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Qatar World
Open 2004

Women's Qatar Classic
 
En Français

03-Dec, WORLD OPEN FINAL 

 [2] Thierry Lincou (Fra) bt [1] Lee Beachill (Eng)
      5/11, 11/2, 2/11, 11/10 (2-0), 11/8 (84m)

LINCOU WORLD CHAMPION
 
France has its first world squash champion, after Thierry Lincou wiped away the bitter memory of losing last year's final, beating world number one Lee Beachill in a dramatic final in Doha.

The early games were uneven, with Beachill quickly taking the lead, but the next two changed hands for the loss of just two points each, leaving Beachill 2-1 ahead. From then on the pair were never separated by more than a few points.

Beachill led 6-4 and 8-6 in the fourth, but Lincou levelled at 9-all before the Englishman earned his first, and only, match ball at 10-9. Lincou saved it and took the next two points to level the match up.

Again in the fifth it was close. 5-all, 6-all, but Lincou got a crucial lead, 9-6, and although beachill closed, the Frenchman earned match balls of his own at 10-7. Beachill saved one,
but on the next point the World Title was heading for France.

“It is magic for me
to win the world championship  for myself and for France for the first time. I am very happy!”
Thierry Lincou
“Matches like this hinge on small margins. I played well, Thierry played well and perhaps he just played the crucial points better than me. I am disappointed not to have won, but not with my performance.”
Lee Beachill
Thierry talks to Framboise
from Doha Airport


Tell me everything !

Well, it’s just wonderful. I’m walking on clouds, it’s been mad since the end of the match. I haven’t stopped… And I’m actually at the airport, with my trophy in the bag.

Let’s talk about the match…

In the 4th and 5th, the game was very balanced between us two, we were both playing some good squash, it was disputed, both physically and mentally. The first three were more of one or the other of us imposing his game.

When I felt he was dropping slightly, I increased the pressure. I have improved immensely on the mental side of the game in a few months, and I don’t mind a tough confrontation, physically and mentally. When it comes to it, to be strong, to be patient, I’ve come to realise that very often, I could actually overcome the other players. We are talking about effort management and mental strength, as at such crucial times, your concentration must be flawless.

How did you handle the last two games ?

In the 4th and 5th, I found some beautiful lengths, I seized the openings that Lee was giving me, I attacked just when I needed to. I saved match ball going for it, I attacked, and I was lucky, it worked..

You can say that again…

Yes! But you know, I would never have won the title without my coaches, and especially without my strength, the person who has supported me through the bad times, my wife, and of course my daughter, and my family from La Réunion. I have an extraordinary family. This title means the world (literally) to me, I think that it’s a milestone in an athlete's career. And even if I rarely talked about it out loud, I dreamed about it, I dreamed about it a lot…


Framboise Gommendy 
©SquashSite 2004


HE HAS DONE IT !

Paul Sciberras, one of Thierry Lincou's coaches, talks about his feelings after his player's victory...

I must say I was happily surprised by Thierry’s physical condition, as he had a pretty hard tournament. Not to mention that the final was a great battle, physically and mentally, as both players were quite close. He had to stay in control, concentrated… But believe me, this title, and his recent results (5 tournaments won in 7 played) are the end product of years and years of careful preparation and planning…

Thierry is now World Champion, I’m very happy for him, as he is very deserving, he is a good ambassador for French Squash, for World Squash, always well behaved, always smiling, always willing… Thierry has won his place among the best players in the world.

Framboise Gommendy  ©SquashSite 2004
A Frog won the world title.
 
Life will never be the same !!!
 
Disaster !!!!!!!
 
Joe Shaw

PS: Very nice guy. Only problem he has is that he is a Frog !!!! Born in the wrong country !!!!

