J.P.Morgan Tournament of Champions 2016 • 05-14 Jan, New York

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J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions 2012
18-26 Jan, New York, Usa, $115k+$27k

Thu 26th, Finals:

[2] Natalie Grinham (Ned) bt [5] Dipika Pallikal (Ind)          11/4, 11/3, 11/3 (25m)

[1] Nick Matthew (Eng) bt [2] James Willstrop (Eng)       8/11,11/9,11/5,11/7 (85m)

Matthew and Grinham
are 2012 Champions

Beth Rasin reports

Top seed and current world #2 Nick Matthew won his first J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions title defeating his long- time rival James Willstrop, current world #1 and the second seed, 8-11,11-9,11-5,11-7, before a jam packed crowd that was glued to their seats in Vanderbilt Hall at Grand Central Terminal for the entire 85 minutes of match play.

It was an especially jubilant victory for the 30-year-old Englishman who was in his fourth Tournament of Champions final and playing his first tournament after two months off the tour to recover from an injury. “This win is right alongside the Worlds and Commonwealth Games gold medals as my best victories,” said the tired Yorkshireman after the match. Besides the trophy, Matthew also won back the world #1 ranking which he had held for all of 2011, but slipped from his grasp when he had to take the injury hiatus from the tour.

The match was marked by physical play, wall hugging drives and several mini shifts in momentum. “I think one of the differences tonight was that I did a better job of capitalizing on the momentum when it shifted my way,” said Matthew. That was certainly true in the third and fourth games, but in the first it was Willstrop who took advantage when he surged ahead 10-7 after being down 5-7. Willstrop rode the momentum from his 11-8 first game win to take an early 5-2 lead in the second.

Matthew got out in front, literally and figuratively, to move ahead to 6-5. Up 9-7, Willstrop moved Matthew to the four corners of the court and looked like he would have game ball when he forced a loose shot from his opponent at the front of the court. Instead, he hit the tin.

 “The end of that second game was really the difference in the match,” said Willstrop. “I needed to put it away.” Instead of being ahead 2-0, the 2010 ToC titleholder was tied at one all with an opponent who was physically fresher as a result of not having played any tournaments for two months. One could also see Matthew’s confidence build as play continued. The third game saw Matthew stay in front of Willstrop almost the whole way to take the game 11-5.

The fourth game was marked by several swings in momentum. Matthew jumped out to an early 5-1 lead, but Willstrop clambered back to 5-5. “At 5-1, I started thinking about winning the match, and then, before I knew it, it was 5-5,” said the eventual winner. “So I had to re-focus.”

After Matthew took the next point on a stroke decision, Willstrop stayed close but couldn’t snatch back the lead. A few times during the game, especially as play got physical, Matthew got emotional.

“I knew I needed to be aggressive,” said Matthew. “But some it was also the pent up emotion of the last couple of months. It was hard to lose the #1 ranking because of inactivity, and sometimes I could be a real pain to be around.”

At match ball, 10-7, Matthew passed Willstrop on the forehand side with a rail that was too crisp and too deep to retrieve.

After four trips to the final, Matthew was taking home the ToC Trophy and reclaiming the world #1 ranking. James Willstrop, in his own word, “needs to work harder” to figure out a way to beat his long-time rival, who has now defeated Willstrop 13 consecutive times, dating back to February 2009.

In the evening’s first match, squash mom Natalie Grinham taught her opponent Dipika Pallikal a thing or two about court coverage and strength. And Grinham’s 19-month-old son Kieran can add a new phrase to his vocabulary – instead of just saying “Mommy America”, he can say “Mommy America champion.”

The 33-year-old, who has played under the Dutch flag since marrying fellow squash player Tommy Berden, kept her 20-year-old opponent off guard and off balance and the match victory for Grinham was never in doubt.

“Dipika is quite handy with the racquet and she volleys quite well, so I made sure not to put the ball where she could easily reach it,” said Grinham, who was relentless in picking up every offensive effort that Pallikal threw at her. The former world #2 also used length and width to keep her opponent out of the middle of court. Grinham’s crosscourt drop from the front left wall proved especially effective.

“I just didn’t have any strength left in my legs,” said the rising star from India who was playing her ninth match in 10 days.“

Men's Draw | Women's Draw
Reports:  Previews | Qual R1 | Qual Finals | Round 1 | Quarters
Tournament of Champions 2012
18-26 Jan, New York, Usa, $115k
Round One
20/21 Jan
Round Two
22 Jan
23/24 Jan
25 Jan
26 Jan
[1] Nick Matthew (Eng)
11/5, 11/6, 9/11, 11/7 (65m)
Wael El Hindi (Egy)
[1] Nick Matthew
11/5, 11/7, 12/10 (65m)
Adrian Grant
[1] Nick Matthew

12/10, 11/7, 11/5 (60m)

[7] Mohamed El Shorbagy

[1] Nick Matthew


11/8, 11/9, 9/11, 11/4


[3] Gregory Gaultier

[1] Nick Matthew


8/11, 11/9, 11/5, 11/7 (85m)


[2] James Willstrop

Adrian Grant (Eng)
11/5, 16/14, 9/11, 11/5 (83m)
[Q] Alan Clyne (Sco)
Olli Tuominen (Fin)
11/7, 11/3, 11/8 (40m)
Cameron Pilley (Aus)
Cameron Pilley
6/11, 11/9, 8/11, 11/6, 11/5 (77m)
[7] Mohamed El Shorbagy
Aamir Atlas Khan (Pak)
11/4, 10/12, 11/7, 11/5 (42m)
[7] Mohamed El Shorbagy (Egy)
[5] Amr Shabana (Egy)
11/7, 11/8, 11/7
Ali Anwar Reda (Egy)
[5] Amr Shabana
11/6, 11/8, 7/11, 4/11, 11/8 (71m)
[Q] Miguel Angel Rodriguez
[5] Amr Shabana

11/9, 5/11, 11/5, 11/5

[3] Gregory Gaultier

Hisham Ashour (Egy)
11/7, 9/11, 8/11, 11/5, 11/9 (73m)
[Q] Miguel Angel Rodriguez (Col)
Nicolas Mueller (Sui)
11/7, 11/7, 9/11, 11/4
[Q] Steve Coppinger (Rsa)
Nicolas Mueller
11/4, 10/12, 11/6, 11/1 (59m)
[3] Gregory Gaultier
Borja Golan (Esp)
11/4, 11/9, 11/9 (58m)
[3] Gregory Gaultier (Fra)
[4] Karim Darwish (Egy)
4/11, 13/11, 11/8, 11/5
Daryl Selby (Eng)
Daryl Selby
11/8, 4/11, 11/6, 13/11 (67m)
Simon Rosner
Daryl Selby

