5:13 pm
19 May 2024

Matthew & Ashour Survive Marathon Semis To Make Richmond Final

28 Feb 2009

Egypt's Ramy Ashour and Englishman Nick Matthew staged stunning upsets over higher-ranked opponents in the semi-finals of the Davenport North American Open to reach the climax of the $93,000 PSA Super Series Silver squash event at the University of Richmond in Virginia.

In the first semi, third seed Ashour came back from 1-6 down in the fifth game to upend the tournament's top seed, his fellow countryman Karim Darwish, 8-11, 11-7, 11-7, 6-11, 11-7 in 74 minutes.

Said a breathless Ashour afterwards: "After all this running, I can hardly talk. At times I lost my concentration. It's not always easy to keep my focus on the court."

The decider was really a tale of two games. Darwish, the world number one, maintained the momentum from his fourth game win at the outset, racing out in front 6-1. But the 27-year-old from Cairo's movement seemed hampered from that point on - the accumulation of too many long rallies and fully-stretched lunges for Ashour's clever boasts and drops.

The younger Egyptian's legs helped Ashour win nine consecutive points to get to 10-6 up - a point away from the win.

But Darwish won the next point to get to within 7-10 when Ashour, the 21-year-old world No4, dumped a forehand volley in the tin - before then winning the final point with a forehand drive that Darwish had no answer for.

The victory takes Ashour into the 17th PSA Tour final of his career - but the first since October when he beat Darwish to win the World Open title, for the first time, in England.

"I was actually thinking a bit about Manchester," added the former world junior champion from Cairo afterwards. "I lost against him last year on this court (in the quarter-finals). I can't really analyse how it happens on the court — I just do it!"

The other semi-final provided sweet revenge for England's Nick Matthew, who avenged his January loss to France's Gregory Gaultier in the final of the Tournament of Champions with a 14-12, 11-9, 6-11, 11-3 win after 83 minutes of high-calibre squash.

"The first game was so tough," said eighth seed Matthew of the 32-minute opener that firmly established the fact that he was intent on making life difficult for Frenchman Gaultier, the fourth seed who bounced back in the third game before being distracted by an ongoing dialogue with the referee.

"Greg had a few errors that I'm sure he wasn't happy about. I had to stay focused the whole time," added Matthew, the former world No5 from Sheffield who is returning to the top flight after shoulder surgery last year.

Matthew will be contesting his third consecutive Tour final - a streak that includes not only victory in the Swedish Open in February, but later also in the British Nationals.

Matthew leads the head-to-head with the Egyptian 3-2 and has won their last two meetings. But the 28-year-old is far from overconfident looking ahead to Saturday's final. "Ramy's an incredible player. He plays fantastic shots you don't even see sometimes."

[3] Ramy Ashour (EGY) bt [1] Karim Darwish (EGY) 8-11, 11-7, 11-7, 6-11, 11-7 (74m)
[8] Nick Matthew (ENG) bt [4] Gregory Gaultier (FRA) 14-12, 11-9, 6-11, 11-3 (83m)