REPORTS

DRAW & RESULTS
 

IN THE PAPERS
  
AFP on Yahoo

  
The Gulf Times
R Ravi Kumar on the finals
  
Pakistan Daily Times
Interview with Lincou

 
 
The Peninsula (Qatar)

Rizman Rehmat on the finals


Qatar World Open 2004
29-03 December, Doha, Qatar, $120k  
First Round
Top Sun 28, Bot Mon 29
Last 16
Tue 30
Quarters
Wed 01
Semis
Thu 02
Final
Fri 03
[1] Lee Beachill (Eng)
11/4, 11/5, 11/10 (5-3) (51m)
Davide Bianchetti (Ita)
Lee Beachill
11/10 (4/2), 11/6, 11/4 (46m)
Joe Kneipp
Lee Beachill

11/7, 11/4, 11/9 (44m)

James Willstrop

Lee Beachill


11/8, 11/6, 5/11, 11/10(2-0) (70m)
 

David Palmer

Lee Beachill 


5/11, 11/2, 2/11, 11/10(2-0), 11/8

 

Thierry Lincou

[10] Joe Kneipp (Aus)
11/9, 11/7, 11/6 (36m)
[Q] Azlan Iskandar (Mas)
[8] Karim Darwish (Egy)
8/11, 11/9, 11/8, 11/7 (56m)
Simon Parke (Eng)
Karim Darwish
6/11, 11/6, 11/7, 11/7 (54m)
James Willstrop
[12] James Willstrop (Eng)
11/9, 11/4, 11/5 (44m)
[Q] Rodney Durbach (Rsa)
[4] David Palmer (Aus)
11/9, 11/9, 11/6 (37m)
[Q] Tommy Berden (Ned)
David Palmer
11/5, 11/4, 11/7 (44m)
Adrian Grant
David Palmer

6/11, 7/11, 11/2, 11/8, 11/10 (2-0) (81m)

Amr Shabana
[13] Adrian Grant (Eng)
11/7, 11/9, 11/9 (46m)
Renan Lavigne (Fra)
[6] Amr Shabana (Egy)
11/4, 8/11, 3/11, 11/7, 11/5 (51m)
Mark Chaloner (Eng)
Amr Shabana
11/7, 11/5, 5/11, 11/6 (45m)
Mohammed Abbas
[16] Mohammed Abbas (Egy)
11/5, 11/4, 11/2 (27m)
[Q] Wael El Hindi (Egy)
[Q] Alex Gough (Wal)
4/11, 11/9, 11/3, 11/3 (51m)
[15] Omar El Borolossy (Egy)
Alex Gough
11/10(2-0), 11/5, 11/3 (42m)
Graham Ryding
Graham Ryding  

11/6, 11/7, 9/11, 11/3 (47m)

Peter Nicol

Graham Ryding  



6/11, 11/3, 11/4, 7/11, 11/10 (2-0) (62m)

 

Thierry Lincou

Graham Ryding (Can)
6/11, 11/8, 7/11, 11/9, 11/6 (71m)
[5] Nick Matthew (Eng)
Dan Jenson (Aus)
11/5, 11/7, 11/8 (55m)
[9] Jonathon Power (Can)
Jonathon Power
7/11, 11/8, 11/5, 11/4
Peter Nicol
[Q] Essam Hafiz (Egy)
11/7, 11/6, 11/5 (26m)
[3] Peter Nicol (Eng)
Ong Beng Hee (Mas)
11/8, 11/5, 11/7 (39m)
[14] Anthony Ricketts (Aus)
Anthony Ricketts
11/5, 2/11, 7/11, 11/4, 11/5 (50m)
Olli Tuominen
Anthony Ricketts

12/10, 11/7, 7/11, 8/11, 11/3 (72m)

Thierry Lincou

Olli Tuominen (Fin)
11/10 (2-0), 11/5, 11/2 (30m)
[7] John White (Sco)
[Q] Jonathan Kemp (Eng)
11/8, 2/11, 5/11, 11/6, 11/9 (47m)
[11] Gregory Gaultier (Fra)
Gregory Gaultier
11/8, 6/11, 11/8, 11/6
Thierry Lincou
[Q] Bradley Ball (Eng)
11/6, 11/6, 11/8 (33m)
[2] Thierry Lincou (Fra)


Qualifying:

Finals (27-Nov):

Alex Gough bt Joey Barrington  11/10 (10-8), 8/11, 11/6, 11/6 (80m)
Tommy Berden bt Alister Walker  5/11, 11/7, 11/5, 9/11, 11/4 (67m)
Jonathan Kemp bt Mansoor Zaman  11/8, 11/2, 11/4 (24m)
Mohamed Essam A Hafiz bt Peter Barker  11/9, 10/11(3/1), 11/7, 11/10(5/3) (65m)
Rodney Durbach bt  Hisham Ashour  11/10(2-0), 11/8, 11/7 (36m)
Azlan Iskandar bt Laurens Jan Anjema  11/4, 11/5, 11/7 (33m)
Bradley Ball bt Shahid Zaman  11/5, 10/11(1/3), 11/8, 11/3 (44m)
Wael El Hindi bt Stephane Galifi   10/11(0/2), 11/2, 9/11, 11/10(3/1), 11/9 (68m)

