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PSA: Shabana and Gaultier bid to be king of Queen’s

Amr Shabana holds the T and stays in front of James Willstrop. Picture by JORDAN MANSFIELD

Shabana & Gaultier To Contest Queen’s Climax

7 January 2012

RESULTS: ATCO PSA World Series Squash Finals, London, England

[4] Amr Shabana (EGY) bt [1] James Willstrop (ENG) 13-11, 11-5 (44m)
[2] Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt [3] Karim Darwish (EGY) 11-5, 11-5 (33m)

Egypt’s distinguished Amr Shabana, the four-time world champion who boasts 27 titles on the PSA World Tour, is one step away from winning his first ever trophy in England after upsetting home hope James Willstrop in today’s semi-finals of the ATCO PSA World Series Squash Finals at The Queen’s Club in London.

The semi-finals – and Sunday’s final – are being covered live by Sky Sports in addition to being streamed to enthusiasts all over the world via www.psasquashtv.com

Willstrop was top seed in the flagship PSA World Tour event which features the eight players who earned the most points from the nine PSA World Series championships in 2011. It was after winning the last three World Series events of the year in quick succession that the Yorkshireman became world number one for the first time at the beginning of this month.

But Willstrop was unable to match the racket wizardry of the 30-year-old left-hander who topped the world rankings for 33 months in a row until the end of 2008.

Shabana rolled back the years to defeat the Englishman 13-11, 11-5 in his first win over Willstrop for more than a year. The triumph takes the Egyptian into the World Series Finals final for the second year in a row.

“To reach the final is amazing considering the quality of players in the game at the moment and how well everyone is playing too,” said Shabana. “James has the best hands in English squash and I’m very happy to get this victory.”

In a repeat of the 2008 final, Shabana will line-up against Frenchman Gregory Gaultier. The second seed from Aix-en-Provence faced Karim Darwish, another former world number one from Egypt.

Third seed Darwish romped to a 4-0 lead, but Gaultier regained control thereafter before closing out the match 11-5, 11-5 in 33 minutes.

“At the beginning of the first game he was attacking – I wasn’t sharp enough,” explained the Frenchman afterwards. “I really had to be focussed and control the middle of the court.

“Once I got the first game, I began to get my confidence back and was able to play my game.”

Reflecting on the final, two-time World Series Finals champion Gaultier added: “Amr was the best player in the world a few years ago and now I think he’s back. He was really sharp today and beat the world number one so I’ll have to be at my best.”

Gaultier is celebrating the 44th PSA Tour final of his career – but remarkably his fourth World Series Finals final in only his fourth appearance in the event.

For all the latest Tour news: www.psaworldtour.com


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