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Updated: 2 hours 31 min ago

Marseille Hosts WSF AGM

Mon, 04/12/2017 - 15:55

The French city of Marseille has this week hosted the 47th World Squash Federation AGM and Conference, held alongside the WSF Men’s World Team Championship.

The AGM today followed the conference day which featured presentations from key people from inside and outside squash to update the delegates from over 40 countries on current initiatives as well as discuss plans for squash’s efforts to secure a place on the Olympic Games 2024 in Paris.

WSF President Jacques Fontaine, himself a Parisian, reminded delegates that although everybody present thinks that squash would be a great addition to the Games programme, the bid must be embraced and promoted by all.

“We know that squash would bring something different and special to the Olympic Games through our wonderful youth, our professional athletes and great staging options,” said Fontaine. “So every single player, official and stakeholder should take every opportunity to promote squash to their national media, sports officials and especially influencers. WSF & PSA will lead but it is the sea wave of the whole of squash repeatedly landing that will make the difference.”

2017 was not an election year, so the main focus of delegates was on the comprehensive updating of the WSF Articles, with proposed amendments to a great many of the current 155 clauses all being agreed.

A number of changes were ‘technical’ but included specific amendments made to the system of conducting election ballots; a new process for electing Commission members; and alterations to the composition of the WSF Ethics Commission.

The WSF Forward Plan and budget were also received and endorsed.

The meeting concluded with a WSF Outstanding Service award to Operations Manager Lorraine Harding, who first joined WSF twenty years ago and has been the office rock around which all functions have been based.

Men’s World Teams Final

Mon, 04/12/2017 - 03:35
Dominant Egypt Reclaim World Team Title In Marseille

Favourites Egypt defeated defending champions England in the final of the WSF Men’s World Team Squash Championship at Salle Vallier in Marseille to reclaim the World Squash Federation title they lost to England four years ago in Mulhouse, also in France.

England reached the final for the ninth time since 1983 in comfortable style and presented a line-up for the final boasting three players with more than 300 international caps between them – probably the most experienced team ever to represent the country in the 50 years of the tournament!

By contrast the four-man Egyptian squad only included one player who had ever competed in the championship before – yet the three-man team in the final all had rankings within the world top five!

With the agreed playing order being 1, 2, 3, title-holders England presented three-time world champion Nick Matthew, the 37-year-old world No.6 appearing in the event for the seventh time since 2003, to face 26-year-old world No.4 Karim Abdel Gawad, a championship debutant.

Matthew was clearly not the player who despatched Australian number one Ryan Cuskelly in straight games just 24 hours earlier. The Yorkshireman was forced to take a three-minute ‘self-inflicted injury break’ midway through the second game – and it later transpired that he had suffered a minor recurrence of his old ankle injury during the warm-up for the match.

After just 34 minutes, Egypt took the lead when Gawad (pictured above with Matthew) claimed an 11-9, 11-3, 11-7 victory.

Egyptian number two Ali Farag was also making his debut in the final – while English opponent James Willstrop was not only celebrating his fifth successive World Team Championship battle against an Egyptian opponent since 2003, but also his 156th cap for his country.

Former world number one Willstrop, 34, did what he could to keep his 24-year-old opponent at bay – but Farag was clearly on a mission and after 36 minutes clasped his face in his hands as he celebrated his championship-winning 11-5, 11-9, 11-5 triumph.

“The word big is an understatement – it is much bigger than big!” gushed Farag (pictured below in action with Willstrop) when asked to comment on the significance of the win.

“I felt I had the whole Egyptian squash community on my shoulders. I wanted to make them proud.

“Four years ago, I was still at college. I remember watching the final – it was a dream of mine to wear the Egyptian shirt.

“Winning the US Open with my wife Nour (El Tayeb) was very special, of course – but, because this was for Egypt, I can say it is the highlight of my career.”

When it was pointed out that Egypt had the luxury of not playing their fourth string Ramy Ashour, one of the sport’s greatest names and a three-time world champion, Farag said: “It says a lot about how much he values the team that Ramy, our captain, was happy to leave the team selection to our coach and not play tonight.

“We will celebrate for just tonight then get back to work to prepare for next week’s PSA World Championship.”

Ashraf Hanafi, the recently-appointed Egyptian national coach, added: “The most important thing is that we have got the title back. I am very happy to be their coach.”

Nick Matthew had much praise for England’s successors: “They were quality opponents tonight – especially Ali against James.

“We knew we had the experience and we hoped that would carry us through, but I didn’t quite get into the match.

“We felt we had more to give. We were playing guys at the pinnacle of their careers. We wanted to push them to their absolute limits – we knew we had the best opportunity now before they dominate for perhaps the next decade.

“But we’re proud that we are still second best in the world.”

On his injury, Matthew explained: “It was in January 2015 that I was told I needed surgery on my ankle – as a result of which I changed my whole life around: I changed everything on the back of that – my training, my diet, my playing.

“The way I played in the semis against Australia was some of the best squash I’ve played this season. But I felt a twinge during the warm up. The manner of my defeat gave them the momentum going into the second match.

“But I don’t want to overshadow their dominant form tonight.”

Success in Marseille means that Egypt now have all the men’s and women’s, senior and junior, team and individual WSF and PSA world titles – EXCEPT the Men’s Junior World Team title, in which final in 2016 the country narrowly lost to Pakistan!

After their shock quarter-final exit to Hong Kong China, hosts France – the third seeds – beat New Zealand in the play-off for fifth place earlier today on the all-glass showcourt at Salle Vallier.

Third string Lucas Serme clinched victory in the decider, beating Kiwi Evan Williams (both pictured below).

“If someone had told me we’d be playing on finals day I would have been delighted,” said French national coach Renan Lavigne. “But not to play for fifth place!

“It’s not we’d been working for. But I thought Hong Kong dealt with the situation on Friday better than we did and you have to hand that to them. My guys gave everything they had.

“The last two days have been the toughest for me over the past five years. We’ve been looking at everything, including what we need to do to improve.

“We deliberately rested Greg (Gaultier) today to give the rest of the team the responsibility, and they did what we wanted – and even though Marche lost, he showed great strength and got a bit of confidence back.

“Next week we can make amends in Manchester (at the PSA World Championship) – but as far as this event is concerned we will have to wait another two years. It’s in Washington in the USA – and we will be there!”

One of the first positions to be decided amongst the 24 teams was the one for 23rd place – won in impressive style, against the odds, by Iraq, the 24th seeds making their debut in the event.

With 45-year-old Rodney Durbach in the squad, 22nd seeds South Africa ended up in a creditable 18th place after losing 2/0 to 18th seeds Argentina in the play-off for 17th place. Durbach, his country’s most capped player, endured his third successive five-game battle, this time narrowly going down 7-11, 12-10, 9-11, 14-12, 11-9.

Despite team number one Borja Golan being unavailable for the last three days due to injury, 12th seeds Spain ended in 11th place to record their highest finish ever in 13 appearances since 1985.

Scotland also achieved their best finish since 2003 after taking 8th place.

Final:
[1] EGYPT bt [2] ENGLAND 2/0
Karim Abdel Gawad bt Nick Matthew 11-9, 11-3, 11-7 (34m)
Ali Farag bt James Willstrop 11-5, 11-9, 11-5 (36m)

Bronze medallists: [4] AUSTRALIA & [5] HONG KONG CHINA

Men’s World Team Semi-Finals

Sun, 03/12/2017 - 08:25
Title-Holders England To Face Top Seeds Egypt In World Final In Marseille

Defending champions England and top seeds Egypt will contest the final of the WSF Men’s World Team Squash Championship for the third time in a row after prevailing in the semi-finals of the biennial World Squash Federation event in Marseille without dropping a match.

