Local hero Rosner shocks Shabana in Frankfurt Frenzy
By HOWARD HARDING – Squash Mad Correspondent
England’s world No2 Nick Matthew added a new trophy to his already extensive collection when he beat defending champion Gregory Gaultier, the world No1 from France, in the final of the KPMG Grand Slam Cup – the unique “One Night Only” squash event staged at an iconic venue,The Squaire in Frankfurt, Germany.
The KPMG Grand Slam Cup, launched last year, featured five of the world’s top players – four of whom have topped the world rankings. Matches were played in an innovative best-of-three-games “Shootout” format – with the third game, if required, played to 1 or 3 points.
German number one Simon Rosner (pictured above in quarter-final action) took home interest into the semi-finals when the world No12 beat event newcomer Amr Shabana, the four-time world champion from Egypt, 11-10, 11-8 in the opening quarter-final play-off.
Matthew claimed his place in the final after seeing off Egyptian rival Ramy Ashour, the world No4, 11-7, 11-9. In the other semi, 2013 champion Gaultier disappointed the partisan crowd with an 11-8, 8-11, 1-0 victory over Rösner – the Frenchman quickly justifying his single-point shootout choice when an early crosscourt shot went into the side-wall nick!
As winner of the first game, the Englishman chose ‘first to three points’ as the format for the third – and soon saw his decision rewarded when Gaultier won the opening rally.
Gaultier took the second for match-ball – but Matthew battled on to save two before contesting the final double-match-ball-point and ultimately clinching the title 11-4, 3-11, 3-2!
Matthew’s title triumph came 24 hours after a shock straight games defeat to England team-mate Peter Barker, the world No8, in the English Premier League final.
“It’s consolation of sorts,” admitted Matthew afterwards when asked if it made up for his previous night’s loss. “But the main thing is to celebrate this great event – a fantastic setting for the matches in this great building, and a big and enthusiastic crowd.
“And having the chance to play at the pace that Ramy and Greg play at in one night is good for next week’s British Open,” added the 33-year-old who will be bidding for a fourth title in Hull next week.
At the trophy presentation, Matthew joked: “I’m pleased to go from last place last year to first place in the space of a year – that’s how much I’ve improved!
“It’s brilliant to have played here – thanks for the support of KPMG and the Welldone Agency. We haven’t had enough squash in Germany recently so it’s good to have this excellent event here in Frankfurt.”
KPMG head of Marketing Janette Riley added: “People ask me, why KPMG? The players make it look so simple – which is what we are all about, cutting through complexity to make things simple!
“I hope I’ll be standing here again in 2015.”
John Nimick, President of Event Engine, joint hosts of the event with the Welldone Agency Group, was delighted with the 2014 KPMG Grand Slam Cup: “The event has grown significantly since last year, with more than a 30% increase in seating capacity.
“Our mandate has always been to make squash events appeal to the non-squash sports fan – we want them to feel that they have been to an exciting event, and I think we are achieving this here at The Squaire in Frankfurt.
“We are just trying to win over hearts and minds.
“We want to take squash into an environment which stands on its own and satisfies customers.
“The best thing that squash has is its glass courts, which enable us to put on a show like this.”
The event was staged in The Squaire, an extraordinary structure adjacent to Frankfurt’s international airport which boasts unique architecture that has made it a landmark building. With its innovative usage concept called “New Work City”, The Squaire creates a working environment facilitating performance, motivation and creativity. Within around 146.000 sqm, there are numerous offices, two Hilton Hotels, restaurants and various services.
Live coverage of the action was streamed worldwide by SquashTV, presented by ROWE Motoroil.
Official event website: www.grandslamsquash.com
Grand Slam Cup images courtesy of Jordan Mansfield