Nick Matthew Wins World Championship Hat-Trick
England's Nick Matthew
survived a dramatic AJ Bell PSA World Squash Championship
final today at Manchester Central in Manchester,
beating French rival Gregory Gaultier to claim the trophy for
the third time and become the first player since 1977 to clinch the
title after squandering a 2/0 lead.
The 111-minute triumph, fittingly the
longest match of the championship, means that the 33-year-old world
number four from Sheffield joins a select and distinguished group of
players - Australian Geoff Hunt; Pakistanis Jahangir Khan
and Jansher Khan; and Egyptian Amr Shabana - who have
three titles to their name.
Gaultier, the world number two from
Aix-en-Provence, also becomes a member of a notable trio of fellow
former world number ones - including Pakistan's Qamar Zaman
and Australian Chris Dittmar - who have been finalists four
times but have never won the title!
Matthew went into the match 2/1 ahead
of his opponent in previous meetings in the World Championship, but
10/15 down in career-long Tour clashes. It was their seventh Tour
encounter of the year - the most recent being the US Open final just
two weeks ago when Gaultier crushed the Englishman in straight
Matthew was clearly after revenge -
and, before a capacity and partisan crowd at Manchester Central,
fought back from 4-7 and 6-9 down in the opening game to take the
lead after 26 minutes after being awarded a stroke. Gaultier
questioned the decision via the fourth official, using 'Video
Review', but the decision was upheld.
The second game followed a remarkably
similar pattern, with Gaultier again leading 7-4, then 8-6, before a
series of winners from the Yorkshireman's racket took Matthew to
game ball - and an almost identical shot to the one at the end of
the first game which again led to a stroke for Matthew. Gaultier's
appeal to the fourth official again confirmed the decision!
The third game saw a revival of
fortunes for the in-form Frenchman. In a sequence of incredible
rallies, Gaultier went from 6-7 down to game-ball at 10-7.
Incredibly, Matthew reclaimed the
advantage, winning four points in a row - the first of which
Gaultier commendably called down - to reach match-ball.
With the audience on the edges of
their seats, Gaultier levelled with a winning drop shot, then took
the next two to clinch the game.
Gaultier was on fire in the fourth,
winning six points in succession from two-all before sending a
service return into the nick at 7-10 to level the match.
The decider saw a noticeably focussed
Matthew come into the court alongside a weary-looking Frenchman. As
the game developed, it became increasingly clear that Gaultier had
little more to give - and Matthew, urged on by the excited crowd,
scored winner after winner before a tinned response from the
Frenchman on championship point gave the Englishman the title 11-9,
11-9, 11-13, 7-11, 11-2 after 111 minutes.
"That fourth game was a bit of a
blur," Matthew conceded to MC Andy Kay when asked what
happened midway through the match.
"It took a lot of strength to come
back from that.
"'t they! I played Greg once in
Toulouse - but never thought I'd experience such a fantastic home
crowd response like this for me!"
When reminded of his last battle with
Gaultier in Philadelphia, Matthew agreed: "He gave me a lesson then.
"Tonight's match was tough - such a
mental battle," added Matthew, who had never before lost to Gaultier
after leading by two games.
"i could gladly retire now, after
three finals and three wins - but I won't do!
"Never in my wildest dreams did I
think I would achieve this!"
Matthew becomes the oldest world
champion since 1980, when Australia's Geoff Hunt won the
title for the fourth time in a row, aged 33 years and six months.
The outcome of two contrasting semi-finals of the
AJ Bell PSA World Squash Championship - played before a sell-out
crowd at Manchester Central in Manchester - will see
home hero Nick Matthew bid to win his third world title when
he takes on French rival Gregory Gaultier, three times
previously a runner-up, in Sunday's final of the most prestigious
event in world squash.
The first semi-final brought one of the longest
winning streaks on the PSA World Tour to an end when Matthew, the
fourth seed from Sheffield, beat Egyptian favourite and defending
champion Ramy Ashour.
Poised to notch up a 50th successive match win since
last losing to Matthew in the British Open final in May 2012,
world No1 Ashour went into the match less than 100% having
aggravated a hamstring injury earlier in the week.
But the 26-year-old from Cairo played a blistering
opening game against the Englishman ranked four in the world -
taking the game for the loss of just six points.
Matthew found his form in the second - reeling off
seven points in a row before drawing level.
But after just two points of the third, Ashour was
unable to continue - and conceded the match, with the score standing
at 6-11, 11-2, 2-0 in Matthew's favour.
"I started to feel it on the last two points of my
match with Cameron (Pilley), and somehow managed to win against
Saurav (Ghosal)," said Ashour. "I had a lot of physio treatment and
acupuncture the last two days, and have been taking pills to try and
relax the body and the muscles down.
"I've been pushing on the other leg, which is not
good either, because the other leg is not supposed to take as much
pressure as that. I was keeping on hoping that things would be fine,
I was trying to stay positive, but ....
"It's obviously a big disappointment for me,"
continued the defending champion. "I'm going to go and see what they
say in Aspetar, the clinic in Qatar, to see once again what's wrong
with my legs. They say I suffer from fatigue in the hamstring, and
they are not sure if there is something I can do to prevent this
from happening again and again.
"Now, I can't complain, I had a good season - a great
season - and I have to take that loss like a man and accept that
other people had bad times as well.
"But I have no fitness coach, and I've been stuffing
myself with anti-inflammatory pills for months now, hoping that my
body would hold. But the body just can't take it anymore.
"For the 25th time, I'll try and find a way to play
the game without worrying too much about my body."
Whilst the result was the one Matthew was hoping for,
the means of its achievement was not: "I feel a bit flat right now
and my thoughts are with him (Ramy) and with the crowd and with
everyone else really," said Matthew, now in his third world
championship final since 2010 - and the 56th Tour final of his
"I need to make sure this doesn't hang over into
tomorrow. I have to be a bit selfish: I'm in the final. I need to
focus on that.
"When your opponent is injured it can play with your
own mind. You have to make sure you don't get distracted.
"The crowd were brilliant today," added the
33-year-old Yorkshireman. "They really lifted me in the first game
and hopefully there will be more of the same tomorrow and they can
pull me across the line.
"I'm not going to have not being fresh as an excuse
am I? I'm probably never going to go into a World Championship final
feeling as fresh as this," concluded Matthew.
