Last 16

• Men's World Team Championships 2009  • Odense •  

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Wed 30th Sep, Day FOUR:
Let the playoffs begin ...
 
Last 16 Round One:  

13.00  Egypt 3-0 Germany
13.00  Canada 3-0 Scotland

19.00  Australia 3-0 Ireland
19.00  Malaysia 1-2 Pakistan

19.00  South Africa 2-1 USA
16.00  France 3-0 Netherlands

16.00  Italy 2-1 New Zealand
16.00  England 2-1 Kuwait
 
17-24 Quarters:

13.00  Hong Kong 3-0 Spain
13.00  Wales 1-2 Finland
19.00  Sweden 1-2 Denmark
16.00  India 2-1 Austria

25-28 Playoffs:

13.00  Serbia 3-0 Venezuela
16.00  Japan 2-1 Kenya


          Detailed Results

Big Guns safely through as
Pakistan oust Malaysia ...


Some real battles as teams fight it out to reach the top eight ... Top four seeds Egypt, England, France and Australia won through comfortably enough, but Italy were made to work very hard by New Zealand, while Pakistan, after being beaten by South Africa yesterday, bounce back to put out fifth seeds Malaysia. Meanwhile South Africa continue their winning ways to beat USA in a thriller ...
 


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En Bref #2

Detailed Results
 

"After Cairo, I rested three or four days, which was good for my body, but not for the mental side of squash! Also, this was my first match on the glass court, hot and bouncy.

"I felt a bit lethargic in the first game, and he played extremely well, going for all his shots. In the middle of the second, I started to wake up, and made him move around more, and played a bit more positive than I did in the first game.

"Then I think I actually controlled the third and fourth well…"


Happy Birthday Ramy

"It was a harder match than I expected. It was a very bouncy court and Clyne was very fit.

"Even though I was making him run he kept hanging on and I got a bit tired. I wanted to make sure I saved some strength for the fifth game and it managed to work out.

"Our team is really pumped about our performances so far.

"We reached a big goal by making the top-eight. We know we face a difficult task in our next match but we’re confident we can end this tournament in strong fashion."

Egypt safely through to Quarters

Top seeds Egypt got off to comfortable enough start in the first playoff match on Odense's Centre Court, as Amr Shabana and Karim Darwish gave them an unassailable 2-0 lead over Germany.

Egypt 3-0 Germany

Amr Shabana 3-0 Stefan Leifels                   11-4, 11-9, 11-4 (25m)
Karim Darwish 3-1 Simon Roesner      6-11, 11-9, 11-7, 11-7 (38m)
Wael El Hindi 2-0 Rafael Kandra                           11-7, 11-6 (18m)

A Shabana focused for most of the game, a few unforced errors, but a comfortable victory, although Stefan was happy to make the Prince run a bit on some rallies…

"Like most players, I love playing top guys, and especially Shabana, who likes to rally at the back, not just flick his wrist around like some of the others… He is playing a game I’m enjoying a lot…

"This is probably one of my last team events, I’m 36, and playing Shabana for the first time, great pleasure, good memories to have… Doesn’t get much better than that…"

"I played well in the first game, keeping the pressure up, and playing at a fast pace. I was able to keep that pace all the way through the second, which was pretty close as well, I don’t know, I guess I really needed that second game.

"After that, I had a drop of energy, due to the hard work I’d produced, and he played very well indeed. Still, a great experience for me to play such a great player…

"I’ve been doing a lot of fitness work for the past twelve months, and it has been paying off, but against the top players like Karim, it’s just not enough, I have to become not only fitter, but stronger too…"

Canada 3-0 Scotland

Shahier Razik 3-0 Stuart Crawford              11-2, 11-3, 11-3 (25m)
Jonathon Power 3-2 Alan Clyne  11-5, 11-8, 3-11, 6-11, 11-2 (63m)
Shawn Delierre 2-0 Chris Small                         11-7, 16-14 (23m)

Power pulls Canadians through
Dan Zilic reports

While Serbia was playing Venezuela Canada played Scotland on the opposite court, which made for some very crammed viewing, especially as Power was on the team again (surprisingly Canada fielded the exact team as yesterday despite Delierre having to play a gruelling five-setter yesterday and Phillips being a very strong number four).

