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Botwright in Farewell Gem; El Shorbagy Dances
Oct 15, 2008, by Martin Bronstein for SquashTalk.com , Independent News; © 2008 SquashTalk LLC       

estore grips




[Men's Main Draw]     [Women's Main Draw]     [Most recent: Wednesday afternoon session]


Earlier this year Vicki Botwright, the player who became world famous because of the thong caper, announced that she was retiring from the circuit.  Tonight she made a fantastic farewell appearance by beating Rachael Grinham the reigning world champion in four games.

This was the best performance I have seen by Botwright: disciplined, precise  and intelligent. Obviously her game plan was to take the court away from the talented Grinham by keeping her in the back corners. Now I know this is not original but Botwright showed how effective this can be
when carried out properly.

She kept to this plan with the precision of a Swiss watch. She lost the first game  as Grinham used her wonderful boast deception to win points but from the second game on Botwright, now 31 years old, kept floating the ball to the back corners either by tight drives or lofting cross courts forcing Grinham to respond with length rather than boasts or drops. And whenever a loose shot popped up Botwright had the courage – and experience - to slot in a drop shot  - usually into the front left corner. It was a strategy that seemed to perplex Grinham , because she had no answer for it. There were times when she seemed a little desperate and her attempts at winners ended on the tin.

But this match really wasn’t about the reigning champion, it was about Botwright who was nothing less than admirable in the way she plied her plan and Grinham probably sensed  this iron hard determination from the world number 12. Botwright  won the final three games with professionalism and patience to earn the win of her career.

When two Egyptians meet on a squash court, you can never be quite sure what is going to happen. Tonight when the new young squash sensation, the reigning world junior champion Mohammed el Shorbagy, met Hisham Ashour there were so many twists and turns in the plot before the final
denouement of the winner, I came out with my head spinning and not quite sure  who had the most match balls, who hit the most winners, who hit the tin hardest and who shouted the loudest. I wasn’t quite sure who the hero was or whether hero and villain swapped roles with each rally.

All I know is that it was enormously entertaining squash full of peculiar rallies, some skilful, some like world war three with howitzers as the only weapon, and others which resembled squash that is usually played at these events. Ashour gave up the first game in about five minutes, 11-4.

Having got his  ‘hitting the tin as often as possible’ practise out of the way,  he settled down to hitting the front wall  above the tin and hit some fine winners on the way to an 11-6 victory. So one game all and anybody’s verdict.  The third game was under ten minutes with Shorbagy in
control finally winning 11-8 to take a 2-1 advantage.

Hisham was getting advice from young brother Ramy Ashour between games, but heaven knows what he was telling him. Whatever it was I’m quite sure Hisham ignored it, went back on the court for the fourth game, hit the tin with his usual élan and found himself 9-3  down but amazingly fought his way back – with the help of a handful of errors from the impetuously youthful Shorbagy - to win 12-10 and force the fifth game. More winners, more errors, more screams of frustration and another tie break and finally, finally, the curtain came down with Shorbagy winning 13-11 to
move through to the quarters. It wasn’t squash as we know it but it was sure entertaining. The whole five games took 45 minutes so there was no time to get bored. Buy the DVD as soon as it comes out.


The final match of the evening was the complete opposite – an absolute pain in the   ------ (insert any part of the body you care to name). It was the world number one, Amr Shabana  against Wael el Hindi, the world number nine who is a lovely man, but is a total pain when he plays squash. This match meandered through a series of crises, none of which had much to do with playing squash, but more about arguing each decision. Appeal, counter-appeal, argument and dissension – this is not the way this game is played. The referee did give a conduct warning to El Hindi for dissent,
but never followed through with the conduct stroke, which he should have done.

When they did get  down to playing squash there was some brilliant stuff to be seen, as you can expect when two Egyptians  play each other. But these flashes of sunlight only occasionally shone through the fog of verbiage. Shabana finally took the fifth game to  continue his expected  route to
the final stages.

The Olympic Inspectors are coming for the semis and final. This is an official inspection and their report  will be presented to the International Olympic Committee which will go some way in  affecting the inclusion (or not) of squash into the 2016 Olympics.  I do hope that Richard Graham, the new chief exec of the PSA, has a word with his members to make sure tonight’s scene is not repeated: it is not a good advertisement for the sport.

Hi-Tec World Open Manchester, UK
Men's Round of 16:
[1] Amr Shabana (EGY) bt [9] Wael El Hindi (EGY) 11-9 2-11 11-4 12-14 11-6 (84m)
[Q] Mohamed El Shorbagy (EGY) bt Hisham Mohd Ashour (EGY) 11-4, 6-11, 11-8, 10-12, 13-11 (45m)
[4] Ramy Ashour (EGY) bt [12] Peter Barker (ENG) 11-8, 11-13, 11-8, 11-6 (60m)
[8] Nick Matthew (ENG) bt [15] Laurens Jan Anjema (NED) 11-7, 11-6, 11-13, 11-4 (60m)
[5] David Palmer (AUS) v Daryl Selby (ENG)
[3] James Willstrop (ENG) v Davide Bianchetti (ITA)
[7] Karim Darwish (EGY) v Alister Walker (ENG)
[2] Gregory Gaultier (FRA) v [14] Adrian Grant (ENG)

Women's Round of 16:
[1] Nicol David (MAS) v [13] Rebecca Chiu (HKG)
[8] Laura Lengthorn-Massaro (ENG) v [9] Omneya Abdel Kawy (EGY)
[4] Natalie Grainger (USA) v Jaclyn Hawkes (NZL)
[6] Shelley Kitchen (NZL) v [14] Madeline Perry (IRL)
[5] Jenny Duncalf (ENG) bt [12] Kasey Brown (AUS) 11-8, 11-2, 13-11 (33m)
[3] Natalie Grinham (NED) bt [Q] Annie Au (HKG) 11-6, 11-7, 11-4 (27m)
[7] Alison Waters (ENG) bt [15] Isabelle Stoehr (FRA) 11-3, 11-1, 11-7 (25m)
[11] Vicky Botwright (ENG) bt [2] Rachael Grinham (AUS) 5-11 13-11 11-8 11-8 (47m)





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