Gaultier reached his fifth successive final on the
PSA Tour - which includes two titles and losses only to Ashour -
after beating Egypt's sixth seed Mohamed Elshorbagy.
The in-form world No2 had reached the last four
without dropping a game - but immediately went one game down after a
superb early performance by his 22-year-old opponent, ranked six in
Click on Images for larger
Gregory Gaultier Celebrates As He
Goes Through To The Final
Nick Matthew Will Meet Gaultier In The Final
Ramy Ashour Forced To Retire With A Hamstring
Click on Images for larger
Gaultier reclaimed the initiative in the next two
games to move 2/1 ahead - and extended the rallies in the fourth as
Elshorbagy was noticeably tiring.
After a long energy-sapping rally, the Frenchman
moved 8-7 up - and soon afterwards reached match-ball at 10-8.
Elshorbagy salvaged one before a loose shot hit the tin - leaving
Gaultier to celebrate his 6-11, 11-3, 11-8, 12-10 victory - and a
place in his fourth final since 2006.
"It was a slow start," conceded Gaultier, now in his
55th Tour final. "He started fast and I didn't really find my length
at the beginning and I wasn't really active so he was all over me.
Then when I lost the first game I came out and my coach really got
it into my head to be more focused and more active.
"You know you work so hard for these kind of matches
and you just try to push yourself and you push beyond the limits
sometimes. That's what it takes to win matches like this sometimes.
"At the end of the third I knew he was a bit tired
because he was asking for the court to be wiped when there was
"The game is never over until he wins the last point
so I just tried to stay simple at the end. Once I got back to 10-all
then my chance was there. I kept pushing, put in intense rhythm and
On the forthcoming final, Gaultier said: "I played
Nick so many times. He's a tough guy and he's tough to break but I
know what to do. Who is the best on the day will win. All I need to
do is to recover well from today.
"Tomorrow is another day and I will give all I have
on that day. You can do your best and lose or you can do your best
and win; at least I will have no regrets."
Elshorbagy Upsets Willstrop To Set Up Gaultier World Semi
Sixth-seeded Egyptian Mohamed
Elshorbagy upset England's No3 seed James Willstrop in
tonight's quarter-finals of the AJ Bell PSA World Squash
Championship at Manchester Central in Manchester
to set up a semi-final clash with France's No2 seed Gregory
Elshorbagy, the world No6 from
Alexandria, was meeting England's James Willstrop in a repeat
of last year's semi-final which went the full distance - with the
Egyptian underdog prevailing in 112 minutes to reach the final as
the No8 seed.
Since then, world No3 Willstrop has
claimed two Tour wins over Elshorbagy - and boasts a 9-2 career
head-to-head over the 22-year-old.
But Elshorbagy was in dominant form -
winning the first game after a run of five points in a row from 2-3,
and again jumping from 2-3 down in the second to go 8-4 up before
forging a 2/0 lead.
But after Elshorbagy took the opening
point of the third following a Willstrop error, the third-seeded
Englishman crafted nine winners in succession to claw back the
At four-all in the fourth, Elshorbagy
took a brief timeout for a 'blood injury' - and it was neck-and-neck
thereafter, with Willstrop leading 9-7.
"At 9-7 down in the fourth, I just
went for it - he was playing more accurately than me at the time,"
explained Elshorbagy later, describing the sensational four points
in a row he won to clinch the match 12-10, 11-6, 2-11, 11-9.
"I had to hit the ball hard. I knew I
had to win the game - I didn't want to go into a fifth.
"Playing in the quarter-finals of the
world championship is huge - and you could see that we were both a
bit nervous at the beginning - before a big crowd and on such a big
"The first game was crucial - and
winning it gave me huge confidence for the whole match. I knew he'd
start the second well - and I wanted to get a big lead. I thought I
did that well.
"I felt I was playing his game better
than him - then I started to play the game I wanted.
"I think I will be fresh tomorrow.
I've got my team with me - my father, mother and my brother - and
I'm speaking to Jonah (Barrington) every day. He gives me lots of
mental confidence - he understands how my brain works. I believe I
can beat any player."
It was a demoralised Willstrop who
tried to explain the outcome later: "I lost context, I lost
perspective. I don't like losing.
"I was very poor at 9-7 - I thought
the rest of the game was fine - but to do that at 9-7, two errors on
the trot - you just can't do that at this level. If those errors
hadn't happened - who knows?
"I felt happy as I walked onto the
court - I was in a great frame of mind. It was a great atmosphere
and a fantastic crowd.
"At 9-7 in the fourth, I felt really
good and thought I could win the match. I thought I was turning it
"It's hugely disappointing - but
credit to him, he's a good player."
Later Gaultier became the only player
to reach the semi-finals without dropping a game when he beat
surprise English opponent Daryl Selby.
The 13th seed from Essex reached the
quarter-finals for the first time after upsetting Egypt's No5 seed
Karim Darwish, a former runner-up, in the previous round.
World No2 Gaultier is enjoying the
best form of his life, with final appearances in his last three Tour
events. The 30-year-old from Aix-en-Provence raced to a 7-2 lead in
the opening game before Selby, ranked nine places lower, took three
points in a row - but was unable to stop the Frenchman establishing
a 1/0 lead.
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view Mohamed Elshorbagy Upsets James
Willstrop to Reach Semis
Below Gregory Gaultier
Celebrates Win Over
Daryl Selby to Meet
Mohamed Elshorbagy In Semi-Final
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The second followed a similar pattern
- but this time Selby was only able to win four points before
Gaultier moved 2/0 up.
Spurred on by the near capacity and
partisan crowd, Selby found his form in the third, establishing
leads of 4-0, 5-2, 6-4 and 8-6 before reaching game ball at 10-9.
But, true to form, Gaultier found extra reserves to win the next
three points to claim an 11-7, 11-4, 12-10 victory after 60 minutes.
"I'm probably in the best shape of my
life," Gaultier told MC Andy Kay afterwards. "I've been
playing well over the last few months. Tonight I had a lot of
motivation and lots of confidence - and I didn't feel under any
The French squash star continued by
paying tribute to Willstrop, the loser of the earlier semi-final
whose partner Vanessa Atkinson is about to give birth to
their first child. "As a new father, I think my baby is better than
being world champion."