11/8, 11/8, 11/8

[Q] Marwan El Shorbagy

Daryl Selby


11/2, 11/3, 11/3

[2] James Willstrop

Simon Rosner (Ger)
 11/9, 9/11, 11/8, 11/6 (63m)
Tarek Momen (Egy)
Tom Richards (Eng)
11/6, 11/5, 11/4 (31m)
[Q] Max Lee (Hkg)
Tom Richards  9/11, 11/4, 7/11, 11/6, 12/10 (85m)
[Q] Marwan El Shorbagy
[Q] Marwan El Shorbagy (Egy)
9/11, 11/5, 11/7, 11/7
[8] Thierry Lincou (Fra)
[6] Peter Barker (Eng)
8/11, 10/12, 11/7, 11/7, 11/9 (86m)
[Q] Ong Beng Hee (Mas)
[6] Peter Barker
11/3, 11/5, 11/4 (42m)
Shahier Razik
[6] Peter Barker

11/4, 11/3, 11/6 (39m)

[2] James Willstrop

Shahier Razik (Can)
8/11, 11/5, 11/8, 11/6 (72m)
Julian Illingworth (Usa)
Alister Walker (Bot)
 11/8, 11/9, 6/11, 11/5
[Q] Mohamed Abbas (Egy)
[Q] Mohamed Abbas
11/8, 12/10, 11/2 (41m)
[2] James Willstrop
[Q] Zac Alexander (Aus)
11/7,11/3, 11/3
[2] James Willstrop (Eng)

19-Jan, Qualifying Finals:

A. Clyne (SCO) bt M. Castagnet (FRA)        11/7,11/13,9/11,11/5,12/10 108m
M. El Shorbagy (EGY) bt M. Knight (NZL)                  11/1,11/7,6/11,11/8 50m
M. Lee (HKG) bt R. Cuskelly (AUS)                          5/11,11/5,11/5,11/2 62m
S. Coppinger (RSA) bt T. Harrity (USA)                           11/3,11/2,11/2 37m
M.A Rodriguez (COL) bt A. Khalifa (EGY)                         11/9,11/7,11/7 50m
Z. Alexander (AUS) bt C. Ryder (ENG)             5/11,11/4,11/8,5/11,11/9 88m
M. Abbas (EGY) bt S. Suchde (IND)                                11/9,11/4,11/1 45m
O. Beng Hee (MAS) bt G. Marche (FRA)                   5/11,11/7,11/9,11/7 64m

18-Jan, Qualifying Round One:

Alan Clyne (Sco) bt Faraz Khan (Usa)                                    11/3, 11/2, 11/5 (25m)
Mathieu Castagnet (Fra) bt Olivier Pett (Eng)                        11/5, 11/9, 15/13 (46m)
Marwan El Shorbagy (Egy) bt Adrian Waller (Eng)  11/8, 6/11, 3/11, 11/8, 11/7 (71m)
Martin Knight (Nzl) bt Shawn Delierre (Can)                             11/8, 11/9, 11/3
Ryan Cuskelly (Aus) bt Joey Barrington (Eng)                          11/4, 11/8, 11/6
Max Lee (Hkg) bt Graham Bassett (Usa)                                  11/5, 11/8, 11/4
Todd Harrity (Usa) bt Cesar Salazar (Mex)                 
11/7,11/4,3/11,12/10 50m
Stephen Coppinger (Rsa) bt Yasir Butt (Pak)
             12/10,11/8,7/11,12/10 68m

Miguel Angel Rodriguez (Col) bt Wade Johnstone (Aus)
      11/8,14/12, 11/3 41m
Amr Khaled Khalifa (Egy) vbtRamit Tandon (Ind)
          7/11,11/6,12/10,11/5 44m
Zac Alexander (Aus) bt Kamran Khan (Mas)
                 11/9,12/14,11/8,11/2 81m
Chris Ryder (Eng) bt Luke Butterworth (Eng)
                          11/2,11/1,11/8 49m
Mohammed Abbas (Egy) bt Joe Lee (Eng)
                    12/14,11/8,11/8,11/6 64m
Siddharth Suchde (Ind) bt Matthew Karwalski (Aus)
               11/6,11/5,11/6 44m
Gregoire Marche (Fra) bt Arshad Iqbal Burki (Pak)
                11/3,11/6,11/4 27m
Ong Beng Hee (Mas) bt Christopher Gordon (Usa)
                12/10,11/9,11/7 51m

ToC 2012
21-26 Jan, New York, Usa, $27k
Round One
23 Jan
24 Jan
25 Jan
26 Jan
[1] Rachael Grinham (Aus)
5/11, 11/13, 11/9,11/3,11/5
Kanzy El Dafrawy (Egy)
[1] Rachael Grinham
11/3, 11/8, 11/5
[5] Jaclyn Hawkes
[5] Jaclyn Hawkes

11/5, 14/12, 11/9

[7] Dipika Pallikal

[7] Dipika Pallikal

 11/4, 11/3, 11/3 (25m)

[2] Natalie Grinham

[5] Jaclyn Hawkes (Nzl)
11/2, 11/2, 11/5
[Q] Lauren Selby (Eng)
[4] Donna Urquhart (Aus)
11/7, 11/7, 11/3
[Q] Maria Toor Pakay (Pak)
[4] Donna Urquhart
11/9, 11/5, 7/11, 10/12, 11/9
[7] Dipika Pallikal
[7] Dipika Pallikal (Ind)
11/5, 11/3, 11/7 (24m)
Olivia Blatchford (Usa)
Latasha Khan (Usa)
11/7, 13/11, 7/11, 9/11, 11/1 (48m)
[8] Nour El Tayeb (Egy)
Latasha Khan
 11/6, 13/11, 11/3
Nour El Sherbini
Nour El Sherbini

6/11, 11/5, 11/5, 7/11, 11/4

[2] Natalie Grinham

Nour El Sherbini (Egy)
11/6, 11/9, 9/11, 11/4 (42m)
[3] Samantha Teran (Mex)
[Q] Miranda Ranieri (Can)
15/13, 11/2, 11/5
[6] Sarah Kippax (Eng)
[6] Sarah Kippax
11/3, 11/4, 12/10
[2] Natalie Grinham
[Q] Lucie Fialova (Cze)
 11/8, 11/4, 11/2
[2] Natalie Grinham (Ned)
22-Jan, Qualifying Finals,  at the Yale Club:

Maria Toor Pakay (Pak) bt Gaby Huber (Sui)                12-10, 9-11, 11-6, 11-1 48m
Lucie Fialova (Cze) bt Samantha Cornett (Can)    11-9, 11-9, 6-11, 8-11, 13-11 68m
Miranda Ranieri (Can) bt Sina Wall (Ger)                      13-11, 7-11, 11-8, 11-8 38m
Lauren Selby (Eng) bt Suzie Pierrepont (Eng)         13-11, 3-11 11-9 ,9-11, 11-0 57m

21-Jan, Qualifying Round One:

Gaby Huber (Sui) bt Sabrina Sobhy (Usa)                                     11/3, 11/8, 11/3
Maria Toor Pakay (Pak) bt Olga Ertlova (Cze)                      11/9, 8/11, 11/5, 11/9
Lucie Fialova (Cze) bt Alexandra Norman (Can)                   9/11, 11/9, 11/4, 11/9
Samantha Cornett (Can) bt Milou Van Der Heijden (Ned)             12/10, 11/4, 11/8

Miranda Ranieri (Can) bt Ahn Eun Chan (Kor)                2/11, 12/14, 11/6,11/7,11/6
Sina Wall (Ger) bt Salma Hany (Egy)                                   11/13, 11/8, 14/12, 11/9
Lauren Selby (Eng) bt Kristen Lange (Usa)                                     12/10, 11/8, 11/1
Suzie Pierrepont (Eng) bt Misaki Kobayashi (Jpn)                  11/9, 11/9, 5/11, 14/12

25-Jan, Semi-Finals:
TODAY at the TOC:
Willstrop and Matthew
set up all-English final

We were down to the last four of the first World Series event of the year, and the packed crowd at New York's Grand Central Terminal saw two Englishmen win contrasting semi-finals to set up a winner takes all climax.

