French ace and Egyptian maestro show their class to Net final clash
By BLAKE RHODES in San Francisco
No. 1 seed Gregory Gaultier (France) continued his streak of perfection on the shores of San Francisco Bay this year to earn his third consecutive trip to a NetSuite Open final, defeating fourth seed Miguel Angel Rodriguez (Colombia) in three games.
No. 2 seed Amr Shabana (Egypt) ousted third seed Peter Barker (England) to earn his first berth in the finals of this PSA World Tour International 70 Tournament in San Francisco.
Gaultier, enjoying his tenure as the world’s top player, has not lost a game over three matches in this tournament and will look to reclaim the NetSuite Open title he won in 2012.
Last year, Gaultier lost the crown to Ramy Ashour in a tough five-game championship match. The 31-year-old will appear in his 60th PSA Tour final tonight and will attempt to win his 30th title after dispatching Rodriguez 3-0 (11-6, 11-5, 11-3) in 41 minutes. Gaultier now owns a 5-0 career record against Rodriguez.
A four-time world champion, Shabana needed four games to get past Barker (6-11, 11-8, 11-5, 11-5) in 55 minutes and has now won eight consecutive matches against the Englishman.
The 35-year-old from Cairo will look to avenge his lone defeat at the NetSuite Open, when he lost to Gaultier 3-0 in the 2012 semifinals. With 33 career titles, he is appearing in his 47th final.
A NetSuite Open victory would be his third of 2014, alongside his Tournament of Champions (New York) and Grasshopper Cup (Zurich) triumphs.
Shabana owns a 13-11 advantage in head-to-head matchups with Gaultier on the PSA World Tour, with the world’s current top player claiming three of the last four meetings.
The last time these two players competed for a championship, Shabana came out on top three games to none at the Tournament of Champions in New York in January.
The final match will be played tonight (Tuesday September 30) at the glass court on the South Lawn at Justin Herman Plaza.
The final will be broadcast exclusively on SquashTV (www.psasquashtv.com) from 7:45 p.m. PDT / 4.45am BST.
Prior to the championship match, Alex Kurth of Vox Pop will face Sam Clayman of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts in the final of the Corporate Squash Challenge to benefit SquashDrive.
They competed in round robin play with Jeff Mayorga (NetSuite), Luke Evnin (Cascade Management Capital), Lauren Patrizio (Vista Equity Partners) and Stuart Knight (SquashDrive) in a round robin tournament on the glass court to earn their berth in the final.
Following the match, the Corporate Squash Challenge participants will donate $25,000 to SquashDrive, the after-school youth development program in Oakland that blends squash instruction with academics, tutoring, mentoring and community service.
(2) Amr Shabana (Egypt) beat (3) Peter Barker (England) 3-1 (6-11, 11-8, 11-5, 11-5) 55 min.
(1) Gregory Gaultier (France) beat (4) Miguel Angel Rodriguez (Colombia) 3-0 (11-6, 11-5, 11-3) 41 min.
Tuesday, September 30, Final:
7:45 p.m. PDT: (1) Gregory Gaultier (France) v (2)z Amr Shabana (Egypt)
Picture by Andreas Hofweber