Monday, April 15, 2024

James Willstrop roars on as Ramy Ashour and Nick Matthew bow out

Omar Mosaad on the way to victory against Ramy Ashour
Omar Mosaad on the way to victory against Ramy Ashour

Mosaad meets Momen in World semi-finals after marathon wins over Ashour and Matthew


A new name will be engraved on the PSA Men’s World Championship winner’s trophy this year after reigning champion Ramy Ashour and number two seed Nick Matthew were knocked out on a night of high drama in the quarter-finals.

The 28-year-old Egyptian Ashour’s hopes of winning back-to-back World titles came crashing down at the hands of compatriot Omar Mosaad during the last-eight stage at the Meydenbauer Centre in Bellevue, Washington.

The three-time World Championship winner has endured a torrid time with injures during the past 18 months. And he cut an agonising figure as his notoriously troublesome hamstring once again flared up during the fifth game of the 61-minute battle to prevent him from competing during the final exchanges.

Mossad applauds as Ashour leaves the court
Mosaad applauds as Ashour leaves the court

Mosaad, the 6ft 4in tall World No.6, produced a display of note during the opening two games as he out-gunned Ashour in a match of fluctuating fortunes.

Ashour surged back into the match in the third and fourth to level the scores, winning each game in spectacular style for the loss of just one point in each.

But Mosaad’s astute play and determination took its physical toll on Ashour, allowing the 27-year-old to take the match 11-8, 11-7, 1-11, 1-11, 11-5 over a dejected Ashour.

“It’s the first time in my life to reach the semi-finals of the World Championship and it’s amazing, I’m really happy,” said Mosaad.

“I’m pleased with my performance especially in those first two games. In the third and fourth I got a little tired and Ramy was controlling it.

“I’m really sorry for what happened to him, I hope he recovers soon, but winning is winning and I need to make sure I recover as best I can now.

“I have a World Championship semi-final to prepare for and I will be trying to everything to win the next match.”

Ashour’s exit came just 24-hours after World No.1 and pre-tournament favourite Mohamed Elshorbagy bowed out at the hands of England’s James Willstrop, with the 32-year-old Yorkshireman maintaining his challenge for a maiden title with a polished straight-games win over Colombian Miguel Angel Rodriguez.

James Willstrop beats Miguel Rodriguez in straight games
James Willstrop beats Miguel Rodriguez in straight games

“I’m obviously delighted to be into the last four of the biggest tournament in the squash world – I’m absolutely thrilled,” said Willstrop, the 2010 runner-up.

“For everything to come together in such an important week is tremendously satisfying. Above everything else I’m thoroughly enjoying it. I’ll try as best as I can to keep it going, and I’ll give it absolutely everything.”

Willstrop’s long-time domestic rival Nick Matthew, the World No.2, was another shock casualty on a night of dramatic action as he fell to Egyptian Tarek Momen in a gruelling 84-minute encounter.

The World No.12, who has been in inconsistent form so far during the 2015-16 season, produced an inspired performance to record the biggest win of his career.

Tarek Momen on his way to a marathon win over Nick Matthew
Tarek Momen on his way to a marathon win over Nick Matthew

“It’s hard to digest at the moment. Beating Nick on its own is quite an achievement, but to do it and make the semi-finals of the World Championship is huge for me,” said Momen.

“But it’s not over yet. I’m playing my childhood friend Omar (Mosaad) so I need to keep focused. We both of course want to win and tomorrow is a huge match for both of us. I’m in the semi-final and I can’t believe it, but hopefully I can get a win.”

Four-time runner-up Gregory Gaultier completed the semi-final line up after narrowly avoiding defeat against a spirited Ali Farag. The 23-year-old Egyptian produced some quality squash as he took a 2-1 game lead and looked on course to cause another huge upset before the ‘French General’ mounted his own resurgence.

Gregory Gaultier finishes in commanding style against Ali Farag
Gregory Gaultier finishes in commanding style against Ali Farag

In this form, Gaultier has the ability to totally dominate his opponents and he took  Farag to the point of physical breakdown  as he won the final two games 11-1, 11-3 to keep alive his hopes of a first world title.

“Even when I was down 2-1 I still believed in myself,” said Gaultier, who had to help his opponent off the court at the end of the match.

“This is the World Championship and the tournament that everyone wants to win. I have been training so hard all summer to try and make my dream come true. Even when you’re down, as I was tonight after the third game, you have to keep your head up. I fought hard to the end and that made the difference.” 

2015 Men’s World Championship, Meydenbauer Centre, Bellevue, Washington, USA.

Results – Quarter-finals:
James Willstrop (ENG) bt [5] Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL) 3-0: 11-5, 11-7, 11-4 (42m)
[3] Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt Ali Farag (EGY) 3-2: 5-11, 11-8, 10-12, 11-1, 11-3 (72m)
[7] Omar Mosaad (EGY) bt [4] Ramy Ashour (EGY) 3-2: 11-8, 11-7, 1-11, 1-11, 11-5 (61m)
[8] Tarek Momen (EGY) bt [2] Nick Matthew (ENG) 3-2: 5-11, 11-7, 9-11, 11-8, 11-7 (84m)

James Willstrop (ENG) v [3] Gregory Gaultier (FRA)
[7] Omar Mosaad (EGY) v [8] Tarek Momen (EGY)

Pictures by STEVE LINE ( courtesy of PSA


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