The playoff places were sealed with the final batch of pool
matches. Malaysia and Canada scored 3-0 wins over
USA and New Zealand to top Pools E and G.
And although defending
champions England won Pool B with victory over Germany,
the retirement through injury of their number one Nick Matthew
will be a big concern ...
End of the playoffs
Dan Zilic reports
I got to watch Germany vs. England and Canada
vs- New Zealand. I had positioned myself right between the
courts quite early as I was really dying to see Jonathon Power
play and I knew it would be tough to get a seat, as these
matches were on the back courts.
Raphael Kandra made his debut for Germany against
Adrian Grant. Raphael is one of Germany's top juniors (and
men) and was (I think) the only player to take a game off
Shorbagy in the British. He certainly hung in well against
Adrian and never made it easy for the Englishman, who was moving
silkily smooth as always. Adrian managed to keep a few points
between himself and Kandra for most of the time so it ended 5, 7
and 7. A solid debut for the junior, who might have wished to
threaten in taking a game, but Adrian just never let him get
quite close enough.
While Sean and Martin were still playing match two of Germany
and England had started. It was pretty eagerly anticipated by
the German fans since they rarely get to see their number one on
international duty. Simon Rösner played against world
number five Nick Matthew and the first rally, no joke,
lasted a good two minutes.
And this was no up-and-down the wall squash, but high-paced
attacking squash. Simon even hit a spectacular cross-court nick
which Nick picked up no problem and a few shots later the rally
ended, how else could it be, in a let. The game continued in
this vain until towards the middle of the game Nick managed to
move away and establish a lead and take the game 11:4.
At 3:3 in game two the unfortunate happened - Nick moved one way
and then the other and somehow twisted his ankle. In the
beginning it looked like he'd get up again right away, but after
a few more seconds it became clear it was the end of the road -
what a pity!
I think at this point Martin was still playing Shawn and Jens
Schoor started against Peter Barker. I saw Jens hit
some great winners but Peter is just so strong that you will
need to do far more than that to get him in trouble. A good
match for Jens though, who will be happy to get this kind of
CANADA NEW ZEALAND
In the meantime Shawn Delierre and Martin Knight
were battling it out. I have never watched Shawn play before but
have seen his results and what I remembered were a good few
upsets and some very very long matches. I thought he was 60-40
favourite for the match but Martin, certainly one of the fittest
players around, surprised me by taking the first two games. It
was very tight but Martin was countering Shawn's attacks with
great drops or wonderful lobs.
The thing was though that Shawn was playing too many boasts from
the back, inviting Martin to use his good speed, get on the ball
quickly and put Shawn under pressure with a tight drop. Delierre
was getting more and more agitated and at 8:8 in the third game
(or perhaps even 9:8) it looked like Martin would seal it - but
Shawn is a resilient and very versatile player and got the third
game 11:9 and then started an attacking onslaught in the fourth.
Suddenly he was rolling off nicks and incredible volley boasts,
which even Martin was having trouble retrieving (and that says
something). The fifth was tight again and although momentum was
with Shawn Martin fought incredibly hard to keep it even. But
Shawn's tight shots and tricky flicks were just too good in the
end and the match ended in Shawn's favour. A great match though
no doubt - a superb combination of incredible retrievals,
beautiful touches and inventive attacking.
After the epic first match Mr. Power took to the court
against Kiwi Kashif Shuja. This was, on paper, going to
be a tougher test for Power after David Vidal, although Vidal
managed to beat Shuja (surprisingly) in the group phase (another
big surprise comeback 3:2 win). Shuja certainly did not look
impressed and was not looking to contain Power with super-tight
Squash, but instead tried to play to his own strengths.
From the outset it became clear though that he was going to be
made work hard for every single point. Time and time again Power
took full advantage of a loose shot or poor length by holding
the shot, play a dying length and make Shuja run all the way
around him. Couple that with some great deception and some
perfect drops and you are in deep trouble.
Power won the first game 11:4 and while he took the lead in the
second Shuja did begin to make the Canadian work hard himself -
especially his boasts made Power cover a lot of ground. The
thing is though that at times he got the boasts in a last gasp
effort and played an absolutely sublime winning drop off them
and he took the game 11:6.
Make no mistake though - at this point Power was fully in the
match and did not want to lose a single point - he was
questioning refereeing calls and shouting and got a conduct
warning when missing a volley (he tried to look away when
playing it) muttering "Watch the friggin' ball!".
