Qatar PSA World Squash Championship  • 13-21 Nov 2014 •  Doha  •



  in Doha: Daily Reports from the World Champs
                                                                                                                                Fram reports, Steve clicks away
Wed 19th,
Quarter-Finals - Top four through to the semis ...

After all the upsets, it will be the top four seeds who contest the semi-finals of the Qatar PSA World Champs - Gregory Gaultier, Mohamed Elshorbagy and Nick Matthew all winning in straight games while fourth seed Ramy Ashour recovered from two games down.

Read on for the full details, including some strong comments on the upcoming semi-finals ...


[1] Gregory Gaultier (Fra) 3-0 Cameron Pilley (Aus)
                11/3, 11/4, 11/5 (41m)

[4] Ramy Ashour (Egy) 3-2 [6] Borja Golan (Esp)  
                  9/11, 7/11, 11/6, 11/7, 11/6 (75m)

[3] Nick Matthew (Eng) 3-0 [5] Amr Shabana (Egy)  
                  11/3, 12/10, 11/7 (42m)

[2] Mohamed Elshorbagy (Egy) 3-0 Steve Coppinger (Rsa)
                  11/8, 11/9, 11/7 (46m)

[1] Gregory Gaultier (Fra) 3-0 Cameron Pilley (Aus)
               11/3, 11/4, 11/5 (41m)

Greg the best he’s been so far

Greg is a bit like our French Wines. He gets better as the time passes by. When you compare his performance in the first round against Andrew to this one, he doesn’t look like the same player at all.

Tonight, his squash display was so clinical, that when he made a tin at 9/1, I smile “he’s human”. And somebody behind said “Computer error.. bzzz”.

And that’s what Greg’s performance was like tonight. Clinical. Computer like. Metronome like. He was in the rhythm we know and love, and just dominated/controlled the rallies like he hasn’t done it before during those Champs.
Like he said, Cameron tried his best, but forced it. Four unforced errors in each game, and at crucial times, as you would. When under tremendous pressure from the Computerised Master! On the other hand, Greg made 4 the whole match.

Immaculate display for the number 1 seed. Is this year finally going to be the year?

Greg was just too sharp today. I tried to play as freely as possible because I didn’t expect to arrive that far, but he didn’t let me.

He never gave me a chance, and when he did, well, I forced it because it was so rare.

Today, his movement was unbelievable, he surprised me with the pickups he got in my three previous matches, they were winners.

It was definitely a step up, which should be expected, as it’s the quarters of the worlds.

Ever day is a mission, I was well prepared today, I knew that he played very well this week, he had created a few upsets. He did a great tournament, and even if he doesn’t win today, it’s his first quarters of the Worlds, and I would like to congratulate him.

I have the feeling this week that every day, some extra is coming to my game. I am trying to only enjoy the moment, and not to put any extra pressure on myself. The lower ranked players have nothing to fear, nothing to lose, move freely, whereas the top guys, we are playing with fear on our shoulders. So I’m happy to get through today, and I enjoyed my match.

I have a wonderful team here with me, plus a few friends from my hometown surprised me yesterday, and I didn’t know they were coming. So I’m certainly going to try and not disappoint them and will give more than 100% for sure.

I truly enjoyed my match with Borja tonight, he is pushing all the guys, he is so strong, he is such an amazing athlete, he is a threat to all the other players. I really enjoyed this.

No I didn’t think about nicks or winners, I just tried and find the right strategy, that would make me win. Especially after the second game, because in the first 2, he just played so well, he always does, it’s sooooo annoying!!!!

Like I said yesterday, there are days where you are in a dark place, and you’ve got to get yourself to a brighter place. I will take a lot of confidence from this match, for the next round. Greg is playing so well… We’ll see….

When he got that blood injury in the 4th, I was trying my best not to go out of focus, trying to stick to my game plan. The thing is to try and keep mentally logged in , and not to be overthrown by the situation, not to think too much about my leg and his hand. I think I managed to do that, and this is a big success for me.

And after that, I played well I think, it was much quicker than the first two games, where I got purely outplayed. He was just playing so well, so well, his movement was amazing.

You know in life, you seem to have hurdles in the middle of your way. But every test, every issue, every trouble you get, if you overcome them, you get more edge, more confidence out of it.

My body is fine, it’s more my head that is my trouble! I am trying to keep control of a lot of different thoughts, like wanting to win at all cost, then, safety first, absorbing the energy from the crowd, etc. And although I have people around me, I am still alone to have to sort this in my head, and try to manage those things. But I push myself, pick myself up, I have done it before, I am doing it again.


