Egyptians Take Centre Stage In Kuwait

After a day dominated by Englishmen, it was Egyptians who took centre stage on the second day of first round action in the $172,500 HH Sheikh Saad Abdullah Al-Sabah Trophy, The Patriarch Amir, Kuwait Open as Cairo-based world number one Ramy Ashour led four compatriots through to the last 16 of the eighth PSA Super Series squash event of the year at Green Island in Kuwait.

Showing no signs of the injury which caused his withdrawal midway through last week’s final of the El Gouna International Open in Egypt, Ashour despatched fellow countryman Omar Mosaad 11-7, 11-5, 11-7 in 33 minutes.

“Thank God I’m still playing well, and I’m still winning,” exclaimed the exuberant 23-year-old to “But you know one thing? I’m more desperate to win than anybody at the moment. Before, I wanted to win – but not that much. But now, I really, really, want to win!”

Ashour now faces top Dutchman Laurens Jan Anjema, who also ousted an Egyptian, qualifier Omar Abdel Aziz, to reserve his place in the second round. With Dutch national coach Lucas Buit in his corner, 11th seed Anjema cruised to an 11-6, 11-5, 11-5 victory over the 27-year-old from Cairo.

“I think I hardly did anything wrong today. Last week, I lost in the first round, and some things I’ve been working with Lucas didn’t work too well. It was an upset really, but I learned a lot from it,” explained the world No11 from The Hague.

“Today was a good example of how I can play, of how I should play all the time. And, sorry for the cliché, but it’s really great to win your first round match – and to do it 3/0. It will give me the confidence for the rest of the year.”

Karim Darwish, the world No5 from Egypt who won the El Gouna Super Series event, also survived his first round match – but was the only player to require more than three games to earn his second round slot.

The fourth seed from Cairo recovered from dropping the second game to beat Hungarian qualifier Mark Krajcsak 11-7, 6-11, 11-5, 11-6.

“Mark played really well tonight, he had nothing to lose,” said the former world number one. “He normally runs a lot and takes the ball to the back – but tonight, he went for shots, and in the warm conditions tonight on there, it put me under a lot of pressure.”

Krajcsak revealed the secret of his new form: “I’ve been training this summer for the first time ever away from home, and I worked for a month with Greg Gaultier, down in Aix en Provence. And that made all the difference really,” explained the 26-year-old from Budapest, his country’s most successful player of all time.

“I’m also much more organised with my training now. You know, I’m 26, and I’ve got to make it soon!

“Greg is a role model for me, and a good friend too. I hope I will keep training with him, his game is so good for me to train with. That made the difference tonight I think.”

1st round (lower half of draw):
[12] Mohamed El Shorbagy (EGY) bt Ong Beng Hee (MAS) 11-9, 13-11, 11-2 (35m)
[6] James Willstrop (ENG) bt Aamir Atlas Khan (PAK) 11-7, 11-4, 11-4 (33m)
[10] Wael El Hindi (EGY) bt [Q] Saurav Ghosal (IND) 11-6, 11-6, 11-8 (47m)
[4] Karim Darwish (EGY) bt [Q] Mark Krajcsak (HUN) 11-7, 6-11, 11-5, 11-6 (42m)
[13] Mohd Azlan Iskandar (MAS) bt [Q] Mohammed Abbas (EGY) 11-7, 11-5, 11-9 (43m)
[7] Thierry Lincou (FRA) bt [Q] Mohd Ali Anwar Reda (EGY) 11-7, 11-5, 11-2 (33m)
[11] Laurens Jan Anjema (NED) bt [Q] Omar Abdel Aziz (EGY) 11-6, 11-5, 11-5 (39m)
[2] Ramy Ashour (EGY) bt Omar Mosaad (EGY) 11-7, 11-5, 11-7 (33m)

English Shine In Kuwait Open

Top seed Nick Matthew led a quintet of Englishmen through to the second round of the $172,500 HH Sheikh Saad Abdullah Al-Sabah Trophy, The Patriarch Amir, Kuwait Open – the eighth PSA Super Series event of the year atGreen Island in Kuwait.

Matthew, the world No2 from Sheffield playing in his first Tour event since winning two Commonwealth Games gold medals in Delhi, faced South African Stephen Coppinger. The Cape Town-based world No45 was a last-minute replacement for the injured Australian David Palmer – and arrived in Kuwait fresh from winning the Sao Paulo Open in Brazil.

