Gregory Gaultier launched day two of the first round
programme with an impressive display of immaculate squash
against English qualifier Joe Lee. Lee played well throughout
the match, but Gaultier's accuracy and ball placement is as good
as anyone's in the history of the game. Bridging that gap was an
impossible ask for the 23-year-old Londoner.
Gaultier arrived in Richmond on the back of some impressive
performances in the past few months and many in the Richmond
community are wondering if he might reach his first final here
since 2008, when he lost to James Willstrop. Gaultier said:
"It is very
close at the top of the rankings at the moment. I am happy
with the way I am playing and I have had some good results,
but there is one man at the top who is proving very
difficult to beat.
"I am not a big fan of starting matches at 12 noon because
it is difficult to warm the body up and you have to change
your normal schedule, but I am not complaining, honestly!
"I thought Joe played very well today and it was a very
enjoyable way to start the week.
"I always love coming to Richmond and seeing so many friends
"It's always a great tournament - one of the best."
Adrian Grant produced an efficient performance to
overcome Shahier Razik in a match between two players noted for
Grant won the first game 11-6 and looked on course for a clear
run through the second, but from 9-3 up he failed to win another
point as Razik turned the tables and produced a spell of
dominant, controlled squash to take the game 11-9.
Grant responded positively and built a 6-0 lead in the third as
Razik began to tire. This time Grant maintained his composure to
win the game 11-3.
The fourth was a similar pattern, with Grant jumping out to a
commanding lead and pushing through with some quality length to
win it, again by an 11-3 scoreline.
flying in on Saturday I have been interval sleeping, two
hours asleep then one hour awake, but I am slowly getting
over the jetlag," said Grant.
"Shahier is a quality player and at this level there are no
"I am enjoying the community sports projects I am involved,
but squash is still my bread and butter."
Karim Abdel Gawad recovered
from a head injury to win through to the second round of the
Davenport North American Open.
The young Egyptian was leading 9-6 in the fifth game when he
received an accidental elbow in the face from his opponent,
Yasir Ali Butt. The Pakistani brushed past Gawad as he moved
into the back corner of the court and the Egyptian fell to the
floor in the middle of the court.
He was treated by the tournament physician, who told tournament
officials that he feared Gawad was out cold. TV replays showed
that Butt's elbow had connected with Gawad's cheekbone. Gawad
was wrapped in towels to keep warm as he was surrounded on court
by concerned Egyptian compatriots Hisham Ashour, Karim Darwish,
Tarek Momen and Omar Mosaad.
Gawad lay prone for most of that spell, before being gently
raised to a sitting position.
He was helped off court to his seat at the side of the
auditorium before deciding that he wished to return to court to
continue the match. Butt won the next point but Gawad reeled off
the next two to claim a victory that puts him through to the
next round. Afterwards he said:
very dizzy but after a while I felt OK and just wanted to
get back on to the court to finish the match."
Olli Tuominen is
one of the most experienced players on the PSA Tour and his vast
know-how proved the difference in this match against Max Lee. At
33, Tuominen is still fit, fast, strong and mobile, and showing
few signs of diminishing performance in those vital areas. Solid
driving is the basis of his game, and against Lee he was hitting
it into the areas where it was doing most damage.
Lee is improving steadily, but he needs to learn how to avoid
first-round chops like this.
been coming to Richmond for a lot of years now and always
enjoy it. I have reached two quarter-finals and usually seem
to play well here," said Olli.
my 30s now and I still feel fit and I'm still enjoying my
squash. There are a lot of good young players coming through
behind me, but as long as I can keep them at bay I will be
After losing a tight opening game, Peter Barker
produced three immaculate games of precision squash to reach the
second round. The No.6 seed from Essex has clearly been working
hard on being more effective at the front of the court and his
drops and volley drops were simply superb. He ripped in a few
tight, fast boasts and, with a good working length to set up the
rallies, it was a perfect illustration of how to play this game
Grayson started strongly, and with barker looking a little
tentative after a recent injury, the New Zealand qualifier
opened up a 5-1 lead. Barker hit back to go in front at 6-5, and
held game ball at 10-9, but Grayson finished strongly to take
Despite complaining about a slippery floor, Barker's movement
improved and his confidence grew. He dominated the next three
games with an intelligent distribution of the ball and his
finishing was absolutely clinical.
He faces Olli Tuominen in the second round and will be confident
of advancing further.
"I was a
bit nervous to start with after a recent injury and, with
Campbell playing well, it took me a while to get into the
game," said Barker.
