches him and I….

My length wasn’t great the whole match, I think I played better at the end of the games, and I could have lost the first two really. It’s only in the 4th that I started lifting it a bit more, and got a better length.

At the end, it wasn’t the best, but I take the win, nowadays, I take what I can! But tomorrow, I’ll have to play better…

Stewart Boswell (Aus) bt [Q] Marwan El Shorbagy (Egy)
                 11/7, 11/8, 11/2 (35m)

I've seen Marwan play, and he can play winners, well, like his brother really!

He maybe needs a bit more consistency, but he is only 18 years old, and he is doing much better than most of the boys at that age! In the coming years, he’ll be pushing for the top 20…

At the end, it seemed very strange, he tinned a couple of serve, then I seem to have a run of points, everything seemed to go my way. Doesn’t happen to me often!

I think that I played very well in the first two games, that I put him under a lot of pressure and I thought at the end of the second, he started to get a bit tired.

And then, I made a huge mistake, I completely lost concentration, instead of giving it a big push! It all came down to experience today…

I’m quite satisfied with my week, I did better than I did in the Grand Prix against Lincou, where I lost under 30 m, I feel I played better here. I’m learning, match after match….



He played very well, I don’t think I played perfectly, but he was patient, he didn’t make any errors.

In each game, we were close, 3/3, 4/4, but then he pulled away, strung a few points and I didn’t step up…

I got up to 22 world ranking, last April, I was playing the best I ever played, but then I got injured, and I never quite was able to come back to that level. The people around me and I are looking into why this is happening, and at the moment, we can’t pin point out a reason. But it will come back, I’m working hard at it, hopefully more sooner than later.

Cameron Pilley (Aus) bt Saurav Ghosal (Ind)
                  11/6, 12/10, 11/7 (54m)


It was one of the games today I wouldn’t have missed, as I thought that it would be a close game.

The only time those two played was during the Mumbai PSA Masters in 2009, and in front of his homecrowd, Saurav created the upset by beating Cameron in a beautiful performance.

Cameron has got a great game, he is fast, reads the ball extremely well, hence can take the ball pretty early, and hits it very well indeed – I’m sure you are aware he beat John White’s hit record of 172mph, establishing the new one at 175. But he sometimes, like John did, can string tins like pearls, bless him, and get rather frustrated with himself.

Today, non of that. No errors in the first, 3 in the second, and 1 in the third. Only lovely fast ball, nice length and accurate winners at the front.

To have an incidence on the match, Saurav would have had to play to perfection, which he did not. Put under too much pressure, not enough time to adjust his shots, he just made too many errors, didn’t find a length and width that would have prevented the Australian to play freely.

As ever, the Indian fought, ran, counter attacked, but today, Cameron had all the answers.

For starters, Saurav is the only player around who can run through my legs and still get the ball!

No, joke apart, he is one of the fastest guys out there, and you cannot afford to play too short that quickly, as he gets nearly everything. So, you’ve got to stay patient, and keep at it,

Yes, I think my game is definitely progressing and getting stronger. I have my days where I can beat anymore, and days that are toughest than others.

But overall I would say my consistency is improving. Also, my shot selection has improved I think in the last six months….

I have been compared to John White, well I guess that there are some similarities, we are both tall and lanky, we hit hard. But I’m me as well…

Tom Richards (Eng) bt [2] Ramy Ashour (Egy)
                  11/4, 11/6 rtd (18m)


Must be running in the family… Hisham had to retire for an hamstring injury he contracted in the US Open match against Peter Barker, 5/5 in the second, and that flared up against Thierry Lincou today. And against Tom Richards, Ramy just had to forfeit at the end of the second game for the same injury….

As I was running like a headless chicken yet again trying to locate Saurav after his match, I accidentally found Ramy who was massaging his both hamstrings with deep heat cream seconds before getting on court.

Then, I saw him stretching those muscles several times in the first game, I saw the impaired movement, the high rate of unforced errors, as in, don’t want to rally….

Still, the Egyptian gave it a go in the second, thinking that maybe once the muscles were a bit warmed up, it would get better.

But it didn’t. And one of the major strengths of Ramy’s game is his retrieving ability. Of which today, he had none.

And at the end of the second, Ramy shook his opponent's hand.

I know he could barely move on there, and yet I still had to play the best squash I ever played to beat him…

The Egyptian Front Benches supervise another successful day in Doha ...

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