World number one James Willstrop, the 2010 ToC champion quickly despatched an out of sorts Daryl Selby, while top seed Nick Matthew continued an impressive return to action after his injury layoff, beating Gregory Gaultier 3/1 to reach his fourth ToC final.

Tomorrow night's winner not only takes the first World Series title of the year, but claims the top spot in the next issue of the world rankings.

In the women's semis second seed Natalie Grinham edged past Nour El Sherbini in five, and she'll meet Dipika Pallikal, who overcame Jaclyn Hawkes in straight games.


[2] James Willstrop (Eng) bt Daryl Selby (Eng)
                  11/2, 11/3, 11/3 (25m)
[1] Nick Matthew (Eng) bt [3] Gregory Gaultier (Fra)
                 11/8, 11/9, 9/11, 11/4 (75m)

[2] Natalie Grinham (Ned) bt Nour El Sherbini (Egy)
          6/11, 11/5, 11/5, 7/11, 11/4 (45m)
[7] Dipika Pallikal (Ind) bt [5] Jaclyn Hawkes (Nzl)
         11/5, 14/12, 11/9 (40m)

Fantasy Poll

Your Predictions

once again, NOBODY got
all four scores correct ...
(altho' 73 got both men's results spot on !)


24-Jan, Quarters Part Two:
TODAY at the TOC:
It was all England in part one of the PSA quarter-finals last night, and top seed Nick Matthew made it a trio of Englishmen in the last four as he took on Mohamed El Shorbagy.

The young Egyptian made the better start, and led 10/6 in the first, but the world champion steadied to take the next six points and the lead.

The next two games featured some brutal exchanges, but Matthew led them both throughout, and forged ahead strongly at the end of both to take the match in exactly an hour.

In the semi-final Matthew will meet France's Gregory Gaultier, who beat Amr Shabana 3/1.

If the men's semi-finals ultimately all went with seeding, there was no shortage of upsets in the women's quarter-finals, with Jaclyn Hawkes taking out top seed Rachael Grinham in straight games and Dipika Pallikal making it a barren night for the Aussies as she beat fourth seed Donna Urquhart in five.


[2] Natalie Grinham (Ned) bt [6] Sarah Kippax (Eng)
             11/3, 11/4, 12/10
Nour El Sherbini (Egy) bt Latasha Khan (Usa)
             11/6, 13/11, 11/3

[5] Jaclyn Hawkes (Nzl) bt [1] Rachael Grinham (Aus)
             11/3, 11/8, 11/5
[7] Dipika Pallikal (Ind) bt [4] Donna Urquhart (Aus)
             11/9, 11/5, 7/11, 10/12, 11/9

[1] Nick Matthew (Eng) bt [7] Mohamed El Shorbagy (Egy)
                12/10, 11/7, 11/5 (60m)
[3] Gregory Gaultier (Fra)bt [5] Amr Shabana (Egy)
                11/9, 5/11, 11/5, 11/5


Quarters complete in NY
Beth Rasin reports

“I think tonight’s match shows that I am back,” said Nick Matthew after a 12-10, 11-7, 11-5 authoritative defeat of Mohamed El Shorbagy before a standing room only crowd at the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions in Grand Central Terminal.

Matthew, returning to the tournament squash court for the first time this past week after a two month injury hiatus, has been diligently trying to manage expectations for an immediate return to the form that kept him at the top spot in the PSA rankings in 2011. “Anybody who thinks that you can immediately return to form after being out of commission for two months doesn’t know squash,” he had said earlier in the week.

In the match’s early going, it looked as if Matthew might indeed go under to the sport’s latest phenom. El Shorbagy came out on court with a blazing racquet, hammering the ball with such speed, power and intensity that the tournament’s top seed seemed a bit shell shocked. “The pace he played at the start of the match was something I haven’t seen for a couple of months,” said Matthew. The three time Tournament of Champions finalist quickly fell behind 1-5.

But you don’t become #1 or a World Champion without knowing how to adjust your game and Matthew did just that. “From 1-5, it was level pegging,” said Matthew. “I figured I would lose that game, and I just wanted to play as well as I could before getting into the second game.” Matthew played well enough to actually win the game 12-10.

The first game comeback took some of the wind out of El Shorbagy’s and emboldened Matthew, who quickly grabbed a 4-1 lead in the second game. The shift in momentum was completed when Matthew won the second game 11-7. An 11-5 third game victory secured a semifinal berth for Matthew, who will next play Gregory Gaultier.

The Frenchman’s quarterfinal contest with his good friend Amr Shabana held the promise of greatness. The two have had some great matches over the years with Shabana holding a 13-10 edge in matches won. Just 12 days ago the two played an epic five game final at the World Series final with the Egyptian emerging the winner after 91 minutes of play.

Both players have recently renewed their commitment to the sport, mindful that they have only a few years left to stay atop the sport. When the two split games in the early going, the capacity crowd under the massive Grand Central chandeliers buzzed with anticipation of another five game battle. But it was not to be as Gaultier seized control of the match.

“I wanted to make the rallies long and keep in the rear corner,” he said. The Gaultier game plan worked. Shabana spent most of the match exactly where Gaultier intended. Without any room to shoot, Shabana could not muster an attack and Gaultier won the match, 11-9,5-11,11-5,11-5.

“I wanted to peak for this tournament,” Gaultier said after the match, and he looks to be doing just that.

In the women’s draw, there were two upset victories. Fifth seeded Jaclyn Hawkes eliminated top seed Rachael Grinham 11-5,11-8,11-5. Hawkes was mindful of the fact that her opponent was nursing a hamstring injury. “I knew that Rachael wasn’t going to be moving her best and that is one of her greatest weapons. I really wanted to take advantage of this opportunity,” said the New Zealander. “I focused on hammering the forehand side and re-dropping when Rachael played a drop shot.”

Hawkes’ semifinal opponent is Dipika Pallikal, who took a 2-0 lead in games against Donna Urquhart. “I choked up in the third and fourth,” said the rapidly improving Indian player. “I lost concentration and went for too many shots.”

It was a seesaw battle in the fifth, with lots of physical play and let calls. Pallikal, in a style reminiscent of her new coach, former world #1 Sarah FitzGerald, was especially effective when she stepped up to hit an attacking volley. Urquhart stayed even in the fifth by hitting the ball to good length on both rails and cross courts. Leading 9-8, Urquhart collided with Pallikal as the Aussie tried to get to the right wall. It took a minute or so for Urquhart to get up and she was clearly unnerved by the fall.