[4] Ramy Ashour (Egy) 3-2 [6] Borja Golan (Esp)  
                  9/11, 7/11, 11/6, 11/7, 11/6 (75m)

Borja’s Sabotage and Ramy Rebirth….

n my opinion, this match had three phases…

Part One.

Ramy is playing at 20m/h, and not putting any kind of weight/power on the ball, just finds lovely short game that was enough up to now to win the rallies. Unfortunately for him, he’s playing a fierce intense improved skills moving like a shot Borja, who spends two games redroping Ramy’s short shots. Sublimely.

Even if the Egyptian comes back from 1/4 to 4/4 in the first game, he is always on the backfoot – literally – and keeps running after the score. 10/7 game ball for Borja. Will Ramy manage a come back? Close. But with a Shorbagy like winner, Borja closes the first game 11/9 in 10m.

The second one is about the same story as the first one. Ramy’s demons are louder and louder, he still doesn’t realise what he is doing wrong, he’s lost the habit of reacting quickly – normally he’ll volley/reflex and wins the point, but here, it’s going in the tin – and is completely lost at sea.

Borja is cruising, moving so well, smooth at the front, intense but never aggressive, sublime squash simply. Again Ramy will try to come back from 10/4 game ball down, but Borja is now looking very good at 11/7. 10m game as well.

Part Two - When Borja just sabotaged himself.

I have absolutely no idea what went through Borja’s mind in the 3rd. He had Ramy. He had him. When suddenly, instead of just keeping the same tactic, he started forcing it. And strung tins as pearls on a necklace. Ramy went 6/0 (4 tins), 8/2.

And that was a lifeline to the drowning Artist. Suddenly, he found his confidence back, got a few lengths, a few winners. Before he knew it, Borja had lost the game, 11/6, having made 6 unforced errors.

Imagine the crowd roaring, and clapping, and carrying Ramy out of the court. And back on the court. What an atmosphere.

The fourth was panic station for the Spanish. He ran and retrieved, and covered the four corners, trying to regain the mental/territorial domination he had the first two games, probably remembering the O2 and Ramy’s comeback from 2/0 down there. And he finally got some sense back in his squash. From 3/0 down, he came back 4/4, 5/5, 6/6.

Part Three

6/6. Borja bless his racquet just dived twice in the same rally, but still lost it. Tries to stop the bleeding on his finger. “Blood” asked the Ref? “Not coming out yet” replies Borja.

But of course, blood came out. Eleven minutes of interruption. Back on court. But of course, now, Borja’s grip is impaired. He cannot hold his racquet as he did before. That will play a huge part in that 3rd part.

During the break, Ramy had the time to think. He probably was a bit afraid for his legs, afraid they would get cold. So he kept warm and moving. Was he going to be protecting his movement not to get injured? “Win at all cost?” or “Safety first”.

With this face of the “Dark Days”, Ramy comes back. No, I mean, Ramy, the Ramy we saw take 55 matches in a row, is back.

Finding at last his normal game, balancing length with flicks all over the place, reading Borja stupendous movement and attacks, putting his opponent under more and more pressure, Part 3 was all about Ramy.

He takes the 4th in 13 minutes (that’s without the blood injury break), and roared on by the crowd, the 5th in 13m also, after leading 4/1, 5/2, 9/3, making a few errors at the end, but closing it down 11/6.

Ramy made it to the semis “That’s where I lost last year, so at least I’ve made it to the same stage. I’m trying to salvage what I can” he smiled.

After 6 months of no competition, 10 weeks of extremely heavy and debilitating treatment – not to mention extortionately expensive, the Artist overcame one of Borja’s best ever first two games. .

To be stressed how Borja’s attitude on court today was immaculate. If he used to get over excited, or ask too many lets in my opinion, he is now intense but passionate, and makes all the possible efforts to play the ball.

I rarely saw somebody changing his behaviour on court that dramatically. Hat to him.

Today I knew I have to play my best squash to beat Ramy and I was doing it for the most of the match.

Ramy is unique. He came to this tournament after 6 months without competition and he still improoving his game match by match.

I knew that I would have my opportunities if he was not at 100% and I had them! But after a bad start in the 3rd game he took his confidence back and from then on the match was diferent.

He was playing much better and he put me under tremendous pressure. All credit to him, it was a great come back.

It is nice to play a match like that, as hard as you can push yourself and also very clean with a fair guy like Ramy. I wish him luck for the rest of the tournament, i hope he can do well the next 2 days he deserved it!!

