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PSA: Butt topples Grant to reach Dayton final

Top seed Adrian Grant

Lightning Strikes Twice In Dayton

13 November 2011

RESULTS: PSA International 25 EBS Dayton Open, Dayton, Ohio, USA

[Q] Yasir Butt (PAK) bt [1] Adrian Grant (ENG) 11-6, 11-8, 11-9 (47m)
[2] Alister Walker (BOT) bt [4] Chris Simpson (ENG) 15-13, 11-7, 12-10 (43m)

For the second time in five years, a qualifier has reached the final of the EBS Dayton Open in the USA after unheralded Pakistani Yasir Butt removed top seed Adrian Grant in the semi-finals of the PSA World Tour International 25squash event in its eighth year at the Dayton Squash Center in Dayton, Ohio.

It was in 2006 that a young 19-year-old Ramy Ashour fought his way through two qualifying rounds, became a crowd favourite with his flashy play and determination to win, and found himself in the championship match against world No10John White. Ashour lost that final but came back the next year to avenge the loss and beat White in the final of the 2007 championship.

In 2011, history has repeated itself: Qualifier Butt, a 23-year-old from Lahore ranked 95 in the world, now finds himself in the final with No2 seed Alister Walker, the world No20 from Botswana.

In the opening semi-final, in front of a packed gallery at the Dayton Squash Center, Butt defeated England’s world No17Adrian Grant 11-6, 11-8, 11-9 in 47 minutes.

The English left-hander looked tentative in the first game and wasn’t moving as well as the night before. Down 5-9, the crowd could see that Grant knew he had a problem on his hands and Butt won the first game.

“The second and third games were eerily similar,” reports tournament organiser Charlie Johnson. “Butt sensed that Grant was vulnerable and got off to early leads in both and kept the ball in the front of the court and applied constant pressure with incredible attacking drops. The final rally was a 45-second youtube video of the whole match: a long rally that Butt finished off with a winner.”

Butt later acknowledged that his strategy from the start was to attack the front of the court on every loose ball: He knew Grant’s game from the back of the court was strong and that if he tried to play a length and power game against Grant, he’d be out on the court too long and playing to Grant’s strengths.

“Grant admitted he started tentatively and a little tight in the first game and could never find his stride after that,” added Johnson. “Grant had seen some of Butt’s earlier matches, respected his shot-making ability and knew that the front was going to be attacked – but just couldn’t find the right counter strategy on this night in Dayton.”

In the other semi, former England international Alister Walker beat fourth seed Chris Simpson, the world No54 from England, 15-13, 11-7, 12-10 in 43 minutes.

The final will be Butt and Walker’s first meeting since September 2005, when the pair contested a first round match in the Kolkata International in India – where Walker prevailed in five games.

Butt is marking the ninth PSA World Tour final of his career – but his fourth this year – while Walker is celebrating his eighth, but first in 2011.

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Butt Battles On In Dayton





12 November 2011

RESULTS: PSA International 25 EBS Dayton Open, Dayton, Ohio, USA

[1] Adrian Grant (ENG) bt [Q] Danish Atlas Khan (PAK) 12-10, 11-9, 11-5 (46m)
[Q] Yasir Butt (PAK) bt Campbell Grayson (NZL) 4-11, 11-6, 11-8, 11-2 (56m)
[4] Chris Simpson (ENG) bt Adrian Waller (ENG) 5-11, 2-11, 11-6, 11-7, 11-9 (71m)
[2] Alister Walker (BOT) bt [Q] Olivier Pett (ENG) 18-16, 11-6, 11-7 (63m)

Pakistan qualifier Yasir Butt continued his giant-killing run in the EBS Dayton Open in the USA when he overcame New Zealander Campbell Grayson to claim a place in the semi-finals of the PSA World Tour International 25 squash event in its eighth year at the Dayton Squash Center in Dayton, Ohio.

The 23-year-old from Lahore made his breakthrough in the first round where he ousted Robbie Temple, an Englishman ranked more than 60 places higher. Butt went on to take Grayson 4-11, 11-6, 11-8, 11-2.

“Butt dropped the first game, looking a little unsure of his game and made a few mistakes, but settled down and took the next three games in the match that lasted 56 minutes,” explained tournament organiser Charlie Johnson.

“The pivotal point in this match was in game three where, down 6-8, Grayson won a long rally to get to 7-8 – but Butt countered winning another astoundingly long rally to stifle a run and won the game 11-8. After Grayson won the first point of the last game, Butt ran off seven straight points but to his credit, Grayson fought hard to the end despite the insurmountable lead Butt had and the crowd was highly entertained by the final rallies where both players were giving it their all.”

The Pakistani progresses to face Adrian Grant, the top seed from England. The London left-hander dismissed Butt’s 17-year-old compatriot Danish Atlas Khan, also a qualifier, 12-10, 11-9, 11-5.

There will also be English interest in the other semi-final where Chris Simpson takes on Alister Walker, of Botswana.

Fourth seed Simpson staged an impressive comeback, recovering from 2/0 down to beat fellow countryman Adrian Waller5-11, 2-11, 11-6, 11-7, 11-9 in 71 minutes.

“Really happy with my comeback,” tweeted Simpson later. “It’s about time I won 1 in 5!”

Walker, the second seed, survived a marathon first game before going on to beat English qualifier Olivier Pett 18-16, 11-6, 11-7 in 63 minutes.

“Pett has played well all week and continued his high level in the first game that took an astounding 30 minutes,” said Johnson. “This initial game got to 10-all and then began an incredible series of game ball rallies alternating between players: these were fabulous displays of both players’ ability to retrieve and at the same time, try to pound the ball away to finish the rally.

“At 14-14, someone in the gallery exclaimed that ‘no one seems to want to win’ and I countered with no one wants to lose – no ‘seem’ about it!

“The highest level play we’ve seen all week took place over the next five points that it took Walker to win this marathon game 18-16. Pett was not deflated after the loss of this first game, both players appreciated the effort of the other for a 30 minute game, and he played very hard over the next two games.”

Semi-final line-up:
[1] Adrian Grant (ENG) v [Q] Yasir Butt (PAK)
[2] Alister Walker (BOT) v [4] Chris Simpson (ENG)

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