After three days of pool play the semi-finalists in the ATCO World Series Squash Finals at Queen’s Club in London are decided …
Darwish Completes Semi-Finals Line-Up At Queen’s
Determined former world number one Karim Darwish saw off 20-year-old fellow Egyptian Mohamed El Shorbagy in tonight’s final pool round of the ATCO PSA World Series Squash Finals in London to clinch the last semi-final slot in the flagship PSA World Tour event at The Queen’s Club.
The $110,000 championship features the eight players who earned the most points from the nine PSA World Serieschampionships in 2011.
Darwish, who boasted a 4/1 Tour head-to-head record over his young Egyptian team-mate, was also after revenge as El Shorbagy won their last clash, in December’s PSA Masters in India.
The young pretender, ranked a career-high six in the world, led in both games – but experienced campaigner Darwish, the world No5, rose to the challenge and clinched an 11-9, 11-9 victory after 40 minutes.
The win puts the 30-year-old from Cairo into second place in Group 1, and a third appearance in the event’s semi-finals since 2007.
“Mohamed beat me last time so it was good beat him this time round,” said Darwish afterwards. “I had to play 100% to get my revenge. He’s a great player, only 20 years old – I think he’ll be at the top one day.
“I’m just happy to be in the semi-final of such a prestigious event.”
With two victories already behind him, England’s James Willstrop had already secured a place in the last four – and top place in Group 1.
But the newly-crowned world number one suffered a minor set-back with a shock defeat to Malaysia’s Mohd Azlan Iskandar.
With title victories in three successive PSA World Series events at the end of last year, Willstrop was expected to extend his career-best 17 match unbeaten run.
But Iskandar threw everything he had at the match and finally emerged the 11-6, 6-11, 11-9 victor after 41 minutes.
“I don’t think James was on top of his game, possibly thinking about tomorrow’s semi-finals,” suggested the world No10 from Kuala Lumpur. “It gives me some redemption and I’m happy to get the win.”
Later, Frenchman Gregory Gaultier became the only player to register three wins out of three when he defeated Egypt’s four-time world champion Amr Shabana 11-7, 11-4 in just 20 minutes.
“It wasn’t easy,” said the 29-year-old from Aix-en-Provence afterwards. “I’ve had to give a big push as this game is always unpredictable.”
The Group 2 winner will now face Darwish for a place in the final. “Tomorrow’s game against Karim will be a tough battle. We know each other well so I am looking forward to it and will be doing my best to stay focussed,” added Gaultier, the 2008 and 2009 champion.
Shabana finished as runner-up in the Group and takes on Willstrop in the other semi.
The other final pool match in the group saw England’s Peter Barker record his first win in the event, stemming a fightback by Laurens Jan Anjema to beat the Dutchman 11-8, 9-11, 11-9 in 51 minutes.
3rd & final pool round:
 Mohd Azlan Iskandar (MAS) bt  James Willstrop (ENG) 11-6, 6-11, 11-9 (41m)
 Karim Darwish (EGY) bt  Mohamed El Shorbagy (EGY) 11-9, 11-9 (40m)
 Peter Barker (ENG) bt  Laurens Jan Anjema (NED) 11-8, 9-11, 11-9 (51m)
 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt  Amr Shabana (EGY) 11-7, 11-4 (20m)
 James Willstrop (ENG) v  Amr Shabana (EGY)
 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) v  Karim Darwish (EGY)
David, Duncalf, Perry and Massaro Qualify at Queen’s
Day three of the ATCO World Series Finals is the last day of the group stages. Those who haven’t yet cemented a place in the semi’s have to dig in for a result, and those with no chance of qualifying play purely for pride.
Camille Serme and Donna Urquhart were first on court, with Serme needing a win to stand a chance of progressing from from Group A. Neither player completely dominated the first game, but Serme pulled ahead of her opponent at 7-all to gain the upper hand. A late Urquhart surge saw the Australian pull level, but Serme held her nerve and closed the game out 11/9.
Urquhart showed a more consistent performance in the second game, cutting out the errors, chasing relentlessly and she deservedly took a close 11/8 win. As the game progressed, Urquhart’s confidence grew and with it her anticipation of Serme’s attacking shots also improved. This attribute frustrated Serme, but retrieved well and there was nothing separating the pair throughout. At 8-all it could have gone either way, but Urquhart came through to take the match, and consigning Serme to third place in the group, just missing out on the qualification spot.
Massaro needed a win against her opponent Low Wee Wern to see her through to the semi finals, having had a day off yesterday due to Rachael Grinham’s withdrawal. The England No2 made short work of things in the first game, with her opponent amassing just three points.
More of the same confident squash followed, with Wee Wern struggling to establish herself at all on court. Massaro length was tight and she pushed forward on the tee well and ran out the game 11/4.
For the third match in a row, Nicol David started quickly against Madeline Perry, jumping to a 6-2 lead. From here, she rode out a confident game 11/6. The second game was a much closer affair. Despite Nicol again winning six points on the bounce, Perry found her range and was much more dangerous hitting into the corners. The game saw plenty of down-the-wall squash, with neither play wanting to give each other a hint of an opportunity. David held two match balls at 10-8, but was unable to apply the finishing touch and Perry forced the tiebreak at 10-all. A succession of three let balls in a row followed, all from backhand drives showed just how tight the game had become, and only a stroke in favour of David broke the deadlock. From there she needed only one more opportunity to finish of the match 12/10.
Day three WSA ATCO results:
Donna Urquhart beat Camille Serme – 9/11, 11/8, 11/8
Laura Massaro beat Low Wee Wern – 11/3, 11/4
Nicol David beat Madeline Perry – 11/6, 12/10
Day four WSA ATCO Semi final lineup:
2pm – Nicol David vs Laura Massaro
following on – Jenny Duncalf vs Madeline Perry