Razik made short work of Crawford anyway - I asked Crawford how he had played and he said he was thrashed (he actually said it slightly different but I wont repeat that as he is a well-spoken young man - normally).

"I don’t want anymore of those 2, 3 hours matches, so I’ve been trying to keep up the pace on my game recently, trying to get off court as quickly as I can, and I think I probably took him off guard, he was probably expecting a much slower pace…

"We found a good rhythm with the team this week, and hopefully, we can play a couple more matches like this…"

After that Power played Alan Clyne - and I think many thought this was going to be 'the' match to watch Power play, since he is unlikely to feature in the quarters. What also made the match attractive was the prospect of Clyne being incredibly fit and quick and would be, perhaps, able to sustain some of Power's pressure.

I didn't get to see most of the first few games because we were on court at the same time but I caught myself looking over to watch more often than I probably should have (showing my good team spirit there). What I kept seeing though towards the end of the second and beginning of the third was that Power was chopping in his backhand dropshots but Clyne got so many of them and played some magnificent counter drops.

Power really struggled at times to push himself forwards to pick them up and although he played some absolutely magnificent flicks as soon as Clyne did not play them quite tight enough, he gave Clyne an opening often enough for Clyne to send him back to the opposite corner.

So although Power was working Clyne hard, he was being made to work hard himself. Even if Clyne's lengths and widths allowed Power to create some space, drive the ball to the back and make Clyne run all the way around him, the young Scot picked up all those balls and the rallies went on for far longer than Power would have hoped.

And at some point it was too much for Power and he lost the third game 11:3. He looked like he did not want to lose game four and started arguing and going in short pretty earlier, but Clyne was absolutely relentless in picking up most of Power's shots with interest.

Clyne's backhand does look a little peculiar but he has some decent deception at the front too and caught Power off-guard once or twice. Despite all the hard work though I have to say that Power played some sublime winners - some of his backhand flicks were unbelievable. In one rally Clyne caught Power at the front and hammered the ball down the middle - Power jumped in the air turning 90 degrees and hit the ball blindly behind his back, only to play an awesome cross-court backhand flick three shots later to win the rally.

The crowd, featuring Simon Parke and Amr Shabana, were loving it. But still he lost that game 11:8 (throwing his racket in the corner shortly before to earn himself 'only' a conduct warning) and I think we were all eager to see if he would be able to get out of it.

Power did not disappoint and played so tightly that Clyne just wasn't able to play tight and good enough shots to put Power under pressure. Power was now in full swing and while he rallied hard in the first few points he was able to pull away up to 10:2. It really was impressive how Power, who definitely looked tired at the end of game four, was able to win that last game so clearly.

And of course he won it by diving to the back of the court, then sprinting to the front for an incredible rally and seal the match (Arthur Gaskin told me about the last rally, I was applauding my countryman Ivan).

A match for Power fans to savour - featuring a some typical Power antics, sublime touches, great speed and grit from Clyne!
  



"This was a hard battle against Davide, he’s got so much experience and plays such a steady game, hence doesn’t play so many unforced errors. I had to watch my unforced errors, but to be honest, it was the kind of match you are lucky to pull through…

"I was playing as a junior, and had a long break to only come back on the circuit 4 or 5 years ago, and lots of the guys I played in the juniors, like Davide, were now way ahead of me. The key was to get more exposure, to get to play more matches. I was based in NZ that made travelling very difficult, but now I’m based in Holland, and that I sure will also in time make a difference…

"I’ve been very lucky with the support I’ve been getting from the structure we have in New Zealand, and lucky with the coaches I had, Anthony Ricketts, Paul Wright and Dave Clark previously.

"Playing for a country is a completely different game, it gives you more energy and strength, but also more responsibility, hence more stress. But that’s what we are here for…"

Italy 2-1 New Zealand

Marcus Berrett  3-2 Campbell Grayson
            11-13, 11-6, 8-11, 12-10, 11-5 (71m)
Davide Bianchetti 2-3 Kashif Shuja
           10-12, 11-8, 5-11, 11-6, 7-11 (68m)
Amr Swelim 3-0 Martin Knight
           11-4, 11-7, 11-4 (47m)

GUTSY ITALY
Framboise reports

This was a long day for the Italians and the New-Zealanders, 3h30 of intense squash, emotions, hopes and crushing defeat for the All Blacks in the end.