Gaultier later admitted: "I started
really well in the match, was really focussed and for two games I
was really on fire.
"But he raised his game in the third
and made me really work hard for every point."
Selby agreed that his opponent is in
the form of his life: "He played a spectacular game against Nick
(Matthew) in the final of the US Open last month.
"But I really wish I'd won that third
"The crowd was amazing - all squash
players dream of having a crowd like that behind them. I hope they
do the same for Nick tomorrow, which might help carry him into the
Quarter Finals Top Half
Ashour & Nick Matthew Set Up Sizzling World Semi
Egypt's world number one Ramy Ashour and
England's world No4 Nick Matthew will meet in an
eagerly-anticipated AJ Bell PSA World Squash Championship
semi-final in Manchester on Saturday after both prevailed in
straight games quarter-finals at Manchester Central.
With six world championship titles between them, it
was no surprise that the opening quarter-final between fourth seed
Matthew, the two-time champion from Sheffield, and eighth seed
Amr Shabana, the four-time winner from Egypt, would be a
And judging from the oohs and aahs surrounding the
new all-glass court at Manchester Central, that's how the near
capacity crowd felt about the spectacle they enjoyed.
Matthew was in commanding form as he raced to a 4-0
opening lead - but maestro Shabana pegged back the deficit to a
single point before the Englishman again moved ahead. The
34-year-old left-hander from Cairo saved two game balls from 10-6
but it was Matthew who went 1/0 up.
A similar pattern emerged in the second, with
Yorkshireman Matthew taking a 3-0 lead without reply. Shabana was
unable to stem his opponent's lead as Matthew stormed on to take a
World No4 Matthew took the first point in the third,
but for the first time in the match Shabana overtook his opponent to
lead 4-1. It was short-lived, however, as errors crept into the
Egyptian's game while Matthew dug deeper.
Shabana saved a single match-ball, but Matthew ended
the next rally by smashing the ball well beyond the Egyptian's reach
to record an 11-8, 11-4, 11-7 victory after 43 minutes.
"I can't get too carried away by that win," Matthew
told MC Andy Kay afterwards. "I've got to keep my feet on the
floor - there are two rounds to go yet.
"He's such a great player. I was really nervous today
as he's coming back from injury - so I felt the pressure was on me.
"I feel I'm in the best shape of my life. I've
changed one or two things in my training - I'm now doing yoga, for
"I've been inspired by a quote I saw recently on the
wall in my gym at the EIS: 'If you're not nervous, you're not
"'That means you're ready' my wife (Esme) said to
When asked about the influence of Rugby League star
Ellery Hanley, who watched the match from the front row, Matthew
said: "Ellery has been great to me. We speak quite often. He doesn't
say a lot, but what he does say is worth hearing.
"Having a rest day tomorrow will give me the chance
to do my homework on my semi-final opponent. Though if it's Ramy,
I'd need 182 hours!"
Shabana admitted he was slightly off the pace, but
was pleased with his performance in his first event after an
eight-month layoff with a liver complaint - which resulted in him
being confined to bed for a total of 28 days.
"I'm pleased to have reached the quarter-finals of
the world championship after what I went through," said the former
world number one. "I went half way, so you have to be optimistic.
"Nick was very sharp tonight - he did everything
right and I was a bit off the pace. You can't play somebody like
Nick unless you're 100% and I would say I was about 60% tonight.
"I know I can improve - I just need more match
practice. I only led for the first time in the third game. I was
always playing catch-up - and usually it's my opponents who are
"Usually when you lose, you are unhappy," continued
Shabana. "But I don't feel like that - and I want to get back home
to continue training.
Click on Images for larger
Nick Matthew Through To Semi
Below Rami Ashour's win over
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"I still believe that on my day I can beat everybody
today - including Ramy, Greg, Nick and James. I want to prove that,
at 34, I can still be world number one or world champion - or even
at 35 or 36."
In the day's other quarter-final, favourite Ashour
faced unseeded Saurav Ghosal, the world No17 from Kolkata who
has made history by becoming the first Indian ever to reach the
world championship quarter-finals.
By contrast, it was the Egyptian's fourth successive
last eight berth in the championship - which he won both last year
and in 2008.
Ghosal, who went into the match without having
previously beaten Ashour in four meetings, made an impressive start
- leading 8-4 and 9-6 in the first game.
But the 26-year-old from Cairo - later described by
Ghosal as "the most original squash player I have ever seen" -
pulled out a succession scintillating shots to recover the deficit
and take the game.
Ashour quickly built up a 9-1 lead before taking game
two. It was nip and tuck throughout the third until nine-all. After
a long rally, Ashour played a deft backhand volley into the nick,
then clinched the match after a further lengthy exchange which
concluded when Ghosal put the ball into the tin.
Ashour admitted later that he'd had hospital
treatment that morning for "a niggle in my leg".
"I was very happy with the win tonight," Ashour told
the crowd after his 11-9, 11-5, 11-9 victory. "But it's not just the
win, it's the story behind the win!" He continued by thanking a host
of people who had enabled him to achieve his victory - adding "and
the venue here is amazing".
"For the last three days, I haven't been enjoying my
squash," conceded Ashour later to the event's media. "I've been like
a machine. It's been too hard - all my problems over the past few
years have come back, including my groin and my hamstring.
"It's only been for the last three years or so that
I've been looking after myself properly - yet I've been playing for
about 20 years and wasn't doing the right things and had nobody to
Ashour shrugged off any suggestion that he was
motivated by his current winning streak: "I'm not thinking about it
at all - I just go on court and do what I have to do!"
When talking about his opponent later, Ghosal said: "Ramy
can produce performances right now that nobody can top. I feel
privileged to have played in his era - what we have in Ramy is
something very special.
"I think I played pretty well tonight in the first
and third games - I think I handled myself OK. If I'd won the first
game, it could have made a big difference.
"I'm happy with my progress," responded Ghosal when
asked how he felt about his Indian breakthrough in the event. "But
what I really want to do is win matches like that today!"
Sends English Trio Into World Championship Quarter-Finals
A dazzling performance by 13th seed Daryl Selby
in today's third round of the AJ Bell PSA World Squash
Championship in Manchester will see an unexpected trio of
Englishmen contest the quarter-finals of the sport's premier event
of the year which moves to Manchester Central from tomorrow
through to the final on Sunday.