"After playing on a hot court in the national Championships
in Manchester it was quite a contrast to play on the cold
court here so you have to adapt quickly to different
conditions. Yes, I have been working with my coaches on that
area of my game and it was nice to see some results."
Regarding the 2020
Olympic bid, Barker added:
near London, it was difficult to see the Olympic Games on my
doorstep last summer and with squash not being involved, i
decided to boycott the opening day.
"However, it was a brilliant event and I was lucky enough to
get some tickets for some of the events and thoroughly
enjoyed it. I was proud that London put on such a good show.
"But squash certainly deserves to be part of the Games. The
PSA are doing a great job and the players will all support
the bid in any way we can. It would be the highlight of any
player's career to compete in the Olympic Games and let's
hope this time the vote goes our way."
Imperious as ever, stroking
the ball with classic timing, elegance and touch, and delivering
power when necessary, Amr Shabana turned on a
master-class for an appreciative audience at the Westwood Club.
Nic Mueller played well. As well as he was allowed to. But
Shabana was always on a different level, his brilliant squash
brain working out angles and timing to perfection.
At 33, Shabana's improved fitness levels have maintained his
speed around the court and his ability to strike winners from
all corners of the court is as impressive as ever.
Mueller started well but when Shabana was 6-4 down he stepped up
the attack to dominate proceedings, winning the game 11-8.
Mueller generated leads of 4-2 and 6-4 in the second game but
once again Shabana delivered both flair and precision, seemingly
at will. Shabana raced into a 5-0 lead at the start of the third
game and although Mueller did well to claim six points with some
astounding court coverage and winners of his own, Shabana was
always in front.
outstanding young players like Nic coming through," said
Shabana, "I know that I need to keep my body in shape to
cope with that kind of competition, so for the past six
months I have changed a lot of things in my life, including
my approach to training, my diet, and adopting a more
scientific approach to these areas.
"That seems to be working well and I am pleased to be going
on court and doing as well as I can."
Nick Matthew was
determined to avoid the mistakes that cost him so dearly in last
year's Davenport North American Open as he blitzed his opponent,
Laurens Jan Anjema, off court in three games.
Matthew almost suffered a shock defeat to Colombian Miguel Angel
Rodriguez at the same stage last year and was relieved to
squeeze home after a 97-minute battle.
Further obstacles lay in wait in the shape of Olli Tuominen and
Simon Rosner in the following rounds, and Matthew had run out of
energy by the time he faced Ramy Ashour in the semi-finals.
This time he meant business from the word go, playing his usual
high-pace attack with devastating results. Crisp volleys, firm
drives and tight drops all found their target as he overwhelmed
a hard-working opponent.
He was so focused on avoiding the pitfalls that caused so much
anguish last year that he built 5-0 leads in each of the first
Anjema got two early points on the board in the third game, but
from 2-1 down Matthew steamrollered his way through the rest of
the game to win 11-3.
"LJ is a very
dangerous opponent and i wanted to avoid the mistakes I made
last year when I spent so much time on court in the early
rounds," said Matthew.
"James Willstrop and Ramy Ashour seem to be good at getting
their matches over and done with quickly and I need to the
same more often.
"Having said that, no tournament is ever won in the first
couple of days but it can easily be lost, so you have to be
careful when you come up against opponents like LJ.
"This is a great tournament and it always seems to build
momentum as the week goes on, so there's plenty of work
still to be done."
Momen clinched a second round clash with No.2 seed Nick
Matthew after overcoming a phenomenal fightback from American
With Momen leading by two games to love, and seemingly in
control, Gordon stepped up the pace, improved his accuracy and
reduced his error count. He won the third 12-10 and saved five
match balls in an astonishing fourth game before winning it
was raw, compelling drama all the way through.
A passionate crowd at the Westwood Club cheered every rally
Gordon won but Momen stuck to his task in the fifth and powered
home 11-5 after 85 minutes of superb sporting entertainment.
We need American television executives, and every IOC official
in the States, to see a tape of this match to understand the
excitement and energy that squash can bring to the TV screen and
the Olympic Games.
After the match
a relieved Momen said; "I played Chris here six years ago
and that was a 3-2, and that was at the back of my mind the
whole time. Chris kept coming back and played a great match.
"Plus, he had the support of a fantastic home crowd, and I
just hope they can cheer for me tomorrow against Nick
who said he had stumbled around the court like a primate
during his qualifying final victory against Zac Alexander,
added; "I feel I may have evolved a little over the past
"It was a very special occasion, playing on the glass court
in a major world tournament here on American soil, and the
crowd were simply amazing. "Tarek is a superb squash player,
but from my point of view I think I played well and felt
that I deserved to be here."