He argued with the ref that he did not use a swear word but the
referee either did not speak good English or has a low tolerance
Game three saw more of the same with Shuja working hard but not
letting loose. He also caught Power with a couple of his own
well-held and disguised cross-court drops. Power did not look
comfortable any more but took his chances and was awarded a
number of strokes, which were probably just about strokes, but
he did get the calls he wanted and made some extra efforts
explaining to the referee why he deserved a let on that or a
stroke on this.
The last game finished 11:6 and Power pumped his fist and was
clearly satisfied with his win - lest we forget that Shuja is a
very handy top 50 player who beat Shorbagy in the first round of
the British just a few weeks ago.
Honestly, we are all hoping that Power plays against Scotland
tomorrow again. He would be playing Alan Clyne, who is
somewhat in-form at the moment and while probably not stronger
than Shuja, can run for two hours and play at a very high pace,
so it will be interesting, or lets say educational, to see how
Power deals with him.
The tie ended 3:0 to Canada with Razik beating Grayson
in the dead-rubber.
I didn't watch it though as there was a fierce battle going on
between Austria and Japan, who had their play-off
for third place in their group.
It was interesting for Serbia too because we were to face the
losing team for the 25 - 28 play-off. I have to say I had
expected Japan to cause a semi-upset but Stefan Brauneis
beat Takanori Shimzu 3:1. The Japanese number three
started strongly, he is very quick and bouncy, but I was told he
faded after the first game and Brauneis took full advantage of
Therefore Aqeel Rehman had the chance to decide the tie
for Austria. He was playing Japan's number one, Yuta Fukui,
who I believe might still be a junior. I came for the fifth set
in what was a highly entertaining match - two incredibly fit and
quick players playing their heart out for their countries.
Rallies were frantic and high-paced and at 4:4 Aqeel hit a
really lucky winner off his frame, which kind of upset Fukui and
he went 9:5 down. He managed to stage a comeback to 9:9 thanks
to some fantastic retrieving, but Aqeel, hitting a cool behind
the back cross-court, finished things off and won the tie for
The meaningless dead rubber was won by Tsukue 3:0,
against Dirnberger, who might have saved himself for
matches to come.
NICK IS DOOMED…
It was all going fine for England – we were not exactly waiting
for an upset against Germany, no disrespect – and I was on my
way to see where the boys were at when I met with the Ref,
coming back from the other end of the venue.
Nick just twisted his ankle, he said.
According to Simon Rosner, who was playing against Nick at the
time, the Englishman was surprised by a flick, and went for the
ball, twisting his ankle on the way. Although it didn’t seem too
bad at the time, the ankle swelled very fast, and Nick has been
taken to hospital for Xrays. Doesn’t look good to be honest.
I can’t believe how unlucky this boy is. I just cannot believe
it. Since I’ve been on the circuit, I remember NY 2005, back
injury against Thierry, Toronto Classic 2006, ankle against
Hisham, then two years ago, shoulder, and then this… How unlucky
can you get…
was the first time I ever played Peter. What is
impressive is his consistency. I could more or less match his
pace during the first game, and it was pretty tight up to there.
But after that, I wasn’t able to sustain such a pace.
"I guess the answer is to get more and more matches like that,
against the top guys, to get used to their pace, and get faster,
fitter and stronger. That’s the key to any progression for me
Dan Zilic reports
now I am watching South Africa play Pakistan.
Pakistan, despite their higher seeding, are in trouble. Clinton
Leeuw played out of his skin to beat Yasir Butt 3:2.
started slowly but then really upped the tempo, but Clinton
showed great resistance. Butt continued to play a high-risk game
and while he did make Clinton work and hit some great winners,
it did backfire when he hit a few tins in succession in the
closing stages of the fifth.
"Last year I tried to qualify for
the Men’s Worlds in Manchester, and I couldn’t. And I realised
that my only way to improve would be to get more exposure, more
matches with the top players.
"So I went and trained in Germany with a coach, Derek Lawrence,
and started to make more and more matches, and that made the
difference I believe today.
"I was always fit and fast, but I didn’t really hit the ball
accurately enough. That’s what I’ve been working on primarily
on, and now I also need to work on my fitness to get to the next
level, where I want to go…."
Now, Steve Coppinger is up in the fifth after being 2:0
down to Amir Atlas Khan. I don't know how he recovered
but the South Africans are a real gritty team - something that
seems to lack in the Pakistani team, who impress with their
shots, speed and skill, but somehow the the sum of all this is
not mounting up to enough to beat the Springboks, who are
cheering themselves on like men possessed (especially Jessie is
doing a great job).