Pallikal won the next point for match ball and then hit a deep backhand that nicked off the back wall, leaving Urquhart with her racquet up and ready, but no ball to hit.

The other women’s semifinal will feature second seed Natalie Grinham and unseeded Nour Sherbini. Both players were devastatingly efficient in their 3-0 match victories, Grinham over England’s Sarah Kippax, and Sherbini over Latasha Khan of the USA.

23-Jan, Quarters Part One:
TODAY at the TOC:
Willstrop and Selby set up all-English semi-final at Grand Central ...

After two rounds we're down to the last eight of the first PSA World Series event of the year in New York - four Englishmen, three Egyptians and a Frenchman left in the hunt.

And it was two of those Englishmen who prevailed, both in straight games, as James Willstrop continued his hold over compatriot Peter Barker, and Daryl Selby ended the run of qualifier Marwan El Shorbagy.

In the women's first round it was all about the trio of young Egyptians in the draw as Nour El Sherbini added Samantha Teran to her growing collection of scalps, Nour El Tayeb fell in five to US veteran Latasha Khan, and Kanzy El Dafrawy couldn't consolidate a two-game lead over top seed Rachael Grinham.

Women's Round One,
Men's Quarters,
bottom half:

[6] Sarah Kippax (Eng) bt [Q] Miranda Raineri (Can)
              15/13, 11/2, 11/5
[2] Natalie Grinham (Ned) bt [Q] Lucie Fialova (Cze)
              11/8, 11/4, 11/2
Nour El Sherbini (Egy) bt [3] Samantha Teran (Mex) 
              11/6, 11/9, 9/11, 11/4 (42m)
Latasha Khan (Usa) bt [8] Nour El Tayeb (Egy)
              11/7, 13/11, 7/11, 9/11, 11/1 (48m)
[5] Jaclyn Hawkes (Nzl) bt [Q] Lauren Selby (Eng)
              11/2, 11/2, 11/5
[4] Donna Urquhart (Aus) bt [Q] Maria Toor Pakay (Pak)
               11/7, 11/7, 11/3
[7] Dipika Pallikal (Ind) bt Olivia Blatchford (Usa)
                 11/5, 11/3, 11/7 (24m)

[2] James Willstrop (Eng) bt [6] Peter Barker (Eng)
                11/4, 11/3, 11/6 (39m)
Daryl Selby (Eng) bt [Q] Marwan El Shorbagy (Egy)
                 11/8, 11/8, 11/8

[1] Rachael Grinham (Aus) bt Kanzy El Dafrawy (Egy)
                 5/11, 11/13, 11/9,11/3,11/5

Fantasy Poll

NO all-correct entries again today !!!

 try again tomorrow to win a SquashSite Polo Shirt ...


Willstrop and Selby To Meet in Semis
Beth Rasin reports
James Willstrop was head shaking brilliant in his 3-0 victory over fellow Englishman Peter Barker in the quarterfinals of the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions in Grand Central Terminal. “I played really well,” said the world’s top ranked-squash player, massively understating the extraordinary quality of his play. “I was pretty close to being in the zone.”

Willstrop started especially strong, jumping out to a 6-1 lead in the first game and a 6-2 lead in the second, winning the games with seeming ease, 11-3,11-4. His pinpoint accuracy never wavered, whether he was hitting the ball tight on the rail, or volleying a deft drop shot. Barker had a momentary surge in the third game when he snagged a 5-3 lead, but it was short lived. After going ahead 7-5, Willstrop allowed Barker only two more points before winning the game 11-6.

“He controlled every aspect of the match,” said Barker. “James showed tonight why he is the number one player in the world. He has set the bar very high for the rest of us.” The world #1 moniker is new for WIllstrop, having achieved the status at the beginning of the month. “It can be a double edged sword,” says Willstrop. “Of course, as an athlete this is what you strive for, but once it is achieved, the expectations can be quite high. It gives you a bit of lift, but you still have to continue to do all the things that got you to number one. Ultimately, it doesn’t mean anything unless you win tomorrow.”

Tomorrow for Willstrop is a semifinal contest with Daryl Selby, who defeated the tournament’s wunderkind Marwan El Shorbagy 11-8,11-8,11-8. The 18-year-old World Junior champion finally ran out of gas against his more experienced opponent whose strategy was to capitalize on the fact that El Shorbagy was playing his fourth match of the tournament and had been pushed to the limit in his five-game battle with Tom Richards the night before.

”In the first game and a half especially, I tried to make the rallies long and hard,” said the delighted Englishman after the match, whose efforts resulted in his first ever trip to the semifinals of major PSA event. “This has been a really great week,” said the world’s number 11- ranked player, referring to his opening round defeat of fourth seed Karim Darwish, “I have managed to make that win against a top ranked player really mean something by getting to the semis.”

Men's Draw | Women's Draw
Previews | Qual R1 | Qual Finals | Round 1 | Round 2

Round TWO

22-Jan, Round Two:
TODAY at the TOC:
Marwan stops English run
at Grand Central ...

It was "English afternoon" at New York's Grand Central Terminus as Englishmen won each of the first four matches of round two of the Tournament of Champions.

World number one James Willstrop was first through, followed by Daryl Selby, Nick Matthew and Peter Barker, and Tom Richards had a chance to make it five and an English clean sweep in the bottom half of the draw.

World Junior Champion Marwan El Shorbagy denied Richards though, prevailing in a fast, tense, exciting see-saw match that featured a tremendous fifth game that fittingly went to extra points. The young Egyptian finally won it 12/10 after 85 minutes, leaving both players and most of the packed crowd utterly spent.

Mohamed made it two El Shorbagys in the last eight as he too came from 2/1 down to win, even if his fifth game against Cameron Pilley was less dramatic.

The quarter-final lineup was completed when two former ToC champions, Amr Shabana and Gregory Gaultier, both won 3/1 to set up a last eight clash that would grace the final of any tournament.

Round Two:

[2] James Willstrop
(Eng) bt [Q] Mohamed Abbas (Egy)
           11/8, 12/10, 11/2 (41m)
Daryl Selby (Eng) bt Simon Rosner (Ger)
            11/8, 4/11, 11/6, 13/11 (67m)
[1] Nick Matthew (Eng) bt Adrian Grant (Eng)
             11/5, 11/7, 12/10 (65m)
[6] Peter Barker (Eng) bt Shahier Razik (Can)
              11/3, 11/5, 11/4 (42m)
[Q] Marwan El Shorbagy (Egy) bt Tom Richards (Eng)
              9/11, 11/4, 7/11, 11/6, 12/10 (85m)
[7] Mohamed El Shorbagy (Egy) bt Cameron Pilley (Aus)
              6/11, 11/9, 8/11, 11/6, 11/5 (77m)
[5] Amr Shabana  (Egy) bt [Q] Miguel A.Rodriguez (Col)
             11/6, 11/8, 7/11, 4/11, 11/8 (71m)
[3] Gregory Gaultier (Fra) bt  Nicolas Mueller (Sui)
             11/4, 10/12, 11/6, 11/1 (59m)

ToC Tweet of the Day

Marwan on fire!!! Amazing match amazing creativity!!!! #tocsquash

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  El Shorbagy Brothers Reach Quarterfinals
Beth Rasin reports

New York, NY, January 22, 2012 - “This is one of the happiest days for the El Shorbagy family,” said Mohammed El Shorbagy minutes after his five-game victory over Australia’s Cameron Pilley in the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions at Grand Central Terminal.