Matthew, in his first ever meeting with the South African, battled for 49 minutes to secure his 11-9, 13-11, 11-6 win.

“I watched him play numerous times and I thought I knew his game – but it’s always different until you actually play against him,” admitted the favourite to afterwards. “I found it hard to read his game, and he was able to break my game – all credit to him.”

Matthew will now face one of his Delhi England team-mates Daryl Selby for a place in the quarter-finals. Despite playing a far-from-match-fit fellow countryman Jonathan Kemp, who was competing in his first match since undergoing hip surgery in July, ninth seed Selby was delighted with his 11-3, 11-3, 11-6 win.

“Today, I was aware of Jonathan’s condition – unlucky for him, but lucky for me,” said Selby, the world No10. “Still, he can hit a nick from any position, so you’ve always got to be on your toes.

“The Commonwealth Games were tough for me, a very exciting experience, but disappointing for me, as I set myself goals I couldn’t reach. And right behind that, I had a bad week in Egypt. So at the moment, I’m trying to remember the matches that got me to the top 10 – because I truly believe that the players that reach that level deserve it. So I just try and remember how I got there.”

Londoner Adrian Grant survived the toughest test to earn his place in the last 16. The left-hander, who partnered Matthew to Doubles gold in Delhi, was stretched to the limit by qualifier Nicolas Mueller before beating the rising Swiss star 5-11, 11-9, 11-8, 4-11, 11-8 in 85 minutes.

Another quarter-final place is reserved for an Englishman after Londoner Peter Barker, the eighth seed, beat Spanish qualifier Borja Golan 11-6, 7-11, 11-3, 11-7, and 15th seed Alister Walker overcame experienced Finn Olli Tuominen11-4, 11-7, 11-5.

Egypt’s Amr Shabana reproduced the form that won him a fourth World Open title on the same court 12 months ago when he beat tough Australian Stewart Boswell. Despite this being the 14th year that both have competed on the PSA Tour, this was only their fourth meeting, since their first in 2002!

Third seed Shabana recovered from a game down to beat the former world No4 7-11, 11-8, 11-7, 11-6 in 58 minutes.

“In the first game, Boswell came out firing, taking the ball so early, and he kept in front of me on the T,” explained the former world number one from Cairo. “He can hit the ball better than anybody else really, hits it sharper than anybody else, I feel.

“You know, when you are playing well, it’s easy to stay up there, mentally. I know I’m playing well at the moment, but I know there is still better that I can produce.”

1st round (top half of draw):
[1] Nick Matthew (ENG) bt Stephen Coppinger (RSA) 11-9, 13-11, 11-6 (49m)
[9] Daryl Selby (ENG) bt Jonathan Kemp (ENG) 11-3, 11-3, 11-6 (26m)
[5] Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt Abdullah Almezayen (KUW) 11-5, 11-5, 6-11, 11-2 (44m)
[14] Adrian Grant (ENG) bt [Q] Nicolas Mueller (SUI) 5-11, 11-9, 11-8, 4-11, 11-8 (85m)
[3] Amr Shabana (EGY) bt Stewart Boswell (AUS) 7-11, 11-8, 11-7, 11-6 (58m)
[16] Cameron Pilley (AUS) bt [Q] Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) 11-7, 11-2, 11-8 (53m)
[8] Peter Barker (ENG) bt [Q] Borja Golan (ESP) 11-6, 7-11, 11-3, 11-7 (75m)
[15] Alister Walker (ENG) bt Olli Tuominen (FIN) 11-4, 11-7, 11-5 (44m)

2nd round line-up:
[1] Nick Matthew (ENG) v [9] Daryl Selby (ENG)
[5] Gregory Gaultier (FRA) v [14] Adrian Grant (ENG)
[3] Amr Shabana (EGY) v [16] Cameron Pilley (AUS)
[8] Peter Barker (ENG) v [15] Alister Walker (ENG)
[6] James Willstrop (ENG) v [12] Mohamed El Shorbagy (EGY)
[4] Karim Darwish (EGY) v [10] Wael El Hindi (EGY)
[7] Thierry Lincou (FRA) v [13] Mohd Azlan Iskandar (MAS)
[2] Ramy Ashour (EGY) v [11] Laurens Jan Anjema (NED)