First Round (26-Nov):
Alex Gough (Wal) bye
Joey Barrington (Eng) bt Farrukh Zaman (Pak)  11/4, 11/3, 11/7 (44m)
Tommy Berden (Ned) bt Ben Garner (Eng)  11/5, 11/6, 9/11, 6/11, 11/3 (49m)
Alister Walker (Eng) bt Cameron Pilley (Aus)  7/11, 10/12, 11/6, 11/8, 11/7 (71m)
Mansoor Zaman (Pak) bt Jean-Michel Arcucci (Fra)  11/5, 11/8, 9/11, 11/8 (55m)
Jonathan Kemp (Eng) bt Alex Stait (Eng) 7/11, 11/6, 9/11, 11/3, 11/7 (58m)
Peter Barker (Eng) bt Philip Barker (Eng) 11/6, 1/11, 11/9, 11/3 (51m)
Mohamed Essam A Hafiz (Egy) bt Jan Koukal (Cze)  11/5, 11/10, 8/11, 11/9 (52m)
Hisham Ashour (Egy) bt Klemaen Gutman (Slo)  11/5, 11/2, 11/10 (24m)
Rodney Durbach (Rsa) bt Liam Kenny (Irl)  7/11, 11/5, 11/9, 11/1 (54m)
Laurens Jan Anjema (Ned) bt Lee Drew (Eng)  7/11, 11/6, 11/6, 11/9 (41m)
Azlan Iskandar (Mas) bt Gavin Jones (Wal)  11/9, 11/4, 11/7 (26m)
Bradley Ball (Eng) bt Arshad Iqbal Burkhi (Pak) 11/8, 11/7, 6/11, 7/11, 11/8 (74m)
Shahid Zaman (Pak) bt Shahier Razik (Can) 9/11, 11/9, 11/5, 11/10(3-1) (55m)
Stephane Galifi (Fra) bt Borja Golan (Esp) 11/6, 11/6, 11/10 (4-2) (38m)
Wael El Hindi (Egy) bt Ryan Thompson (Nam) 11/4, 11/3, 11/4 (20m)

Reports
02-Dec, Semi-Finals:                                           Qatar Finalists, head to head
[1] Lee Beachill (Eng) bt [4] David Palmer (Aus)    11/8, 11/6, 5/11, 11/10(2-0) (70m)
[2] Thierry Lincou (Fra) bt Graham Ryding (Can)   6/11, 11/3, 11/4, 7/11, 11/10 (2-0) (62m)
Beachill earns revenge
over Palmer

World number one Lee Beachill will play in his first World Open final after a hard-fought win over David Palmer, the 2002 champion, avenging his recent defeat by the Australian in the British Open.

Beachill started strongly, taking the first two games with a typical display of controlled, clinical squash. But the Australian, seeking his second appearance in a world open final, fought his way back into contention in the third, taking control of the front of the court away from Beachill.

The world number one rallied to take the fourth on a tie-break, with Palmer convinced his opponent's final shot was down, and only reluctantly left the court, his dream of a second World Open title over.
  
 
"I started very well here but he took me off the 'T' in the third game and on this court if you are forced back down the court it is hard to play the shots that are needed to win.

"I got my length back again in the fourth but his confidence had risen so he was playing a lot better," said Beachill. "It was pretty even through that game and I was driving at him hard enough at the end to earn those two penalty strokes that brought me back from game ball down to 10-10 and the tiebreak."

Beachill to Colin McQuillan.
 
“I was very nervous and off my game with the tension.

 “Graham has played here as I have never seen him play before. I simply could not beat him in the front court, which is where I expect to score many of my points. In the end I was forced to play into the back of the court to win the rallies there. It is very hard to win a match playing just into the back of the court.”

Thierry to Colin McQuillan.

“I just want to take my chances and give my best, and to think about my game as much as possible and give my maximum. I am a better player than last year, much more experienced.”