England, the second seeds, overcame arch-rivals Australia 3/0 while favourites Egypt saw off surprise semi-finalists Hong Kong China – the fifth seeds who shocked hosts France in the quarter-finals.

Despite the absence of the home side, the packed crowd at Salle Vallier fully engaged with the teams on show – particularly throwing themselves behind underdogs Hong Kong in their battle with Egypt.

The victory over perennial rivals Australia saw England secure a place in the final for the ninth time since 1983. The two countries have won the title 13 times between them – and were clashing in the championship for the 12th time since 1983, with England narrowly ahead 6-5 before today’s encounter.

The teams’ third strings took to the court for the opening match – with Aussie underdog Zac Alexander, ranked 126 in the world, facing world No.15 Daryl Selby (both pictured above). It was the pair’s first meeting and Alexander saved a game ball in the first game before taking the lead 12-10. But Selby soon stamped his authority on the match, taking the next three games 11-7, 11-5, 11-7 to give England the lead.

Aussie No.1 Ryan Cuskelly came into the second match after being taken to five games in a gruelling 97-minute encounter with Kiwi Paul Coll the night before. The New South Welshman faced Nick Matthew, the three-time world champion whom he had never beaten in four meetings in seven years.

World No.6 Matthew delivered a masterclass in consistent squash to beat Cuskelly, ranked eight places lower, 11-8, 11-6, 11-4 (both pictured above) to clinch England’s place in the final.

In the best-of-three dead rubber which gave England maximum points, world No.10 James Willstrop – playing in his third successive world championship battle against Australia since 2007 – defeated Cameron Pilley 12-10, 11-6.

“We’ve got New Zealand to thank for pushing Australia hard in their quarter-final last night,” Matthew told the crowd when interviewed post-match. “I’m sorry it won’t be France, but I can’t wait for tomorrow’s final – whoever we play!”

England team coach David Campion was impressed with Alexander. “He led throughout most of the first game and it was only in third game that you could see that Daryl was getting to him.

“Nick had a plan in his match and it worked.

“We’ve got massively experienced players and we’ll be ready tomorrow, whether it’s Egypt or Hong Kong.”

The Hong Kong players who lined up for the semi-final were the three stalwarts who silenced the crowd 24 hours earlier by denying the hosts a crack at the title – and consigned France to the lowest finish in the event for at least 16 years.

In the opening match, Egypt’s world No.5 Marwan Elshorbagy dropped a game before prevailing 11-3, 8-11, 11-4, 11-7 over the Hong Kong No.3 Yip Tsz Fung (both pictured above).

The second match went the full distance – Egypt’s reigning world champion Karim Abdel Gawad twice having to contend with fightbacks from Max Lee before beating his HK opponent (both pictured below) 11-9, 7-11, 12-10, 7-11, 11-7 in 67 minutes.

Recently-appointed Egyptian national coach Ashraf Hanafi admitted afterwards: “That was hard – I have full respect for Hong Kong. They proved that it wasn’t luck yesterday. They were very tough.

“The quality was very high. Max never gave up. It was good for squash.”

When asked to comment on the up-coming final, Hanafi exclaimed: “England is England! All three players are very experienced. We have to prepare ourselves for them!”

Recalling the defeat to England in the previous championship four years ago, Hanafi added: “I hope we will get revenge for our defeat in 2013.”

Hong Kong national coach Chris Robertson, also a recent appointment, said: “I was very pleased with my team. They played with plenty of attack and no fear. They put in a good performance – particularly Max. I was really happy that they were able to play like this, particularly after last night.

“They looked comfortable against Egypt – they were so dynamic, so aggressive so confident.

“I thought we were on a par with them for a lot of the time.”

In battles for lower positions, France recovered from the shock of their quarter-final defeat to beat Scotland 2/0 to set up a meeting with New Zealand in the play-off for fifth place. The sixth seeds defeated eighth seeds India 2/1.

South African veteran Rodney Durbach, the 45-year-old who is marking his ninth appearance in the championships since making his debut 22 years ago in 1995, wound back the clock to survive his second successive five-game marathon to lead his country into the play-off for 17th place. South Africa beat 17th seeds Pakistan 2/1 and, seeded 22, will finish well ahead of their seeding.

Semi-finals:
[1] EGYPT bt [5] HONG KONG CHINA 2/0
Marwan Elshorbagy bt Yip Tsz Fung 11-3, 8-11, 11-4, 11-7 (39m)
Karim Abdel Gawad bt Max Lee 11-9, 7-11, 12-10, 7-11, 11-7 (67m)

[2] ENGLAND bt [4] AUSTRALIA 3/0
Daryl Selby bt Zac Alexander 10-12, 11-7, 11-5, 11-7 (62m)
Nick Matthew bt Ryan Cuskelly 11-8, 11-6, 11-4 (48m)
James Willstrop bt Cameron Pilley 12-10, 11-6 (22m)

Full coverage and Results on the  Official WSF Tournament Site

 

Men’s World Teams Quarter-Finals

Sat, 02/12/2017 - 08:39
Hong Kong Deny Hosts In Major Upset In Marseille

Hong Kong China relegated France to their lowest finish in the WSF Men’s World Team Squash Championship for at least 16 years after upsetting the hosts in the quarter-finals of the biennial World Squash Federation event in front of a capacity French crowd at Salle Vallier in Marseille.

The third seeds, led by world No.1 Gregory Gaultier, were expected to survive this early encounter en-route to reaching their predicted place in the semi-finals, before then fully exploiting home advantage in Sunday’s final by winning the title for the first time.

Hong Kong were the fifth seeds – bidding to achieve their highest ever position since finishing in 8th place in 2003.

Gaultier was in his usual defiant form as he put France ahead with his fourth successive straight games win in the championship.

The match against the Hong Kong number one Max Lee, however, ended in controversial circumstances when, some 10 minutes after winning match ball at 10-9, he and Lee returned to the court to play out the finish again after it was realised that the referee had miscalled the score at 9-8 when it was in fact eight-all.

The crowd went silent when Lee moved ahead to game ball at 11-10 – but the French ‘General’ was in no mood to drop his first game of the tournament and snatched the next three points to close out the match 11-6, 11-5, 13-11 to wild applause from the partisan crowd.

After celebrating this early lead, the crowd was silenced again when Hong Kong drew level when third string Yip Tsz Fung fought back from 2/1 down to beat France’s world No.27 Mathieu Castagnet 11-7, 7-11, 9-11, 11-2, 11-4 in 67 minutes.

The decider had the crowd on the edges of their seats – with home favourite Gregoire Marche facing four-time Hong Kong champion Leo Au (both pictured above), with just seven positions between them in the world rankings.

It was a nail-biting affair in which Marche wins were greeted by deafening applause and Au successes by silence. After 57 minutes of tense action on the all-glass showcourt it was Au who emerged victorious, winning 11-6, 7-11, 11-8, 11-2 to end the French dream.

“It is a very special achievement for Hong Kong,” said 27-year-old Au minutes later. “We put a lot of effort into our preparations for this and really wanted to do well here.

“The crowd was really behind France, but I had my team-mates in my corner and that helped me a lot.”

Chris Robertson, who only took over the mantle of Hong Kong national coach a few months ago, was understandably delighted with his team’s success: “It all started when Max was 2/0 down in the first match, during which time he had been outplayed by Gaultier.

“He then showed a lot of character to take the third game to a tie-break – and, even though he lost, this gave confidence to the rest of the team.

“When Tsz Fung was 2/1 down in his match, I said to him that he needed to stay calm and trust his skills – and he kept up the pressure in the fourth and fifth and won.

