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NAO: Ramy’s relief as Richards rocks Richmond

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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Poster boy Ramy Ashour: Photo by Kim Ennis

PSA NORTH AMERICAN OPEN, Westwood Club, Richmond, Virginia, USA

Wednesday results:

5pm: (6) Peter Barker (England) bt (Q) Nafizwan Adnan (Malaysia) 11-2, 11-3, 11-5 (28 mins)

6pm: (3) James Willstrop (England) bt (Q) Martin Knight (NZ) 11-7, 11-7, 11-5 (30 mins)

7pm: (2) Ramy Ashour (Egypt) bt Tom Richards (England) 6-11, 12-10, 11-6, 11-9 (45 mins)

8pm: Gregory Gaultier (France) bt Olli Tuominen (Finland) 11-6, 11-6, 11-1 (36 mins)

Rising England star Tom Richards came desperately close to a shock win over No.2 seed Ramy Ashour in the second round of the North American Open in Richmond, Virginia.

Richards won the opening game but squandered game ball in the second and let slip a 9-4 lead in the fourth before the Egyptian maestro clinched victory 6-11, 12-10, 11-6, 11-9.

Richards dominated the opening game and held game ball in the second at 10-9 but was unable to close it out. Ashour squeezed home 12-10 and from 5-4 down he won the third 11-6.

However, Richards roared back in the fourth and looked set to take the match the full distance as he led 9-4, but the Egyptian maestro put together an astonishing run of seven points without reply to clinch victory.

Ashour said: “Tom played a great game and was ahead in all of the games. I am a little bit disappointed with the way I played but all credit to Tom. He played very well. But I will need to play a lot better in the next round.”

Richards said: “I am very disappointed to have lost because I was in some very good positions in the second and fourth games and should have finished them off. But in a couple of days I might feel a bit differently.”

James Willstrop meets England team-mate Peter Barker in the quarter-finals after both players crushed qualifiers.

Barker took just 28 minutes to beat Malaysian Nafizwan Adnan and Willstrop took two minutes longer to beat New Zealander Martin Knight in straight games.

With world champion Nick Matthew already through, the quarter-final schedule features three Englishmen.

The draw features four outstanding contests, with Ashour facing Frenchman Gregory Gaultier, who outclassed Finnish No.1 Olli Tuominen 11-6, 11-6, 11-1.

Matthew meets Australia’s David Palmer, and four-times world champion Amr Shabana tackles Malaysian Azlan Iskandar, who has looked impressive this week at the Westwood Club.

Quarter-finals, Thursday:

5pm: (4) Amr Shabana (Eypt) v Azlan Iskandar (Malaysia)

6pm: (1) Nick Matthew (England) v David Palmer (Australia)

7pm: (3) James Willstrop (England) v (7) Peter Barker (England)

8pm: (2) Ramy Ashour (Egypt) v (6) Gregory Gaultier (France)

The North American Open goes out live on ESPN3.com this week. Broadcast Schedule:

Friday, February 25: 6:00pm

Professional Squash Association: North American Open (Semi-finals)

http://espn.go.com/espn3/index?id=131353

Saturday, February 26: 5:00pm

Professional Squash Association: North American Open (Final)

http://espn.go.com/espn3/index?id=131404

Follow the live action blog on the official tournament website: www.naosquash.com

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