Okay - Coppinger 10:8, nick by Khan to 9:10, tin by Coppinger to
10:10, tin by Khan to give Coppinger two more match balls at
11:10. Coppinger plays a winning drop to take SA 2:0 up - what a
So South Africa certainly caused the upset of the second
round of matches - I was especially happy to see Clinton go
through in the end as I know him (he lives in Germany) and he is
a great player. He really had his heart in that match and
deserved it through and through. The reward is a meeting with
the US tomorrow - which is a tough one.
US are favoured at
position one, I think SA may have the edge at three so it boils
down to the match at position two - Gilly Lane versus either
Rodney Durbach or Jesse Engelbrecht, and we are starting with
second string matches tomorrow!
HOT HOT HOT…
D: Australia 2-1 Netherlands
Aaron Frankcomb 3-2 Rene Mijs
8-11, 8-11, 11-9, 11-5, 11-6 (68m)
David Palmer 1-3 LJ Anjema
6-11, 11-8, 8-11, 10-12 (58m)
Cameron Pilley 3-0 Piedro Schweertman
11-0, 11-6, 13-11 (31m)
I must say I did let the rest of
the world go by as Australia was playing Netherlands. First on
was Aaron, for his first selection for his country, he
played yesterday, so it’s wasn’t his first match, but nervous
yes, he was…
Not in at the start though, but as the match went along, he
started to stress out, “didn’t want to let Australia down”, and
against a stunning Rene Mijs who let go of his arm, found
himself 2/0. Unfortunately for Netherlands, Rene went for a bit
too much, probably wanted to finish things quickly, and made too
many errors in the 3rd, putting the Australian right back into
"I was pretty
relaxed in the first game, went up comfortably 8/5, I was
playing OK, nothing extraordinary, but he started coming back,
my length dropped off, he found a few nice shots and snapped the
first, and before I knew it, I was down 2/0, thinking, hold on,
I’m going to lose that match, and I really didn’t want to, I didn’t
want to let the team down.
"Then I remember Rodney Eyles telling me to start from scratch,
to start from fresh, and that’s what I did. Found a good length
again, kept in front of him, nothing special, keeping it simple
really, and he made a lot of unforced errors, that helped…!
"And it all went my way from then on…"
It had to happen sometimes I guess, but this will not be a day
David Palmer will remember fondly.
According to my
records, the Marine had never lost a match for Australia, but
when he found himself 2/0 down, the Australia Camp started to
What happened? Well, LJ played extremely well, for a
He was constantly in front of David, found some great
shots at the front, playing at a very fast pace, and when David
was making his move with his trademark volley, the counter
attack was just spot on. David was on the back foot constantly…
There was a moment at the end of the third where I saw LJ a bit
tired, and David felt it too. He kept the momentum going in the
4th, leading 6/3, with a Netherlander looking a bit lost. And we
thought, well, there is a five setter waiting to happen.
But no, LJ regrouped, and honestly, played the best game I’ve
seen him play since that stunning match in the first phases of
the worlds in Cairo against John White, a match he only lost
11/9 in the 5th (on a burst ball at 9/9…).
David may not have
played his best game – on a warm court as well – but LJ was on
From 6/4 up, David made four uncharacteristic unforced errors
(didn’t do one in the previous game), including one that set up
the match ball at 10/8.
A winning shot for LJ, who didn’t
celebrate, didn’t show his emotions whatsoever on there.
As we thought, Serbia was eaten alive by the Egyptians,
and Daniel Zilic, our special reporter here in Odense,
has made a good article on it.
3/0 for Egypt, with Wael, Karim and Ramy against Ivan, Dennis
NOT GETTING BETTER
Oh well, it didn’t start well for the poor injury-ridden
Indians, as in their first match, Gaurav Nandrajog, who
stepped in at the last minute to support his team, was penalised
with a conduct game for bad language.
I could only hear what happened, as I was slaving away in the
press room, but apparently, as Italy was leading 2/0 and 8/5,
there was a collision between the two players, in a match that
I’m told was a bit messy movement wise.
As the collision was a bit brutal, Gaurav was not happy, “what
was that,” I could hear, then a bit brouhaha, loud voices, and
the next thing I heard was “conduct game, and match to Italy”.
It would seem that the Indian player would have used bad
In the next game, not a word out of order between Davide
and Ritwik, an encounter that ended with a 3/0 victory
again for Italy.