Not just Mohammed but his younger brother Marwan will be playing in the quarterfinals of the $115,000 PSA World Series tournament. Marwan, the 18-year-old reigning Junior World Champion, continued his fearless trek through the talent-laden Tournament of Champions draw as he knocked off 20th ranked Tom Richards by winning a 12-10 nail biting fifth game.

“I was just pushing, pushing, pushing the whole time out there,” said the younger El Shorbagy. “I was doing what my brother told me, because he had played Tom before and I hadn’t.” The older brother’s advice was to play a basic game, but at the same time, look for every opportunity to attack.

The first game was a seesaw with Richards grabbing an early 7-4 lead and El Shorbagy then forging ahead 8-7; Richards edged out an 11-9 win. Although Richards took an early 4-2 lead in the second, the young Egyptian stormed back and scored nine unanswered points to win the game and even the match. The third game saw Richards back in command as he surged to an 8-3 lead, winning the game 11-7. The momentum shifted back to El Shorbagy in the fourth when he took the lead at 3-2 and never relinquished it.

El Shorbagy again took an early lead in the fifth. Down 4-7, the 25-year-old Englishman was not ready to surrender and evened the match at seven all. El Shorbagy won the next point and Richards evened the score again – the pattern was repeated three times until El Shorbagy took the last and final lead at 11-10 and won the game 12-10.

For the fast-rising Egyptian teenager it was another exultant moment on the glass court in Grand Central Terminal – the first one having occurred two days earlier when he beat eighth seed and former world #1 Thierry Lincou. All this after having to be persuaded by his brother to even enter the iconic championship which is a favorite of the PSA tour players.

Just a couple of hours later, it was the older El Shorbagy’s turn to make some magic on court. (In this case, older being a relative term as Mohammed is all of 21-years-old.) “Marwan’s match inspired me, but it also took a lot out of me,” said Mohammed. Like his brother, he went the distance against Australia’s Cameron Pilley, an opponent whom he finds especially difficult to play.

“This was an up and down match,” said El Shorbagy. “Sometime I was playing super, and sometimes like an 11-year-old.” Fortunately for the Egyptian, he was super in the fifth, jumping out to a 9-2 lead and winning the decider 11-5.

The older El Shorbagy’s quarterfinal opponent will be England’s Nick Matthew. The top seed eliminated Adrian Grant, his Commonwealth Games gold medalist doubles partner, in three games. “It was a good tough game,” said Matthew, whose year-long reign at the top of the world rankings came to an end in January after a two-month injury hiatus. ”Anyone who thinks I can come right back to my top form after two months out doesn’t know squash. I am still trying to find my game.”

The younger El Shorbagy’s quarterfinal opponent will be Daryl Selby, who defeated Germany’s Simon Rosner in four games. The match almost went to five games when Rosner came back from a 5-10 deficit to earn a game ball at 11-10. An ill-considered attempt at a cross court backhand drop from deep in the court resulted in a tin to tie the game and Selby took advantage to finish the match. “I have been struggling recently to finish off games,” Selby said after the match. “so at that point, I was trying not to make an error – to make him have to win the game instead of my losing it.”

Rounding out the trio of Egyptian squash players into the quarterfinals is two-time titleholder Amr Shabana, whose match with Miguel Angel Rodriguez was the most entertaining and dramatic of the day. Once again, the Colombian qualifier thrilled the crowd with his speed, quickness and acrobatic style of play while Shabana’s ability to hit a winning nick at the most opportune times left the spectators in the capacity crowd shaking their heads in amazement on several occasions.

Shabana seemed to have control of the match when a took a 2-0 lead after winning the first two games 11-6,11-8. But the never say die Rodriguez was unfazed and won the third game 11-7. The fourth game was all Rodriguez as he jumped out to a 9-3 lead and won the game 11-4.

“I got sucked into his game,” said Shabana,” which is to hit a lot of shots and try to make each one better than the last, which results in a lot of tins. I needed to be more patient and wait for a loose ball to attack.”

The change in strategy worked – after trading the lead back and forth several times in the early part of the fifth game, Shabana asserted himself at seven all by hitting a service return winner into the nick. He then patiently kept the ball tight to the wall until he had an opening to attack- even so, it was nearly impossible to hit a shot that the speedy South American could not reach. Shabana surged ahead to 10-7 and at 10-8, hit the ball to every corner of the court. His opponent covered all the corners and thrilled the crowd by hitting a shot from behind his back and then one through his legs before a deep cross court from Shabana was just enough out of reach to force a game winning racquet error.

Shabana’s quarterfinal match will pit two of the game’s best shotmakers against each other as he takes on Gregory Gaultier. “I was worried that I would get off to a slow start after having to wait so long to play,” said the Frenchman, referring to the fact that he got on court at 10PM, one and a half hours after his scheduled match, due to several lengthy matches earlier in the day. “But I actually started quickly.” After winning the first game 11-4, Gaultier lost concentration and dropped the second game to opponent Nicolas Mueller. The third and fourth games were entirely in the Frenchman’s control – he was never behind in either game.

The final quarterfinal pairing will be a contest between two Englishmen, each of whom won their matches in three games. World #1 and second seed James Willstrop dispatched qualifier Mohammed Abbas while sixth seed Peter Barker eliminated Canadian Shahier Razik.

Round One

TODAY at the TOC:
Round One, top half at Grand Central

After a series of upsets on the opening day of action at Grand Central, it's the top half of the draw today as some of the favourites for this year's ToC title start their ToC campaigns.

First up, Adrian Grant became the fifth Englishman through to the last sixteen, seeing off a typically tough challenge from Scotland's Alan Clyne, who eventually rued missing out on three chances to take the marathon second game. "Would love to have some shorter matches once in a while (as long as I win them)," tweeted Clyne. "Crucial second game to lose."

Nick Matthew's return to action was a successful one, although after the Englishman took the first two comfortably enough, Wael El Hindi managed to bustle his way into the match before Matthew finally closed it out in four, making it six Englishmen in round two and a guaranteed quarter-finalist.

"Really enjoyed being back in a tournament match today," tweeted the world champion. "Got a bit scrappy in the end but body feels good & loved every minute,"

Cameron Pilley, the sole Australian left, was in impressive form for the first two games against Olli Tuominen, and although the Finn looked on his way to winning the third the hard-hitting Aussie struck back to close it out in three.

He'll meet Mohamed El Shorbagy for a place in the quarters after the Egyptian joined his younger brother Marwan in round two with a solid enough four-game win over Aamir Atlas Khan. "Not my best performance," admitted Shorbagy, "but still happy to win ... thought it was a weird match. Anyways now rest and playing Cameron Pilley tomorrow ..."

Speedy Colombian Miguel Angel Rodriguez provided the only upset of the day when he beat Hisham Ashour in a highly entertaining see-saw five-setter,  and round one concluded with wins for former champions Gregory Gaultier and Amr Shabana and rising Swiss star Nicolas Mueller.

