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14 Apr 2024

Matthew Tested By Abbas In Virginia

25 Feb 2010

Matthew in action against Abbas

Second seed Nick Matthew claimed his anticipated place in the quarter-finals of the $93,750 North American Open in Richmond - but the world number two from England had to fight back from a game and 8-6 down to overcome Egyptian qualifier Mohammed Abbas in the second PSA Super Series 2010 event of the year at the University of Richmond in Virginia.

Abbas has spent most of the past 12 months struggling with plantar fasciitis, a debilitating injury of the bottom of the foot. The 29-year-old from Giza was as high as No13 in the world, and currently lies at 60. Title success in December's Edmonton Open showed that he is getting back on track.

Matthew, winner of the Swedish Open earlier this month, played patient squash - up and down the backhand wall, waiting for the opportunity to attack Abbas short. The experienced Egyptian stayed with Matthew's pace, frustrating the Englishman by playing textbook glass court squash.

The 29-year-old from Sheffield slightly increased the pace, and was able to stand forward - but Abbas eventually started to show signs of lack of belief towards the end of the second game and then signs of fatigue in the third. Thereafter Matthew was in control and wrapped up the match 11-13, 11-9, 11-3, 11-7 to earn a surprise last eight clash with fellow countryman Adrian Grant.

Londoner Grant, the 10th seed, faced Egypt's former world number one Karim Darwish, seeded five. Darwish was in control the first two games, using his racket head speed to cut the ball straight into the front corners on any opportunity. Grant is a great athlete, though could not break Darwish's metronomic rhythm and silky touch.

The Englishman found his way into the game in the third, stepping up the court, hitting the ball with a little more pace to build up a 5-0 lead. But, taking a ball in the front corner, Darwish rolled over his ankle.

After a three-minute time out, Darwish then conceded the third game for another two minutes - though his efforts were to prove fruitless. A recurrence of an old injury forced Darwish to concede the match: Grant was gracious in victory, though nonetheless looking forward to competing in another quarter-final.

The other second round matches produced a quarter-final clash which is the repeat of the Virginia Pro Championship final in Richmond in 2008 - between long-time European rivals James Willstrop and Gregory Gaultier.

Seventh seed Willstrop, winner of the JP Morgan Tournament of Champions, the first PSA Super Series 2010 event in New York, produced a workmanlike performance to dispose of fellow Englishman Alister Walker 11-6, 11-5, 11-6.

Frenchman Gaultier, the fourth seed, faced 15th seed Joey Barrington. The Englishman put up a good fight in the opening game, but Gaultier ultimately took control and moved through to the quarters unscathed after an 11-7, 11-3, 11-3 victory.

2nd round (lower half of draw):
[7] James Willstrop (ENG) bt [12] Alister Walker (ENG) 11-6, 11-5, 11-6 (40m)
[4] Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt [15] Joey Barrington (ENG) 11-7, 11-3, 11-3 (32m)
[10] Adrian Grant (ENG) bt [5] Karim Darwish (EGY) 6-11, 6-11, 5-0 ret. (35m)
[2] Nick Matthew (ENG) bt [Q] Mohammed Abbas (EGY) 11-13, 11-9, 11-3, 11-7 (54m)

Picture by Patricia Lyons Photography