Selby, the world No14 from Chelmsford in Essex who
has never progressed beyond the last 16 in six previous appearances
since 2007, dropped the opening game to Karim Darwish as the
No5 seed from Egypt looked set to extend his 6/1 career head-to-head
lead over the Englishman.
But Selby fought back to take the next two games and
move into the lead at the National Squash Centre. However,
the world No5 from Cairo - runner-up in the event the last time it
was staged in Manchester, in 2008 - regained control of the game to
It was nip and tuck through the decider, with Selby
reaching 9-6 before Darwish cut back the deficit to 8-9. But two
points later and it was underdog Selby who raised his hands in
delight after his 4-11, 11-9, 12-10, 8-11, 11-8 victory in 85
minutes - the longest match of the day.
"Wow, it's my first quarter-final of a world
championship and what better place to do it than in front of a home
crowd - thanks to the crowd for getting behind me tonight," said the
jubilant 30-year-old Selby. "I think when it got close in the fifth
the support really made a difference - I really felt the energy and
it pushed me through because I didn't have much left there at the
"He beat me in a tight 3/1 last year so I guess
that's a little bit of revenge. But he's a class player - he showed
that last week at the US Open - and I'm ecstatic to win.
"I like being the underdog, I fight every point,"
continued the Essex hero. "I fight every time I'm on court even if
it's not going my way and I don't feel like I'm hitting it where I
want to. He played well the first game, I really struggled. I've had
two matches on the back courts, he's had two matches on here - I
think that was the difference.
"I just wanted to try and get a game. After the first
game, I thought this could be quick - but I just dug in and I got
there in the end. I'm proud to do it."
Selby's win ensures surprise domestic interest in
three of the four quarter-finals. In the first match of the day,
fourth seed Nick Matthew survived a hard-fought contest with
11th seed Omar Mosaad, needing 71 minutes to get past the
tall Egyptian 11-4, 11-7, 11-13, 11-4.
"When it got tight in the third, he became very hard
to beat," said the two-time champion from Sheffield. "I'm lucky I
got to a good start in the fourth.
"We play the Nationals here - it's easier to win that
as there are no Egyptians! I love the court, I'm used to it, I'm
used to the bounces - it feels home to me and I'm used to the crowd!
"I had lost a bit of motivation at the end of last
season, but I don't have the skill of James (Willstrop) or Ramy (Ashour)
so I work on my tenacity," Matthew confided to the event MC.
"A new tournament starts tomorrow (at Manchester
Central), it's so exciting, I'm sure we'll all love it, and the
crowd as well, especially with the BBC being there and all."
Click on Images for larger
first quarter final of a world championship
Ramy Ashour struggles Against Cameron Pilley
Ghosal the only unseeded player in the last eight Gregory Gaultier, the No2 seed, beat Egypt's Tarek
Click on Images for larger
In one of the pick of the last eight clashes, Matthew
will take on distinguished Egyptian Amr Shabana, the
four-time winner of the prestigious title.
Eighth seed Shabana denied Miguel Angel Rodriguez
his first time in the quarter-finals when he beat the talented
Colombian, the 16th seed, 11-6, 11-5, 11-9 in 37 minutes.
"I'm very happy to be in the quarters for the 11th
time," admitted the 34-year-old former world number one from Cairo.
"This is a very high quality tournament, and I'm very proud to be in
"Miguel is one of those dangerous players - I've
played him four times now and every time I can feel the sting of his
squash, his intensity is getting better, the quality of his shots is
getting better, and he is very difficult to beat.
"You don't appreciate something until it's taken away
from you. And when I was off sick for all those weeks (suffering
with a liver complaint), not sure if I'll be able to step on another
every again, I came to regret each time I got on court and didn't
give my all."
On his next match with Matthew, Shabana added: "We've
played each other so many times, he is an unbelievable athlete, I
can't surprise him anymore, so I'll think about that one about one
hour before the match!"
Third seed James Willstrop is England's other
quarter-finalist. The world No3 from Harrogate despatched
ninth-seeded Spaniard Borja Golan 11-4, 11-8, 11-6 and will
now face Egypt's No6 Mohamed Elshorbagy in a repeat of last
year's semi-final, which the Egyptian underdog won in a 112-minute
"Borja is in form at the moment, and when you play
the top 16 in the world, it's bound to be tough," said world No3
"I'm really happy to play here - it's one of the best
experiences you can have, to play in your home country. Manchester
is almost all the English guys' second home because we all train
here and we've played countless tournaments here. Manchester has
always been a great supporter of squash so it's good to have people
around you, to support, to come and watch - it's always good to have
the crowd on your side."
Elshorbagy was on fire as he beat top-ranked German
Simon Rosner, the No12 seed, 11-1, 11-9, 11-7.
Egypt's defending champion Ramy Ashour, the
world number one from Cairo, secured his expected place in the last
eight for the third year in a row when he beat Australian Cameron
Pilley. But the 14th seed from New South Wales played one of his
best ever matches against the dominant Egyptian and soon opened up a
Ashour found his form in the second and third and
reclaimed the advantage. But world No13 Pilley, who had never before
beaten his illustrious opponent in eight meetings over the past five
years, was not about to lie down - and was a point away from
levelling the match at 10-7 in the fourth.
But Ashour clawed back the deficit and clinched his
first match ball to win 9-11, 11-8, 11-4, 12-10 in 62 minutes -
thereby extending his unbeaten Tour run to 48 matches since May last
"Cameron played so well, he was finding nicks from
everywhere - I was under so much pressure, my shots weren't going in
at all today," said 26-year-old Ashour. "I had to rely on my fitness
to win, and I'm so glad it worked! That win against Cameron gives me
a lot of confidence.
"I have so much pressure, so many factors - plus that
extra enemy up there in my head!
"Everybody wants to win this, and every match you
play is a match for the World Champs title," added Ashour. "So I'll
just keep on playing, I will keep on doing my best and keep
Pilley commented: "Apart from a few periods, I played
nice lines and lengths, killing the ball at the front as soon as I
had the opportunity, keeping the pace up. And against Ramy, you've
got to vary the pace as well.
"I did that in patches, but I feel that I had the
wrong choice selection at the end of the fourth: I was playing like
I was playing at 3-3 in that game, instead of 10-8. I should have
taken the initiative I guess - but then again, I just kept on doing
what I did to get me there!"
