4:41 pm
20 Jun 2024

Matthew Makes Richmond Semis

27 Feb 2009

The recurrence of a knee injury sustained earlier in the year led second seed Amr Shabana to concede midway through his quarter-final match in the Davenport North American Open - leaving England's Nick Matthew to secure an unexpected place in the last four of the $93,000 PSA Super Series Silver squash event at the University of Richmond in Virginia.

"Clearly, Amr's not the type of guy to pull out unless something's really wrong," said eighth seed Matthew after his 11-9, 11-7, 5-3 victory in 41 minutes.

"We're all striving to be like him... he's won three world championships. I'd give anything to have one of those," added the 28-year-old from Sheffield who is returning to the top flight after shoulder surgery last year.

Shabana, the world No2 from Egypt, injured his left knee two months ago during the Tournament of Champions in New York - and said afterwards that he still isn't feeling 100% and didn't want to risk incurring further injury, so decided to abandon the match.

In a repeat of the New York event final, Matthew will take on ToC champion Gregory Gaultier after the in-form Frenchman steamrolled his good friend Wael El Hindi 11-5, 11-8, 11-1 in 49 minutes.

"It gave me a lot of confidence, winning the Tournament of Champions," said Gaultier afterwards. "I had 10 hard days of preparation afterwards and I'm playing well again. I had to be really sharp in the front of the court and volley as much as possible tonight against Wael."

The other semi-final will be an all-Egyptian affair between favourite Karim Darwish, the world number one, and third seed Ramy Ashour, the reigning World Open champion.

Darwish is through to the last four after trouncing former world No1 David Palmer 11-4, 11-5, 11-7 in 45 minutes. The Australian looked to be getting back into the match early in the second game, leading 5-3, but the 27-year-old Egyptian ran off eight consecutive points to race out to a 2-0 lead - then methodically wore down Palmer in the third game to close out the match.

Palmer was playing with a wrap on his right knee after sustaining a cut in his win yesterday over Saurav Ghosal of India.

Ashour enjoyed a reasonably pedestrian 11-8, 11-4, 11-9 quarter-final win in 36 minutes over sixth seed Thierry Lincou. Ashour's blazing court speed and lightning-quick hands were the primary instruments of the Frenchman's demise.

"I didn't think about anything at all out there," said Ashour. "No matter if I was feeling tired I just tried to keep pushing my hardest and be keen about every shot."

Ashour and Darwish contested last year's World Open final in England. "It's tough to play him but I'll do my best against him," said the 21-year-old from Cairo.

Quarter-finals:
[1] Karim Darwish (EGY) bt [5] David Palmer (AUS) 11-4, 11-5, 11-7 (45m)
[3] Ramy Ashour (EGY) bt [6] Thierry Lincou (FRA) 11-8, 11-4, 11-9 (36m)
[4] Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt [7] Wael El Hindi (EGY) 11-5, 11-8, 11-1 (49m)
[8] Nick Matthew (ENG) bt [2] Amr Shabana (EGY) 11-9, 11-7, 5-3 ret. (41m)