TODAY in Doha
... daily reports
Framboise & Steve
Duncalf (Eng) bt  Rachael Grinham
11/5, 11/3, 11/3 (23m)
Another one in the bag ...
That's three tournament victories in a row for Jenny Duncalf,
and they keep getting bigger - first the Soho Square Open, then
the Carol Weymuller US Open, and now the Qatar Classic, all in
the space of a month.
truth it wasn't much of a final, with the Englishwoman dominant
throughout and her opponent a mere shadow of the player who came
through four rounds so impressively.
Duncalf was impressive for sure, keeping the ball tight, moving
smoothly, and putting away crisp winners with regularity, while
Grinham was the opposite, not moving well and hitting the tin
with alarming frequency.
The Australian showed every sign of being injured or ill,
although she denied this afterwards.
"I just couldn't get into it," she said, "my shots were all over
the place. I haven't been playing that well so didn't have many
expectations coming into the event, so maybe I was more relaxed
in the previous matches, I just don't know."
It was all over in just over twenty minutes, and a new Qatar
Classic champion was duly crowned ...
think it was a combination of me playing well and Rachael not
being on today, she wasn't moving well and made quite a few
"It became more about me focusing on playing my game and
concentration on what I was doing, rather than worrying about
what was going on with her.
"In the first she made a few errors and I think that got it into
her head that her shots weren't working.
"The last few times we've played she's been hitting low hard
crosscourts, and at the start of the third she started doing
that again and got a couple of points, but then the hit the tin
a couple of times and I managed to get back on top again.
"It's a funny sort of win, there's no adrenalin pumping or
anything, but I've won the Qatar Classic - even though I can't
quite believe it yet - so I'll take it!
"I was thinking beforehand that this would by my 13th win a row,
hoping it wouldn't be unlucky 13 ... I wish there was another
tournament next week now!"
Matthew (Eng) bt  Karim Darwish (Egy)
11/5, 12/10, 11/6 (50m)
KARIM DIGS IN BUTÖ
Match after match, I come to admire Karim Darwish more and more.
We all know about his attacking skills, his patience, accuracy
and opportunism when it comes to find THE shot that will shred
his opponent to pieces.
But people rarely realise how good mover Karim is, how
impressive he is at reading his opponentís game and how quickly
he will anticipate the shots. And I donít think the squash crowd
realises how proud and strong mentally Karim is.
he had so much squash in the legs, I was surprised he could
stand. Knowing that he faced two tremendous opponents Thierry,
nearly 90m of a gruelling game, Ramy, nearly 70m where he found
himself 2/0 and 7/3 down against one of the fastest player in
the world, Ramy of course, and still came after Nick with
winners and kills, that, people, shows a strength of character
that very few players have.
Nick played the perfect game. Having an angel taping him in the
shoulder the day before Ė his mate Peter had to retire after one
game Ė the Englishman knew he had a great advantage, freshness.
But he still had to take Karim at the throat, tire him, exhaust
him, but most of all, frustrate him. Which he did to perfection.
The pace was never that fast, but it was intense, and Nick made
sure he kept the rallies going as long as possible. Karim never
went for the cheap option, kept his length going, volleyed more
and more when he got tired to try and take the ball as early as
possible, and still save a bit of energy.
Karim needed the second really, desperately. And he nearly got
it. At 6/6, everything was still possible. And at 8/8 too.
Suddenly, out of nowhere, our Karim, running on fumes since the
start of the game, finds stunning counter attacks, and sets up
two game points, 10/8. Nick, perfectly aware of the danger of
letting Karim back in the match, gives it an enormous push,
closed fist at nearly every point, will never lose another point
in that game. Karim is now 2/0.
a high mountain to climb suddenly, especially when the legs are
hurting that much. But again, the Egyptian is still alive, he is
still fighting. 3/1, then 5/3. An crucial moment there, 3 lets,
but itís Nick that counter drops this time, and gets the stroke.
Thatís it. Karim is beaten at last. The legs are letting him
down. Heart is still going, but Nick is just everywhere,
accurate, strong, fast, hungry for that immense title. Heíll
need two match balls, and wins his biggest victory since the US
Open back in 2007. The Englishman is just ecstatic.
But Karim will still be happy with his tournament. Apparently,
according to our specialists calculations, the Egyptian will get
his number one ranking back for December.
my goal for this tournament was to be in contention, but that
didnít mean I didnít want to win!
"Karim is such a great champion, heís been the world number one
for a long time, heís played some fantastic games over the past
years. Today, he was bound to be tired, having had had a couple
of 3/2, with Thierry and Ramy.
"I thought that Karim was moving extremely well today, and that
he was picking up an awful lot of shots, only to send them back
A"lthough he was tired, I knew I shouldnít just try and make him
work hard, thatís a bit of a negative game which I may have
played two years ago. But today, I had to find the right balance
between attacking and defending, and I thought that my short
game was the best itís ever been.
"At the end, I could see he was tired, but itís not my fault!
the first game, I was nearly kicked out by Jonathan Kemp, so
with Neil, we worked on my short game particularly, and we even
organised like mini competitions routines for 10m at the end of
each session. And I guess itís paid off today!
"I know Iíve had a bit of ďbad luckĒ recently with my injuries,
but for me, the glass is always half full, actually, itís always
ĺ full! I never let myself feeling sorry for myself; there are
things much more important that can happen to you than a little
injury. Look at Ricketts, Beachill, they had to give up because
they had major troubles, so as long as itís little things like
that, Iím not complaining. And look, maybe me missing out on HK
was a blessing in disguise, I didnít have to do the travellingÖ.
"I really would like to thank Neil who was here with me this
week, my team back in Sheffield, DP [David Pearson], for all the
efforts theyíve been doing with me since Iím a teenager. Itís
nights like this one that makes it all worthwhile for us all."