“Leo is in good form and he handled the pressure brilliantly in the decider.

“We are really delighted with this success, but we want to build on this, going forward. They’ve created history already – but we can relax now when we play Egypt tomorrow.”

Event favourites Egypt, now boasting a squad with three players in the world top five (based on the new December PSA world rankings), cruised into the semis courtesy of a 3/0 win over surprise opponents Scotland, the 10th seeds.

Karim Abdel Gawad put the three-time champions into the lead following a 12-10, 11-6, 11-6 win over Alan Clyne. Scot Kevin Moran had few answers to the mercurial skills of the ‘Artist’ that is Ramy Ashour as the former world number one took just 24 minutes to win 11-5, 11-9, 11-4.

“It’s an honour to be here,” Ashour (pictured above in Marseille action with Moran) told the crowd afterwards. “I have all the members of the team, and the coach, in my head while I’m playing – I am really enjoying this kind of team spirit.”

Egypt national coach Ashraf Hanafi echoed Ashour’s message later: “The most important thing is the team spirit.

“If we meet France tomorrow, the pressure will be on us as they will have the crowd behind them. But our players are experienced enough to deal with that.

“We will be watching their matches tonight. It’s our homework – we have to do it!”

Defending champions England, the No.2 seeds, were the first team to secure a place in the semi-finals – incredibly, the country’s 18th successive appearance in the event’s last four. But the five-times champions were given a hard ride in the opening first string match against eighth seeds India when Saurav Ghosal twice drew level with England’s seasoned campaigner Nick Matthew (both pictured below) and, in the decider, was only points away from his first ever win over the former world number one.

When the two players clashed at match ball in the fifth, the referee awarded a let – which Matthew questioned, requesting a ‘video review’. The video review official overruled the decision and awarded the Englishman a stroke, thus putting England ahead after 76 minutes in an 11-6, 6-11, 11-7, 10-12, 11-9 scoreline.

It was Matthew’s second five-game battle in a row after the 37-year-old world No.6 staged a mighty recovery from two games down in the last 16 round to beat Swiss number one Nicolas Müller.

A consummate 3/0 win by the English number three Daryl Selby over Harinder Pal Singh Sandhu in the second match put England into the semis – and James Willstrop beat Vikram Malhotra in the dead best-of-three rubber to give England maximum points.

“Nick wasn’t happy with his performance yesterday but we thought it would serve him well here today,” explained England coach David Campion afterwards. “Saurav played incredibly well today – his recent results have been really good, he is certainly playing above his ranking. Nick had to dig deep today to get through – he is playing on a different level today.

“Daryl played a good game – you always know what you’re going to get with him, it was a hard and solid display.

“We are not looking to peak too soon here – but we are very ambitious in our aims,” continued Campion.

“Now we have to go and relax and get ready for tomorrow.”

Indian national coach Cyrus Poncha was also full of praise for his number one: “Saurav really outshone himself today – he really worked Nick hard. For his whole life he has been hammered by Nick and today he had a little window! In the fifth game it was neck and neck.

“Today he showed that he is without doubt the greatest Indian squash player ever.”

England will face Australia after the fourth seeds recovered from a match down to beat Trans Tasman rivals New Zealand.

“We beat one of our great sporting rivals tonight and we now face another one tomorrow,” said Australian team manager Paul Price. “We’re ready to throw everything we’ve got at England to beat them!”

Quarter-finals:
[1] EGYPT bt [10] SCOTLAND 3/0
Karim Abdel Gawad bt Alan Clyne 12-10, 11-6, 11-6 (34m)
Ramy Ashour bt Kevin Moran 11-5, 11-9, 11-4 (24m)
Marwan Elshorbagy bt Greg Lobban 11-7, 11-8 (32m)

[5] HONG KONG CHINA bt [3] FRANCE 2/1
Max Lee lost to Gregory Gaultier 6-11, 5-11, 11-13 (45m)
Yip Tsz Fung bt Mathieu Castagnet 11-7, 7-11, 9-11, 11-2, 11-4 (67m)
Leo Au bt Gregoire Marche 11-6, 7-11, 11-8, 11-2 (57m)

[4] AUSTRALIA bt [6] NEW ZEALAND 2/1
Ryan Cuskelly lost to Paul Coll 8-11, 11-8, 6-11, 11-9, 9-11 (97m)
Zac Alexander bt Evan Williams 11-4, 11-6, 12-10 (35m)
Cameron Pilley bt Campbell Grayson 11-3, 11-8, 11-9 (49m)

[2] ENGLAND bt [8] INDIA 3/0
Nick Matthew bt Saurav Ghosal 11-6, 6-11, 11-7, 10-12, 11-9 (76m)
Daryl Selby bt Harinder Pal Singh Sandhu 11-2, 11-4, 11-2 (37m)
James Willstrop bt Vikram Malhotra 11-4, 9-11, 11-8 (26m)

Full coverage and Results on the  Official WSF Tournament Site

Men’s World Teams – Round of Sixteen

Fri, 01/12/2017 - 08:32
India Strike Back To Reclaim Top 8 World Status In Marseille

After slumping to a surprise defeat to lower-seeded Malaysia in the qualifying stages of the WSF Men’s World Team Squash Championship, eighth seeds India fought back to ensure a top eight finish in the biennial World Squash Federation event by beating Germany, the No.7 seeds, in the last 16 round at Modern Squash in the French city of Marseille.

Germany suffered a setback overnight when squad number two Raphael Kandra, the in-form left-hander ranked at a career-high world No.41, was taken ill. So, with the day’s playing order being 2,1,3, it was the country’s third string Rudi Rohrmuller, an unranked 26-year-old, who took to the court to face India’s world No.61 Vikram Malhotra.

Underdogs India duly took the lead when Malhotra beat Rohrmuller 11-8, 11-1, 11-8 in 27 minutes – but in the following battle between top strings Saurav Ghosal and Simon Rösner (both pictured above), it was Rösner who prevailed 9-11, 11-4, 5-11, 11-6, 3-11 in a dramatic 57-minute clash which ebbed and flowed between the two regular PSA World Tour combatants – and saw Germany draw level.

India took full advantage of their weakened opponents in the decider when world No.69 Mahesh Mangaonkar defeated Valentin Rapp, ranked more than 200 places lower, 11-6, 11-8, 11-4 to claim victory for the eighth seeds.

“I am really relieved,” exclaimed Indian national coach Cyrus Poncha. “There was a lot of pressure on us to make the top eight.

“From the start, Vikram was very sound. Saurav was absolutely brilliant. He had his chances – he was outstanding in the first game. In the fifth, Rosner was very solid – Saurav played his heart out.

“We knew we couldn’t take any chances in the third match. We didn’t want any mishaps, no easy points – but Mahesh was strong.

“Overall, the boys were very down after the loss to Malaysia and we took full advantage of yesterday’s rest day to put in a lot of preparation. The boys were very focussed and very hungry.

“Now it’s on to England tomorrow, when we’ve got nothing to lose.”

Elsewhere at Modern Squash, another tie went the full distance when fifth seeds Hong Kong China had to recover from the loss of the second match to beat USA 2/1.

Hong Kong champion Leo Au put his side ahead after beating former US champion Christopher Gordon in four games. But the 11th seeds bounced back when top string Todd Harrity played the game of his life to see off world No.28 Max Lee 7-11, 11-4, 7-11, 9-11 (both pictured above) and claim perhaps the best scalp of his career.

To the delight of his team-mates, Yip Tsz Fung restored order for the fifth seeds to beat Chris Hanson 11-9, 11-7, 11-4 and put Hong Kong into the quarter-finals.

