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.
said: "It was always going to be a difficult match against
Hisham because he can hit winners from anywhere," said
"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
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
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
"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."
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
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
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
"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."
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
After letting the third game slip away, Barker regained control
in the fourth to dominate the closing phase of the match. He
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."
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
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.
already a very good player and can only get better," said
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
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 tomorrow."
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
Ashour said: "Even though this is my job, you can't think
like that. You have to love the game, and respect every part
"I love coming here to Richmond and playing in front of this
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."
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
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;
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 the
crowd as he did last night. It's certainly good for the