Ashour will line up against India's Saurav Ghosal
- the only unseeded player in the last eight - after the 27-year-old
from Kolkata put his name in the squash record books by becoming the
first Indian to reach the quarter-finals in the event's 37-year
But world No17 Ghosal, widely regarded as one of the
fastest players in the Tour, had to fight back from two games down
to beat outsider Henrik Mustonen, the world No40 from
Finland, 5-11, 8-11, 11-8, 11-4, 11-2 in 66 minutes.
"Henrik played unbelievable squash in the first two
games," said a delighted Ghosal later. "Actually he was match ball
down in his first round match and came back to win it - that shows
how strong he is mentally. He really caught me off guard with the
quality of his shots. I had to dig in super super super deep to
grind out of that one.
"Personally for me it's a massive achievement. It's
the first time I've made it to the quarter-finals of the World
Championship and it's huge to be in there in the last eight with the
world's best players. I've made it one step further than I have
before so I'm going to enjoy it - but I will be coming back tomorrow
and hopefully I can play another good game and give myself a chance
of progressing even further.
The World Championship is a massive competition and a
very prestigious title. It's a title every squash player dreams of
winning and I'm delighted to go one step closer towards that dream."
In the final match of the day, in-form Frenchman
Gregory Gaultier, the No2 seed, beat Egypt's Tarek Momen
11-5, 11-6, 11-6 to set up a quarter-final clash with Selby.
After scoring a significant upset in today's second
round of the AJ Bell PSA World Squash Championship in
Manchester, unseeded Kolkata-based Saurav Ghosal
described the win as one "I'm not only doing for me, but also for
Ghosal, who made history last year by becoming the
first Indian ever to make the last 16 of the world championship,
faced 15th seed Alister Walker, the world No15 from Botswana
whom he had never beaten before.
The 27-year-old defied the world rankings at the
National Squash Centre - and denied his opponent a place in the
last 16 for the first time in six years - by beating Walker 11-7,
11-5, 7-11, 11-7 in 55 minutes.
"I'm happy to win today - I played well in the first
two games, I was controlling the pace and trying to make him play in
my strength, and was taking as much as I could the ball to the back
to go pass him and take the volley away from him - he is so good on
the T," explained Ghosal later.
"In the fourth, he had the confidence from winning
the third. But I got it back and went 7-2 up - but it was a hard
battle to try and close it off."
When asked if he felt he could push through and make
the last eight for the first time, Ghosal responded: "If I was able
to do so, yes, it would be huge for India. Dipika (Pallikal) was the
first ever to reach the quarters, but never has a male player
reached that stage.
"And in my view, I'm not only doing it for me, but
it's also for India - for all those players that are coming after
me. If my results can help and popularise the sport, then the
impetus will carry on, and maybe one day, we'll have 15 Indian
players in the main draw of the World Champs."
Ghosal, the world No17, will line up against fellow
non-seed Henrik Mustonen, the 22-year-old Finn who celebrated
his first ever appearance in the second round with a shock victory
over England's No7 seed and former semi-finalist Peter Barker.
Londoner Barker slipped midway through the third game
after leading 2/0 - and, after losing the game, conceded the match
as the result of a calf injury.
The 4-11, 2-11, 11-6 (ret.) win leads world No40
Mustonen to become the only Finnish representative in the last 16
after the country's number one player Olli Tuominen - making
his 13th successive appearance in the championship - went down 11-7,
11-5, 11-3 to Egypt's No5 seed Karim Darwish.
The top four seeds each progressed to the third round
after straight games wins. Favourite Ramy Ashour, the world
number one and defending champion from Egypt, despatched 19-year-old
Egyptian qualifier Fares Mohamed Dessouki 11-6, 11-6, 11-4 in
just 23 minutes - the speediest win of the day.
"It was an incredible match, he's playing incredible
squash," gushed the teenager who ousted experienced Scot Alan
Clyne to make the second round. "He's very talented and I played
pretty good, not bad it was a very tough game. Actually it was very
difficult to win six points in two games.
"I was coming to this tournament hoping to play with
Ramy, to know how he's going to play, how he's acting inside the
court. He's playing pretty good and he deserves to be world number
one. I think he'll defend his title."
England rivals Nick Matthew and James
Willstrop, who contested the 2010 final, had comfortable
victories on the all-glass court on which they train regularly as
England team-mates. Fourth seed Matthew defeated Hong Kong number
one Max Lee 11-7, 11-6, 11-6, while No3 seed Willstrop fought
off compatriot Tom Richards 11-8, 11-3, 11-5.
Click on Images for larger
Amr Shabana (white
shirt) - 34 times former world champion
Barker (white shirt) who had to retire with an injury after going
Barker retires In Second Round
Ghosal (blue shirt) who knocked out 15th seed Alister Walker
Click on Images for larger
"Early rounds are not always easy, sometimes you feel
that you're not fully there and that was one of those today," said
two-time champion Matthew. "If I want to win I'll have to play a bit
better especially when the calibre gets a bit better but that's the
way you want it really."
Second seed Gregory Gaultier faced one of the
two qualifiers who reached the second round. The Frenchman took 32
minutes to overcome Australian Matthew Karwalski 11-9, 11-3,
"Matthew played really well today, especially the
first game, he was really sharp, playing fast and going for his
shots - really impressive - so I was very happy to sneak that first
game," said the world No2 from Aix-en-Provence
"I'm happy with the way I'm playing, there are a few
little things I need to improve on my game but I played a lot of
tournaments and I tried to recover from last week and I'm confident
that you need to improve your game every match."
Egyptian maestro Amr Shabana, the No8 seed who
is a four-time winner of the trophy, recorded a second impressive
win in his first PSA World Tour event since March.
The 34-year-old from Cairo beat rising French star
Mathieu Castagnet 11-8, 11-7, 12-14, 11-6 in 55 minutes - and
will now face Colombian Miguel Angel Rodriguez for a place in
the quarter-finals for the 11th year in a row.
Rodriguez continued the form which saw him become the
highest ranked South American of all-time earlier this year when he
beat Hong Kong's Leo Au 11-8, 11-5, 11-8.