“It wasn’t how I predicted it – I thought all my players were in good form,” admitted the new Hong Kong national coach Chris Robertson afterwards. “But it just shows how this team event produces a different atmosphere and different adrenalin. Max was playing a guy who was pretty inspired but Max wasn’t as positive as he has been. The match created a perfect scenario – the favourite struggling against the underdog – and Harrity’s success fuelled the American camp.

“But it gave Yip a perfect opportunity to play under pressure – and that was a positive. I wanted to see my players under pressure.

“I said to Max, if you were playing on the PSA Tour, you’d be on your way home – but you’re not and tomorrow you could be playing Greg Gaultier.

“We didn’t play as well as we can and USA played really well – it showed what the event is all about. I’m now looking for a response from my players to get us back.”

US team manager Paul Assaiante added: “That was fun – it was a great match. I don’t know where we’ll end up this week, but we are making progress.”

Harrity was more than happy with his contribution to the tie: “I just felt really relaxed today and was up for the match. I got a great start – winning the first game was huge. I didn’t want to let him get on top of me, I wanted to put as much pressure on him as possible. I was really on form and I could see he was edgy.

“I’m really happy that I could put it together. Towards the end of the fourth I kept telling myself not to get tense. It was very close, but the win will give me a lot of confidence.”

One of the most popular sporting confrontations in the southern hemisphere will take place at Modern on Friday when Australia and New Zealand face each other for a place in the semi-finals. Australia, the No.4 seeds, beat 14th seeds Canada 3/0, while sixth seeds New Zealand defeated 12th seeds Spain 2/1.

“The pressure was on us today so it was good to come through,” said Australian team manager Paul Price. “It was also good to be on the glass court for the first time.

“If we get New Zealand next, that will be great – there’s always that extra dimension to a sporting battle with our Trans-Tasman rivals. We have a regular Trans-Tasman junior series with New Zealand, so if we meet tomorrow it will be a big chance for the seniors to show the juniors how it’s done!”

New Zealand coach Kashif Shuja said: “It’s a big deal for us to make the quarters because we hadn’t reached that stage for more than 20 years. We’ve been working hard for the last three years and are definitely on a high at the moment, so this gives us an extra boost.

“We’ve had six amazing days so far here, and the boys are confident and playing well. Yes, it was a very close tie against Spain, but we were expecting this, it’s the World Championship after all!

“Now we are playing Australia, who are our sporting rivals. They are seeded four and we are six, so it’s a close one on paper – and I expect it to be on the court tomorrow!”

The event’s top three seeds were in action on the all-glass showcourt at Salle Vallier in Marseille. Favourites Egypt comfortably claimed their place in the quarter-finals after beating Finland 3/0, while in the evening tie, hosts France despatched Wales by the same score.

There was drama in the England v Switzerland clash when, after James Willstrop put title-holders England head, team-mate Nick Matthew faced his first ever defeat to Nicolas Müller (both pictured below) when the Swiss number one built up a 2/0 and 8-7 lead and was just three points away from an historic upset.

With three world individual titles to his name and more than 100 caps for England, 37-year-old Matthew called upon his vast experience in the game to weather the storm and assert his authority on his opponent to close out the match 9-11, 9-11, 11-8, 11-5, 11-7 in 53 minutes to carry England into the last eight.

“The team stuck with me mentally,” said the relieved world No.5 after the match. “I wasn’t feeling confident and Nicolas played really well. The coach and the guys helped me stay positive. I was moving a little bit slowly and Nicolas is a very quick and dangerous player. I need to improve for tomorrow!”

Back at Modern, day four finished in dramatic style when 10th seeds Scotland fought out a shock 2/1 win over Malaysia, the ninth seeds.

When squad second string Greg Lobban defeated Malaysian Eain Yow Ng (both pictured below) 11-9, 5-11, 11-9, 11-7 and team number one Alan Clyne forged a 2/1 lead over Nafiizwan Adnan, it looked as if Scotland were heading for a straightforward 2/0 upset over their more fancied opponents.

But Adnan, who had a superior head-to-head record over the Scot, regained control to overcome Clyne 7-11, 11-1, 11-8, 3-11, 8-11 in 74 minutes.

So it was left to the decider for Scotland to clinch victory when third string Douglas Kempsell beat Mohd Syafiq Kamal 11-3, 3-11, 11-5, 10-12, 11-6.

“I thought we had it in the second match,” said Scottish team manager Martin Heath. “I was quite confident once Alan went 2/1 up, but Wan (Adnan) played faultless squash in the fourth and fifth games to deny us.

“I didn’t know what to expect in the decider – it was always going to be close.

“But I am so proud of the guys for taking us into the last eight.”

Quarter-final line-up:
[1] EGYPT v [10] SCOTLAND
[3] FRANCE v [5] HONG KONG CHINA
[4] AUSTRALIA v [6] NEW ZEALAND
[2] ENGLAND v [8] INDIA

Full coverage and Results on the  Official WSF Tournament Site

Men’s World Teams – Day Three

Thu, 30/11/2017 - 09:14
Top 16 Seeds Ease Into World Championship Last 16 In Marseille

The views of the seedings committee of the WSF Men’s World Team Squash Championship were fully endorsed when the top 16 seeds secured their places in the last 16 knockout stage of the biennial World Squash Federation event at Modern Squash in the French city of Marseille.

Spain ended a 28-year absence from the top 16 after beating event newcomers Iraq 3/0 to secure second place in Pool E. With all the players facing each other for the first time, long-time top-ranked Spaniard Borja Golan led the 12th seeds to victory, supported by team-mates Carlos Cornes (pictured below in action against Mohammed Hasan) and Bernat Jaume.

“For years we have been relying on Borja but now we have strength in depth with players like Bernat, Carlos and Iker (Pajares Bernabeu) – and others like Edmon (Lopez) who we left at home,” explained Jonas Gornerup, Spain’s team manager.

“It’s great to be in the top 16 for the first time since 1989. But we are seeded to do better than we have ever done – and it’s because we are worth it!”

Competing in the event for the first time since 2009, Wales defeated Czech Republic 3/0 to ensure their place in the top 16. Number one Joel Makin put the 13th seeds ahead in the Pool D tie before Welsh second string Peter Creed beat Swiss Martin Svec (both pictured above) 11-7, 7-11, 11-5, 12-10 to clinch victory. 21-year-old event debutant Emyr Evans ensured maximum points with a straight games win over the 19th seeds’ Jakub Solnicky.

“We have to prioritise which world team events we play and haven’t played this event for a few years,” explained Welsh national coach David Evans, a former British Open champion. “But with Joel at his highest world ranking and Peter and Emyr both playing well, we thought we could do well here. And now we’ve achieved our first objective, which was to make the last 16.

“The 3/0 score of our defeat to Australia yesterday doesn’t do us justice as it was very close. I’m pleased with today’s performance as it shows that we can back it up.

“Now it’s another tournament and I think we play France – which would be great!”

After upsetting higher-seeded India in their opening qualifying tie, ninth seeds Malaysia confirmed their supremacy in Pool H when they beat Austria 3/0. But the 23rd seeds gave Malaysia a fright in the opening match when Aqeel Rehman twice led Nafiizwan Adnan, the Malaysian number one who 24 hours earlier stunned top-ranked Indian Saurav Ghosal to lead the surprise result.

Adnan raised his game, however, to close out the match 8-11, 11-8, 9-11, 11-3, 11-4 before team-mates Eain Yow Ng and Addeen Idrakie also prevailed to cement Malaysia’s top 16 berth.

“Today was tough for two reasons,” said Malaysian manager Major Maniam. “Firstly the boys had really hard matches yesterday and so are feeling a little tired, and secondly the glass court yesterday was a little dead, so on this plaster court it’s very difficult to win points.”

