TODAY at the Qatar
Day EIGHT, the Finals
En Bref #4
 Nicol David (Mas) v  Rachael
11/5, 11/8, 11/9 (34m)
 Karim Darwish (Egy) bt 
Amr Shabana (Egy)
8/11, 11/2, 11/7, 11/6
Been here before ... the
After seven days of action we were down to the finals, and
for a significant majority of the crowd at the Khalifa
Tennis & Squash Complex they were able to cheer on their
Nicol David, champion here in 2006, 2007 and 2008,
suffered her last defeat in the semi-finals here last year,
and although the Malaysian superstar has now gone one better
in reaching the final, she won't get the chance to avenge
that defeat at the hands of Jenny Duncalf since Rachael
Grinham got in there first, last night reversing the
result of last year's final.
They last met here in the 2007 final. Nicol was a 3-2 winner
that day, which was the start of a series of 10 wins in a
row for David, taking their career head to head to 25-6 in
the Malaysian's favour.
The bad news for Rachael is that not only has Nicol won the
last ten, she's won 23 of the last 24 - mind you the 1 was
that spectacular 87-minute British Open final in 2007.
Should Nicol maintain the run she will collect her 50th
WISPA title tonight - for Rachael it would be a 31st.
The men's finalists, both of whom came through five game
thrillers yesterday, are no strangers to each other either.
Amr Shabana won the Qatar Classic title in 2007, then
lost to Karim Darwish in the 2008 final. Overall
Shabana leads 12-7 with a 50/50 split over the last ten
clashes, but this will be their first meeting for over a
For completeness - Shabana could win his 27th PSA title,
Darwish his 19th ...
David (Mas) bt  Rachael Grinham
11/5, 11/8, 11/9 (34m)
Nicol back on top in Qatar
"It's great to win again in Qatar," said Nicol David after
capturing her fourth Qatar Classic and her 50th WISPA title,
"I didn't like losing here last year.
She didn't like it so much that she hasn't lost since,
winning everything she's entered and some 50-odd matches
along the way. She might have liked to get revenge against
Jenny Duncalf for that defeat, but she's done that a few
times since, so tonight it was Rachael Grinham who stood in
the way of her regaining the Qatar Classic title.
on by the numerous and noisy Malaysian supporters - there
were a few Aussies but they were heavily outnumbered and
outshouted - Nicol pulled clear after a cagey and even
opening to the first game.
From 3-all she moved to 10/4, generally pinning Rachael to
the back of the court, where her flicks drops and lobs are
less effective, and took the lead 11/5 as Rachael tried too
hard with a boast that clipped the tin.
Strange game, played almost at walking pace at times, but it
picked up from then on ...
In the second Rachael was able to move the play up the court
a little, engaging Nicol in a few of those scrambling
rallies crisscrossing the court, but Nicol managed to keep a
lid on it. 3-all, 6-all, 9-all it went, but Rachael was
always the one needing to catch up.
Two winners from Nicol and and a service return into the tin
and Nicol was two games to the good.
In the third Rachael managed to move the play a little
further up the court again, taking advantage of some
scrambling rallies to put in some winning drops, and forcing
some uncharacteristic tins from Nicol - 4/0, 5/2 and 9/4 she
Not for nothing is Nicol famed for her comebacks though. She
never panics, never thinks she has to get the points back
quickly, she just tightens up her game, rises up on her toes
a little more, and good things usually happen.
She worked her way back to 9-all courtesy of two winners
from her racket and three errors from Rachael's, reached
match ball on another Aussie tin and sealed the win with a
little boast that was just too tight for he awaiting
maybe wasn't as patient as I needed to be today, especially
when I was up in the third, I tried to finish it too quickly
"I wasn't as accurate as I'd like either, I sprayed a few
balls around and missed a few basic straight shots, it could
be about a bit of stiffness and not being as properly stable
on the shot, but that's something everyone has to deal with.
"Not too bad overall, but I could have done with snatching
that third ..."
and I know each other's games so well, you're always going
to get close matches and long rallies - you have to keep
watching that front corner every other shot, you know she's
going to go for it.
"You try not to thin k about past matches, head to head
records, but the one you lost always comes to your mind and
you know it's not going to be easy.
"When she was ahead in the third I just told myself I didn't
want to lose this game, just had to get my focus back and
fortunately she made a few errors which gave me a boost,
that doesn't come from her very often so you have to take
advantage when it does.
"It was great that the crowd got involved, I get so much
support here it really helps, so thanks to the supporters,
the organisers and the sponsors for another great
tournament, it's so good to keep coming back here year after
"It's good to finish the WISPA season on a winning note, now
it's back to Malaysia for a few days and then join up with
the rest of the team for the Asian Games ..."
Both of us had strong matches earlier in the week, so I
can’t blame this defeat on a long match!
In the second, he played far too well, my length dropped and
he took full advantage of it. But in the third, I had my
chances. But today was not to be my day, you win, you lose…
Darwish (Egy) bt  Amr Shabana
8/11, 11/2, 11/7, 11/6
NOT TOO FLUID…
Far too many decisions. Far too many in my opinion. Just in
the first game, 24. Stop and start game, that last 21m, a
long time on that rewarding court…
frustration grew and grew as the match unfolded, but from
the first rally, The Prince of Egypt was not happy with his
compatriot asking for lets, nor with the refs for awarding
them! And he started asking for them too…. Fluid, this match
In my mind, that first game was crucial. If Shabs wanted to
have a chance, after his two heavy matches, and the way he
feels at the moment, he HAD to take it. And he did. Wasn’t
easy, the atmosphere was a bit tense on there, Shabana
actually talking to Karim at mid game, visibly not happy
with something. What? Not sure…
Not much between the players, 6/6, 7/7, 8/8. A stroke, a
tin, and a no let later, Shabana was clinging that game.
But I guess this had taken a lot out of Shabs, and Karim
just pushed the ball into the nick for the following 4m30s,
that third was going to be THE crucial game after all. And
the Prince of Egypt took a good start, 2/0, 4/2. But
suddenly, Shabana finds tin after tin, and on 9 points, will
make six unforced errors, as Karim is pressuring him.
Needless to say that it’s the latter that win it, 11/7.
In the fourth, Shabs takes an awful start, mentally already
on the plane back to Cairo. But pride slides in, and he
claws back to 6/5, playing beautifully again, but Karim has
now full confidence in his victory, in a single hand, scores
six points in short rallies to take his second title….
know each other’s game so well, we both take the ball so
early, and they were some accidents as we were going for the
ball. But it was a fair game, a clean game. I only had two
bad decisions at the start of the match, I lost a bit of
concentration there. But after that, it was fine.
I did my best to play tight, as he is so good in the middle
and the front of the court. I had to find the perfect
balance between attack and defence, because if I was
defending only, he would kill me with his shots, and if I
attacked too much, he would just send it to the back… So, I
just tried and moved him around.
was more of a mental match than a physical one. In the
middle of the 3rd, we had some crucial points, I gave it a
bit push to make sure I would come on top leading 2/1. And
after that, I think he lost a bit of his focus, and I gave
it a good push to finish.
When you come to a tournament, you want to win, you would
like to win, but you can’t expect to win nowadays, as the
competition is fierce and there are so many formidable
players around. So I just come and try to enjoy my squash,
and leave the result to…..