"This is THE tournament that stands out, it's very
different from any other, and it's the one we all want to get to our
peak for," said the 27-year-old from Bogota who is now the first
South American to make the world championship's last 16.
"My season has been very long since the World Games -
I had a fantastic week last week winning in Halifax, and I think I
raised my game and I'm playing really well at the moment.
"Yesterday I played against Greg Marche - he is such
a good player, we had a good match - and today, really happy to win
"It's the first time ever for me to get to the third
round of the Worlds! My time is now. And I'm looking forward to
playing Shabana tomorrow."
Exchanges Get World Championship Underway
Over 30 hours of wall-to-wall squash brought the
64-man field of the AJ Bell PSA World Squash Championship
down to 32 players after the completion of today's action-packed
first round of the sport's biggest event of the year at the
National Squash Centre in Manchester.
16 nations will be represented in the second round -
led by eight Egyptians and five Englishmen.
Home hero Nick Matthew recorded one of the
earliest wins. The No4 seed from Sheffield, bidding to become
England's first three-time winner of the title, despatched event
debutant Zahed Mohamed, a 21-year-old qualifier from Egypt,
11-5, 11-4, 11-4.
The former world number one, now ranked four in the
world, admitted later that he knew nothing of his opponent - and
spent last night searching the internet for some background. But he
later confided: "I feel in the best shape of my career."
Fellow Yorkshireman James Willstrop, the third
seed, also had a convincing opening win over a qualifier - beating
compatriot Joel Hinds 11-4, 11-4, 13-11. England team-mates
Matthew and Willstrop, who contested the 2010 final, are drawn in
opposing halves of the draw.
All eyes were on top seed Ramy Ashour, the
world number one from Egypt who is looking to win the title for a
second time in Manchester. In a tough first round clash, Ashour
faced Dutchman Laurens Jan Anjema, the world No18.
The assured left-hander from The Hague took the
opening game and had game-balls for a surprise 2/0 lead.
But the irrepressible Ashour stepped up his game to
win 10-12, 13-11, 11-3, 11-4 after 65 minutes - and extend his
unbeaten Tour run to 46 matches since May 2012!
"In my opinion, the turning point of the match was at
10-8 in the second, when I played two stupid shots, I was too
inaccurate," explained Anjema later. "But then again, even if I had
managed to get to 2/0 up, I wouldn't have had the match won - it can
be very difficult to win from that position.
"I'm happy with the way I played - I've been enjoying
my squash recently, I've changed a few things in my game during
training, but I don't think about that when I play matches.
Actually, tactics are overrated: I just try and go on there
empty-headed (which is not as easy as it looks). I try and meditate
before the match, to get into that 'stay in the moment' feel."
Ashour will now face a fellow countryman after event
first-timer Fares Mohamed Dessouki continued his
giant-killing run in the event by fighting back from two games down
to upset world No32 Alan Clyne.
It was after two shock victories over higher-ranked
opponents in the qualifiers that 19-year-old Dessouki become
not only the youngest qualifier - but also the lowest-ranked.
But the determined world No 111 from Alexandria rose
to the occasion by defeating top-ranked Scot Clyne 9-11, 4-11, 11-8,
11-7, 11-9 in 82 minutes to reach the second round.
"I'm really happy to have won the game coming from
two games down," said the delighted Dessouki afterwards. "I'm having
a great time here and looking forward to playing Ramy tomorrow."
16 years after making his first appearance in the
event's qualifying competition for the first time - ahead of any
other player in the 2013 draw - Malaysia's 33-year-old Ong Beng
Hee rolled back the years by beating higher-ranked Egyptian
Karim Abdel Gawad, 11 years his junior, 11-9, 11-9, 2-11, 10-12,
11-8 in 70 minutes.
"I think I played well in the first two, then went
into my usual hibernation mode for two games - well, one and a half
games," said former world No7 from Penang. "I woke up at 7-1 in the
fourth, thinking 'you're going to lose that one if you don't do
Click on Images for larger
Players Safely Through to
Round Two Ramy Ashour
Players Safely Through to
Click on Images for larger
"It was nice to play somebody my ranking, at least I
have a 50/50 chance," added the Malaysian number one, now in the
second round for the first time in four years. "But it's still a
strong quarters with Mosaad and Matthew. But with the baby due in
April, I'd better win a few more!"
Two all-left-handed clashes produced mixed results
for the hosts: Early in the day, in-form Londoner Adrian Grant
took on Egyptian maestro Amr Shabana, the No8 seed who is a
four-time winner of the trophy.
The 34-year-old from Cairo is making his first PSA
Tour appearance since March - and showed his class with an 11-6,
11-7, 11-7 win over Grant to extend his career head-to-head record
over the Englishman to 11-1.
But fellow London left-hander Peter Barker
took his anticipated place in the second round after beating Ryan
Cuskelly. But the seventh seed was taken to four games before
taking out the Australian 11-4, 8-11, 11-4, 11-5 in 72 minutes.
"I started pretty well, to be honest - I knew it was
going to be a tough match, he's had a few good results and he's
knocking on the door of top 20 so he's fresh, said Barker, a
semi-finalist three years ago. "You just can't take anyone for
granted. I'm good mates with him as well, we shared at the last
tournament, the US Open so I was well aware of him. He played really
well in the second, I nearly got it back but then the third and
fourth were good from my point of view.
"I had a really up and down year last year but I
managed to stay in the top eight which was the bare minimum but
hopefully I can push on this year. I've had a couple of decent
tournament wins but physically I feel good and just enjoying being
able to run."
Spain's ninth seed Borja Golan survived one of
the longest matches in the history of the championship when he
outlasted England's Chris Simpson 11-9, 6-11, 9-11, 11-8,
11-5 in 110 minutes.
It was a courageous performance by Guernsey-born
Simpson, the world No21, who had never before taken a game from the
Spanish world No9 in two previous encounters.
"I played well, had my chances in the fourth and the
first," explained underdog Simpson later. "Think it came down to the
fourth really - I was quite tired in the fifth, bit disappointed
with how I faded physically. So obviously very disappointed at the
moment, hopefully I can take some positives out of it.
"I played him about three weeks ago and lost in three
so it's encouraging to do a bit better - but, like any athlete, it's
hard to see that right now."
There was another brave performance from an
up-and-coming Englishman later when Londoner Adrian Waller
established a 2/1 lead over sixth-seeded Egyptian Mohamed
Elshorbagy, last year's runner-up.
