•  Davenport North American Open • 23-Feb to 02-Mar 2013 • Richmond, VA •  

  TODAY at the North American Open

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28-Feb, Quarter-Finals @ Westwood Club: 

[3] James Willstrop (Eng)
bt [5] Karim Darwish (Egy)                               w/o

Ramy Ashour (Egy) 3-1 Simon Rösner (Ger)      11/7, 11/6, 10/12, 11/8 (53m)

Grégory Gaultier (Fra) 3-0 [7] Amr Shabana (Egy)      11/4, 11/4, 11/5 (34m)
[2] Nick Matthew
(Eng) 3-0 [6] Peter Barker (Eng)           11/6, 11/7, 11/5 (49m)

Ramy and Rosner serve up a treat
Alan Thatcher reports, photos by Dan Bogosh

Top seed Ramy Ashour stormed through to the last four of the Davenport North American Open but surprise quarter-finalist Simon Rösner made him work hard to get there.

The tall German matched Ashour's genius for long spells of the match and fought back superbly in the third to stop the Egyptian winning in straight games, hitting three superb winners at the front before trapping his opponent in the back right corner.

Ashour took a huge tumble but returned to the court to continue. The crowd gasped in admiration at the quality of the squash and the stupendous retrieving.

Ashour now faces James Willstrop in the semi-finals after the Englishman enjoyed a rest day following the withdrawal of Karim Darwish through injury. Ashour said:

"The fall was a heavy but apart from a grazed elbow I'm feeling fine."

"That was a great game and there are lots of guys around who are capable of playing top-quality squash. Simon is obviously one of them.

"James is a great player and I'm looking forward to another great battle. We always enjoy putting on a great show for this wonderful crowd in Richmond.

Gaultier shakes off Shabana

Gregory Gaultier was too tight, too accurate and too consistent for Amr Shabana.
As the tournament moved into the quarter-final stages, so Gaultier moved up to a new level of quality.

Striking the ball cleanly and matching Shabana for inventiveness at the front of the court, he booked his place in the semi-finals in just 34 minutes. It was to one-sided to be a classic, but Gaultier was generous in his praise of his opponent. He said:

"Amr is without doubt the best squash player in the world.

"He is the one you always look to if you are having some difficult moments, because watching him helps you to get things right in your own mind.

"I will always watch him on Squash TV. He is the player you should watch if want to learn how to hit the ball correctly.

"I am happy with how I played and pleased to be playing better now I am in the semi-finals."

Matthew mishits find the target

Nick Matthew offered his apologies to England team-mate Peter Barker after a flurry of mis-hits helped him to reach the semi-finals.

Number two seed Matthew was being unnecessarily polite, because his all-round game had been solid.

Both players showed excellent court coverage, producing some astonishing retrievals, and at the front of the court they showed that Egypt does not have a monopoly on hitting nicks.

Barker matched his opponent in the early stages of each game, but it was Matthew who finished strongly on each occasion.

In the first game, Matthew won four points in a row from 4-4 to provide him with a winning cushion.

Barker led 6-4 in the second game but another spell of concerted pressure delivered six consecutive points to the Yorkshireman.

Matthew built a 6-1 lead in the third , but although Barker fought back to 6-5, he was not to win another point.

A sporting Matthew said: "I was amazed at the number of winning mis-hits I hit in that third game so I ought to apologise to Peter for that.

"It was a really tough game. Peter has been out with an injury and I think that was the probably the main reason I was able to push through from something like 6-6 in each game.

"Obviously he hasn't had the court time you need to build up your levels of fitness but he played very well and will only get better in the coming weeks and months."

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