It was started very well for the New Zealanders as Campbell took the first game then the third, and Marcus looking well, not that fresh at the end of the third. But Marcus just dug in to force a decider finding his stunning boasts and world famous lobs, 12/10 in the fourth, he took the fifth “easily” 11/5.

On court then went Davide against Kashif, with this time the New Zealander taking the first and third, but the fifth too, with both players giving their utmost best I’m told (never was able to get anywhere close to the match). Kashif's victory put the All Blacks right back on the map.

But in the third leg, although Amr Swelim, Vincenzo for the Italians, is world-ranked 50 and Martin 49, the difference between the two today was just incredible.

Martin never got in his match, and Amr honestly played the match of a lifetime. The Italian played some stunning shots from the front, from the back, his length was perfect, he was playing so tight that Martin could not find either length or winners, and put the New Zealander under so much pressure he made far too many unforced errors to put any pressure on his opponent.



Let free to play as he pleased, Amr just found THE perfect game. He didn’t put a foot wrong, and never was out of his comfort zone. I guess that's playing for a country.

Italy was just ecstatic, and New Zealand destroyed. They came so close to be back to their place, the top 8 in the World…. Next year guys, next year, right Anthony…?

"This was a huge match for us, we billed it like a final, as a result that would take us anywhere in the top eight was enormous for us.

"When you play for Italy, as we do spend a fair deal of time together, you don’t play for yourself anymore, and like I said to the guys before the match today “I want everything we’ve got to come out today, we have to leave it on that court”.

"And I feel that’s what we did, myself, Davide who pushed and gave everything he had, and what about Amr. That was a performance of a lifetime. I asked him for the best performance ever, and that's what he did today, the boy was on fire, this was a brilliant performance.

"Amr is the man of this match…

France 3-0 Netherlands

Renan Lavigne 3-0 Rene Mijs                    11-3, 11-4, 11-8 (31m)
Gregory Gaultier 3-0 Piedro Schweertman 11-6, 11-5, 11-9 (23m)
Julien Balbo 2-0 Sebastiaen Weenink                11-7, 11-5 (23m)

Gaultier impressive
Dan Zilic reports

On the opposite court I was enjoying the match between Lavigne and Rene Mijs. Mijs was close to staging an upset yesterday when he was 2:0 up against Frankcomb, the young Australian.

When you see Mijs play though the almost-upset is perfectly explicable - he just happens to be a very good player. I have watched him play in one smaller tournament where he took a game off Germany's number one Rösner and his height, coupled with a strong wrist and good understanding make him one to look out for. Here though he found himself playing against a pumped-up Lavigne who was making sure he was not getting in any trouble.

Lavigne moved well and was doing all things right and was 11:3 and 11:4 up. In the last game Mijs was more in the match and threatened to take the game, but today Lavigne was a class act and saw the game out 11:9.

Next up was Gaultier vs Schweertman. There are some players you want to watch no matter whom they are facing - and Gaultier is one of them. And Gaultier did not disappoint one bit as he was mixing his game up with some incredible kills and great deception. I was saying the other day how a lot of people watch Gaultier's solo-practice, especially when he is doing his ghosting. And when you see him play you really understand how it pays off. He moves so quickly back and forth from the T and with so much composure - you struggle to find a player like him.

On top of that Gaultier has one shot that he probably plays the best in the world, namely his cross court kill. He played it almost ten times against Schweertman and the Dutch number two (playing at first string because LJ was rested) barely got a racket to any of them.

Don't get me wrong - Piedro played well, hit some great winners of his own and was able to fool Greg with some deception of his own, but those kills are just something else. I guess it must be the racket or the strings (insert funny smiley here). Kills and all apart, Greg won an entertaining match in which Schweertman showed a good performance and Gaultier wooed the crowd with his amazing skill and racket-work, even if for him it might have just been an average performance in another match.
 

