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Shabana, Ramy, Hisham ease into Second round
Oct 14, 2008, by Martin Bronsteinfor SquashTalk.com , Independent News; © 2008 SquashTalk LLC       



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[Men's Main Draw]     [Women's Main Draw]

A WHOLE LOTTA SQUASH GOING ON…
So where was I when I took the rest of the year off back in March after the Players Cup in Boston?  I was tired of the travel, of airports, of security and, after 30 years of reporting squash, just a little jaded. I was also not too happy with the  some of the administrators and some of the Napoleon-like promoters who see a tournament as a power base from which to try and control everything, including the press.

Now six months later, Gawain Briars has thankfully gone from the PSA and Christian Leighton has gone from the World Squash Federation. Frankly, I cannot see for the life of me why these misfits got the jobs in the first place. While both perfectly decent human beings, they were simply not the
right men for the jobs.

Now, refreshed, rested and making fine progress on both soprano and tenor saxophones, I  arrived in  Manchester, by train, with a smile on my face. It wasn’t raining (a British joke: in Manchester it always rains) and train journeys are so much more civilized than plane travel.

The National Squash Centre is large, the glass court has seating around 360 degrees, so I can sit in front of the front wall and there are dozens of volunteers all over the place, all wanting to be helpful.  Is this really squash?

It was the first round of the 64 draw  for the men and the final qualifying round of the women’s event.  I arrived just in time to see the fine German  hope Simon Rosner take the first game from a  somewhat static  Amr Shabana, the man who has been the world number one for  31 consecutive months.  Once warmed up  Shabana put things right and took the next three games to move forward to a second round meeting with Borja Golan.

From where I am sitting, Shabana’s top half of the draw looks a little easier from the bottom half, where second seed Gregory Gaultier of France will have to contend with  Karim Darwish, (the world number 6), Azlan Iskander of Malaysia who can be a very dangerous player on his day,  world
number three James Willstrop, the irrepressible and highly dangerous John White, England’s  Lee Beachill who still has all the skills to beat anybody, and the lethal David Palmer. So the bottom half of the draw is a minefield  and I am making no predictions. Alright then – Willstrop or Gaultier to make the final  against Shabana or Ramy Ashour.

The results went mostly as expected  although  Mohammed El Shorbagy, a qualifier,  must claim upset of the day in beating Frenchman  Renan Lavigne  in a mammoth five-game struggle. Tom Richards, one of England’s few emerging talents, tried mightily to upset Ong Beng Hee, who is back in the world top ten, but came up just short losing 11-8 in the fifth. Richards is ranked 49 at the  present time, so that can count as a good loss.  Had he won  he would have faced  Ramy’s big brother Hisham Ashour, and would have been in with a good chance of reaching the third round.

The games on the side courts  produced some real old-fashioned  100 shot rallies. Joey Barrington beat Aaron Francome 11-3, 11-3, 12-10 in  a match which lasted 100 minutes. Darryl Selby was obviously in a mood to match that when he faced  the long-distance Finn, Olli Tuominen. The first game lasted 28 minutes and featured one rally that last longer than most of my matches. Having lost the first game Olli seemed to lose his taste for gut-wrenching, lung-burning, life-threatening rallies and so Selby took the next two games to earn a second round match against Miguel Rodriguez
of Colombia. Last time they met, in Canada last fall, they played for 2 ½ hours  - and that was just four games Rodriguez coming out on top. (After his victory Selby said it must count as one of his best ever. I must say, having watched the match, his reaction leaves me puzzled).

The reason why there were so many long games, I was told, was that the side courts were so very hot, making the ball bounce like a kangaroo.  But along comes Davide Bianchetti and showed that regardless of the heat, it is still  possible to hit winners, He beat Canadian David Philips in four,
showing all his wonderful racket skills to kill the ball when the occasion arose. His father Amadeo, the Italian tournament promoter, was as nervous as ever in watching his son, whose temperament  can make Vesuvius look like a damp squib.

On the main court James Willstrop played fellow Englishman  Ben Ford who also knows how to hit winners. Ford has rarely played  on the glass court and made the sort of mis-hits that I had never seen him make when he played for my club in Surrey Cup leagues.  “The ball just came off at the
wrong angle,” he told me later. Not that he would have beaten Willstrop who was able to demonstrate, yet again, his sublime, feathery touch at the front of the court. I’ve said it before, but I’ll repeat myself: no other Brit player has shown this sort of flair and ability before.

David Palmer was also on show in the glass court and again demonstrated to his opponent, the talented Hungarian Mark Krajcsak, the value of good length.  Palmer hits perfect length with his eyes closed, putting unremitting pressure on his opponents. His choice of shots is faultless
and his weight of shot perfection itself. On top of this he makes it all look so easy.

