10:20 pm
20 May 2024

Botwright To Face David In Dream Manchester World Final

18 Oct 2008

After consistently failing to live up to expectations on her 'home' court at the National Squash Centre in Manchester for the past ten years, Vicky Botwright provided the dream outcome for the organisers of the Hi-Tec World Open Squash Championships by earning a place in tomorrow's women's final in the English city.

The world's leading players from more than 30 countries have been competing in the Hi-Tec World Squash Championships - Manchester 2008, the first ever joint staging of the Men's World Open and Women's World Open in the UK.

Botwright, the 11th seed, is bidding farewell to the WISPA World Tour after taking up the position of Head Coach at the Centre. But, in the second round, the Manchester-based 31-year-old stunned the squash world by ousting Australian title-holder Rachael Grinham.

The former England number one then clinched her first appearance in the world final when higher-ranked England team-mate Jenny Duncalf retired injured after two games.

"I don't know what to say - it's unbelievable," said the jubilant Mancunian afterwards. "I thought I could beat her - but I didn't want to do it like that.

"But even if I win the title tomorrow, I will still be back at work at the centre on Monday morning!"

Duncalf, the fifth seed from Harrogate in Yorkshire, was devastated to have pulled out prematurely: "It was in the second rally of the match that something went in my right thigh - and I didn't know what to do. I took a three-minute injury break in the game, but the injury affected my movement and after two games I couldn't go on.

"I've never come off injured in my life before - it's not a great time to do it in a World Open!"

Botwright will face strong favourite Nicol David in the final. The world number one from Malaysia beat surprise opponent Madeline Perry, the 14th seed from Ireland, 11-6, 11-8, 11-6 to reach her tenth successive Tour final since her shock second round defeat in the 2007 World Open a year ago in Madrid.

David acknowledged that she has raised her game over the past year: "Every tournament I play, I learn more about myself - and with this new scoring, you have to be sharp. You can't afford to lose concentration."

Later the capacity crowd in Manchester - which included two IOC delegates attending the event in the observation process for Squash's bid to become an Olympic sport in 2016 - witnessed a titanic all-Egyptian encounter in which 21-year-old Ramy Ashour beat defending champion Amr Shabana, the world No1, 11-6, 7-11, 7-11, 11-9, 11-7.

Shabana, who celebrated his 31st month in a row as world number one this month and was looking to become only the fourth player in history to win a fourth world title, rued his missed chances when leading 5-3 and 8-6 in the fourth game.

"I had my chances and missed them - I should have won in the fourth," said the 29-year-old from Giza afterwards. "I played all right - he had to play well to beat me."

Fourth seed Ashour, who earlier in the tournament had admitted being nervous about being back in England for the first time since an injury-beset British Open in May, was delighted with his performance.

"I think that was my best ever match - I gave it all. I've never been so focussed."

In his first appearance in a World Open final, Ashour will face fellow countryman Karim Darwish, after the 27-year-old from Cairo beat Australia's former champion David Palmer 11-6, 11-9, 11-8 in 46 minutes.

"I'm so happy to be in the final of the World Open - the biggest event of the year," said the seventh seed. "And I am so pleased to be in the final against my team-mate Ramy.

"Off court, we are really good friends, but on-court we don't think about it!"

Men's semi-finals:
[4] Ramy Ashour (EGY) bt [1] Amr Shabana (EGY) 11-6, 7-11, 7-11, 11-9, 11-7 (63m)
[7] Karim Darwish (EGY) bt [5] David Palmer (AUS) 11-6, 11-9, 11-8 (46m)

Women's semi-finals:
[1] Nicol David (MAS) bt [14] Madeline Perry (IRL) 11-6, 11-8, 11-6 (35m)
[11] Vicky Botwright (ENG) bt [5] Jenny Duncalf (ENG) 11-3, 11-6 ret. (22m)