Malaysia 1-2 Pakistan

Ong Beng Hee 1-3 Farhan Mehboob      7-11, 2-11, 11-9, 5-11 (52m)
Azlan Iskandar 3-0 Aamir Atlas Khan                12-10, 8-6 rtd (23m)
Mohd Nafiizwan Adnan 1-3 Yasir Butt   11-7, 2-11, 10-12, 9-11 (57m)

Pakistan bounce back

After an unexpected reverse against South Africa yesterday, sixth seeds Pakistan bounced back to dent Asian rivals Malaysia, the fifth seeds, a place in the last eight.

Farhan Mehboob started the ball rolling for Pakistan, beating Ong Beng Hee who started slowly and found his best form too late.

Azlan Iskandar looked to be heading for victory against Aamir Atlas Khan when the Pakistani number one was forced to retire injured.

In a tense decider Yasir Butt prevailed against Nafiizwan Adnan to complete the Pakistani turnaround.

Speedy Farhan
Dan Zilic reports

Farhan vs Ong was quite an entertaining match and showcased Farhan's speed and attacking prowess. It looked like Beng-Hee was trying to pin him on his backhand but Farhan really did not mind from where he slammed his nicks in. His speed to the front of the court really is remarkable and it became clear from the outset that Ong was going to have to do something special to upset him today.

While game one was halfway even, game two was one-way traffic. Farhan hit an incredible amount of winners - including one backhand cross-court nick in midair. Ong looked like was giving up in game two but he came out stronger in game three and hit some great winners himself. This unsettled Farhan a little but sometimes attack is the best defence it seems and it paid off for Ong who took game three.

Game four was pretty open with Farhan slowly edging ahead to 8:5. Then Farhan hit another crosscourt nick that Ong picked up nicely since it bounced out of the nick a little. The referee called it not up, much to the surprise to virtually everyone. It was a really bad call at the worst time and it sealed the match for Farhan after an Ong tin and a Farhan stroke.

A pity to end in that fashion and we were hoping that the referee would have called a let on that at the very least.

I hadn't watched Farhan before and I have to say he is my favourite Pakistani player at the moment with his great speed and his willingness to attack. One thing that sets him apart from the others (although I haven't seen Mansoor play here) is that he is enjoying himself. Always smiling and not taking things too seriously (neither would I if I played like him).

I saw Pakistan are through thanks to another win from Yasir over Adnan, potentially setting themselves up for another match vs South Africa.
 



"We suffered a very bad loss against South Africa yesterday, but last night, we had a pretty good briefing, and we made sure how boys’ moral was right up for today.

"We are delighted with their performance, they came back very well, and we hope they’ll back it up again tomorrow ..."

"This was the third time I beat Beng Hee, but this is the most important, as I was playing for my country, and squash, like cricket, is a major sport in Pakistan.

"I played well in the first, but we were really close, 8/8, and I managed to sneak in the last points. Then in the second, I was up 8/1, so that was rather comfortable.

"Still Beng Hee came back very strong in the third, he played very well, but I was able to take a good start in the fourth, 4/1, and won that one too.. I’m feeling fit, and I didn’t make many errors today…"

"I was using my quickness to get in front of him in the front, but in the second and third, I couldn’t get a length, and his great experience showed up. He is such a world class player, and a great guy.

"I was happy to play for the team today, sorry for the people back home I didn’t make it today, but hopefully, the others players can make it happen…"
 



"We left south Africa with the top eight in mind, and our victory yesterday against Pakistan made our life just a bit easier.

"Today my experience talked I think. After I got used to his very fast pace in the first game – well, I didn’t play at that kind of pace for a long time, and Farhan chopped me pretty quickly yesterday, so I didn’t have any hard match yet – I was able to slow him down to my own pace. We had a good game, he is a nice guy and a super player…

"I retired for four years now, I’m living in Cape Town, I’m coaching a bit and learning to surf…. I didn’t make the team last year, but this time, I was the Nationals against Steve, so that put me right back in, I’m playing number two.