Adrian Grant (Eng) bt [Q] Alan Clyne (Sco)
                       11/5, 16/14, 9/11, 11/5 (83m)
[1] Nick Matthew (Eng) bt Wael El Hindi (Egy)
                       11/5, 11/6, 9/11, 11/7 (65m)

Cameron Pilley (Aus) bt Olli Tuominen (Fin)
                       11/7, 11/3, 11/8 (47m)
[7] Mohamed El Shorbagy (Egy) bt Aamir Atlas Khan (Pak)
                       11/4, 10/12, 11/7, 11/5 (41m)

[Q] Miguel Angel Rodriguez (Col) bt Hisham Ashour (Egy) 
                      11/7, 9/11, 8/11, 11/5, 11/9 (75m)
[3] Gregory Gaultier (Fra) bt Borja Golan (Esp)
                      11/4, 11/9, 11/9 (60m)

[5] Amr Shabana (Egy) bt Ali Anwar Reda (Egy)
                      11/7, 11/8, 11/7 (44m)
Nicolas Mueller (Sui) bt [Q] Steve Coppinger (Rsa)
                     11/7, 11/7, 9/11, 11/4 (51m)

Miguel comes through thriller to oust Ashour
Beth Rasin reports

Qualifier Miguel Angel Rodriguez upended Hisham Ashour in a hard fought five-game thriller in opening round play in the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions. The 26-year-old Colombian was a whirling dervish on court, using his extraordinary speed and quickness to cover every corner of the court. Ashour was bold and boisterous. The standing room only crowd in Vanderbilt Hall in Grand Central was captivated.

“I knew it was going to be tough tonight,” said Rodriguez, “but I also knew this was going to be my opportunity to get to the second round.” Rodriguez won the first game 11-7, but Ashour stepped up with a mix of power and shotmaking to win the next two 11-9 and 11-8. The momentum shifted back to the South American as he tied the match by winning the fourth game 11-5.

Ashour surged ahead in the fifth, 4-2 and 7-4, but Rodriguez was determined and tied the game at seven all, at which point it was anyone’s match to win. “At seven all I said to myself, ’I am not tired, I am not injured, I can get to all the balls,” shared Rodriguez after the match. Rodriguez flung himself at balls that seemed ungettable until he got his racquet on them. Ashour responded by hitting length followed by drops, followed by lobs, and led again at 9-8. But in the end Rodriguez got to more balls and won the match 11-9.

Rodriguez faces another Egyptian in the second round, two-time titleholder Amr Shabana, who defeated fellow countryman and tournament roommate Ali Anwar Reda in three straightforward games. Shabana has enjoyed a recent run of exceptionally fine play on a par with his days at the top of the world rankings. “I know I am just as god as anyone on the PSA tour,” the 32-year-old veteran said post-match. “But now every day it is about wanting to play” Shabana’s desire was evident as he moved Reda to the back of the court with crisp rails, forcing a defensive response that provided the opening to hit a winner. Shabana punctuated match ball with a bit of flair as he did a double pump fake before dropping the ball to the left front corner to claim his place in the second round.

In the day’s opening match, top seed Nick Matthew looked strong and fit as he defeated Wael El Hindi in four games. “I played well for 2 ½ games.” the Englishman said. “Midway through the third, it got a bit scrappy and I lost my concentration.” Matthew’s countryman Peter Barker walked by as Matthew offered this self-assessment and reassured his friend that “it’s good to have a little rough going now because you’ll be better prepared for the later rounds.”

This is especially true for the former world #1 who was forced to take a break from squash at year-end due to injury. Matthew’s next opponent is compatriot Adrian Grant. The Englishman survived a strong showing by qualifier Alan Clyne of Scotland who nabbed the second game before succumbing to Grant.

Mohammed El Shorbagy, the 21-year-old older brother of yesterday’s giant killer Marwan El Shorbagy, defeated Pakistan’s Amir Atlas Khan in four games. “It is good to be able to win even when you are not playing your best,” was El Shorbagy’s philosophical assessment of his own play. Khan, who feels strongly about reviving Pakistan’s standing in the squash community, could not maintain the early leads he established in the first and third games, ultimately succumbing to El Shorbagy’s all-around attacking game. El Shorbagy next plays the hard hitting Australian Cameron Pilley who ousted Finland’s Ollie Tuominen in three games.

Gregory Gaultier, the tournament’s third seed and the 2009 titleholder, moves into the second round with a straight games victory over Borja Golan. His opponent will be Switzerland’s Nicolas Mueller who defeated qualifier Stephen Coppinger of South Africa in four games.

TODAY at the TOC:
Opening day of upsets at Grand Central ...

The first session of main draw play in New York's Grand Central Terminus saw one upset as Egyptian qualifier Mohamed Abbas beat Alister Walker, and nearly another as sixth-seeded Englishman Peter Barker came from two games down to deny Malaysia's Ong Beng Hee, also a qualifier.

"Haven't had a bad day for a while," said Walker on Twitter. "Pity it had to come at ToC.Abbas didn't let me play in a good portion of the match though, well done Abbas."

Earlier Simon Rosner beat Tarek Momen in four games, and Tom Richards looked in good shape as he beat Max Lee in just over half an hour.

"Very happy to get off in 3 today, think last time we played in practice I won 19-17 in the 5th," tweeted the Englishman.

The evening session opened up predictably enough, with a comfortable win for world number one James Willstrop, but the next three matches all went 3/1 to the player who lost the first game - Shahier Razik putting out home favourite Julian Illingworth, Daryl Selby stunning fourth seed Karim Darwish, and Marwan El Shorbagy continuing the upsets with victory over eighth seed Thierry Lincou.

"Won my match today against former world no.1 .. 3-1 in 46mins! Can't describe how I feel, Very happy for sure," tweeted the World Junior Champion, and Selby was naturally delighted too:

"Well pretty happy with that win! Great to play well in such a great arena against a top player."

Round One (bottom):

Simon Rosner (Ger) bt Tarek Momen (Egy)
                       11/9, 9/11, 11/8, 11/6 (63m)
Tom Richards (Eng) bt [Q] Max Lee (Hkg)
                        11/6, 11/5, 11/4 (31m)
[6] Peter Barker (Eng) bt [Q] Ong Beng Hee (Mas)
                         8/11, 10/12, 11/7, 11/7, 11/9 (86m)
[Q] Mohamed Abbas (Egy) bt Alister Walker (Bot)
                          11/8, 11/9, 6/11, 11/5

[2] James Willstrop (Eng) bt [Q] Zac Alexander (Aus)
                         11/7,11/3, 11/3 (39m)
Shahier Razik (Can) bt Julian Illingworth (Usa)
                          8/11, 11/5, 11/8, 11/6 (76m)
Daryl Selby (Eng) bt [4] Karim Darwish (Egy)
                        4/11, 13/11, 11/8, 11/5 (51m)
[Q] Marwan El Shorbagy (Egy) bt [8] Thierry Lincou (Fra)
                       9/11, 11/5, 11/7, 11/7 (45m)


Teenager El Shorbagy
Ousts Veteran Lincou
Beth Rasin reports

New York, NY, January 20,2012 - Marwan El Shorbagy, the 18-year-old reigning World Junior Champion, engineered the day’s biggest upset in opening round play at the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions as he ousted former world #1 and eighth seed Thierry Lincou in four games. The Egyptian qualifier was beaming from ear – to-ear as he savored his stunning victory. “For me, Lincou is one of the greatest in the game,” El Shorbagy said, ”so this is amazing for me.”

