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15 Apr 2024

Local Hero Fathi Takes Le Sport Crown

23 Jun 2012

A packed crowd at the isquash Grand Prix in Wales delighted in 'local' success in the inaugural PSA World Tour Challenger 5 squash event at Le Sport Health & Fitness Club in Rhos-on-Sea when Egypt's Karim Ali Fathi upset Julien Balbo in the final to win the third Tour title of his career.

Based at the Rhos-on-Sea club, Fathi was meeting the higher-ranked Frenchman in a Tour final for the second time this year - the first, in Spain in January, beating the world No84 from Challes Les Eaux in straight games.

The first game at Le Sport club was close until Fathi was able to pull away to 8-3 before taking the early lead with devastating forehand drop.

Teenager Fathi piled the pressure on 33-year-old Balbo in the second game, dropping just a single point before taking a 2/0 lead.

The experienced Frenchman regrouped in the third and came out with a new game plan, slowing the game right down and building up a 7-4 lead.

But the 19-year-old local hero adapted his game and extended the rallies, sensing that Balbo was getting tired. Fathi recovered to eight-all before clinching the match 11-6, 11-1, 11-8 after 55 minutes.

Former England international Phil Whitlock, Fathi's long-time coach, was delighted with the Egyptian's performance: "The way he plays reminds me of Peter Marshall - relentless hitting at a ridiculous pace.

"He had a tough match against Dec (James) yesterday and so to come out today and put in a performance like that was great. His movement has really improved a lot and when he can get out of his cross court hacking mode and be a bit more disciplined, you can see the potential he has."

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1st round:
[1] Julien Balbo (FRA) bt Kevin Moran (SCO) 11-5, 11-5, 12-14, 11-2 (70m)
[Q] Richie Fallows (ENG) bt Michael Harris (ENG) 8-11, 11-6, 11-9, 11-8 (60m)
Chris Fuller (ENG) bt [Q] James Simpson (ENG) 14-12, 11-3, 8-11, 11-4 (57m)
[4] Alex Phillips (ENG) bt Steven London (ENG) 10-12, 6-11, 11-6, 11-6, 13-11 (70m)
[3] Ben Ford (ENG) bt Rory Pennell (ENG) 11-7, 11-7, 11-9 (45m)
Declan James (ENG) bt [Q] Greg Lobban (SCO) 9-11, 11-9, 9-11, 11-8, 11-8 (95m)
Nathan Lake (ENG) bt [Q] David Haley (WAL) 11-0, 11-8, 11-9 (35m)
[2] Karim Ali Fathi (EGY) bt Philip Whitlock (ENG) 11-4, 11-3, 11-4 (30m)
[1] Julien Balbo (FRA) bt [Q] Richie Fallows (ENG) 11-5, 11-6, 11-5 (30m)
[4] Alex Phillips (ENG) bt Chris Fuller (ENG) 11-5, 11-9, 9-11, 11-9 (61m)
Declan James (ENG) bt [3] Ben Ford (ENG) 11-2, 6-2 ret. (15m)
[2] Karim Ali Fathi (EGY) bt Nathan Lake (ENG) 11-5, 11-7, 11-4 (35m)
[1] Julien Balbo (FRA) bt [4] Alex Phillips (ENG) 11-7, 7-11, 11-5, 11-2 (50m)
[2] Karim Ali Fathi (EGY) bt Declan James (ENG) 11-9, 11-8, 11-8 (70m)
[2] Karim Ali Fathi (EGY) bt [1] Julien Balbo (FRA) 11-6, 11-1, 11-8 (55m)