"Not many of my mates are still playing, they are mostly managers now, but I’m happy to say I’m not the oldest, Derek Ryan is, and after that Jose Fachini…"



"This is a great moment for South Africa, it’s been a long time since we’ve been in the top eight. Yesterday we had a good win against Pakistan, but unless you back it up, it doesn’t mean anything…

"The USA have been superb, a superb effort from both teams. Today, we’ve managed the pressure very well, so many times we’ve lost matches from that position, I’m so proud of the boys…

"What that game will do to these players on an individual level is amazing, and the same for Squash in South Africa…"


RSA Coach

South Africa 2-1 USA

Rodney Durbach 3-1 Gilly Lane  
         
  7-11, 11-9, 11-7, 13-11 (65m)
Steve Coppinger 1-3 Julian Illingworth 
            13-15, 11-9, 11-9, 12-10 (66m)
Clinton Leeuw 3-1 Chris Gordon
            11-8, 9-11, 11-9, 12-10 (72m)

The Closest Match
The 11th and 12th seeds meet for a prized place in the top eight. It was always going to be close but it turned out to be an absolute thriller, with Rodney Durbach rolling back the years to put South Africa ahead, Julian Illingworth keeping the US in the hunt, but another gritty performance from Clinton Leeuw propelled South Africa into the quarter-finals ...

Dan on the opener ...

One of the most dramatic games of the competition so far featured Gilly Lane for the US of A playing Rodney "Rodders" Durbach.

I started watching mid-fourth game - Rodney was leading by two games to one. Once again, the Boks get the prize for best cheering. "Come on captain!" was quickly followed by "Go on boy!" or how about "That's a captain's performance!" or "RODNEY DURBACH".

Clinton threw in some Afrikaans (I think it was anyway) while the coaches and managers kept it to "Come on SA" or "Go South Africa". Every rally Jesse and Clinton were coming up with something. Not that Gilly did not get any support, the Americans were vocal too, but the South Africans are in a league of their own.

The match itself was great though. Here was a real veteran giving it his very best shot for the team against a young American who was really playing his heart out on court. The rallies were incredibly intense - both were totally committed and hunting down every ball. Rodney is such a clever and experienced player and to be honest he just looked like a true captain on court, just like the type of guy you want to have on your team (or in a pub brawl!).

Both guys were pumping fists and shouting at themselves and contesting many decisions from the referee, which were mostly fine as far as I could see - it seemed more like they were trying to get a breather. Rodney, who seemed to play the right shot all the time (but executed them in varying degrees), was just about to win and had secured a 10:8 advantage and two match-balls, but Gilly fought back to 10:10 and 11:11.

He was diving after a few balls but then a backwall boast hit too hardly gave Rodney matchball, which he converted, much to the jubilations of his team.

I think Gilly, despite losing, can be proud of the way he played and it was all in all a superb match (unless the three games I missed were awful, which is hard to imagine).

They really came to the party…
Framboise on the finale

Yes, that was Jesse Englebrecht's conclusion of the night. And everybody did. What drama, what emotions again. Guys, between Italy/New Zealand, and this match, I have the impression I’ve done two boxing matches in 15 rounds each…

Again, amazing stuff from the two teams, I arrived for Steve’s match against Julian, stunning performance from the American, who never lost his head, whereas Steve well, found a few too many tins at the crucial times, all credit to his opponent I would guess.

The man of the match, after the superb victory of Rodney in the first match was of course Clinton. What that boy found in his legs, in his heart today is just out of this world.

Like Amr Swelim a bit earlier, playing for his country gave this young player a racquet of pure gold, and from the strong retriever and runner he’s been, he turned into a splendid attacker, finding volleys that honestly, were more Egyptian style than South African – no offence guys.

In front, Chris Gordon gave it all. He played tight throughout the match, found as ever some lovely attacking shots, slipped, ran, attacked, retrieved, and cannot have an ounce of regret about his performance tonight.