[3] Nick Matthew (Eng) 3-0 [5] Amr Shabana (Egy)  
                  11/3, 12/10, 11/7 (42m)

Ready for Shabs Nick was…

After the match, Nick was talking to the Media and as I was listening to him, I realised how that US Open had an influence on this years Champs. Today, Nick was as ready for the Prince of Cairo than he was ready for Max Lee yesterday!

In other word, Nick, bazooka, shoot at will….

Shabana made a few errors. Yes, Nick probably forced them out of him, as all the department of the game were just controlled by the World Champion. Still, first errors for Shabs in the 1st game, three in the second, but more specifically 3 at crucial times in the 3rd, 5/5, 6/7, 7/9…. That’s a lot for Shabs these days.

Maybe the Egyptian put himself under too much pressure today? Or maybe simply Nick was just too good. But what would have happened had Shabana taken the 2nd game, as he had game ball, 10/9, game he lost 12/10 in 18m? We’ll never know.

What we know, is that Nick played out of his skin today. Never gave his opponent a sniff, a chance or an opening.

Watch out Mohamed. The Man that Never Sits is coming for you….

When you play Shabana, 4 times world Champion, you are always going to be on the edge. You don't often beat him in straight games, and that's really going to help me for the rest of the week, He's an absolute legend and I am absolutely over the moon with a straight win and be fresh for tomorrow.

Everyone could see that the second game was crucial. I tried and made it like the first game, because in Philly, the first game was 8m, and that didn’t do me any favours, so I tried and made the first this time as long and difficult as I could. So I tried and produce the same squash in the second.

The first rally was very long yes, (50strokes), and there is a danger that you can go a bit defensive and a bit negative if you try and keep the rallies going. But in Philly again, I was 7/2 down, and I made five unforced errors, so I knew that although it wouldn’t win the match on its own, making the rallies long wouldn’t hurt either…

There were patches where he was too good of a player not to overplay me, but he made a few errors. I was a bit lucky at the end, as he did a few uncharacteristic unforced errors, I’ll take them, you need luck in the worlds…

Ha ha ha, no, I don’t think that Shabana was giving it all he could because it could be his last chance at the title. He gave me a squash lesson a few weeks ago, and he didn’t age that much in that time!!!!

I proved today that I still have the hunger and as long as my body holds out then I have half a chance.  I've not come here to end my run at the semi-finals.

Mohamed, I know what to expect tomorrow, he is an extremely strong player.  I'll be preparing myself to deal with that.

I’m going to enjoy the way I played tonight and then I’m going to refocus because if they think there is not much time left for Shabana, I don’t have a million left myself!!!!



[2] Mohamed Elshorbagy (Egy) 3-0 Steve Coppinger (Rsa)
                  11/8, 11/9, 11/7 (46m)

Shorbagy ends Coppinger's run

Second seed Mohamed Elshorbagy completed the lineup of the top four seeds winning through to the semi-finals, but it was far from straightforward for the world number one.

South African Steve Coppinger stayed with the Egyptian throughout the three games with Shorbagy never able to dominate or establish a comfortable margin on the scoreboard.

Having taken the first Shorbagy was behind for most of the second with Coppinger making a couple of crucial errors at the end, and it wasn't until 6-all in the third that the Egyptian finally started to really assert.

"I had to be focussed from the start, it was never easy," admitted the winner, "he put me under pressure for the whole of the match.

I really wanted to get out the match in three, it didn’t matter if it was three tie breaks, and I guess that’s why I was a bit tense. But it worked, and I won 3/0.

What made the difference today I think was that I was more patient, I let him volleyed as much as he wanted, but I think I just dug in at the crucial points.

Basically yesterday against Simon, in the second, we were 9/9 and I lost 11/9. And Stephen has got the same personality, he doesn’t give up, he keeps pushing and pushing, so I made sure I killed those small chances he had before they got too big.

Basically, I learned from my mistakes yesterday…

The other players say that I am under pressure because I am World Number 1.

But I’m only 23. I have another what, 10 World Champs to come. Whereas they have maybe one more? So the pressure is not on me. The pressure is on them.

Like I say all the time, it’s such a big chance to have Jonah Barrington in my corner, he’s been coaching me for the past 8, 9 years. And it gives me great confidence in myself to have somebody like him coaching me.

And it’s the first time for me to be world number 1, it’s not a situation I’ve been exposed to yet. But he has. So he’s got the experience and he able to help me out.

Nick looked in great form in his match today and I know he wants to break another record and become the oldest World Champion. He made a comment before the tournament that I have only been number one for a few minutes, so I think he needs to be a little bit careful.

He is famous for being one of the players that like to stand up a lot between games and my advice to him is that he should sit down and get that rest tomorrow because I'm going to play at a pace that he won't be able to handle.

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