TODAY at the ISS Canary Wharf Squash Classic
Wed 25th March, Quarter-Finals:
Willstrop (Eng) bt Borja Golan (Esp)
10/12, 2/11, 11/7, 11/9, 11/2 (91m)
 Amr Shabana (Egy)
bt [Q] Mohamed El Shorbagy (Egy)
11/5, 11/6, 11/9 (35m)
 Gregory Gaultier (Fra) bt  Peter Barker (Eng)
11/9, 11/8, 11/3 (50m)
 David Palmer (Aus) bt  Wael El Hindi (Egy)
12/10, 4/11, 11/7, 11/4 (63m)
Top four through to the Semis
When Borja Golan led defending champion James Willstrop by two games
- and 11/2 in the second - it looked as though we were in for
another night of upsets. Willstrop hung in though, hanging onto his
title, and the remainder of the top seeds all duly followed.
Amr Shabana beat world junior champion Mohamed El Shorbagy to set up
a meeting with Willstrop in the semis, then Super Series champion
Gregory Gaultier ended the hopes of local resident Peter Barker, and
David Palmer pulled away from one game all to beat Wael El Hindi -
and all before the clock struck eleven ...
En Bref #2
Canary Wharf BLOG
Willstrop (Eng) bt Borja Golan (Esp)
10/12, 2/11, 11/7, 11/9, 11/2 (91m)
DIG IN JAMES HITS AGAIN…
Well, with the knowledge that James is about to undergo surgery to
sort out his ankle once and for all – read our en brefs tomorrow – I
must say I wished he stopped the match when I saw him in such a bad
state in the second.
But that’s not how James thinks, does he. He just bites the racquet,
and just gets on with it. And trust me, cleverly advised by John
Milton, Borja gave him hell. Again, like he was with Thierry on
Monday, his accuracy on the side wall, his variation in the height
of the ball, with the pace, and his lethal boast, I saw him as the
I’m not sure what happened in the 5th. Is it the hard work that
Borja did during the game that finally took his toll? Is it a mental
drop after leading 2/0, thinking that he is in the semis, and having
to play a decider with your opponent carried by the momentum of
coming back from 2/0? Or is it because, as James thinks, that the
Englishman outplayed him tactically? I just don’t know.
didn’t take the greatest of starts, did I… I don’t know why, to be
so sharp on Monday, then a rest day – that’s normally a good thing –
and coming back as flat, with things just not happening, I just
"The foot is not an issue, well it is in a way, but it’s about to be
sorted, and I was moving very well on Monday, so… No, it’s more, a
bit what Thierry said, I had suddenly a big drop of energy in the
second, I just couldn’t move myself forward, I was a bit lethargic,
and very slow indeed.
taking my frustration against the wall behind the court, I had a
good chat with Malc, and between the two of us, we were able to
steady the ship. It was a long way back, and I’m really happy to get
to the next step…
"It was not pretty, it was a question of just digging in. And if in
the second, he was able to dominate me by moving forward, he wasn’t
able to in the. As ever when it’s not working for me with the
racquet, I go back to basics, it’s nothing extraordinary, just
trying to keep the ball tight. And tactically then, in that last
game, I was able to control the game."
"He was too good for me today, he was controlling the match with his
forehand, it’s so hard to see it, and never let me impose my game.
I’m now going to speak with Jonah to try and see what I can do in
Hurghada if I get to play him to prevent this situation to happen
"But I’m happy with my tournament, my win yesterday was a good win
for me. Yesterday I learned things, today I learned things too. I’m
"I’m going to prepare mentally for Hurghada now, and I’m so happy to
go back to Egypt, I haven’t been there for too many months now, and
I miss it a lot…"
Amr Shabana (Egy) bt [Q] Mohamed El Shorbagy (Egy)
PART TIME SQUASH PLAYER…
for somebody who is sharing his life between studies and training,
the boy ain’t doing bad, is he???
Shabana never let the boy breathe, or settle. Like a player seating
next to me noticed, “all the games went to 4/4, and that’s the
switch. That’s when the Experience Man comes into play. That all
about shot selection”.
Well, I’m sorry, but that’s such a good description that I have very
little more to say. Ah yes, that Mohamed still saved three match
balls, and offered us some stunning rallies that would have made any
world champion proud. A senior one I mean…
Well played, Shorbagy, your time will come Inshallah…
are all so proud of Mohamed, his parents too are very proud of him,
what he has achieved at such a young age is just astonishing. I wish
him all the luck, he’s got a World Champion junior title to defend
and Inshallah, it will become a double world Champion. Be patient,
things will fall into place….
"I’m happy, my body is in place, I’m feeling really good… I’m moving
better, but to compete at that level of the competition, you need to
be 100%, and that doesn’t guarantee you a victory, it only means you
"James is a very technical player, one of the most talented players
to come out of England, and I’ll have to play very well tactically
to beat him.
"The tournament is in the right place at the moment, a stunning 3/2
for James and Borja, then a close 3/0 for Mohamed and myself, great
"It’s hard in squash, you need to get support, or from a main
sponsor, or from a federation. In England, ES is helping its players
a lot, and that’s fantastic. I was fortunate in Egypt, because I got
the support of HSBC and Arasco Telecom, and to play top squash, you
need to be 100% focused on your game. So, when the financial worries
are taken away, you can concentrate on squash.
is now the second sport in Egypt, so the curse is, who do you
support? We have world junior champions, world champions, the choice
is difficult. But things are getting better, even if it’s not the
best of times to find associated sponsors!!!
"Things are going the right way, and hopefully, we’ll be taking
Squash to the masses through television and the Olympics."
