Thursday, May 30, 2024

Shabana K.O’d by illness that also struck Nick Matthew

Gaultier gifted semi-final berth as The Maestro is forced to retire


Amr Shabana’s British Open hopes were ended by a stomach virus in Hull last night…an identical illness that struck world champion Nick Matthew earlier in the week.

Shabana, the four-time world champion from Egypt, was forced to retire after only one game of his quarter-final match with number one seed Gregory Gaultier leaving the large crowd disappointed and let down.

Afterwards, Shabana explained :”I’ve just no energy. had a bit of a gastro, took all the pills I could, but I’m just flat as it comes. Just can’t move…”

Englishman Matthew was also stricken by a similar illness 24 hours before his second round match against Daryl Selby. The second seed suffered bouts of severe sickness, draining him of energy and well being.

Matthew managed to recover enough to face Selby and the two battled out a five-set match before the Yorkshireman finally got over the line 3-2.

Shabana’s withdrawal means that the world’s top four squash players, Gaultier, Matthew, Mohamed Elshorbagy and Ramy Ashour have progressed to the semi-finals. Gaultier will now take on Egypt’s defending British Open champion Ashour in a mouthwatering semi-final match-up.

“I feel sorry for Shabs (Shabana) as he’s my best friend on tour and it’s a shame when a match ends this way,” said Gaultier.

“I just hope that he will be OK soon and come back and that we can play many more times in the future.

“I’m playing Ramy and he’s the man in form at the moment. He’s won the last two tournaments on the PSA World Series and his body is looking in great shape. But even though he is the man in form I’m here to do my best and try and beat everybody else, so I’ll just go back and get myself ready for tomorrow.

“I’ll be fresh, which is good, so I’ll give it my best tomorrow and we will see.”

Matthew is the only remaining home hope, after Ashour knocked out English No.2 James Willstrop, and he will face rising star Mohamed Elshorbagy, the Bristol-based Egyptian sensation who works under the tutelage of British Open legend Jonah Barrington and Hadrian Stiff.

The pair met at the semi-final stage of the PSA World Series Finals in March, when the 23-year-old triumphed, but Sheffield-based Matthew is determined to make amends for that result and add a fourth British Open crown to his victories in 2006, 2009 and 2012.

“Mohamed has beaten me the last two times we have played,” said Matthew. “He’s hungry and has all the qualities of youth, but it feels like he’s been around for a long time as he has maturity as well and is definitely the complete article.

“He won’t give any consideration to me being World Champion or playing at home – he’s an incredibly tough player and I expect we’ll have another hard battle tomorrow, when hopefully experience will sway it for me.

“The British Open is the reason I became a squash player,” added Matthew. “I remember going to Wembley to watch the greats like Jansher and Jahangir Khan and that is what inspired me to play.

“I feel like my week is just getting going now. I’ve not hit my stride like I need to and I hope with the crowd tomorrow I can up it a few more levels.”

2014 Allam British Open – Quarter-final Results:
[1] Nick Matthew (ENG) bt [Q] Fares Dessouki (EGY) 3-0: 11-4, 12-10, 11-9 [45m]
[4] Mohamed Elshorbagy (EGY) bt Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) 3-1: 11-7, 9-11, 11-6, 11-6 [58m]
[2] Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt [7] Amr Shabana (EGY) 11-2, retired [18m]
[3] Ramy Ashour (EGY) bt [5] James Willstrop (ENG) 3-0: 11-5, 11-5, 11-7 [40m]

2014 Allam British Open – Semi-final Draw:
[1] Nick Matthew (ENG) v [4] Mohamed Elshorbagy (EGY)
[2] Gregory Gaultier (FRA) v [3] Ramy Ashour (EGY) 

Pictures by Steve Line and Steve Cubbins 

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