25 May 2013
RESULTS: PSA World Series Allam British Open, Hull, England
Semi-finals:  Ramy Ashour (EGY) bt  James Willstrop (ENG) 11-2, 11-9, 13-11 (37m)  Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt  Nick Matthew (ENG) 9-11, 11-7, 11-3, 11-6 (70m)
English duo Nick Matthew and James Willstrop were unable to exploit home advantage today in their county of Yorkshire when they went down in the semi-finals of the Allam British Open Squash Championships, the fourth PSA World Series event of the year in Hull.
The historic event came to life at the KC Stadium as the capacity crowd in the stands of the Hull City football ground enjoyed dramatic semi-final clashes.
Second seed Matthew’s hopes of a historic fourth British Open title were dashed by fourth-seeded Frenchman Gregory Gaultier in a fiery encounter in the opening semi-final.
Defending champion Matthew went on the attack in the first game, playing hard and fast and trying to dominate his opponent. The 32-year-old from Sheffield quickly took the score to 4-0 and, looking to make light work of the Frenchman, moved the game on to 8-1.
But Gaultier (pictured in Hull action with Matthew) fought back, winning a massive seven points in a row to level the match. Nine-all followed – but home hero Matthew managed to take the last two points to open up a first game lead.
By the second game, however, the Frenchman was setting the pace of the match and had Matthew on the run. The world No3 from Aix-en-Provence dominated from the off, going 4-0 up quickly, before progressing to 7-2. Although Matthew clawed back a couple of points, the inevitable was soon realised with Gaultier drawing level.
Gaultier again dominated early in the third. Matthew fought back with some strong rallies but always missed out on the point. Gaultier reached game ball at 11-2 – and although Matthew pulled one point back, the game belonged to the Frenchman who won 11-3.
With the chance of a place in the final slipping away, Matthew fought tooth and nail to get back into the match. The two players matched each other point-for-point early in the game – but then Gaultier again started to edge away to make it 7-4. Matthew pulled back to 7-6 but from there on the Frenchman dominated.
A controversial video review at match ball looked to offer the Brit a lifeline but a rally later Matthew was sent crashing out of the championship, Gaultier winning 9-11, 11-7, 11-3, 11-6 in 70 minutes.
“I really wanted to do well at the British Open and was well prepared,” said the elated Frenchman later. “I was happy with how I played. I wanted to get back up the rankings and the only way to do that is to win matches.”
The win takes Gaultier into his 51st PSA Tour final – and sees the 30-year-old former world number one back in the British Open climax for the first time since becoming France’s first winner of the title in 2007.
The second semi-final was a repeat of last year’s at the London O2 Arena – with Pontefract’s Willstrop taking on Egypt’s world number one Ramy Ashour.
In a high-quality encounter, Ashour continued his formidable form, treating the crowd to an array of outrageous flicks, drops and nicks that literally made the capacity crowd audience whoop in awe.
It was less than 24 hours earlier that Willstrop had staged the comeback of the tournament to beat Australian Cameron Pilley in a tense five-game 107-minute clash.
With Willstrop clearly needing time to refocus, the first game was all Ashour as the Egyptian raced to a 8-0 lead – with every attacking shot he tried landing perfectly in the nick, much to the dismay of the local hero.
The Yorkshireman even joked with the world number one after an astonishing point saw the Egyptian casually take the ball from almost between his legs and land it in the nick. First game to the favourite after only six minutes.
In the second, the two went point for point to eight-all – the Englishman beginning to move Ashour away from the middle of the court, stretching the game out to his advantage. At crucial stages of the game, however, Ashour was patient to attack – showcasing not only his short game but finding the perfect length to take the second 11-9.
A large contingent from Willstrop’s home club, who had made the 40-minute journey down the M62 from Pontefract, did their best to lift the three-time British Open runner up.
But it wasn’t to be for the 29-year-old who, despite having three game balls in the third, eventually tinned Ashour’s first match-ball to see the Egyptian move into the final for the second year in a row.
The win saw Ashour extend his unbeaten Tour run – since losing last year’s final to Matthew – to a remarkable 40 matches!
When asked what it meant to him to be in the British Open final, Ashour said: “It means a lot – but the pressure is still on. Greg is more than on fire. He’s almost a rocket! I was watching and he’s playing brilliantly.
“I have to keep pushing myself and still remember that the tournament is still on, despite the very good match with James today. It might have taken a lot out of me but I’ll still push and I’ll still give it my all and I’m very proud to be in it.
“I had a feeling that James might be a little tired from yesterday, so had to get in and play shots before he did,” added Ashour, now in the 46th Tour final of his career. “Because if I get caught in his trap, I’m screwed basically! He’s a great player and a great character on and off court and it’s a great pleasure to play against him.
“The British Open is a prestigious tournament, and we should give thanks to Dr Allam for putting the event back on the map. It’s great to have it back because it was greatly missed.