Finally congratulations to Jorge Ferreira of Mexico who took 75 minutes to beat  Mohammed Abbas of Egypt in five games. Ferreira is ranked  66 in the world and Abbas is 23 ; this is a great result for the Mexican because Abbas is a class player. Had he been blessed with more self-confidence,
Abbas should be in the top ten with the other great Egyptians.

So, there’s my quick overview of the first day.  A bit sketchy but there were a lot of  matches going on. Tomorrow more focus as the women get down to brass tacks and the men  gird for second round action – which means very few easy 3/0 wins.

HI-TEC 2008 WORLD OPEN   [Women's Final Qualifying Results] 
Men's 1st round:
[1] Amr Shabana (EGY) bt [Q] Simon Rosner (GER) 6-11, 11-5, 11-3, 11-5 (34m)
Borja Golan (ESP) bt Shawn Delierre (CAN) 11-4, 11-0, 11-1 (20m)
[9] Wael El Hindi (EGY) bt [Q] Liam Kenny (IRL) 12-10, 11-5, 13-11 (58m)
Omar Mosaad (EGY) bt [Q] Arturo Salazar (MEX) 11-4, 11-4 ret. (22m)
[6] Thierry Lincou (FRA) bt Amr Swelim (EGY) 6-11, 11-3, 11-1, 11-1 (36m)
[Q] Mohamed El Shorbagy (EGY) bt Renan Lavigne (FRA) 10-12, 11-6, 7-11, 11-6, 11-8 (68m)
[10] Ong Beng Hee (MAS) bt Tom Richards (ENG) 11-8, 9-11, 11-6, 7-11, 11-8 (70m)
Hisham Mohd Ashour (EGY) bt Chris Ryder (ENG) 11-9, 11-8, 11-5 (26m)
[4] Ramy Ashour (EGY) bt [Q] Yann Perrin (FRA) 11-5, 11-6, 12-10 (29m)
Cameron Pilley (AUS) bt [Q] Scott Arnold (AUS) 11-8, 11-8, 11-6 (42m)
[12] Peter Barker (ENG) bt Eric Galvez (MEX) 11-4, 11-5, 11-1 (41m)
Joey Barrington (ENG) bt Aaron Frankcomb (AUS) 11-3, 11-3, 12-10 (100m)
[8] Nick Matthew (ENG) bt [Q] Shahid Zaman (PAK) 11-9, 11-7, 11-5 (34m)
Stewart Boswell (AUS) bt Tarek Momen (EGY) 11-7, 12-14, 11-3, 11-3 (58m)
[15] Laurens Jan Anjema (NED) bt Rafael F Alarcon (BRA) 11-4, 11-3, 11-7 (34m)
Farhan Mehboob (PAK) bt Julien Balbo (FRA) 9-11, 11-1, 11-9, 11-7 (51m)
Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL) bt [Q] Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) 14-12 12=1- 6-11 11-7
Daryl Selby (ENG) bt [16] Olli Tuominen (FIN) 11-8, 11-3, 11-4 (50m)
Jonathan Kemp (ENG) bt Jan Koukal (CZE) 14-12, 11-1, 11-3 (33m)
[5] David Palmer (AUS) bt [Q] Mark Krajcsak (HUN) 11-2, 11-8, 11-2 (23m)
Davide Bianchetti (ITA) bt [Q] David Phillips (CAN) 11-7, 9-11, 11-9, 11-1 (56m)
[13] Lee Beachill (ENG) bt [Q] Robbie Temple (ENG) 11-6, 11-3, 11-1 (27m)
John White (SCO) bt Mansoor Zaman (PAK) 13-11, 11-6, 11-2 (30m)
[3] James Willstrop (ENG) bt [Q] Ben Ford (ENG) 11-4, 11-7, 11-5 (24m)
Alister Walker (ENG) bt Julian Illingworth (USA) 11-5, 8-11, 11-3, 11-4 (56m)
Kashif Shuja (NZL) bt [11] Mohd Azlan Iskandar (MAS) 12-14, 7-11, 11-9, 11-6, 11-9 (59m)
Aamir Atlas Khan (PAK) v [Q] Mathieu Castagnet (FRA)
[7] Karim Darwish (EGY) bt [Q] Dylan Bennett (NED) 11-5, 11-0, 11-3 (23m)
[Q] Jorge Isaac Baltazar Ferreira (MEX) bt Mohammed Abbas (EGY) 11-13, 11-7, 5-11, 12-10, 11-9(75m)
[14] Adrian Grant (ENG) bt Omar Abdel Aziz (EGY) 11-9, 12-14, 11-5, 11-7 (63m)
Shahier Razik (CAN) bt Saurav Ghosal (IND) 12-10, 12-10, 11-4 (56m)
[2] Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt [Q] Nicolas Mueller (SUI) 11-6, 12-10, 11-9 (32m)

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