The win sees Malaysia through to face Scotland: “At this stage all the teams are good,” Maniam continued. “The Scottish boys are hard and aggressive players and they’re going to come at us. It’s going to be a hell of a battle!”

It was in Pool G that 10th seeds Scotland confirmed their place in the elite knockout stage by defeating Jamaica 3/0. The Scots took no prisoners – Alan ClyneGreg Lobban and Kevin Moran seeing off their opponents, all making their debuts in the event, in straight games. The win saw the Scots finish as runners-up to Germany, the No.7 seeds.

“I don’t think it mattered too much whether we won or came second in the pool,” said Scottish team manager Martin Heath. “We knew we’d expect either Malaysia or India in the next round.

“We have a strong squad and are looking for wins at every position.

“At this stage of the event, it can come down to little swings of momentum one way or the other and we’re ready to deal with that.”

Jamaica, seeded 21, are appearing in the championship for the first time. Team manager Douglas Beckford said: “We were really hoping to get into the last 16, but in reality we knew it would be difficult and are now fighting for 17th place. We came in seeded 21 and hope to improve on that.

“It’s been a tremendous event for us and we haven’t been overwhelmed at all: 3/0 scores can sometimes give the wrong impression!

“We have two players competing on the PSA Tour – and winning titles – so that’s good for Jamaica.”

Finland survived the only tie decided by the third rubber when they beat 18th seeds Argentina 2/1. Olli Tuominen, the 38-year-old former world No.12 celebrating his ninth appearance in the championships, put the 15th seeds ahead when he beat Leandro Romiglio 11-9, 6-11, 11-9, 11-9 – but Argentinean Robertino Pezzota set up a decider when he beat Miko Äijänen in three games.

It was left to older brother Jami Äijänen to clinch victory for the Finns, overcoming Juan Pablo Roude (both pictured above) 11-7, 11-7, 11-9.

“We were definitely slightly nervous about this match,” said Finland national coach Tomi Niinimäki. “I watched Argentina play England on the first day and they were good. Winning today is a big relief – we are really happy to be in the top 16.

“We have some good players coming through – the (Äijänen) brothers are quite young and will be here for a long time. We can expect a lot in the future.

“Playing Egypt next will be big for us – especially for the younger guys.”

Seeded 14, Canada maintained their presence in the top 16 for the 22nd time since 1971 after beating Ireland 3/0. Team number one Nick Sachvie put the side ahead against the 20th seeds, beating Arthur Gaskin 11-7, 11-5, 9-11, 11-2 (both pictured below) before Shawn Delierre and Andrew Schnell wrapped matters up with 3/0 wins.

“We knew we would be challenged here and had to be ready,” said Canada’s national coach Yvon Provencal. “Nick is playing his first worlds – and he is just fearless, and that’s great for the team to see.

“Shawn was in the zone today so I knew we were OK. Andrew was in need of a good match and he had a good run.

“We’re working to get up there with the top guys.”

Canada will face 4th seeds Australia for a place in the quarter-finals. “Australia will be tough. Their top two guys have more experience than we do on the glass, but the pressure will be on them!”

The final places in the top 16 were decided in the evening: 11th seeds USA confirmed their place by defeating South Africa, the 22nd seeds, 3/0. After Todd Harrity put the Americans ahead with a 3/0 win over Thoboki Mohohlo, second string Christopher Gordon put the result beyond South Africa’s reach after recovering from a game down to beat 45-year-old Rodney Durbach 9-11, 11-2, 11-7, 11-3.

US team manager Paul Assaiante said: “The 1,2,3 playing order was good for us. Thoboki moves like a cat so we had to keep the pace high.

“We were surprised to see Rodney at two: he has magical hands and is a wonderful competitor, and still plays a great game. But Chris dealt with him well.

“Now we get into the tall weeds – and will probably play Hong Kong. The team feels good and the guys are enjoying each other’s company.”

Durbach, the championship’s oldest ever participant who made his event debut 22 years ago, commented: “I felt good after the first game – I hit my shots well, it was nice.

“I didn’t feel at all out of place. It was probably the length of the rallies that I wasn’t used to – back home they don’t last that long!

“But I’m disappointed – I thought I could have done better.

“The highest we can now get is 17 – so that’s what we’re going for!”

In the final tie of the day, 16th seeds Switzerland beat former champions Pakistan, the 17th seeds, 3/0 and will face defending champions England in a bid to reach the quarter-finals for the first time.

Last 16 draw:
[1] Egypt v [15] Finland
[9] Malaysia v [10] Scotland
[3] France v [13] Wales
[5] Hong Kong China v [11] USA
[6] New Zealand v [12] Spain
[4] Australia v [14] Canada
[7] Germany v [8] India
[2] England v [16] Switzerland

Full coverage and Results on the  Official WSF Tournament Site

Men’s World Teams, Day Two

Wed, 29/11/2017 - 08:33
Malaysia Shock India In World Team Championship Upset In Marseille

Malaysia produced the first upset in the WSF Men’s World Team Squash Championship by beating Asian rivals India, the eighth seeds, 2/1 in the second qualifying round of the biennial World Squash Federation event at Modern Squash in Marseille.

Playing in team order 1, 3 & 2, world No.21 Saurav Ghosal opened proceedings for India by taking on Nafiizwan Adnan, a lower-ranked Malaysian to whom he had never before lost.

The Malaysian number one took the opening game before Ghosal fought back to forge a 2/1 lead. Adnan, the 31-year-old UK-based world No.31, drew level to force a decider – but twice again Ghosal led, 8-6 & 9-7.

Underdog Adnan persevered however and, after 72 minutes, clinched the 11-8, 8-11, 5-11, 11-4, 11-9 victory which swung the momentum in favour of the ninth seeds.

India struck back when Mahesh Mangaonkar recovered from a game down to beat 21-year-old Mohd Syafiq Kamal 8-11, 11-8, 11-5, 11-5 to level the tie.

Teenager Eain Yow Ng, who, like Kamal, was making his maiden appearance in the championship, then faced India’s experienced Harinder Pal Singh Sandhu, a 28-year-old from Chennai celebrating his fourth time in the world championship.

It was the pair’s first meeting, but 19-year-old Ng (pictured above, right, with Sandhu) was unfazed – and battled back from 2/1 down to overcome Sandhu 11-7, 5-11, 8-11, 11-6, 11-5 in 62 minutes to strengthen Malaysia’s bid to top Pool H.

Malaysia’s team manager Major Maniam, who only a year ago returned to his home country after a lengthy period as the Indian National Coach, was delighted with his team’s performance: “With our No.2 out with an injury, we arrived in Marseille with a slightly weakened team – but Wan (Nafiizwan) and Yow were outstanding today.

“Wan was absolutely focussed and faced an experienced opponent in Saurav.

“And with Yow, what can I say! He played another very experienced player and truly lived up to our expectations. We were expecting a good hard fight. Hari just didn’t have an answer in the fifth.

“I am very happy with the way the boys played.”

India’s national coach Cyrus Poncha had a different view: “I’m disappointed with the result, for sure – we should have won. With Saurav 8/6 up in the fifth and Hari 2/1 up, they both let it go.

“It’s going to make it more difficult to stay in the top eight.

“It’s a rest day tomorrow – I hope we can regroup and come back strong.”

Sixth seeds New Zealand were also taken the full distance before seeing off USA, the 11th seeds, 2/1 to ensure top place in Pool F. ‘Superman’ Paul Coll, the current world No.9, put the Kiwis ahead after beating US top string Todd Harrity 11-9, 11-7, 11-3 – but Chris Hanson forced a decider when he defeated NZ’s Evan Williams in four games.