“I’ll be more than happy if I can win it – but I have a big mountain to climb first.”
25 May 2013
RESULTS: PSA World Series Allam British Open, Hull, England
Quarter-finals:  Ramy Ashour (EGY) bt  Borja Golan (ESP) 11-7, 11-4, 11-7 (33m)  James Willstrop (ENG) bt Cameron Pilley (AUS) 9-11, 9-11, 14-12, 11-6, 11-2 (107m)  Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt Tarek Momen (EGY) 11-8, 11-7, 15-13 (59m)  Nick Matthew (ENG) bt  Karim Darwish (EGY) 11-6, 11-2, 12-10 (40m)
At two games down and two points away from a major collapse, England’s James Willstrop credited the calming influence of his coaches – father Malcolm Willstrop and brother David Campion – for helping him through to the semi-finals of the Allam British Open Squash Championships after beating Australian rival Cameron Pilley in the longest match of the PSA World Series event in Hull in the English county of Yorkshire.
Adverse weather conditions meant a temporary venue change for the 2013 Allam British Open as play was moved from the outdoor all-glass showcourt at KC Stadium to nearby Hull & East Riding Squash Club – a club that title sponsor Dr Allam has also invested in with a brand new 100-seater showcourt opened just a few weeks ago, now centre stage for the quarter final matches.
It was all go for the event organisers who managed to swap everything over in time for a midday start on a day when several sporting events fell foul of the weather – including the Giro d’Italia and the Test match in Leeds.
The event’s biggest seeding upset seemed on the cards when world No15 Pilley was on the verge of recording a career-first win over English hope Willstrop, the world No4 from Yorkshire who has three British Open final appearances to his credit.
Willstrop later admitted that he was struggling to ‘concentrate mentally’ at the beginning of the match.
Unseeded Pilley – who had reached the quarter-finals after a major upset over sixth seed Mohamed Elshorbagy – played tight, accurate squash and his trademark powerful hitting caused the former world No1 all sorts of problems.
At 12-12 in the third game, the match swung in favour of Willstrop after several let balls – and the Yorkshireman finally converted game ball at 13-12, much to the delight of the vocal crowd.
Willstrop suddenly woke up after some firm words from his coaching team – and drew level before crushing the fatigued Pilley, who was starting to suffer from cramp, 11-2 in the fifth.
Struggling to catch his breath, the third seed expressed his gratitude to the team around him for pulling him through the 107-minute match. “At 2-0 down, I needed calm people – so thank you to them. I wanted to win it for them. I can’t tell you how hard it was,” explained the 29-year-old from Harrogate.
“The intensity of that squash is like brain ache – I have to concentrate so hard – but I’m really pleased to say I’m a semi-finalist,” added Willstrop.
Fellow Yorkshireman Nick Matthew also made it through to the last four. The three-time British Open champion from Sheffield has had a slight dip of form of late – but seems to be recapturing his hunger as he stormed through his quarter final encounter against fifth seed Karim Darwish.
The Egyptian is a class act: the pair have met eleven times previously, with Matthew only one win ahead of his opponent – but, with renewed fight and passion, the second seed was relentless in his attacking. Darwish seemed under constant pressure and the Egyptian lost the first game 11-6.
The second game was much of the same with Darwish seeming to tire from the world number two’s energy and precision.
The 31-year-old from Cairo mounted a comeback in the third – but there was no stopping title-holder Matthew who held his nerve to take the match 11-6, 11-2, 12-10.
A pleased Matthew told the crowd he was happy the squash was able to continue despite the weather. “We hear today about so many sport events that have been cancelled all over the country, but at least squash is able to go on. My heart goes to the people that bought tickets today and weren’t able to come due to the change of circumstances, but I hope we’ll be back on the glass court tomorrow.
“It took a lot of effort from a lot of people to make sure that we would be able to play, thanks very much to all of them for making it happen, and you know, there is always a little hiccup or two when somebody is trying to take the sport to the next level,” explained Matthew.
Matthew will be hoping to continue his form into Saturday’s semi-finals when he faces Frenchman Gregory Gaultier, who came through in three against the unseeded Egyptian Tarek Momen.
The former British Open champion from Aix-en-Provence was clearly fired up for his quarter final match – coming out the more aggressive of the two to take a 1/0 lead.
An entertaining second game saw both players taking the ball in short at every opportunity, which made for some incredible rallies with unbelievable pick-ups from two of the fastest players on the PSA World Tour.
A few fist pumps and great retrievals with a combination of fast paced hitting saw Gaultier go 2/0 up. Despite a closer third game the fourth seed managed to keep collected and close out the match 14/12.
“He’s quick to the front and moves you there so well that I managed to keep my body and mind focused all the way through,” said Gaultier – who added that he was looking forward to returning to the glass court and a passionate crowd.
