Squash Mad

Matthew and Willstrop missing from El Gouna

English stars stay away as El Gouna slips back on to the PSA calendar
By ALAN THATCHER

Nick Matthew was not impressed by the conditions in 2012

Nick Matthew was not impressed by the conditions in 2012

The controversial El Gouna International tournament is back on the calendar in April, but the event is being snubbed by England stars Nick Matthew and James Willstrop. 

Previous editions of the event have been hampered by problems caused by staging the competition in the open air by the harbour at the Red Sea resort.

Players complained that sand blowing in from the beach made the court floor slippery and dangerous. The 2012 semi-finals finished in chaos, with the second match being moved to an indoor club court. 

In the final, Willstrop was so disgusted with the floor that he walked off and conceded the match to Egypt’s Ramy Ashour.

English stars Matthew and Willstrop, the PSA president, are notable absentees from an otherwise top-class line-up in next month’s edition.

The modern El Gouna resort is 12 miles north of Hurghada, a popular venue for the former WSA event which was also staged in an open-air location next to the marina.

Ramy hits the deck

Ramy takes a tumble in El Gouna

French world No.2 Gregory Gaultier and Egyptian World No.3 Ramy Ashour will top the draw when the 2014 El Gouna International gets under way at on Sunday April 13.

Egypt’s Mohamed Elshorbagy is seeded three and Spain’s Borja Golan is at four, his highest seeding for a World Series event.

Gaultier and Ashour are seeded to meet in the final on April 18 in what would be their second World Series title decider so far in 2014, with Gaultier having taken the spoils during the Windy City Open in Chicago.

With the absence of world No.1 Matthew, both Gaultier and Ashour will have an opportunity to make up ground on the Englishman at the top of the rankings chart.

The draw is heavily populated by Egyptian players. World No.4 Mohamed Elshorbagy will face a challenging opening round match against Colombian livewire Miguel Angel Rodriguez, while Omar Mosaad, Karim Darwish and Tarek Momen all face qualifiers.

No.5 seed Amr Shabana will meet compatriot Karim Abdel Gawad in his first round match when the Maestro will be aiming to lift his second World Series title of 2014 to add to January’s J.P Morgan Tournament of Champions crown in New York.

Nick Matthew hits the deck in El Gouna

Nick Matthew hits the deck in El Gouna

2014 El Gouna International Draw:
[1] Gregory Gaultier (FRA) v Saurav Ghosal (IND)
Stephen Coppinger (RSA) v [Qualifier]
Nicolas Mueller (SUI) v Chris Simpson (ENG)
[WC] Zahed Mohamed (EGY) v [8] Daryl Selby (ENG)
[7] Peter Barker (ENG) v [Qualifier]
Cameron Pilley (AUS) v Marwan Elshorbagy (EGY)
Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) v [Qualifier]
Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL) v [3] Mohamed Elshorbagy (EGY)
[4] Borja Golan (ESP) v Adrian Grant (ENG)
Omar Mosaad (EGY) v [Qualifier]
Tarek Momen (EGY) v [Qualifier]
Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) v [5] Amr Shabana (EGY)
[6] Karim Darwish (EGY) v [Qualifier]
Laurens Jan Anjema (NED) v [Qualifier]
Simon Rosner (GER) v [Qualifier]
Olli Tuominen (FIN) v [2] Ramy Ashour (EGY)

James Willstrop doesn't look too happy as he loses the final to Ramy Ashour

James Willstrop walks off court as he concedes the 2012 final to Ramy Ashour

Pictures by Steve Cubbins (SquashSite)

 

Posted on March 12, 2014

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About The Author

Alan Thatcher

Lifelong sports journalist and squash lover. Event promoter, coach, author, voice artist. Founder of World Squash Day.

2 Comments

  1. Pierre April 12, 2014 at 11:54 pm

    I recall the 2012 El Gouna Tournament well. James Willstrop never conceded a thing – He was thoroughly thrashed by Ramy Ashour and in my view, was close to the worst display of sportsmanship EVER for a player that is revered for his court etiquette & sportsmanship most likely more than anyone else – and was once one of my favorite players. He should at the very least – played out the match. How many times have we seen players continue to compete despite already having incurred injury during a match yet push themselves to the limits for themselves, their opponents and probably most all for the fans that have paid to watch them play. Willstrop walking off court was BAD form and a slap in the face for the tournament’s hosts let alone his opponent who also happened to be an Egyptian. All the players played on the same court, same conditions and the same ball and the best man won – period. I remember watching a great semi-final match between Matthew & Ashour, with no problems and both players moving equally well – the pics selected for the above article are only just slightly out of context: Matthew hits the deck because he was sent back to Sheffield while the ball was still in Egypt with a fantastic trickle boast by Ashour – it’s a classic “trickle boast layout”, many players end up on there belly after being sent the wrong way on that shot – he did n’t slip though and had nothing to do with the court. Ramy takes a tumble – when doesn’t he? Name one tournament where Ramy has not dived, tumbled or collided with his opponent in his commitment to reach the ball. Ironically the two players above (on the floor) used to illustrate the poor court conditions both finished all their matches and the one guy even won. My point is: I’m not saying the court conditions were fantastic but rather that, after a quick wipe down or sweep – most players got over it and continued to do what they do best and no one can argue whether best player won. The fact that Willstrop and Matthew are not participating in the El Gouna Tournament this year is extremely disappointing and a huge let down for avid supporters of our Game, there is nothing better than watching the world top 6 top 8 guys battle it out on court. Perhaps provisions have been made this year for the problems encountered last or perhaps the English duo are running scared after being smashed in the Super Series and the thought of coming to Egypt is to daunting – I dunno

  2. Piotr April 13, 2014 at 5:41 pm

    What a great comment, Pierre! Was a pleasure to read it. And I fully agree with you.

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