Coming into today’s match, El Shorbagy was mindful of a 3-0, 27 minute loss to Lincou in September. “I figured I needed a new game plan,” he said. When asked what the game plan was, his older brother Mohammed piped up, “Hit and run!” In fact, El Shorbagy covered a lot of court as he went toe-to-toe with one of the sport’s strongest and most balanced players. The 35-year-old Frenchman, who started playing the PSA tour the year his opponent was born, fended off his upstart challenger in the first game, 11-9, by hitting strong drives to the rear of the court and then mixing in a variety of shots. But his young challenger was undaunted, and took advantage of an increasing string of errors from Lincou to win the next three games, 11-5,11-7,11-7. “I made a lot of errors,” said Lincou after the match, who attributed his lack of match toughness to a two-month hiatus at year end. “You really have to prepare yourself to win, because the youngsters want to prove everything and nowadays even the first round is a tough one.”

El Shorbagy, while delighted with his opening round victory, was quick to point out that “the tournament is not over for me; I have a few more rounds to win.” He will next face a rested Tom Richards, who defeated qualifier Max Lee of Hong Kong in summary fashion, 11-6,11-5,11-4, in just slightly longer than a half hour. “I set my stall out early,” Richards said. “I wanted to show Max that that I was going to make it tough for him.” Lee acknowledged the success of Richards’ intent. “He put me under so much pressure.” The earnest 24-year-old, despite losing, was nonetheless thrilled with his first visit to NYC. “It was such a great feeling for me when I got on the glass court here and looked up at the packed crowd."

The toughest battle of the day was joined by Peter Barker and Ong Beng Hee who pushed each other to the limit in an 84-minute outing that saw sixth seed Barker move onto the second round. The 31-year-old Malaysian started quite strongly, winning the first two games 11-8, 12-10. “My old self might have lost that match,” said Barker,” but I have been working on staying calm and not panicking.” The work has paid off; Barker dug in and used power and length to wear down his opponent. “He is so strong, it is difficult to keep up with his pace, said Beng Hee after the match which Barker won by rebounding to take the final three games 11-7,11-7,11-9. “Just think, it can only get better from here,” said Barker’s father as he both congratulated and gave his son a bit of a ribbing at the conclusion of the match.

Barker takes on Canada’s Shahier Razik in the next round of play. Razik eliminated Julian Illingworth, the local favorite, in four games. While the New York crowd may have been disappointed at losing the highest ever PSA-ranking US player from the draw, the documentary film crew that is following Razik was delighted that he will continue to play. ”I had a little bit of doubt at the beginning of the match,” Razik said, “because I had rolled my ankle in the last tournament I played and I wasn’t sure how it would hold up. But midway through the match I felt my confidence build.”

Daryl Selby enjoyed one of the bigger wins of his career as he eliminated fourth seed Karim Darwish in four games. After losing the first game 4-11, Selby went ahead 9-3 in the second game. The former world #1 was not going to be dismissed so quickly and worked his way back into the game to take a 10-9 lead. “That was really the turning point in the match,” said Selby, “because if I had lost that second game, I am not sure I would have been able to come back from being down 0-2.” Once Selby secured the second game 13-11, the momentum and confidence shifted from the Egyptian to the Englishman. Selby picked up speed and intensity, winning the third game11-8 and the fourth 11-5. “I just wanted to play well and see where it took me,” said Selby after the match. Where it takes him is to a second round contest with Germany’s Simon Rosner who defeated Tarek Momen in four games. “Being in the second round of the main draw is phenomenal,” said Rosner. “I felt comfortable out on court today even though my short game wasn’t at its best. But under pressure, I felt like I played better shots.”

Second seed James Willstrop also looked quite comfortable on court as he dismissed qualifier Zac Alexander 11-7,11-3,11-4. The 2010 titleholder, who has become an author with the upcoming publication of Shot and a Ghost, a selected compilation of Willstrop’s daily reflections during the past year, said that his entry for this day’s diary would read something like, ”Great coffee inside Grand Central and played well.” That might be a slight understatement from the current world #1 who acknowledged that he is playing the best squash of his career and competing as well as he ever has.

Willstrop’s next opponent also feels that he is playing some of his best squash.. Mohammed Abbas, who has been ranked as high as #13 in the world, eliminated Alister Walker in four games to set up his second round encounter with Willstrop. The 31-year-old Egyptian said he is enjoying a second wind in this later stage of his squash playing career. “My recent practices have involved doing a lot of solo hitting, and today I was feeling the ball really well. Plus I was enjoying myself and I really wanted to win.”

19-Jan, Qualifying Finals::
Clyne Survives Marathon to Make Main Draw
Beth Rasin reports

The desire to be one of the 32 players competing on the glass court in Grand Central Terminal in the main draw of the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions was intensely evident in several of the final round of qualifying matches, but none more so than in the marathon battle between Scotland’s Alan Clyne and Frenchman Mathieu Castagnet.

In a match that lasted nearly two hours, both players were relentless, playing long rallies marked by balls hit to great length. Castagnet was up 2-1 when he was beset by cramps in the fourth game which was won by Clyne. Even with recurring cramps in the fifth game, Castagnet hung tough, but it was the Scotsman who prevailed 12-10 to earn a berth in the main draw against England’s Adrian Grant.

Aussie Zac Alexander and England’s Chris Ryder also found themselves in a five-game marathon match decided by a two point margin in the fifth. It is Alexander who moves onto the Grand Central court where he will face world #1 James Willstrop in the first round.

Amr Khaled Khalifa of Egypt was done in by the speed and agility of Colombia’s Miguel Angel Rodriguez. After winning a close first game. Rodriguez continued to apply pressure to win the match 3-0 and earn a main draw first round match up against another Egyptian player, Hisham Ashour.

Ong Beng Hee of Malaysia was unfazed by losing the first game against Gregoire Marche of France. In each successive game, Beng Hee prolonged the rallies to wear down his opponent and win the match in four close games. His first round opponent is sixth seed Peter Barker.

After easily winning the first game 11-5, Ryan Cuskelly of Australia found the tables turned as his opponent Max Lee of Hong Kong won the second and third games by the identical score. Frustrated by Lee’s persistent retrieving and increasing control of the match , Cuskelly became frustrated and received several conduct warnings and one conduct stroke before Lee closed out the match 11-2 in the fourth game. Lee plays England’s Tom Richards in the first round.

American Todd Harrity, playing before a fiercely partisan crowd, was put under constant pressure by veteran player Stephen Coppinger. The South African was too quick and too experienced for the Princeton University junior who will return to the classroom while Coppinger’s straight games victory has him facing Nicolas Mueller of Switzerland in first round play.