Top seed Ramy Ashour looks to be the man to beat as he eased past Spain’s Borja Golan in just over half an hour. The Egyptian world number one was at his typical best – sublime movement mixed with extraordinary racket skills.
The 25-year-old from Cairo is now unbeaten since losing the 2012 British Open final – with 39 successive Tour wins to his credit.
“I can’t forget that I am on a winning streak as everybody keeps talking to me about it every three/five minutes,” said the event favourite. “So I thank them for the compliment when they are telling me that I did a good job.
“Then I put it out of my mind, and concentrate on what’s important – today’s match!”
Semi-final line-up:  Ramy Ashour (EGY) v  James Willstrop (ENG)  Nick Matthew (ENG) v  Gregory Gaultier (FRA)
24 May 2013
RESULTS: PSA World Series Allam British Open, Hull, England
2nd round (top half of draw):  Ramy Ashour (EGY) bt [Q] Chris Simpson (ENG) 11-2, 11-4, 11-9 (22m)  Borja Golan (ESP) bt [Q] Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) 9-11, 11-9, 11-8, 11-4 (55m) Cameron Pilley (AUS) bt  Mohamed Elshorbagy (EGY) 13-15, 4-11, 11-9, 11-6, 13-11 (74m)  James Willstrop (ENG) bt Simon Rosner (GER) 11-9, 11-1, 11-6 (41m)
In a day beset by weather conditions which finally led to the transfer of the last second round match in the Allam British Open Squash Championships in Hull onto a conventional indoor court, Australian Cameron Pilley pulled off the comeback of the tournament to upset sixth-seeded Egyptian Mohamed Elshorbagy to become the second unseeded player to reach the quarter-finals of the PSA World Series event at the KC Stadium in the English county of Yorkshire.
Elshorbagy, the world No5 and a semi-finalist in last year’s event, was the favourite heading into their last 16 round match – and could not have expected what was to come.
A tight opener saw the two exchanging points up until 12-12 when a sudden downpour caused the crowd surrounding the open air court erected on the turf of the soon-to-be Premier League Hull City football club to head to the back of the stand – with a surprised Pilley shouting “where’s everyone going?” much to the amusement of the crowd.
Pilley was the first to crack and the Egyptian took the first 15-13 – swiftly followed by a comfortable second 11-4.
“What came next was a truly epic and gritty comeback from the Aussie at 9-3 down, with even members of the crowd leaving for refreshment and overheard saying ‘this one’s all over’,” said event spokesperson Scarlett Smith. “How wrong they turned out to be.”
Pilley went on an incredible run winning the next eight points to secure the third 11-9 – then the fourth 11-6 to set up a thrilling decider.
A no let decision on match ball for Elshorbagy at 10-9 gave Pilley the tie-break and some frantic rallying ensued with both looking understandably edgy.
After saving a further match ball, Pilley reached his first match ball 12-11 – which he duly converted after a long rally when the Egyptian’s shot hit the tin.
“You’ve got to have faith in yourself – I had it under control the whole time,” joked Pilley minutes after the 13-15, 4-11, 11-9, 11-6, 13-11 victory which takes him into the quarter-finals of the historic championship for the first time in his fifth attempt.
“There was no purpose in my game early on – it was awful,” admitted the tall 30-year-old from New South Wales. “I relaxed a little bit and tried to straighten up a bit and try and volley more than him.
“He’s beaten me the last few times, so I’m pleased to get through.”
Pilley will now face English hope James Willstrop, the world No4 from Yorkshire who has reached the event’s final on three occasions, each time finishing as runner-up.
In the last match of the day against world No12 Simon Rosner, the German was leading 6-5 when rain stopped play and it was decided that the match should be moved to an indoor court at Hull and East Riding Squash Club.
The third-seeded Yorkshireman was clearly fired up and adjusted to the warmer and drier conditions much more quickly than his opponent, taking just 41 playing minutes to close out the match 11-9, 11-1, 11-6.
The win moves the former world number one a step closer to a repeat of last year’s epic semi-final against Ramy Ashour, the reigning world number one from Egypt who despatched English qualifier Chris Simpson 11-2, 11-4, 11-9 in just 22 minutes.
Ashour will now face eighth seed Borja Golan after the top-ranked Spaniard recovered from a game down to beat Egyptian qualifier Karim Abdel Gawad 9-11, 11-9, 11-8, 11-4 in 55 minutes.
“We only play two or three tournaments outside a year so it does take a bit of getting used to,” commented the Spaniard after reaching the quarter-finals for the first time since making his British Open debut in 2004.
Quarter-final line-up:  Ramy Ashour (EGY) v  Borja Golan (ESP)  James Willstrop (ENG) v Cameron Pilley (AUS)  Gregory Gaultier (FRA) v Tarek Momen (EGY)  Nick Matthew (ENG) v  Karim Darwish (EGY)
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