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British Open: Willstrop weathers the storm as Pilley shakes Elshorbagy

Alan Thatcherhttps://squashmad.com
Founder of World Squash Day, Squash Mad and the new Squash 200 Partnership, building clubs of the future. Founder of the Kent Open and co-promoter of the St. James's Place Canary Wharf Classic. Author and Public Speaker.

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James Willstrop overcomes Simon Rosner after the match was moved indoors. Pictures by STEVE CUBBINS
James Willstrop overcomes Simon Rosner after the match was moved indoors. Pictures by STEVE CUBBINS

Allam British Open 2013 -Thu 23rd May, Day SIX:

The second round continued at the KC Stadium with eight more matches which completed the quarter-final line-ups.

Meanwhile over at the University of Hull the Masters competitions gather pace.

Round Two (continued):

[8] Jenny Duncalf (Eng) 3-0 Nour El Tayeb (Egy) 14/12, 11/4, 11/4 (25m) …
[8] Borja Golan (Esp) 3-1 [Q] Karim Abdel Gawad (Egy) 9/11, 11/9, 11/8, 11/4 (55m)
[3] Raneem El Weleily (Egy) 3-0 [11] Madeline Perry (Irl) 11/7, 12/10, 11/4 (25m)
Cameron Pilley (Aus) 3-2 [6] Mohamed El Shorbagy (Egy) 13/15, 4/11, 11/9, 11/6, 13/11 (74m)

[14] Omneya Abdel Kawy (Egy) 3-0 [5] Nour El Sherbini (Egy) 16/14, 11/7, 11/8 (29m)
[1] Ramy Ashour (Egy) 3-0 [Q] Chris Simpson (Eng) 11/2, 11/4, 11/9 (22m)
[2] Laura Massaro (Eng) 3-0 [15] Dipika Pallikal (Ind) 7/11, 12/10, 11/9, 11/6 (45m)
[3] James Willstrop (Eng) 3-0 Simon Rosner (Ger) 11/9, 11/1, 11/6 (106m: 41m play after match was moved indoors because of rain)

Pilley stuns Shorbagy to reach the Quarters as rain stops play in Hull

From STEVE CUBBINS
A cold, wet and windy day at the KC Stadium started with a quick win for England’s Jenny Duncalf who, after edging the first against Nour El Tayeb, took control of the match to advance to the quarter-finals, where she will meet another Egyptian in Raneem El Weleily,, the third seed who beat Madeline Perry in straight games.

The cold conditions didn’t make for long rallies in either match, and whereas Duncalf managed to keep her young opponent’s attacking instincts at bay, Perry was definitely out of her comfort zone in these conditions against the attacking talents of El Weleily. Tayeb came close in the first before fading away – despite some gallant dives towards the end – and Perry was a little unlucky to lose in three having come so close in the second.

Jenny Duncalf in control
Jenny Duncalf in control

“It doesn’t matter if we play in the Sahara desert or in the middle of the snow,” said Duncalf, “it’s still the British Open, and if you are a good squash player, you’ll play well on any court.”

“It’s the first time I played with sleeves on,” admitted El Weleily, “so definitely not my favourite conditions. But it’s a good court, and I like it, but no, it’s not as easy as it looks, plus it’s a very risky game so you need a plan B!

“Jenny and I have had some pretty nice battles, and last year, I reached the semis after beating her in the quarters, so I hope we’ll have another great battle tomorrow.”

In the opening men’s match a determined performance from Borja Golan saw the Spaniard come from a game down to beat qualifier Karim Abdel Gawad in just under an hour, and a seeded Egyptian fell when Cameron Pilley came from 0-2 and 3-9 down to beat Mohamed El Shorbagy in the match of the tournament so far.

“At the start of the match, anything that was short would be a winner,” said Golan, “which means that it was so difficult mentally, you had to be alert on every shot. Very tough indeed. After that, I really was glad I asked for a ball change, it really made a big difference in the third.”

Winning thumbs-up from Cam Pilley
Winning thumbs-up from Cam Pilley

Unseeded Aussie Pilley, who had never been past round two, seemed to relax as his opponent tightened up, taking eight points in a row to win the third and continuing the momentum to level. Shorbagy, the sixth seed, had his chances in the decider but couldn’t convert match balls at 10-8 and 11-10, tinning on Pilley’s first match ball to bring an end to the match of the tournament so far.

“You have to have faith in yourself – it was under control all the time,” he joked. “Seriously though, I am not too sure,” he replied to the question of how he had turned it around.

“There had been no real purpose to my game, and he was just killing me. But I relaxed a bit and straightened it up a bit.

“I was also very determined. He had beaten me the last four times, so I’m very happy to get away with a win there.”

Shorbagy struggled to cope with Pilley’s reach, as the Australian slowly gained control of the mid-court.

Towards the end of the fifth game Shorbagy played a cross-court drive on his first match point, which allowed Pilley a chance for a cut-off volley drop winner, then was refused a let by the referee on the second, and put a backhand drop into the tin for the third.