But world No6 Elshorbagy showed his class when he
upped his game to close out the match 11-6, 6-11, 6-11, 11-7, 11-7
in 84 minutes.
"I am reading a book at the moment, called Winning
Ugly - written by a tennis coach that never was a top player but
knew how tactically to switch from losing to winning," said the
UK-based Egyptian. "And the first page of his book says 'do you
prefer to win ugly or to lose pretty???'
"Today, I know I didn't win pretty. I won ugly, but
I'm not taking a plane home tomorrow. And that's what counts. I'm
pretty proud of what I did, happy to get myself out of this
"I had seen him play at the US Open, I knew so what
to expect. I really put myself under tremendous pressure for this
event. I was very nervous, and he was very clever, he slowed down
the pace. And the more he slowed down the pace, the more I was
"So in the fourth, I just tried to make myself angry.
Not against him. But I used all the opportunities I could to try and
fire myself up. That's what the book told me really!"
Waller, a tall 23-year-old from Enfield, added:
"Played quite well tonight. It's always difficult to play someone
highly-ranked in the world, top 10 in the world. Got to a winning
positions which was good to feel but just disappointed not to
convert. Feel like I can complete with the top guys in the world -
but it's just having the opportunity to do that on a regular basis."
A second qualifier later made it through to the
second round when Australia's Matthew Karwalski upset Egypt's
world No43 Mohd Ali Anwar Reda 11-2, 11-5, 11-5.
The world No54 from New South Wales now faces in-form
Frenchman Gregory Gaultier, the No2 seed who defeated Danish
qualifier Kristian Frost Olesen 11-7, 11-8, 11-6.
Players from nine countries - including a quartet
from host nation England and a further four from Egypt
- came through today's qualifying finals of the AJ Bell PSA World
Squash Championship in Manchester to join the main draw
of the sport's biggest event of the year which gets underway at the
National Squash Centre tomorrow (Monday).
Derbyshire's Birmingham-based Joel Hinds began
the home success with an 11-6, 11-5, 8-11, 3-11, 14-12 victory in 78
minutes over fellow countryman Chris Ryder.
"I don't know what happened in the third," admitted
the 26-year-old world No82 on the eve of his world championship
debut on his third attempt to qualify. "I don't think I played badly
in that game or the fourth - maybe I got a bit edgy, because I
thought I could win, and he relaxed a bit. He slowed down the pace,
started to lob, and it made it hard for me.
"It''m so happy to reach my first worlds, but
drained, completely drained emotionally!"
Ryder, the 33-year-old world No72 who was hoping to
make the main draw for the sixth time since 2008, added: "We train
together with the same coach, Rob Owen, in Birmingham - so he knows
my strengths and weaknesses, and he played very well to my
weaknesses in the first two games! Then I think I got the physical
edge over him in the third, I felt my shots were better rewarded.
"I had my chances, had a couple of match balls, but
I'm happy that Joel is through to the main draw, he is actually a
Later Hinds was joined by fellow Englishmen
Charles Sharpes, Eddie Charlton and Jaymie Haycocks.
Sharpes, the world No62, will make his second successive appearance
in the championship after beating New Zealand's Paul Coll
11-5, 13-11, 11-8.
"A bit like yesterday," said the London-born
21-year-old. "A tough game, but I'm so happy to get by in three! So
proud coming through those games 3/0, really happy. I think
recently, and at this tournament as well, I've been mentally strong,
with a good fighting attitude. What can I say, I'm an English
Leeds-based Charlton, from Nottingham, will make his
first world championship appearance after seeing off Kuwaiti
Yousif Nizar Saleh 11-6, 12-10, 11-3.
Haycocks, a 29-year-old from Birmingham, defeated
18-year-old Londoner Richie Fallows 11-8, 11-7, 4-11, 7-11,
11-5 in 73 minutes.
Egypt's Fares Mohamed Dessouki became the
lowest-ranked player to qualify when he denied Welsh interest in the
event by beating Peter Creed 11-4, 11-6, 11-6.
The 19-year-old from Alexandria, ranked 111 in the
world, was celebrating his second successive upset in the qualifiers
- and will now make his debut in the main draw.
Compatriots Andrew Wagih Shoukry and Zahed
Mohamed have also qualified for the first time. 23-year-old
Shoukry, from Cairo, stopped Irishman Arthur Gaskin 11-5,
9-11, 11-1, 11-8, while Mohamed, a 21-year-old from Alexandria,
survived a nail-biting clash with fellow countryman Karim Ali
Fathi - the world No39 and highest-ranked player in the
qualifiers - before prevailing 11-5, 17-15, 9-11, 5-11, 11-8 after
The Egyptian foursome was completed by 20-year-old
Cairo-born Mohamed Abouelghar who denied further English
interest in the event by defeating Nottingham's Declan James
11-5, 11-8, 14-12.
"Declan is such an honest player, you don't have to
worry about blocking or double bounces," said world No66 Abouelghar
later. "Really we had a good game - I expected a hard match, he is
such a good player, and that's why I gave it all I could in the
third, because I was afraid it would go to a five-setter, and that
he would turn things round and win it!
"He is so talented, I know we'll be playing many more
times together, hopefully not in the early rounds. It's my second
worlds, I qualified last year, and lost against Greg Marche. This is
the biggest tournament of my year, I'm just going to enjoy my
squash, I've got nothing to lose."
Kristian Frost Olesen
will become the sole Dane in the main draw after beating France's
Lucas Serme 5-11, 11-5, 11-6, 11-5 in 86 minutes - the longest
match of the day. The 24-year-old from Odense will be making his
third appearance since 2010.
"It's always very tough against Lucas - it's always
been in four, and so far, always went my way," said world No59
Olesen later. "But it was really tough. This is the third time I
have qualified out of four attempts. There is so much at stake, it's
such a big win for me, it means everything."
