Sunday, April 14, 2024

NAO: Magic show from Ramy as Matthew marches past injured Pamer

This is the moment when David Palmer went over on his right ankle.


At the Westwood Club, Richmond, Virginia

Quarter-finals, Thursday:

(1) Nick Matthew (England) beat David Palmer (Australia) 8-9 retd (23 mins)

(4) Amr Shabana (Eypt) beat Azlan Iskandar (Malaysia) 11-7, 6-11, 12-10, 12-10 (48 mins)

(3) James Willstrop (England) beat (7) Peter Barker (England) 7-11, 11-4, 11-4, 11-5 (49 mins)

(2) Ramy Ashour (Egypt) beat (6) Gregory Gaultier (France) 11-5, 9-11, 11-4, 6-11, 11-8 (68 mins)

Matthew marches into Richmond semi-finals as injury KOs Palmer

England’s world champion Nick Matthew was given a walkover into the semi-finals of the $115,000 North American Open when his Australian opponent David Palmer was forced to retire through injury.

Matthew, the Sheffield-based world No.1, was trailing 8-9 in a tense and physical opening game when the two players collided in mid-court as Palmer tried to chase a ball into the back left corner.

After lengthy treatment to a twisted ankle, the 34-year-old veteran announced that he could not continue play in this World Series Tour event, the second of the year, at the Westwood Club in Richmond, Virginia.

Palmer said: “I have another tournament coming up soon and it would be silly to risk it. The ankle swelled up really badly. It’s a shame because Nick and I were both playing well and it was shaping up to be a great match.”

Top seed Matthew, the reigning NAO champion, meets Amr Shabana in the semi-finals after the No.4 seed overcame Malaysian Azlan Iskander in a wonderful match full of attacking squash.

It was so tight that Shabana needed to squeeze home in two tiebreaks before winning 11-7, 6-11, 12-10, 12-10 in 48 minutes of brilliant shot-making and phenomenal retrieving.

No.3 seed James Willstrop maintained his unbeaten record against England team-mate Peter Barker. In their 12th PSA Tour meeting, Willstrop recovered after losing the first game to win 7-11, 11-4, 11-4, 11-5 in 49 minutes.

It was a stylish, measured performance and No.3 seed Willstrop will need a repeat performance in the semi-finals against Ramy Ashour.

The Egyptian genius overcame Gregory Gaultier in a spectacular finale to the evening.

Gaultier played superbly but Ashour’s speed around the court and a succession of deadly crosscourt kill shots proved the decisive factors. At times, Ashour’s skill transcended genius.

After clinching a 68-minute victory, with a scoreline of 11-5, 9-11, 11-4, 6-11, 11-8, Ashour acknowledged the contribution of his opponent. He said: “Greg has been out of action with an injury for a long time since the World Open and he is back playing better than he was before.

“That’s why I needed to be so fast, just to get the ball back. He was playing incredible squash and I am very happy and relieved to be through to the semi-finals against James. That should be another great match.”

The Richmond crowd gave Gaultier a three-minute ovation after a blinding rally in which he saved a match ball, and then rose as one to give both players a richly deserved standing ovation as they left the court.

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