It took Campbell Grayson 58 minutes to finally get the better of US No.2 Christopher Gordon (pictured, right, above with Grayson), winning 11-6, 11-3, 9-11, 11-7, much to the relief of his NZ team-mates.

“It’s the world team championship so the seeding doesn’t mean much,” explained NZ team manager Kashif Shuja. “They have some great players and we knew it was going to be tough – and it was. Chris Gordon’s sportsmanship really impressed me – that was a great match.

“It’s good to be in the last 16, but we are just going to take each day as it comes. It’s a rest day tomorrow so we are going to relax and hopefully come back fresh.

“Paul (Coll) has done a fantastic job – not just for himself but for squash back in New Zealand,” Shuja continued. “He has shown our kids back home that you can do it. What he’s achieved over the past two years is amazing and it’s great having him in the team.”

US team manager Paul Assaiante added: “I thought we played well. Coll just puts so much pressure on his opponents, not just physically but mentally too. Hanson did a really good job to bring us back into the tie.

“You could see that Grayson was labouring in the fourth against Gordon, but all of a sudden he got back into the game.

“So now we have to prepare for South Africa tomorrow, when no doubt we will face the highly experienced (45-year-old) Rodney Durbach.”

The longest battle of the day took over four hours to resolve when 4th seeds Australia ultimately prevailed 3/0 over 13th seeds Wales. Left-hander Ryan Cuskelly, competing as the Australian No.1 for the first time, survived an 85-minute five-game encounter against fast-rising Welshman Joel Makin (both pictured below), winning 11-9, 9-11, 11-5, 4-11, 11-7, before Victorian Rex Hedrick sealed victory for record eight-time champions Australia with a 12-10, 11-8, 11-1 victory over event newcomer Emyr Evans in 54 minutes.

The third rubber also went the full distance before hard-hitting Aussie Cameron Pilley claimed his 10-12, 11-9, 11-7, 5-11, 11-5 victory in 68 minutes over 30-year-old Welshman Peter Creed.

“We knew Wales would be tricky to get past,” said Paul Price, the Australian national coach and a former world No.4. “If Joel had won the match with Ryan, that could have changed everything.

“But the boys are really focussed and we now look forward to finding out who we play next.”

Germany eased into the last 16 with a second successive victory in Pool G – but this time the No.7 seeds dropped a match as opponents Scotland, the 10th seeds, claimed some consolation after going 2/0 down when second string Scot Greg Lobban beat Raphael Kandra in five games.

German coach Oliver Pettke said: “I’m happy with the win – and it’s definitely positive for the team spirit for the rest of the week. It’s always close with Scotland – and it’s more difficult than the European Championships where there are four players in the team.

“It’s good to be in the top 16, but our best is yet to come!”

Ramy Ashour made his first appearance in the 2017 championship when he helped favourites Egypt to a 3/0 win over Switzerland, the 16th seeds. Appearing in his fourth championships now as a 30-year-old – following a distinguished career in which he regularly achieved successes as one of the game’s youngest players – Ashour beat the tournament’s youngest player Roman Allinckx, a 19-year-old, 11-2, 11-5, 11-5 to extend his all-time unbeaten record in the championship to 15 matches since 2009.

“It’s unusual for me to be the oldest player in the team and the fact that I’ve played in the event before makes it a little bit more comfortable as I know what to expect,” said the former world No.1 and three-time world champion.

“It’s special for me to be playing in this event and I’m honoured to be representing my country for a fourth time – and to be the team captain, which I’ve never been before!”

When it was pointed out that his opponent was the event’s youngest participant, Captain Ashour said: “He was the youngest? I have been in that position before!

“There’s more pressure playing for your country, with the whole crew behind you,” added Ashour. “But there’s a good spirit in the team and, after playing individual events for most of the time, it’s nice for one tournament a year not to be selfish.”

Finland‘s record 17-time national champion Olli Tuominen also reached a notable milestone in Marseille when, in his ninth appearance in the championships since 1999, he played his 50th match. The former world No.13 went down 11-9, 11-7, 11-8 to long-time European rival James Willstrop as defending champions England eased into the last 16 with their second 3/0 win in two days.

“Finnish people aren’t naturally proud, but it feels good to have played my 50th match in this event,” said the 38-year-old (pictured above with Willstrop). “The fact that I have been able to play at this level for this long is great.

“Even though I lost today, it means a lot to me that I can still handle these guys – and I am still enjoying it!

“Three years ago I began to struggle with my calfs, but this is behind me now and I feel in really good shape – movement-wise perhaps better than ever!”

Full coverage and Results on the  Official WSF Tournament Site

Men’s World Teams under way in Marseille

Tue, 28/11/2017 - 08:18
Top Seeds Untroubled On Day One At World Teams In Marseille

The top eight seeded nations sailed through their opening encounters on day one of the WSF Men’s World Team Squash Championship in Marseille, all winning 3/0 at Modern Squash in the French city.

The 25th staging of the biennial World Squash Federation event is being held in France for the second time in four years. After qualifying rounds at Modern, knockout action from the last 16 round onwards will take place on an all-glass showcourt at Salle Vallier, leading to the final on Sunday (3 December).

The event got underway with a confrontation between two of the giant nations of world squash: Egypt the No.1 seeds looking to gain revenge for their surprise defeat to England in the 2013 final and win the title for a fourth time, faced Pakistan, who reigned supreme between 1981 and 1987, and have been champions six times in all – but in 2017 are the 17th seeds.

Whilst the favourites come into the event with four players in the world top 11, underdogs Pakistan have a squad featuring only one player ranked within the top 150.

With day’s playing order set at 3,2,1, third string Marwan Elshorbagy, ranked six in the world, put Egypt firmly in the driving seat with an 11-4, 11-5, 11-6 victory over Amaad Fareed, the world No.162.

Fresh from making the finals of three major PSA World Tour events in the past six weeks, and becoming the US Openchampion, world No.4 Ali Farag sealed Egypt’s overall win by beating Shahjahan Khan 11-3, 11-4, 11-9.

It was in the third match that Pakistan secured their only game of the day when Farhan Zaman claimed the third against Egypt’s Karim Abdel Gawad (both pictured above) before the world No.2 wrapped up the match 11-7, 13-11, 7-11, 11-4.

“We would have preferred to play opponents like Pakistan in the second match – it’s a pity that such a great squash battle happened on the first day,” said Ashraf Hanafi, the Egyptian National Coach.

“We don’t know their players – but we knew they’d be dangerous. It was a tough draw for Pakistan.

“The most important thing for us is the team spirit – I know we have a lot of stars in our team, and it’s important to respect that,” added the former British Open O35 champion.

“We lost our title four years ago and we want to win it back.”

Pakistan No.1 Farhan Zaman, the world No.58 from Peshawar, added: “We have come here with a very inexperienced squad – we are not expected to do well so there is no pressure on us. The last time I played Karim I was 2/0 up and lost in five, so I knew what to expect.”

Second seeds England began the defence of their title in a tie against Argentina. The 18th seeds were making their seventh appearance in the championships, with a best-ever finish of 13 in 1995, while England, with five titles to their name, have never failed to reach at least the semi-finals in all 17 appearances since 1981.

Third string Daryl Selby put England ahead with an 11-3, 11-6, 11-6 win over Juan Pablo Roude before team-mate James Willstrop took to the court with fellow 34-year-old Robertino Pezzota, the world No.94 from Argentina who recently became the Pan American champion for the first time.

Earning his 151st cap for England, former world No.1 Willstrop battled for 41 minutes to survive a physical encounter with his Argentinean opponent (both pictured above), ultimately prevailing 7-11, 11-2, 11-2, 9-11, 11-6.