Thierry to the Pakistan Daily Times
Lincou squeezes into
second World Final


France's Thierry Lincou, the 2003 runner-up, was pushed all the way by Canada's unseeded Graham Ryding, the surprise package of the 2004 World Open.

Having beaten Peter Nicol in the quarters, Ryding started out full of confidence, attacking strongly and taking the first game 11/6. Lincou came back strongly, taking the next two games comfortably, before Ryding found his form again to level and set up a dramatic final game.

Lincou maintained a slight lead for most of the fifth, but it was Ryding who reached the crucial 10 first, but Lincou saved it before winning his own chance with a stroke against Ryding.

The Frenchman needed only one chance to earn a second successive place in the World Open Final.
 
"It's an amazing experience for me.  First I became the world No. 1 and now I have reached the World Open final, which I so desperately wanted to do for as long as I can remember. I am obviously delighted to be in the final. I can't wait for it to start tomorrow."

Lee Beachill    to AAP
"I hope I can recover from the long matches, I hope I win tomorrow. Last year I became very nervous. This time I am going to enjoy myself in the final."

Thierry Lincou    to AAP

 

Quarter Finals:

01-Dec, Quarter-Finals:

[1] Lee Beachill (Eng) beat [12] James Willstrop (Eng)  11/7, 11/4, 11/9 (44m)
[4] David Palmer (Aus) v [6] Amr Shabana (Egy)   6/11, 7/11, 11/2, 11/8, 11/10 (2-0) (81m)
Graham Ryding (Can) beat [3] Peter Nicol (Eng)     11/6, 11/7, 9/11, 11/3 (47m)
[2] Thierry Lincou (Fra) bt [14] Anthony Ricketts (Aus)   12/10, 11/7, 7/11, 8/11, 11/3 (72m)

01-Dec, the QUARTERS:
 
Shabana's Dream Dies

Defending champion Amr Shabana saw his dream of retaining the world title evaporate in Doha, as David Palmer,  Shabana's prececessor as world champion, staged a comeback from two games down to deny the Egyptian a place in the semi-finals.

Shabana started strongly, then let the third game slide 11/2, giving Palmer all the incentive he needed as he went on to level the match.

An injury time-out for Shabana at 10-9 to Palmer in the fifth couldn't save him - even though he saved the match ball Palmer took the tie-break to advance to the semi-final.


Shabana was self-critical of how he eased off. "I shouldn't have done it," he told AFP. "Now they will say that Shabana is not strong enough in the head. It bothers me because it is perfectly true. But I want to prove them wrong. I shall do that by working hard to become world number one. At least I can relax now with the pressure off me."

In the semi-final Palmer will face Lee Beachill, who was at his best against Pontefract team-mate James Willstrop, returning everything the young prodigy could throw at him, with interest. This was "Beachill at his best", according to Malcolm Willstrop.

Palmer beat Beachill in dramatic fashion in the British Open, and with both playing well, more of the same looks on the cards in Qatar.

French-Canadian Semi

France's Thierry Lincou, the second seed, also needed five games to quell the challenge of Anthony Ricketts.

A 2-0 lead became 2-all, but Lincou pulled away quickly in the fifth to repeat his Nottingham win over the Australian.

Lincou's surprise opponent in the semi-finals is Canadian Graham Ryding, who continued to upset the seedings, doing what compatriot Jonathon Power couldn't do yesterday - that is, to beat Peter Nicol.

Ryding's Best Win ... Ever

Ryding took the first two games, and although Nicol pulled one back the Canadian raced ahead in the fourth, closing it out 11/3 to score the biggest win of his career.

When he scored match point, the usually laid back Ryding did a couple of fist pumps while team-mates Jonathan Power and Shahier Razik jumped for joy, banging their hands on the glass court.

"This is the best I've ever played and it was great to feel those emotions," Ryding told The Canadian Press. "I made Nicol work in the first three games and he was a little bit tired."

So how did Ryding, the world no 19 from Toronto, succeed where his more illustrious compatriot Power failed?

"Jonathon just tried to steamroll him and that didn't work, plus it's not a style that suits me," Ryding added.

"My game plan against Nicol was to keep him off balance so he wasn't so rhythmic. When he got in a groove I would just make things stop and it paid off in the end. I stayed patient."

Steve Cubbins ©SquashSite 2004



DRAW & RESULTS

 

World Open Champions
 
REPORTS

"I thought I was going to be on  the golf course tomorrow!"

