|SquashTalk>Melbourne International Squash Festival> Men's Team Quarters|
Kareem Darwish downs Jonathon Power as Egypt Soars
Egypt may be mourning the loss of the recently-retired Ahmed Barrada, but the winners from Cairo two years ago proved that they are not willing to relinquish the world team championship trophy without a fight. In the quarter-finals at the Sports and Aquatics Centre in Melbourne, the no six seeds beat fourth-ranked Canada in a real needle contest that ended with Canadian Shahier Razik receiving a warning for a post-match display of anger.
With Karim Darwish, a former world junior champion, beating an out of touch world no two, Jonathon Power, it was Mohammed Abbas' win over Razik that clinched a semi-final with Scotland.
But Australia remain the odds-on favourites. Led by world no one David Palmer, the home side has not dropped a point, and France joined the list of 3-0 scalps. The only minor hiccup was Paul Price, the world no six, needing five games to beat Jean-Michel Arcucci, ranked 37 places lower, 9-3, 9-0, 9-10, 8-10, 9-4.
Australia now meet England, although the third seeds only maintained hopes of a third world title after Paul Johnson staged a fighting comeback to win a dramatic quarter-final against Malaysia. Chris Walker gave England a winning start with a 9-6, 5-9, 9-7, 9-0 win over Kenneth Low, but Mark Chaloner lost easily, 7-9, 0-9, 4-9, to Ong Beng Hee in the top string match to set up the nail-biting decider. And when Johnson, the world no 15 from Essex, lost the first two games to Mohammed Azlan, who is ranked 43 places lower, an upset was on the cards. But the former British Champion hit back to take them rubber 6-9, 3-9, 9-2, 9-2, 9-5 in 75 minutes. In answer to the question:
"How tough was that?", Johnson responded: "Can I swear? "Ill be honest. I was very nervous and really worried when I went two down," continued the relieved Johnson. "But I was getting great support from the rest of the team and I knew they were all behind me. I'm so pleased I didn't let them down."
Scotland went through to the last four for a first time with a 2-1 win over South Africa. John White and Martin Heath, both world top ten players, secured the points for the no five seeds. In the match against Egypt, Graham Ryding had given Canada a winning start with a comfortable 9-4, 9-5, 9-0 win over Amr Shabana but Power, struggling with a right calf injury, was no match for Darwish, one of the sport's fastest rising stars. The 20-year-old world no 19 always held the upper-hand in winning 9-2, 9-2, 10-9 to set up the decider between Abbas and Razik that turned out to be a close contest, with Razik on course to take the rubber into a fifth game when he led 9-7 in the fourth. But Abbas hit back to win 9-3, 6-9, 9-1, 9-7.
The defeat sparked a heated reaction from the slightly-built Canadian. On leaving the court, he tossed his racket into the crowd and then angrily kicked a chair across the arena. Referee Jack Allan gave him a warning, to which frustratingly Power retorted:
"What does it matter; the match is over?" Scotland, seeded fifth, were always in control against South Africa. Heath won the opening rubber 9-1, 9-3, 9-7 against Glenn Whittaker, and the White wrapped up the result with a 9-5, 9-6, 3-9, 9-4 victory over Rodney Durbach.
Scotland bt South Africa 2-1 (M Heath bt G Whittaker 9-1, 9-3, 9-7; J White bt R Durbach 9-5, 9-6, 3-9, 9-4; N Frankland lost to A Hansen 9-7, 2-9, 2-9)
Australia bt France 3-0 (P Price bt J-M Arcucci 9-3, 9-0, 9-10, 8-10, 9-4; D Palmer bt T Lincou 9-2, 9-4, 9-6; S Boswell bt G Gaultier 9-7, 9-4)
England bt Malaysia 2-1 (C Walker bt K low 9-6, 9-7, 9-0; M Chaloner lost to O Beng Hee 7-9, 0-9, 4-9; P Johnson bt M Azlan 6-9, 3-9, 9-2, 9-2, 9-5)
Play-offs for place 9-16: Wales bt Germany 2-1 (A Gough bt F Poessl 9-7, 9-3, 9-4; D Evans bt S Leifels 9-3, 9-3, 9-4; G Jones lost to E Schneider 5-9, 4-9);
Pakistan bt Sweden 3-0 (S Zaman bt C Drakenberg 9-3, 9-3, 9-7; M Zaman bt D Forslund 9-1, 10-8, 9-2; S Islam bt B Aziz 10-9, 9-5)
Ireland bt Denmark 3-0 (L Kenny bt M Hansen 9-5, 9-3, 9-4; D Ryan bt M Korsjberg 9-7, 9-4, 9-5; S Richardson bt M Korsjberg 9-3, 9-5)
Finland bt Netherlands 2-1 (M Monto lost to L Buit 5-9, 7-9, 3-9; O Tuominen bt G Marges 9-3, 10-8, 9-7; J Raumolin bt M Reus 10-8, 9-1, 9-7)
Play-offs for place 17-24:
Austria bt Japan 3-0 (M Rossler bt Y Watanabe 5-9, 6-9, 9-7, 9-5, 9-3; G Schedlbauer bt K Sano 9-0, 9-2, 9-0; A Fuchs bt R Tanno 9-2, 9-2)
USA bt Norway 3-0 (R Chin bt R Pettersen 9-3, 9-1, 9-3; D Walker bt R Larsson 9-3, 9-2, 9-3; P Quick bt T Hansen 9-0, 9-4)
Hong Kong bt Kenya 3-0 (V Cheung bt H Bains 9-0, 9-4, 9-0; F Kham bt O Kwach 9-0, 9-0, 9-2; J Lee bt R Bains 9-6, 9-0)
US ENJOY FIRST SUCCESS
"Its great to get a win under our belt," said team manager Richard Millman. "Now were looking forward to a match against hong Kong and, hopefully, another victory."
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