Kuwait will be represented by two players in the main
draw for the first time in the championship's 37-year history after
world No 106 Ammar Altamimi continued his giant-killing run
with an 11-7, 11-5, 11-8 victory over experienced Frenchman Yann
Click on Images for larger
(green shirt) beats Perrin
Joel Hinds (blue
shirt) beats Chris Ryder
(white shirt) beats Creed
Ammar Altamimi (above) and Qatari teenager
Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi (below) tore up the form book
Fares Mohamed Dessouki became one of the
youngest players to make it through
Click on Images for larger
Altamimi, the 25-year-old world No 106 from Kuwait
City, will be making his maiden appearance in the event - alongside
Kuwaiti number one Abdullah Al Muzayen, ranked 44 in the
Germany's Raphael Kandra battled to an 11-8,
11-8, 11-5 upset over higher-ranked Malaysian Muhd Asyraf Azan
to earn his second successive appearance in the event as a qualifier
- and was then drawn to face his fellow countryman Simon Rosner,
the 12th seed, in the main draw!
became the lone Australian qualifier when he ousted Canadian Dane
Sharp 11-4, 15-13, 11-5 to gain his second appearance in the
"The first was over pretty fast, he might have been
nervous probably," commented the 27-year-old from New South Wales.
"And in the second, I played about the same, but he slowed down the
pace, and he had warmed up by then, and playing short was not the
right tactic. Still, from 7-4 down, I managed to win the game.
"And taking the second really gave me confidence,
took a comfortable 7/0, and it was a matter of closing it out,"
added the world No54.
"It's the second time I've managed to qualify, last
year in Qatar, but it was easier, only one round, whereas this time,
it was two. Hoping to get a good slot in the main draw and a good
chance to do well."
For the second year in a row, there will be only one
Pakistani in the draw - but this time it is as a qualifier that
Nasir Iqbal will make his maiden appearance in the event. The
19-year-old from Bannu defeated Germany's Jens Schoor 11-13,
11-5, 11-6, 11-8 in 57 minutes - and will now line up against
Egypt's No5 seed Karim Darwish in the first round.
In one of the final matches of the day, veteran
Canadian Shahier Razik secured his 10th appearance in the
championship since 2002 when he defeated Qatari teenager Abdulla
Mohd Al Tamimi 11-7, 9-11, 11-7, 8-11, 11-9 in 64 minutes. The
35-year-old from Toronto, the oldest player to qualify, will line up
against Hong Kong's Leo Au in the first round.
Tear Up Form Book in Manchester Worlds
Kuwaiti Ammar Altamimi and Qatari teenager
Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi tore up the form book in today's first
qualifying round of the AJ Bell PSA World Squash Championship
in England after major upsets in the sport's biggest event of the
year at the National Squash Centre in Manchester.
Altamimi, a 25-year-old from Kuwait ranked outside
the top 100, defeated Mexican Alfredo Avila - ranked more
than 50 places higher - 11-9, 2-11, 11-9, 8-11, 11-9 in 62 minutes.
"This is my best win on the PSA - Alfredo is 55 in
the world, I have never beaten somebody that high," said the
delighted Kuwaiti afterwards. "Plus, I had a lot of tournaments in
my country and only arrived yesterday in Manchester, so I was only
trying to do well, but never thought I would win really.
"It's only after taking the first game I started to
think hey, I can do that. In the third, I managed to be patient, I
was more accurate, and pushed him to do a few unforced errors. And I
realised that I had a big opportunity there.
"But it was close, really close. All the games I won,
were 11/9 ... It could have gone either way!"
Unrelated Al Tamimi, an 18-year-old from Doha, also
prevailed in a dramatic five-game encounter, beating Scotland's
world No86 Greg Lobban 4-11, 11-7, 11-6, 9-11, 11-6 in 51
But Fares Mohamed Dessouki became one of the
youngest players to make it through to the qualifying finals when he
fought back from 2/1 down to upset Rex Hedrick, the world
No68 from Australia, 11-9, 6-11, 5-11, 11-3, 11-5 in 91 minutes.
The Egyptian, who has just turned 19, was so
overjoyed he forgot his age: "I'm so happy to get to the finals of
my first ever World Champs - I am still a junior ... no, I just
turned senior, oops!
"In the third, I got tired, plus I felt my
concentration a bit shaky in that game," continued the world No 111
from Alexandria. "But in the fourth and fifth, I somehow found my
game again, and I'm glad as I was patient, found nice length in the
back corners, so really happy.
"A big thank you to my fitness coach Walid and my
squash coach Kaaey...."
The final match of the day provided another success
for the home nation - but huge disappointment for a Brazilian
veteran who was hoping to celebrate his 100th - and final - event on
the PSA World Tour on a high.
But despite leading 2/1, 36-year-old Sao Paulo-born
Rafael Alarcon was unable to stop England's 18-year-old
Richie Fallows storming through to an 11-6, 10-12, 9-11, 11-9,
11-6 victory in 91 minutes.
The upset makes Londoner Fallows, the world No 168,
the lowest-ranked player through to the qualifying finals.
There will be players from 16 nations fighting for
the 16 qualifying slots in the main draw - with seven from England,
from which two are already guaranteed places in the first round.
Two-time squash World Champion Nick Matthew is hoping he can
complete his hat-trick of titles on home-soil when the AJ Bell PSA
World Squash Championship gets underway in Manchester next week.
Matthew, whose previous triumphs came in 2010 and 2011 in Saudi
Arabia and Netherlands, respectively, goes into this year’s
tournament seeded fourth and on a high following an appearance in
the US Open final last week.
Championship is a magnificent occasion and the goal for every player
during the season,”
said Sheffield-based Matthew.
had a great week at the US Open and played some very good squash to
get all the way through to the final and that’s been a huge boost
got beat in the final by a player on the very top of his game
(Gregory Gaultier) and sometimes you just have to take those results
on the chin and roll with it but the challenge for me is to learn
from that and come back stronger during the World Championship.”
Matthew took an extended break from the game at the end of last
season during a period when he admits his enthusiasm for the sport
waned, but having re-found his passion for the court he’s now
relishing taking center-stage on home soil.
had a long break when I struggled a bit at the back of last season
for passion and motivation and I’m delighted to be back and enjoying
“If I had to retire tomorrow I’d be happy to hang up my racquet
being able to say I’m a two-time World Champion, but I want to be
greedy and I want to get another title and to win in Manchester
would be very special.
“There’s a long way to go before that can happen however and you
have to make sure you go into every round in these types of
competitions fully focused as you can't take anything for granted.
“I had a good
week at the US Open and now I just need to re-group and concentrate
on playing my game and hopefully the results will follow.”