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 ...
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…"
"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.
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.
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
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
"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…"
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…"
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
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).
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.
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
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
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
"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
"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…"
2-1 New Zealand Marcus Berrett 3-2
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
GUTSY ITALY Framboise reports
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”
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…?
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
"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.
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
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.
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
Azlan Iskandar looked to be heading for victory against Aamir
Atlas Khan when the Pakistani number one was forced to retire
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
"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 ..."
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…"
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
"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
"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
"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…"
Rodney Durbach 3-1 Gilly Lane 7-11, 11-9, 11-7, 13-11(65m) Steve Coppinger 1-3 Julian Illingworth
11-9, 11-9, 12-10(66m) Clinton Leeuw 3-1 Chris Gordon
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"
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
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
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
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
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…"
Daniel Zilic 3-2 Juan Pablo Rothie
12-10, 11-4, 9-11, 7-11, 11-8
Dennis Drenjovski 3-0 Francisco Valecillo
11-4, 11-8, 11-5
Ivan Djordjevic 3-0 Juan Pablo Sanchez
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.
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
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
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.