Round TWO

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

  TODAY at the North American Open

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27-Feb, Round Two, Last 16 @ Westwood Club:

[5] Karim Darwish (Egy) 3-2 Hisham Ashour (Egy)   update: Darwish withdraws
                 7/11, 11/5, 9/11, 11/8, 11/2 (45m)
[4] Grégory Gaultier (Fra) 3-0 Adrian Grant (Eng)
                 11/4, 11/4, 11/5 (40m)
Simon Rosner (Ger) 3-2 [8] Omar Mosaad (Egy)
                  4/11, 11/8, 11/8, 9/11, 11/9 (82m)
[6] Peter Barker (Eng) 3-1 Olli Tuominen (Fin)
                   11/4, 11/6, 9/11, 11/4 (55m)
[7] Amr Shabana (Egy) 3-1 Karim Abdel Gawad (Egy)
                   11/8, 9/11, 11/3, 11/8 (50m)
[3] James Willstrop (Eng) 3-0 Miguel Angel Rodriguez (Col)
                    11/7, 11/7, 11/1 (37m)
[1] Ramy Ashour (Egy) 3-0 Cameron Pilley (Aus)
                    11/8, 11/6, 12/10 (42m)
[2] Nick Matthew (Eng) 3-0 Tarek Momen (Egy)
                    11/7, 11/8, 11/6 (44m)

Rosner joins top seven seeds in Quarters
Alan Thatcher reports, photos by Dan Bogosh

Darwish halts Hisham

Number five seed Karim Darwish weathered a storm of attacking shots from fellow Egyptian Hisham Ashour as he gradually wore down his opponent to book his place in the quarter-finals of the Davenport North American Open.

Darwish finally claimed victory after 45 minutes but Ashour lived up to his reputation as one of the game's great entertainers by hitting winners from all over the court before tiring in the fifth game.

Darwish said: "It was always going to be a difficult match against Hisham because he can hit winners from anywhere," said Darwish.

"It's always good to see a lot of Egyptians in the draw in a big tournament like this.  Squash is the second most popular sport in our country and we have a lot of country clubs with ten courts all over the country.

"We have lots of good coaches and the squash factory is producing a lot of great juniors, so we hope that we can maintain that position in the game."

After the end of the day's play Darwish withdrew with a calf injury.

Gaultier races into quarters

Number four seed Gregory Gaultier produced another immaculate display to beat Adrian Grant.

Striking the ball with a clinical precision that is almost on a par with Amr Shabana, Gaultier put the ball in all the right places to keep Grant under pressure. Grant struck the tin on a regular basis, but it was more to do with Gaultier's tight play, keeping the ball glued to the side wall, than any major shortcomings from the English left-hander.

Asked if he was enjoying the best form of his career, Gaultier responded:

"I hope not! I feel I am playing well but at this stage of the tournament you want more to come.

"It was a busy start to the year with the World Series in London, followed by the Tournament of Champions in New York, where I was glad to have my physio with me to keep me in good shape.

"I enjoyed the final against Ramy and was on top for an hour or so, but he came back very strongly to win it. "I took a lot of positives out of that and played well in Sweden to beat Nick Matthew in the final.

"So all these things help to keep your mind in good shape as well as your body."

Rosner rocks Mosaad

Simon Rosner produced a performance of enormous physical commitment and tactical intelligence to beat number eight seed Omar Mosaad of Egypt. With two such tall athletes (Mosaad is 6ft 4in and Rosner 6ft 3in) there were frequent collisions in mid-court caused by access problems to the ball, mainly on the left-hand wall.

Mosaad used his powerful frame to good effect with a solid opening game but Rosner hit back to take the next two. As the seven-time German national champion attempted to close in on the fourth, Mosaad finished strongly to take the match into a fifth game.

Rosner started strongly and kept in front all the way, fending off a desperate late revival by the Egyptian to book his place in tomorrow's quarter-finals. Rosner's tactics worked soundly. His straight lines were accurate, his crosscourts forced a heavily-built opponent to twist and turn, and his drop shots were effective.

The blockages and clashes caused a tension throughout the match, but the frown disappeared and a huge smile crossed his face as a delighted Rosner finally clinched victory after 82 minutes. He said:

"I lost to Omar in Mexico in November, and that finished 11-9 in the fifth, so I knew what to expect today.

"He's a big guy to get round on court and there were a lot of traffic jams in the middle of the court.

"It's always a good feeling to beat a seeded player and reach the quarter-finals of a tournament like this."

'Old boy' Barker battles past Tuominen

Peter Barker admitted to feeling old after seeing off a determined challenge from Olli Tuominen to reach the quarter-finals. Despite his advancing years, (he's only 29 years old so will have to wait a while before he collects his bus pass) he still reacted pretty quickly to jump in the air to avoid a ferocious drive down the middle of the court by his opponent.