As for the dead rubber between “new Italian” Amr Swelim –
may I remind you that his dad is actually Italian – and
Harinder Sandhu, it turned out to be a good victory for
“I started a bit too slow, a bit too relaxed, and he played very
well, I just couldn’t get into the match really today…” said a
SCOTLAND IS PENALISED…
was a bit of a Christmas day in reverse today, as we already had
two conduct games (one led to match) awarded in the first round
of matches. The first one, in the Italian/Indian match, and the
second one as Scotland's Stuart Crawford was playing a
dead rubber against Venezualan Juan Pablo Rothie.
Up to then, Scotland was cruising really 3, 4, 4 for Chris
Small against Juan Pablo Sanchez, and 0, 3, 1 for
Alan Clyne against Francisco Vallecillo.
was controlling the first game 11/4, and was up 7/5 in the 2nd
and as I passed by on the gallery, I could hear – again – an
argument going on, with Stuart been refused a let.
He was explaining that he did go round his opponent, and got the
ball on his racquet before the ball bounced twice. The ref
wouldn’t have his explanation, and I couldn't hear what was said,
but I guess the ref heard something that she didn’t like, as the game
was awarded to Venezuela.
Well, a bit of excitement I guess in a match that was going so
smoothly, not much to write home about now, is there…
KUWAIT UPSETS HONG KONG …
will be a sad day in Hong Kong, as they are out of the top world
16, after their defeat against Kuwait, with two victories for
Abdullah and Bader against Dick and Leo.
I only saw the first rallies of Abdullah v Dick, and I can tell
you that the squash was top qualities, with long rallies, and
great short games from both players.
In the qualifying rounds of the Asian Team Champs, Kuwait
already upset Hong Kong, finishing 3rd of the competition while
HK ended up 5th back in 2006, and they beat Pakistan in the
semi-finals of the 2008 event.
So another excellent result for the country that in a few weeks
will be hosting the Men's World Championship…
Serbia take on top seeds
(and come off second best)
Dan Zilic reports
today Serbia, boasting seven squash courts in three different
clubs played against Egypt - who probably have more courts than
that per square mile in their larger cities. We fielded our
strongest team for the first time today and were hoping that
this may make the difference. I will tell you so much now - it
Ivan played Wael and did well for himself after a
slow start. He exerted himself so much in game one that he did
not manage a point in game two, but came out all guns blazing in
game three and managed another eitht points, using his great
reach time and time again to catch El-Hindi's cross-courts.
Dennis Drenjovski was on next and played against Karim.
Quite honestly we were afraid Karim would annihilate Dennis as
we have watched him play ruthless Squash. In comparison to Ramy
and Wael he plays a bit less open and hits an incredible length,
which makes it tough for players like us because we are hoping
that they may make some mistake or give us one or two cheap
points. There was no need to be afraid though as Dennis played
really well and actually managed 7, 5 and 5 points, taking the
lead a few times in the match. Karim hit some deadly lengths and
incredible drops, but Dennis made the most out of playing the
number one and made the team proud.
I was on court against Ramy next and I was totally
over-rolled in game one, going 1:0 down and then luckily
managing 2 more points before losing 11:2. Ramy's drops from all
round the court are just so good - I really tried my best to
cover them but most of the time I was simply no where near them.
Game two went a little better and I managed 5 points. Even
Ramy's lob-serves make life from the outset of the rallies so
tough, you play an average return and he simply slams or cuts it
in the nick. Game three was the best of all and I took a 1:0 and
9:8 lead. I managed a few good drop shots which Ramy casually
countered with some cross-court drops into the nick. Lost 11:9
in the end but it was a lot of fun and a special day for Serbia.
We got some autographs from all the players on a shirt as
well as a signed flag which will all go up in Ivan's club
As for the other games - well, Fram covered them! We were quite
interested to see Hong Kong play Kuwait - as they
both seemed pretty close. Hong Kong fielded Leo Au for the first
time who was beaten surprisingly clear by Alhusaini (who is
working since two years and is no longer playing full time he
Still a tough competitor though - let me tell me you. That meant
Hong Kong needed the next two matches - they were favourites at
position two but it meant before that Dick Lau needed to beat
Al-Mezayen. And Al-Mezayen beat the higher-ranked Lau 3:0.
I saw some rallies and Al-Mezayen looks really casual and while
he is not the most precise player, he has incredible pace and
moves really well. Second was a 14:12 tie-break and Al-Mezayen
virtually sealed the tie with that. As predicted, Lee did win
the dead rubber against Mohammad 3:1.
Other than that there were no real surprises. Venezuela
won their first game of the competition when Rothie took a game
off Crawford at second string. Rothie looks the strongest
Venezuela player at two and winning that one game was a bit
surprising, but had nothing to do with luck.