England No.1 Nick Matthew – like Willstrop, making his seventh successive appearance in the event – beat Leandro Romiglio 11-4, 11-8, 11-5 to give the team maximum points.

“I was happy with the squash side, but was disappointed that I allowed myself to be caught up in the physical side of the match,” admitted Willstrop after his match.

When asked if he still had goals in the sport, the most capped Englishman replied: “I don’t really have goals – I just want to arrive at the next event fit and ready to perform, and that goes for the World Championship in Manchester and hopefully the Commonwealth Games next year. Only once I’m there do I think about winning.”

The event welcomed a team representing Iraq for the first time. The newcomers put up a commendable fight before going down to Hong Kong China, the fifth seeds who are predicted to achieve their best ever finish in their 16th appearance in the championships since 1979.

“I am very happy that Iraq is participating in this event for the first time,” said Ali Albawi, President of the Iraq Squash Federation. “This is a big day for us – we now have six players who are ranked by PSA and we are determined to do well.

“It would be great if we could make the top 16 this time – but we hope to do even better next time!”

The Hong Kong squad, led by world No.28 Max Lee, achieved their 3/0 win under the direction of new national coach Chris Robertson, the former world No.2 from Australia who was the former national coach of Wales and later England.

“The Iraq players were not bad – and hit the ball well,” said Robertson (HK’s Yip Tsz Fung seen battling with Iraqi Rasool Alsultani above). “They were aggressive players, which is a good thing.

“We’ve got some good players who play at a high level – and I want to see them play at that level here.

“This event only happens every two years, so you have to get it right. We’ve got the Asian Games next year, which is very important. How the team perform here will give me a feeling for how they will perform there. Today was a good start.

“I like this event – it’s one where countries can create a bit of history!”

In the final session of the day, all attention was focussed on twice runners-up France, who are seeded three and bidding to win the title for the first time. The hosts faced European rivals Ireland, the 20th seeds whose best finish is 10th place.

Event newcomer Lucas Serme delighted the partisan crowd with an 11-9, 8-11, 11-2, 11-7 win over Irish number three Sean Conroy, before Gregoire Marche also survived a four-game battle with Brian Byrne, winning 11-7, 10-12, 11-5, 11-3.

The surprise first ever encounter between the two nations’ top strings saw the ‘French General’ Gregory Gaultier see off Arthur Gaskin (both pictured above) 11-8, 11-7, 11-6 to end the day on a local high.

“Ireland put on a good fight – and we needed it,” said French National Coach Renan Lavigne afterwards. “They played their top three and they tried their best – and we expected it.

“It was a good win for us. It wasn’t ideal playing at night and it was important we didn’t start too hard and pick up any injuries.”

When asked what it would mean to win the title, Lavigne said: “We’ve never experienced it so it’s difficult to imagine. I remember it was an unbelievable feeling when Greg won the world individual title and when we won the European team title after losing in the final so many times.

“We will have to wait – we know what to do and we know how important it would be. The sports minister will be here on Friday. The team is fully prepared.”

Full coverage and Results on the  Official WSF Tournament Site

More info from the official event website: www.wsfmensteams.com/
Free live streaming, provided by Squash TV, via www.wsfmensteams.com/
Regular Twitter updates on @MWT2017Squash

Hosts France Bidding For World Breakthrough In Marseille

Fri, 24/11/2017 - 09:39

Hosts France Bidding For World Breakthrough In Marseille

Appearing in the championship for the ninth time in a row, illustrious Frenchman Gregory Gaultier will be aiming to win the only major title that has so far eluded him and his country when he leads France in the WSF Men’s World Team Squash Championship on home soil next week in Marseille.

The 25th staging of the biennial World Squash Federation event will take place from 27 November to 3 December at Salle Vallier, where the final stages will be presented on an all-glass showcourt, and Modern Squash throughout, which also features an all-glass showcourt.

France – runners-up in 2003 and 2009, with Gaultier playing in the final on both occasions – are the third seeds, behind favourites Egypt and second seeds England, the title-holders.

In a glittering international career, Gaultier has collected 40 PSA World Tour titles, including the individual World Championship trophy in 2015 and three British Open and US Open crowns, and became the world’s oldest world number one this year.

Two years ago, after 14 successive defeats to England in the European Team Championships final, Gaultier finally led France to historic success over their fierce regional rivals – and repeated the title triumph earlier this year.

France made their World Team Championship debut in 1981 and have reached the semi-finals each time since 2003.

“Winning the World Teams is the only big thing missing in my highlights,” said 34-year-old Gaultier on the eve of the 2017 event.  “We came close twice – we did well most of the time but never touched gold yet.

“We have a good team with true friends and good fighting spirit – we have always tried hard for our country and each other.  Hopefully this time will be the right one!”

With a squad also including Gregoire Marche, Mathieu Castagnet and Lucas Serme – ranked 23, 30 and 45, respectively, in the world – France begin their 2017 campaign with qualifying ties against Ireland and Canada in Pool C, before hoping to move onto the last 16 knockout stages.

With the likelihood of Paris 2024 organisers looking for new sports to add to the Olympic programme in seven years, Squash is enjoying an all-time high in France this year with Gaultier topping the men’s world rankings, compatriot Camille Serme at No.3 in the women’s list, and the country winning gold, silver and bronze medals at the World Games in Poland in July.

24 nations will contest the WSF Men’s World Team Championship in France, where both Iraq and Jamaica will be making their debuts in the event. After qualifying action in eight pools, the top two teams in each pool will progress to the last 16 knockout stage, while the third-placed teams will play for positions 17–24.

Free live streaming, provided by Squash TV, will be available from the glass courts at both venues – via the event website http://www.wsfmensteams.com/

In addition to this will be local coverage of the event, from Friday 1st December, via the streaming platform of the FRANCE TELEVISIONS group.

Pool line-ups (with seeding in brackets)

Pool A: [1] EGYPT, [16] SWITZERLAND, [17] PAKISTAN
Pool B: [2] ENGLAND, [15] FINLAND, [18] ARGENTINA
Pool C: [3] FRANCE, [14] CANADA, [20] IRELAND
Pool D: [4] AUSTRALIA, [13] WALES, [19] CZECH REPUBLIC
Pool E: [5] HONG KONG CHINA, [12] SPAIN, [24] IRAQ
Pool F: [6] NEW ZEALAND, [11] USA, [22] SOUTH AFRICA
Pool G: [7] GERMANY, [10] SCOTLAND, [21] JAMAICA
Pool H: [8] INDIA, [9] MALAYSIA, [23] AUSTRIA

 

Hong Kong Open Finals

Sun, 19/11/2017 - 12:38
Egyptian duo ElShorbagy and El Sherbini lift Hong Kong Open Titles

Men’s World No.3 Mohamed ElShorbagy and Women’s World No.1 Nour El Sherbini kept the Cathay Pacific Sun Hung Kai Financial Hong Kong Open titles in Egyptian hands after they beat compatriots Ali Farag and Raneem El Welily, respectively, to triumph in the final of the 2017 edition of the PSA World Series event.

ElShorbagy captured his third successive PSA World Tour title – and the 29th of his career – after an 11-6, 5-11, 11-4, 7-11, 11-3 victory over Farag in 64 minutes at the Hong Kong Park Sports Centre saw him pick up his third Hong Kong Open title after also winning the tournament in 2014 and 2015.

There were some brutal rallies in the first four games until, at two games apiece, ElShorbagy overpowered his fellow Egyptian to continue his incredible start to the season, completing a third win in a row over the World No.4 and making it four titles from five tournaments this season.