"He played some fantasic squash and if he had gone on like that he would have won in straight games.  I was surprised he let the third  game go so easily. But he had a lot of pressure on him, defending the title.  I know what its like to have that."
          
David Palmer to AFP.




More photos, and Words
from Malcolm Willstrop


 

“It's definitely my biggest win especially when you consider it's the worlds and he's one of the greatest players of all time.”

Graham Ryding
to The Canadian Press


 

"The pace at which he played was tremendous and when he does that he usually makes some mistakes but today he didn't."
 
Peter Nicol to AFP

30-Nov, Round TWO:
 
NICOL PUNISHES POWER


The performance of the day in Doha was that of Peter Nicol, the former world champion and world number one who put a troubled season into perspective, beating arch-rival Jonathon Power in four games to reach onother world quarter-final.

In their 40th career meeting (view the full history), but only the second at less than quarter-final level, Nicol moved ahead 22-18 with a performance Malcolm Willstrop described as one of Nicol's best ever in terms of resiliance.

Nicol faces the surprise package of the quarter-finals and another Canadian, Graham Ryding, who ended the run from qualifying of 'veteran' Welshman Alex Gough.

PALMER/SHABANA:
THE REVENGE

In a repeat of the British Open final, David Palmer, the 2002 world champion, and reigning champion Amr Shabana will meet in the quarters. Palmer brushed aside England's Adrian Grant and Shabana, who has been suffering flu-like symptons in Doha, beat compatriot Mohammed Abbas easily enough despite dropping the third game.

PONTEFRACT BROTHERS
The winner of that match faces a Yorkshireman in the semi-finals. Pontefract stablemates Lee Beachill and James Willstrop will face off once again tomorrow, but this time a world open semi-final place is at stake. Beachill dominated Joe Kneipp after a slow start, and Willstrop came out on top in the battle of former world junior champions against Karim Darwish.

ANOTHER REPEAT
In the bottom quarter Thierry Lincou won his all-French match against Gregory Gaultier in four games, and now meets Australian Anthony Ricketts, who needed five games to beat yeaterday's giant-killing Finn Olli Tuominen.

Lincou got the better of Ricketts in the British Open quarter-finals, but it was a hard, physical affair, and Lincou can't take victory for granted. The winner faces Nicol or Ryding in the semis.

Steve Cubbins 
 
©SquashSite 2004



IN THE PAPERS:
The Peninsula


DRAW & RESULTS

World Open Champions
 
Head to Head
Peter/Jonathan

 

REPORTS



More photos, and Words
from Malcolm Willstrop

 

29-Nov, Round One, Bottom Half:
White & Matthew in early exits


Olli TuominenAfter a first day where all the seeds progressed, the opening match of day two saw the first upset as Canada's Graham Ryding turned a 2-1 defecit into a spectacular victory over fifth seed Nick Matthew. A further shock was to follow quickly, as Finn Olli Tuominen took a first game tie-break against seventh seed John White, then took advantage as the Scot folded in the next two games.

Ryding meets Alex Gough in round two, after the Welsh qualifier pulled off a minor upset against Egypt's 15th seed Omar Elborolossy - Omar's last match, as he declared earlier this week that he was retiring after these championships. Tuominen's reward is a meeting with Australia's Anthony Ricketts, who eased past Ong Beng Hee in straight games.

No upset problems for France's second seed as Thierry Lincou brushed aside Englishman Bradley Ball in straight games to set up an all-French clash with Gregory Gaultier, who struggled to overcome another English qualifier, Jonathan Kemp, recovering from 1-2 down to win in five games.

Nicol v Power in last 16!
Jonathon Power
, winner of the world title in 1998, the last time it was held in Qatar, avenged his defeat in last month's Cleveland semi-final at the hands of Australian Dan Jenson to move into an encounter with long-time adversary Peter Nicol in the second round. Nicol, who took over as world champion from Power in 1999 and held the title for three years due to the non-staging of the 2000&01 events, eased past Egypt's Hisham Ashour in three quick games.

This will be their 40th career meeting, with Power closing the gap to 21-18 in the Canadian Classic quarters in Toronto, but not since the Cathay Pacific Open in 1996 have they met this early in a tournament.