The last two main draw spots will be filled by veteran Mohammed Abbas and rising star Marwan El Shorbagy. The 32-year-old Abbas dominated against India’s Siddarthe Suchde. With his long reach, quick and agile play and strategic shotmaking, Abbas controlled the match, winning each of games with successive ease. Abbas will meet Botswana’s Alister Walker, now resident in New York City, in first round play.

The youngest player, 18-year-old Marwan El Shorbagy, became the ninth Egyptian player in the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions main draw when he defeated New Zealand’s Martin Knight in four games.

The World Junior Champion, whose older brother Mohammed is also in the draw, was very much looking forward to making his debut on the Grand Central court. “This is one of the best venues in the world,” said the Egyptian teenager after his first practice session in Grand Central Terminal. ”Everyone wants to come play here in New York City, so the draw is very tough. The other players have told me that the stands are filled from the very first round at noon on Friday until the finals.”
Local Favorite Todd Harrity Advances in
J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions Qualifying

Beth Rasin reports

Reigning US national collegiate squash champion Todd Harrity posted the only upset victory in the first round of qualifying play of the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions when he defeated 14th seed Cesar Salazar of Mexico in four games, 11-7,11-4,3-11,12-10.

The Princeton University junior will now have to defeat #3 seed Stephen Coppinger of South Africa to make it into the first round of the main draw and onto the glass court in Grand Central Terminal.

Coppinger eliminated Yasir Butt of Pakistan in a hard -fought four- game battle during which he eked out two tiebreak game wins to keep his hopes alive for a turn on the iconic Tournament of Champions court under the chandelier in Grand Central.

Colombia’s Miguel Angel Rodriguez retrieving style of play wore down Aussie Wade Johnstone who was unable to convert a game ball in the second game to tie the match. After pulling out to a 9-0 lead in the third, Rodriguez claimed victory with an 11-3 win.

Rodriguez will next face Amir Khaled Kalifa of Egypt who eliminated India’s Ramit Tandon. Khalifa’s compatriot Mohammed Abbas had his hands full fending off England’s Joe Lee, who was able to retrieve enough of his wily opponent’s crafty shots to win the first game 12-10. Abbas’ experience ultimately carried the day as he closed out the next three games11-8,11-8,11-6.

Rounding out the trio of Egyptians who hope to join their seven countrymen in the main draw is Marwan El Shorbagy who was taken to five games by England’s Adrian Waller.

The 18-year-old reigning World Junior champion moved one step closer to joining older brother Mohammed in the main draw when he came back after being down 1-2 to win the fourth and fifth games, 11-8,11-7.

El Shorbagy will face New Zealand’s Martin Knight who eliminated Canada’s Shawn Delierre in three games. Also moving on with straight games victories are Ryan Cuskelly of Australia, Max Lee of Kong Kong, Malaysian Ong Beng Hee, Scotland’s Alan Clyne, Frenchmen Gregoire Marche and Mathieu Castagnet , Englishman Chris Ryder and Siddarthe Suchde of india.

No1 WALZ...
Whilst James Willstrop will enjoy competing in his first ranking event as world number one, the Englishman is under threat from his predecessor in the first PSA World Series event squash of the year at Grand Central Terminal.

is expected to face compatriot Nick Matthew, the favourite, in the final on Thursday (26 January). It was fellow Yorkshireman Matthew, who topped the world rankings throughout 2011, that Willstrop succeeded this month.

But, such is the narrow points margin between the pair, the winner of this final would become the world number one next month.

However, should 2011 runner-up Matthew fail to make the final for the fourth time since 2006, Willstrop would extend his world number one reign into a second month.

In a further twist, Matthew could slip to third place should he lose in the semi-finals - and see third-seeded Frenchman Gregory Gaultier progress to win his second Tournament of Champions title.

World Top Spots up for grabs

The 2012 JP Morgan Tournament of Champions, boasting a world class field including six former or current world number ones, gets underway for the 16th year at the iconic New York location on Friday.

Nick Matthew begins his eighth Grand Central campaign against New York-based Egyptian Wael El Hindi, the world No50 once ranked eight in the world. The 31-year-old from Sheffield is making his Tour comeback after an adductor injury sustained in Kuwait in November kept him out of the PSA Masters in India in December and the ATCO PSA World Series Finals in London earlier this month.

Should the Englishman reach the last four, he would be expected to line-up against Gaultier in a match which would have significance beyond just a place in the final - see No 1 Walz!

But Gaultier may first have to face fifth seed Amr Shabana, the champion in 2006 and 2007, in the quarter-finals. The illustrious 32-year-old Egyptian, four times the world champion, is enjoying one of the most successful runs in his career with a further two Tour titles to his credit already this year - the ATCO PSA World Series Finals and last week's PSA International 50 Comfort Inn Open in Vancouver.

Willstrop, winner of the ToC crown in 2010, begins his 2012 bid against a qualifier before a likely meeting with English rival Peter Barker, the sixth seed from London, in the last eight round.

Julian Illingworth, the highest-ever ranked US player on the PSA Tour, leads domestic interest in the event. The 27-year-old world No24 from New York will first face North American rival Shahier Razik, the top-ranked Canadian.

World's best 'Ready to Rumble' in New York

“This is the deepest and most competitive men’s championship draw I have seen in in the 15 years I have been organizing these championships in Grand Central Terminal,” said
 John Nimick, president of Squash Engine, Inc., the promoter of the 2012 J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions, as he announced the draws for the world’s largest spectator squash event.

The men’s 32-player draw, a PSA World series event, features 24 of the top 25 world ranking players, with the remaining eight spots to be determined by a 32-player qualifying draw.

The J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions continues to live up to its name as all but one of its winners have been ranked #1 in the world. The 2012 draw features four returning titleholders – defending champion and 2008 winner Ramy Ashour of Egypt, England’s James Willstrop(2010), Frenchman Gregory Gaultier (2009) and Egypt’s Amr Shabana (2006,2007) – eager to add another coveted Tournament of Champions crown to their trophy case.

Three-time finalist Nick Matthew, who was just displaced from his year-long perch at the top of the world rankings by countryman James Willstrop, will also be a serious title contender. Rounding out the top six seeds is former world #1 and three-time semifinalist Karim Darwish of Egypt.

Julian Illingworth, the highest-ever ranking US player on the PSA tour, will take on another former world #1, Thierry Lincou of France, in the first round. The only player among the top 24 making his J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions debut is Aamir Atlas Khan of Pakistan, whose uncle Jansher Khan won the Tournament of Champions the first year it was contested in Grand Central Terminal.

Former world #1 Rachael Grinham of Australia is the top seed in the 16-player WSA-sanctioned women’s draw. Second seed is her sister Natalie, on the comeback trail after the birth of her son in 2010. Six-time US National Champion Latasha Khan of Seattle will play eighth seed Nour El Tayeb of Egypt in the first round, while Connecticut’s Olivia Blatchford will take on seventh seed Dipika Pallikal of India.

Celebrating 15 years of competition in Grand Central Terminal, the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions is the focal point of Squash Week in New York City. Men’s qualifying matches will be played on January 18 and 19.


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