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Thursday, May 6, 2021

Listen to the pros and learn

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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Some very interesting quotes emerged from several top pros at the Tournament of Champions last night. Some simple, solid home truths about how to play the game.

Here’s what they said.

David Palmer v  Tom Richards

Tour veteran David Palmer, who has played in every Tournament of Champions since 1995, demonstrated the form that kept him in the PSA top ten for a full decade.

“David takes everything early,” said Palmer’s opponent Tom Richards after the match. “He is always in front, taking your game away.”

Ramy Ashour v Stewart Boswell

The top-seeded Ashour dropped the first game to Australia’s Stewart Boswell. “He went for a lot of shots in the first game and missed,” said Boswell after the match,” but I l knew that he was only going to get better as the match progressed.”

“I really enjoyed playing today,” said Ashour, who struggled with injuries at the end of 2010.  “I haven’t been enjoying myself for the past two or three months. But this court and these fans and this atmosphere give you the energy to produce better squash.”

Peter Barker v Hisham Ashour

Ramy’s older brother Hisham led by two games before losing to Peter Barker, the tournament’s fifth seed. Three of the first four games were settled by tiebreaks and Barker said:

“Hisham has been playing awesome squash in the past few months, and I was thinking too much about winning and losing in the first two games. When I was down 0-2, I had to dig deep and just focus on not losing.”

Barker used solid, straight length to counter Ashour’s dynamic shotmaking and won the fifth game  11-2. That sounds tough but Barker clearly stuck to his game plan at the end and wore down a very dangerous opponent.

Nick Matthew v Alister Walker

World No.1 Nick Matthew defeated friend and training partner Alister Walker 11-5, 11-8, 11-5. As Walker was cooling down on the training bicycle after the match, Matthew walked by and Walker called him over. “Your length was amazing tonight,” Walker said to Matthew. “That is the best you have ever played against me – it was pure measured squash.”

Amr Shabana v Daryl Selby

Fourth seed Amr Shabana won 11-6, 11-8, 11-8 and said:  “I played three games as well as I could play.”  His opponent concurred, saying: “Today Amr showed why he was world No.1. Any ball that I hit loose, he put in the nick.”

More words of wisdom from Nick Matthew after a gruelling 88-minute semi-final against Amr Shabana:

“This match was a test at every level, of physical and mental capacity” said Matthew after the match, tired but satisfied. ”But that wasn’t surprising, considering I was playing one of the best players of all time.” In the post-match on court interview that was part of the evening’s live broadcast on espn3.com, Tournament Director John Nimick asked Matthew how the evening’s marathon match would affect his readiness for the final against Ashour. “This is what we train to do as professional athletes,” said Matthew, “so there is no reason not to be ready to do this again in 24 hours.”

And here’s what Ramy Ashour had to say after beating James Willstrop in the other semi-final:

“Tomorrow is the toughest match. It is not so much about the squash; it is about reaching the end of your destination. Tomorrow is about the pressure.”

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