Steve Cubbins 
 
©SquashSite 2004

 

 IN THE PAPERS: 
 
The Peninsula   The Gulf Times
 

 

 

 

 
28-Nov, Round One, top half:
Seeds Safely Through in Doha


The opening day of the 2004 World Open in Doha saw all the seeds in the top half of the draw safely through to the second round, but defending champion Amr Shabana needed five games to keep his title defence on track.

In the morning session Joe Kneipp's experience proved too much for Malaysian youngster Azlan Iskandar, Mohammed Abbas won a disappointing all-Egyptian match against Wael El Hindi, and two English youngsters, James Willstrop and Adrian Grant won in three games against Rodney Durbach and Renan Lavigne respectively.

Following the opening ceremony action moved onto the glass court - favoured by shotmakers such as Shabana and Jonathon Power.

Shabana Survives
Defending champion Shabana survived a scare against PSA President Mark Chaloner. The Egyptian took the first easily, but all-too-familiar lapses mixed in with the brilliant shots, allowing Chaloner to come back and take a 2-1 lead.

In the end Shabana's shots carried him through, but more care will be needed if he is to realise his confident predictions this week. He meets compatriot Abbas on Tuesday.

On the outside court England's Simon Parke took the first game from Karim Darwish but was unable to convert it as Darwish took the next three to set up a clash of former World Junior Champions against Willstrop.

Injuries no problem
On the showcourt top seed and world number one Lee Beachill showed no signs of the abductor injury that troubled him in Canada, although Italian Davide Bianchetti stretched the Yorkshireman to an extended tie-break in the third. Beachill now meets Kneipp for a place in the quarter-finals.

Another player recently on the injured list, British Open champion David Palmer, the 2002 world champion, brushed aside Dutch qualifier Tommy Berden in 37 minutes, apparently recovered from the shoulder injury which kept him out of the Canadian Classic. Palmer's second round opponent is Grant.

The bottom half of the draw plays on Monday, alongside sixteen women's first round matches.

Steve Cubbins 
 
©SquashSite 2004

Malcolm Willstrop
reports from Doha

Round one, part one ...

“I haven’t really been fit after the last World Open. But this time it’s different and I am raring to go.”   Amr Shabana

 

 
27-Nov, Qualifying Finals

Qualifying Complete in Doha ...
The 2004 World Open is set for main round action Khalifa Squash Complex in Doha, as eight qualifiers claimed their places in the main draw and earned a shot at the World Championship title.

Joey takes Alex to Twenty
Alex GoughQualifying top seed Alex Gough enjoyed a rest day yesterday, but Joey Barrington, who spurned his usual qualifying 3-2 thriller, arrived fresh too, and stretched the Welshman early on. Alex took the first game 20-18, Joey levelled, but then fitness began to tell, and Alex reeled off the next two games to set up a date with 15th seed Omar Elborolossy. It may not have been 3/2 (although that 20-18 could be counted as two games), but Joey once again stayed on court longer than anyone else, 80 minutes.

Other victors in long matches were Tommy Berden, the Dutch champion who beat Alister Walker in five, Wael El Hindi, again in five over Frenchman Stephane Galifi, and Mohammed Essam A Hafiz who won a fourth-game tiebreak 5/3 to end the Barker family involvement (Peter, ranked 12 places higher than Hafiz at no 31, beat brother Philip yesterday.

Berden meets British Open champion David Palmer tomorrow, El Hindi faces compatriot Mohamed Abbas, while Hafiz, after a day off, faces an uphill task against third seed Peter Nicol.

Jonathan Kemp
Pakistan interest ended
Both Pakistani players fell at the final qualifying stage - Mansoor Zaman surprisingly lost 3/0 to Jonathan Kemp in just 24 minutes.  Kemp, playing in his second World Open, has been producing results that bely his ranking of 45, and this was a significant upset againt the world no 24.

Bradley BallShahid Zaman, recovering from a series of marathon matches in the CNS International last week, finally ran out of steam against another Englishman Bradley Ball. Ball, enjoying a career-high ranking of 38, has been to the final in three of his last four tournaments.

Both Englishmen face French opposition on Monday - Ball plays second seed Thierry Lincou and Kemp meets Gregory Gaultier, with the winners to meet in the second round.

Youth and Experience
In a clash of the up-and-coming juniors Malaysia's Azlan Iskandar cruised to a 3-0 win over 'LJ' Anjema, while tour veteran Rodney Durbach claimed a main draw spot in three close games against Egypt's talented Hisham Ashour. The South African meets young James Willstrop tomorrow, while Iskandar faces an experienced pro next time in Joe Kneipp.