“We’ve played so many battles in the last few weeks and I want to congratulate him and all of his team,” said ElShorbagy, who overtakes World Champion Karim Abdel Gawad to move back up to No.2 in the World Rankings.

“He’s played unbelievable squash at the last few tournaments and I’m looking forward to having many more battles with him in the future.

“I’m happy I’m playing well again this year, I’ve done a lot of work this summer and I’m really proud with the way I’ve started this season, but there is still a long season ahead. I’m going to enjoy this trophy for a day or two and then I will look forward to my next event.”

In the women’s final, World Champion Nour El Sherbini ended a 20-month wait for a World Series title after she claimed a comfortable victory over World No.2 Raneem El Welily.

22-year-old El Sherbini’s last World Series crown came back in March 2016 when she felled World No.5 Nouran Gohar to win the prestigious British Open, and she overcame Egyptian opposition once again in Hong Kong to win this tournament for the first time.

The match was a repeat of April’s PSA Women’s World Championship final, in which El Sherbini prevailed, and the 22-year-old from Alexandria rediscovered that form against a tired El Welily, who had come through five-game encounters against Nour El Tayeb, Joelle King and Camille Serme in the build-up to the final, with an 11-5, 11-8, 11-5 victory seeing her capture the 13th title of her career.

“It’s my first World Series title in almost two years, so it’s special,” said El Sherbini.

“This title was really important for me so I could get my confidence back and to feel that I’m playing well before the World Championships.

“This tournament has given me a huge push and I’m really happy to win the Hong Kong Open.

“It’s my second time here and I played well, so I can’t wait to come back next year.”

Men’s Final:
[3] Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY)  3-2 [4] Ali Farag (EGY)  11-6, 5-11, 11-4, 7-11, 11-3 (64m)

Women’s Final:
[1] Nour El Sherbini (EGY) 3-0 [2] Raneem El Welily (EGY)  11-5, 11-8, 11-5 (29m)

 

Hong Kong Open Semis

Sat, 18/11/2017 - 15:17
Hong Kong Open to Feature Two All-Egyptian Finals For First Time

The Cathay Pacific Sun Hung Kai Financial Hong Kong Open will feature two all-Egyptian finals for the first time in its 32-year history after Mohamed ElShorbagy, Ali Farag, Nour El Sherbini and Raneem El Welily all claimed wins on semi-finals day at the PSA World Series tournament at Hong Kong Park Sports Centre.

The tournament becomes the third World Series event of the season to host all-Egyptian finals, with the U.S. Open and Qatar Classic also seeing Egyptians dominate and ElShorbagy and Farag will go head-to-head in a repeat of the men’s U.S. Open final.

ElShorbagy overcame younger brother Marwan by a 13-11, 11-5, 12-10 scoreline to reach a sixth successive PSA World Tour final.

“It’s always very tough physically and mentally playing your brother,” said ElShorbagy.

“He’s had some wins over me, I’ve had some wins over him, so it was always going to be tough, especially with the way he has been playing this week. He did unbelievably well to take out [World No.1] Greg [Gaultier], so I had to be at my best.

“I’ve put in a lot of hard work this summer to be back playing finals again, it’s what I live for. It’s my sixth PSA final in a row and I’m really happy to have my form back again and to be competing in finals.”

Farag, who beat ElShorbagy to lift a maiden World Series title at the U.S. Open, overcame World Champion Karim Abdel Gawad 11-8, 11-9, 6-11, 11-7 to set up a mouthwatering meeting with the two-time Hong Kong Open champion.

“It was far from easy today, he’s won most of our matches,” said Farag.

“To get the win against him today is such a pleasure. He’s very talented, so tough to read, but I always enjoy playing him because it’s always a fair match. I hope we keep playing a lot of matches with each other in the future.

“In the last three tournaments, me and Mohamed have either won the tournament or lost to each other. I really enjoy our battles, the last two times he beat me, the time before that I won, so hopefully it’s going to be a great match for the crowd and for us as well.”

The first ever all-Egyptian women’s Hong Kong Open final will be a repeat of April’s Women’s World Championship final as El Sherbini and El Welily battle for their first World Series titles of the season.

El Sherbini defeated 2015 runner-up Laura Massaro, coming from 2-1 behind to claim her place in the title decider.

“Playing Laura is very hard, and in the middle of the match, I thought that I just needed to give it everything,” said El Sherbini.

“I’m feeling good, it’s only my second time here in Hong Kong. I’m happy with the way I’m playing and hopefully I can keep on going tomorrow.”

Two-time runner-up El Welily beat World No.3 Camille Serme in five games to reach her second World Series final of the season after she lost out to compatriot Nour El Tayeb in the final of the U.S. Open in October.

“I started slowly today, I felt flat and mentally wasn’t prepared,” said El Welily.

“I’m very happy to be through, to be in the final is amazing. It was a great match today against Camille, she played really well. At times, it felt like I was doing court sprints.”

Cathay Pacific Sun Hung Kai Financial Hong Kong Open
Men’s Semis:
[3] Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) 3-0 [5] Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY)  13-11, 11-5, 12-10 (47m) [4] Ali Farag (EGY) 3-1 [2] Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY)  11-8, 11-9, 6-11, 11-7 (55m) Women’s Semis: [1] Nour El Sherbini (EGY) 3-2 [4] Laura Massaro (ENG)  11-7, 5-11, 5-11, 11-8, 11-3 (56m) [2] Raneem El Welily (EGY) 3-2 [3] Camille Serme (FRA)  5-11, 11-7, 11-6, 6-11, 11-6 (56m)

 

WSF Men’s World Teams Seeding

Thu, 16/11/2017 - 15:02
Egypt Seeded To Reclaim Men’s World Team Championship Title In France

Three-time champions Egypt are seeded to reclaim the Men’s WSF World Team Squash Championship title in France next month, according to the seedings and draw for the 25th staging of the biennial World Squash Federation event announced today.

The 2017 championship will be held in Marseille, from 27 November to 3 December, at Modern Squash and Salle Vallier, where the final stages will be presented on an all-glass showcourt.

It was at the previous championship – in Mulhouse, France – that England denied Egypt a third successive title with a surprise 2/1 victory in the final.

With a squad boasting four players in the world top 11, including the fit again three-time world champion Ramy Ashour, Egypt are expected to face second seeds England – winners of the title five times since 1995 – in a repeat of the finals both in 2011 and 2013.

The England line-up will include former world number ones Nick Matthew and James Willstrop, both making their seventh appearances in the championships.

Hosts France, led by world No.1 Gregory Gaultier, are the third seeds and will be looking to confound the seedings by reaching the final for the third time – and win the title for a first time.

Australia, winners of the title a record eight times since the inaugural championship in 1967, are the No.4 seeds.

24 nations will contest the 2017 championship in France, where both Iraq and Jamaica will be making their debuts in the event. After qualifying action in eight pools, the top two teams in each pool will progress to the last 16 knockout stage, while the third-placed teams will play for positions 17-24.

Pool line-ups (with seeding in brackets)

Pool A: [1] EGYPT, [16] SWITZERLAND, [17] PAKISTAN
Pool B: [2] ENGLAND, [15] FINLAND, [18] ARGENTINA
Pool C: [3] FRANCE, [14] CANADA, [20] IRELAND
Pool D: [4] AUSTRALIA, [13] WALES, [19] CZECH REPUBLIC
Pool E: [5] HONG KONG CHINA, [12] SPAIN, [24] IRAQ
Pool F: [6] NEW ZEALAND, [11] USA, [22] SOUTH AFRICA
Pool G: [7] GERMANY, [10] SCOTLAND, [21] JAMAICA
Pool H: [8] INDIA, [9] MALAYSIA, [23] AUSTRIA



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