Had the ball connected with any part of his anatomy, he might have needed to contact Cameron Pilley's brother for medical advice.

After letting the third game slip away, Barker regained control in the fourth to dominate the closing phase of the match. He said:

"That was God's punishment for some of the mistakes I made today. At one stage during the match i said to Olli 'I feel old' but then I realised he is actually older than me.

"He's always been a tremendous professional and as younger players growing up in the game we always looked to him to how to conduct yourself.

"It was a very physical encounter and Olli stepped up the pace in the third and played very well.

"I am just pleased and relieved to be in the quarter-finals and hope I can put it all together tomorrow."

Sorcerer Shabana tames apprentice

The match was billed as The Sorcerer and The Apprentice, and Amr Shabana served up his usual array of magic spells to entertain the crowd at the Westwood Club as the evening session got under way.

Karim Abdel Gawad has also learned plenty of tricks, and the two players delivered a match of high-quality squash with Shabana doing enough to subdue an opponent 12 years his junior.

Shabana was relieved to squeeze home 11-9 in the opening game, but Gawad played superbly to hit back from 6-4 and 9-7 down to win the second by the margin.

Shabana asserted his authority in the third, winning 11-3 with a display of clinical finishing, and from 2-4 down he won six of the next eight points to build a decisive lead.

After closing out the match 11-8, he was asked his thoughts about his young compatriot.

"He is already a very good player and can only get better," said Shabana.

When asked about the strength of squash here in the USA, he added: "We are very grateful to have people like Gus Cook here in Richmond, and other promoters, staging some great tournaments in the United States.

"Squash is getting stronger all the time over here and high-quality events like this can only help the game to grow."

Another quick finish for Willstrop

James Willstrop's all-round quality allowed him to overwhelm Colombian Miguel Angel Rodriguez for another quick win.

The tall Englishman looks supremely confident this week. Moving well and striking the ball with consummate ease, he appears to be well set up to mount a challenge to retain the title he won last year against Ramy Ashour.

Rodriguez battled hard throughout the first two games but the third was totally one-sided as Willstrop's accuracy and touch delivered him another valuable victory in less than 40 minutes.

He told the crowd that publishing his autobiography, Shot And A Ghost, had been a thoroughly rewarding experience.

"It gave me something to do during tournaments instead of just whiling away the time doing nothing.

"I enjoy writing my Blog for the Huffington Post, plus a column for my local paper, the Yorkshire Post, and it gives me an interesting diversion outside the game.

"I was pleased to get another 3-0 win and hope I can take that form with me tom

Ramy slams Cam

Ramy Ashour and Cameron Pilley entertained an appreciative audience with squash of the highest quality.

Ashour won the match in straight games but Pilley had the opportunity to win the third when he held game ball at 10-8, but the Egyptian maestro finished strongly.

Ashour produced moments of breathtaking genius from various parts of the court, but Pilley was equally impressive with some incredible pick-ups and stunning winners.

In the end, he will reflect on a few tins too many at crucial times.

A delighted Ashour said: "Even though this is my job, you can't think like that. You have to love the game, and respect every part of it.

"I love coming here to Richmond and playing in front of this great crowd."

Ashour's right leg was encased in a surgical stocking but it did not seem to impair his phenomenal movement.

He said: "It's just a precaution. No single player is ever 100 per cent fit. We all have little niggles and have to deal with a lot of small injuries all the time. That's just part of the game and you have to deal with it.

"I am delighted to be in the quarter-finals and want to thank Cameron for a good match. He is a great squash player and is always difficult to beat."

Matthew marches past Momen

Nick Matthew was too strong for Tarek Momen with the Egyptian appearing to be suffering after his marathon match last night with American Chris Gordon.

Matthew advanced from 2-2 to 8-2 to set up a winning position in the first game, but the second was much tougher. Momen led 5-4 and Matthew had to graft his way through several tough rallies to build a lead of 9-6. Momen collected two points to draw close at 8-9 but Matthew nailed the last two points to open up a two-game lead.

Matthew was always ahead in the third and Momen struck the tin several times as fatigue set in.

Matthew and Gordon share the same coach, David Pearson, in England. And Matthew said;

"We don't have the same coach for nothing. I discussed the tactics of playing Tarek with Chris but it's one thing to give someone else advice and another to do it yourself.

"But the scoreline doesn't do Tarek justice. It was a very hard-fought match and it's not easy to get a three-love against such a good player.

"I was pleased for Chris last night. I told him not be content with just qualifying for the main draw and he took it on board.

"With so many important tournaments in the States it's good to see a US player contributing so much and engaging th
e crowd as he did last night. It's certainly good for the game."

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Round TWO