Gregory Gaultier (Fra) bt  Peter Barker (Eng)
11/9, 11/8, 11/3 (50m)
GREG IN GREAT FORM
thought this match was never won for Greg, and I have to admit I
thought that Peter was going to come back with a vengeance in the
third, even from 2/0 down, because he never backs down.
But contrarily to what he told me, I don’t believe he thought he was
going to win. He wanted to test himself, to see where he would hold
against the player he thinks is at the top at the moment. But
winning, I’m not sure he believed he could today ... too much
Greg did an awful lot to return Peter’s stunning attacks, but the
Frenchman was returning so well, was so solid on his legs today –
not like yesterday – and kept on controlling most of the rallies…
It was tough to
recover from the Super Series Finals, but yesterday’s match was
exactly what I needed to get the blood flowing in the body! Today, I
was moving well, I felt pretty light on my feet. I’m injury free,
and I really enjoy playing in those conditions of course. I’m
feeling strong, I feel confident with the wins I had lately.
I believe that contrarily to the other years, where I used to have a
drop in energy during the season, now, thanks to my new training
regime, and the work I’ve been doing on the mental preparation, I’m
feeling much much stronger, hence, more relaxed…I get on court with
no pressure, if I win, I win, if I lose, I lose, but it’s still
better if I win…!!!
Thanks to all the top players like Shabana, Ramy, Karim, Nick,
James, and all the others, you have no idea before a tournament of
who is going to win, what’s going to happen, and that makes the tour
I’ve been supported by the French Federation since I was 12, and I
still work with the Federation coaches, but they have a lot of other
players to support and train, and I felt that, in my point in my
career, I needed to get a bit more personal support, and that’s why
I’m now training with a physical coach, a mental coach who is also
my physio, and a squash coach.
This work makes all the difference, when you are trying to get to
the top, it’s all about attention to details…
I can’t have my team with me on this one, because, at this point in
time, it’s costing me a lot of money to have them round, and I can’t
afford it yet, but hey, if we make it to the Olympics, we are all
going to get more funds hopefully!!!
Thanks to all the team of people that are working very hard in the
wings to support the Olympic Bid, and of course, to Eventis and
their sponsors, because without them, I would stay home, for sure….
Yes, that was a very tough match. Maybe yesterday’s match took a bit
out of me physically, no, not mentally, but physically yes. And I
needed to be at my best to beat him, and I wasn’t….
Of course, I’m disappointed, but I’ve just been playing against the
man who is playing the best squash at the moment, so you’ve got to
give credit where credit is due….
Greg has improved I think, he has cut the errors he used to make
when he was on a bit of a physical edge, and I think that, at the
moment, he is slightly better than anybody.
I’ve been training with Peter Nicol a lot on and off court recently,
and I think you can see it in my squash, I’m enjoying more. He is
such an inspiration, when I got on the tour, he was number one, and
having the chance to spend time with him is such a treat…
Yes, I did believe I could win, but for that, I needed to be at my
best, and I wasn’t. I tried, but I wasn’t..
It’s very frustrating, the first game was crucial, and I was up
10/7… A lesson to learn, and David is one of the best players on the
circuit to come back from 10/7, that’s how he won a world
championship… Had I taken the first game, I could have relaxed a
bit, and it’s a different match…
Today I was trying to mix up the pace, but still, David succeeds to
win this one, all credit to him.
This is my end of the season, I’m giving Hurghada a rest, I had a
bit of problem with my shoulder, and I’m going to get treatment, and
a good rest…
The semis finals are two great line up tomorrow, and unfortunately,
I won’t be playing them…
David Palmer (Aus)
bt  Wael El Hindi (Egy)
12/10, 4/11, 11/7, 11/4 (63m)
WAEL A BIT SHORT
A match between David and Wael used to be a bit of a painful process
sometimes, with a lot of discussions, stops and starts, a bit of
drama, a lot happening. But now, those two gentlemen are behaving so
well their matches could be shown to IOC Members to promote the
What is the world of squash coming to…
More seriously, I thought that Wael was not as fiery on there as
he’s been recently. Already yesterday against Joey, he was a bit
slow, his length was not as precise as it normally is, far too many
of his shots ending mid court, his drop shots not dangerous enough,
and today was more or less the same story.
Still, Wael is extremely fit, and was able to apply pressure on
David by running his socks off and retrieving beautifully, offering
us some great rallies in the process. But although the Australian is
suffering from a “squash elbow” that is bothering him when trying to
execute his backhand volley trademark, blimey, he still volleyed a
bleeping hell of a lot, in particular in the third.
David is looking better than last week, having a few matches did him
good, and despite a fly in fly out to Boston between Queen’s and
this one, he looks sharps and hungry. Will it be enough against
Hungry Greg? Let’s find out tomorrow…
always have great matches between Wael and I, I have a lot of
respect for him, he is such a great player, a great character, his
game, his personality, a bit like a Jonathan Power’s, are a great
asset for our sport, and he also should be used to promote our game,
just as it’s so great to see our players being asked to promote it,
like Peter Nicol, Thierry, James, and it’s nice to see them working
towards our inclusion to the Olympics.
I needed to go home back to Boston to freshen up, a bit like
Shabana, otherwise it would have been squash 100%, and I needed a
break. Squash is very important in my life, but my family comes
first, and I needed to spend some time with my wife and my daughter…
It was always going to be a risk, but I think I’ve got enough
experience to be able to handle the travelling… And my game is
getting better and better, like I said, I lacked matches…
Greg is the man in form at the moment, we played last week, he beat
me a close 3/1, his strength is that he plays so well the important
points, I’ve been watching him a lot recently, from 7/7, 8/8, he
gets so confident, so relaxed, he is hard to beat…
As long I can keep on playing at a good level, and in front of a
great crowd, I’ll keep doing it…