But the South Africans were possessed, they found the same spirit that made them win the World Rugby Cup in 2007, they transcended themselves tonight. And although I cannot help feeling that USA deserved a place in the world's top eight - that couldn’t but help with the profile of squash in North America, surely – South Africa’s heart and soul made it happen tonight…

"I found my short game today, I guess I always had it, in training and so on, but I never had the confidence or the belief to play those shots. But having a team like mine behind you make you believe that you can beat anybody…

"I have lost so many matches because I lost my nerves, so now, between rallies, I just write numbers on the wall. If I’m lets say 5, I’m writing 6, that’s what is important, that’s my focus is on, scoring one more point…

"We all played very well, it was a great team effort. And tomorrow is Jesse’s turn to play and my turn to support…"

Serbia 3-0 Venezuela

Daniel Zilic 3-2 Juan Pablo Rothie 
         12-10, 11-4, 9-11, 7-11, 11-8 (48m)
Dennis Drenjovski 3-0 Francisco Valecillo
           11-4, 11-8, 11-5 (19m)
Ivan Djordjevic 3-0 Juan Pablo Sanchez
            11-0, 11-6, 11-0 (17m)

Serbia win their big one
Dan Zilic reports


This was the big one for us. We had reckoned this was probably the only match where were to start as favourites and were happy to play Venezuela first and not get in a situation where we might have to play them on the last day for the very last place.

With that in mind I went on court against Juan Pablo Rothie, a left-hander who had looked the strongest from the young Venezuelian team. I never felt particularly comfortable on court, I have a slight flu and I was telling myself the whole time that if I don't win this match there is some likelihood I might not win another match this competition.

So I started off nervously and Rothie was moving well and taking his chances. I managed to take a 2:0 lead though, which was diminished to 2:2, and after some nerve-wrecking rallies at 9:6 in the fifth I luckily closed it out 11:9.

I got a stroke at matchball, which isn't great, but then again this is the Worlds and I had hit two tins from similar positions (ie letting my opponent clear and then play) so I was not going to risk it. What a relief.

Dennis Drenjovski, our number one, started very strongly against another left-hander - Francesco Valecillo. Dennis was playing confidently and took the first game easily - Frencesco looking a little nonchalant. He upped his game in game number two in which he took an 8:5 lead but after losing that 11:8 succumbed to Drenjovski's powerful game and lost the last, and therewith the match, 11:5.

Last on court was team captain Ivan Djordjevic, who played the dead rubber versus Juan Pablo Sanchez. After being on the receiving end of an 11:0 yesterday against El-Hindi Ivan got revenge and dished out not one, but two 11:0s against his less experienced opponent.

I am sure Venezuela will come back stronger in two years and it is great to see at least one team from South America here. Argentina, Brazil and especially Mexico and Colombia have some fantastic players (think of Alarcon, the Ferreira brothers, Galvez or Rodriguez) and it is a pity not more teams were fielded, although it is admittedly a long and expensive trip.

Serbia is now to play Kenya next, which should see some close matches on all positions.

Japan 2-1 Kenya
 

Yuta Fukui 3-0 Hardeep Reel                       11-7, 11-9, 11-4 (40m)
Shinnosuke Tsukue 3-0 Rajdeep Bains         11-6, 11-6, 11-1 (21m)
Takanori Shimizu 1-3 Hartaj Bains      6-11, 11-9, 8-11, 5-11 (35m)

Kenya's number two, Hartaj Bains, played against Japan's number two - Shinnosuke Tsukue. Tsukue had the match under control and won comfortablly 3:0, but Bains is not to be underestimated. Tsukue is a really good prospect, incredibly fast and fit and looking a bit like a Shaolin monk with his shaved head (I hope that isn't too much of a cliché).

The Japanese have the coolest outfits anyway - be it their cool-looking shirts with Japan in a stylish font on the back, their name-engraved bags or their custom-made Japanese Squash towels.

Next up Hardeep Reel, a smooth-moving and clever playing Kenyan, played young Fukui. Fukui, who has pace to burn and never ever looks out of breath, won 3:0 in a competitive match that was always close. Reel really does little wrong, he moves well, has a good touch and plays cleverly, if he played a higher standard more often he would have at least one a game or two here.

I didn't get to see the dead-rubber between Shimizu and the other Bains-brother (who plays a doublehanded backhand and a very strange - but effective - forehand) but Bains was up 1:0 when I left.

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