Steve Cubbins 
 
©SquashSite 2004

Shabana ready to defend title ...

“I haven’t really been fit after the World Open. But this time it’s different and I am raring to go.”         Amr Shabana

The long-established Qatar Classic has been upgraded for 2004 to become the Qatar World Open. Running alongside the Women's Qatar Classic, both events feature the highest prize funds of the year.

Current champion Amr Shabana, a surprise winner in Lahore, is seeded six, behind the current top five of Lee Beachill, Thierry Lincou, Peter Nicol, David Palmer and Nick Matthew, but is confident of doing well.

"After winning the World Open there was a lot of pressure on me, and I also had problems, but people were always ready to write me off," Shabana told AFP. "They were always ready to say 'you're not making any results.' But this month has been the first time I have done myself justice since the World Open. Now I'm injury free and my confidence is rising."

Along with Shabana, Nicol and Palmer, Canada's Jonathon Power makes up a quartet of competitors who have held the world title.

This is the second time Qatar has hosted the World Open, with Canada's Jonathon Power, who particularly likes the court in Doha, winning the title in 1998.

"I'm in great shape but I don't recover as well," Power admitted to AFP. "As long as I can stay healthy I can have a great week."

  

 
26-Nov, Qualifying Round One:

Qualifying Results 


World Open under
way in Doha ...

The 2004 World Open got under way at the Khalifa Squash Complex in Doha today, with sixteen qualifying matches as players vied for a place in the main draw and a shot at the World Championship title.

The last World Open in Lahore saw an unexpected winner in Egypt's Amr Shabana, and the last World Open in Doha, in 1998, saw Jonathon Power claim the title. This year's qualifiers will avoid those two champions, but 2003 finalist Thierry Lincou and former champions Peter Nicol and David Palmer await three of the 'lucky' qualifiers.

The Barker Bros ...
You go all the way to Qatar and end up playing ... your brother! It happened a few times to Tim and Ben Garner, and in Doha it happened to Peter and Philip Barker. In the end it was Peter that won 11/6, 1/11, 11/9, 11/3, to guarantee one of the family in the qualifying finals. Peter now plays Egypt's Mohamed Essam A Hafiz, who beat the in-form Czech youngster Jan Koukal, for a place in the main draw.

Shahid's Dash ...
Shahid Zaman came within an ace of claiming the CNS title in Karachi yesterday - the unseeded Pakistani youngster losing to Ong Beng Hee in the final after being 2-0 up. That was his third 3-2 marathon in four days, and immediately after the final Shahid had to rush to the airport in time to make the Qatar qualifiers. It was worth the effort, as the son of squash legend Qamar beat Canada's Shahier Razik in a mere four games, 9/11, 11/9, 11/5, 11/10(3-1) in just under an hour. He'll sleep well tonight ...

 
Long and Short ...

The shortest match of the day lasted just 20 minutes as Egypt's Wael El Hindi beat Namibia's Ryan Thompson 11/4, 11/3, 11/4, but two matches went over the 70-minute mark as Alister Walker beat Aussie Cameron Pilley in five and fellow Englishman Bradley Ball also succeeded in five against Pakistan's Arshad Iqbal Burkhi.

Today's average match time was 44 minutes.

Joey fit for business?
For once England's Joey Barrington (son of ...) saved some energy as he spurned his usual 3-2 heroics and defeated Pakistan's Farrukh Zaman in straight games. So, an early night for Joey, but he'll need it since tomorrow he faces qualifying top seed Alex Gough, who received a bye today!

Steve Cubbins 
 
©SquashSite 2004

Qatar Ready for
World Open

"We are ready to stage the World Open and the Qatar Classic," said Qatar Squash Federation (QSF), President Nabil Ali bin Ali. "The fans in Doha can expect top quality squash, something they have seen in the past also. Qatar won the rights to host these two world class events because of our great reputation in squash circles."

The QSF president added: "The players are coming to Doha after a hectic month of squash on the PSA and WISPA circuits. Thankfully we don't have any pull-outs or major injuries to any of the players who will compete here. The fans can also meet people like squash legend Jahangir Khan of Pakistan, who will be our guest."

 
 

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