Pilley completed his startling comeback on his first match point when Shorbagy attempted a low cross court forehand drive from a deep position, only to drill the ball into the tin.

Pilley now plays third seed James Willstrop in the quarters after the Yorkshireman accounted for German Simon Rosner 11-9, 11-1, 11-6 in a match that was moved indoors after rain made the court unplayable.

MO WAY THROUGH: The Egyptian's path is blocked by Pilley
MO WAY THROUGH: The Egyptian’s path is blocked by Pilley

The evening session, with the temperature dropping, saw a trio of matches featuring short sharp exchanges.

First was an all-Egyptian between last year’s finalist Nour El Sherbini and Omneya Abdel Kawy, – their first meeting, as it turned out. It was the experienced Kawy who prevailed, just getting ahead at the end of each of the three games.

“I think the difference today came from the pressure she felt, because she is the highest ranked player, and that she got into the final last year,” said Kawy. “But also, maybe the way I played surprised her, I thought she was going to play a lot more shots at the front, but she didn’t.”

Then it was another Egyptian who lost out in last year’s final. Ramy Ashour raced to a 10-0 lead over England’s Chris Simpson, who scored his first point with a service return into the nick. Ashour was soon a game ahead though, and not much afterwards was two games ahead. Simpson made a real game of it in the third though, and Ashour’s fist pumps at the end of the match demonstrated his desire to finish the match as quickly as possible – and the continuation of his year-long unbeaten record.

“I learned a few things from my first game on the court, so today I made sure I would be ready from the start,” said Ashour. “In the third he played better, and I tried to stay focused and alert at all times, and I’m really happy I managed to win in three.”

India’s Dipika Pallikal took advantage of the conditions to quickly establish a one-game and 8-3 lead over second seed Laura Massaro, but the Englishwoman dug deep to take six points in a row to level the match, and was always marginally in front in the next two.

“I wasn’t even thinking about the score, I didn’t realise I was that far behind in the second,” admitted the winner. “It’s such tough conditions on there I just had to concentrate on each point, and it might have seemed a bit excessive but I needed to keep on geeing myself up and that was the only way to do it.”

Laura Massaro battles past Dipika Pallikal
Laura Massaro battles past Dipika Pallikal

The final match of the night was cut short midway though the first game as rain found its way onto the court at the KC Stadium. So, with England and Yorkshire’s James Willstroptrailing 5-6 in the first, he and Simon Rosner moved to the Hull and East Riding Club to conclude their match.

Willstrop started strongly to take the first, raced through the second with Rosner becoming quite frustrated with the decisions he was getting, and pulled clear from 3-all after a hard-fought opening to the third.

“It’s a much different game from what you get on the glass court, so much faster and more intense. We both wanted to play at the KC, but it’s same for both and Simon made it really tough on there,” said Willstrop.

“Glad to be through, of course, and hopefully the event will carry on to be a great success and we won’t have to use this place again, even though I was really surprised and pleased to see such a big crowd at this time of night!”

Full reports, quotes and photos available on the official tournament site: www.BritishOpenSquash.net 

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3 Comments

  1. Hi!
    What was the thinking behind the decision to play outdoors? It really does surprise me not least since I feel that we need to show a strong support not least spectator and venue wise when aiming for the Olympics.
    I sincerely feel sorry for those that arranged it but I have to be honest and say that it should never have been held this way.
    Major tournaments like this one must be waterproof (irony) from all aspects and show to those deciding in the Olympic run that squash is a 100% professional sport.

    If I could add one thing it would be to start becoming really professional in the scoring/refereeing. This should include informing the spectators and also the players about Why a certain decision is taken. If we want more people to start watching the matches I claim that we have to handle the whole process professionally. Maybe even consider bringing a truly professional commentator on. I like the guys that do the commenting but at times I would really want to listen to a seasoned veteran that knows how to make issues both exciting and understandable.

    This is not me complaining – I’m just eager to support a truly professional approach to our future in the sports world.

    All the best from Stockhom

    • Hi Peter
      Many thanks for your input, as always.
      I am looking more towards purpose-built venues, such as theatres, to provide a wonderful atmosphere, an historic setting, and all the facilities and comfort you need to truly put on a great show.
      That’s what theatres were designed to do.
      We should use them more.
      I know from my own experience that outdoor venues can prove difficult, with an array of logisticial problems that do not arise when you hire a purpose-built venue.
      Much as I love the pictures of the open-air amphitheatre at the foot of the Pyramids, I have heard all kinds of horror stories about the lack of toilet facilities and more mundane expectations like a suitable wireless connection. The players had to practise during the heat of the day and breathe in flies and sand during the evening match schedule.
      Recent history has highlighted problems with outdoor locations including El Gouna, Queen’s Club, Hong Kong. Kuwait and Chicago.
      Give me a warm, comfortable theatre every time.
      Alan

    • If I was looking for a venue in Hull I think I would have chosen the Hull New Theatre, a wonderful, historic building with a seating capacity of 1159.
      Check Google Images. It’s a superb building.

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