The fourth day’s play at Qadsia Sporting Club featured the third round of the $190 World Series Platinum Kuwait PSA Cup, and fourteen of the seeds, including the top 11, were still in contention to reach the quarter-finals.
A Frenchman, four Egyptians and four Englishmen won through, with one major upset …
Round THREE Results:
 Ramy Ashour (Egy) 3-1  Simon Rosner (Ger) 11/9, 9/11, 11/8, 11/3 (41m)
 Amr Shabana (Egy) 3-1  Omar Mosaad (Egy) 11/5, 7/11, 12/10, 11/4 (53m)
 Peter Barker (Eng) 3-1  Laurens Jan Anjema (Ned) 11/6, 11/4, 11/8 (50m)
 Gregory Gaultier (Fra) 3-0  Borja Golan (Esp) 11/6, 11/3, 11/8 (62m)
 Karim Darwish (Egy) 3-1 Mathieu Castagnet (Fra) 12/10, 11/7, 5/11, 11/6 (64m)
 Mohamed El Shorbagy (Egy) 3-0 Ong Beng Hee (Mas) 11/7, 11/6, 13/11 (39m)
 Daryl Selby (Eng) 3-0  Nick Matthew (Eng) 11/6, 11/6, 12/10 (55m)
Selby stuns Matthew in Kuwait surprise
First up was an all-Egyptian affair between four-time world champion and four-time Kuwait finalist Amr Shabana and Omar Mosaad, who has just broken into the world’s top ten which Shabana has inhabited for the best part of a decade.
After the first two games were shared, with a few discussions with the referees, one of which earned Shabana a rare conduct stroke for bad language, Shabana edged a close third game and carried that momentum into the fourth, winning 11/5, 7/11, 12/10, 11/4.
“I rarely enjoy being on court at the moment, but today, I really did,” said Shabana, adding “it would have been even better if the refs had left us play. Omar has improved immensely, and that’s why he is in the top 10 now. I really enjoyed this match with him.”
With Shabana through a second left-handed quarter-finalist was guaranteed as Peter Barker met Laurens Jan Anjema. Barker, the eighth seed, dominated the first two games on the scoreboard but on court it was much tougher than that. Anjema rallied to lead 7-4 in the fourth but Barker upped the intensity to complete a 11/6, 11/4, 11/8 win.
“I knew that it wasn’t going to work trying to compete with LJ in a power contest,” said Barker, “I just wanted to be thorough and make it as tough as I could for him, moving him to the four corners. I did that pretty well for the first two games but he came out and played well in the third, which could have gone either way.”
Another all-European match followed, and another hard-fought three-game victory, this time for third-seeded Frenchman Grégory Gaultier, who led all the was against Borja Golan despite the Spaniard’s best and considerable efforts.
“I was trying to stay accurate, not doing too much at the front,” shared the Frenchman. “I would have liked a bit more rhythm probably, less stop start, but happy to get through in three before my match against Peter tomorrow.”
Top seed Ramy Ashour was meeting Simon Rosner for the third time in as many tournaments, so the German’s declaration that the world champion and world number one was “in ridiculous form” came from someone who should know. Ashour didn’t reach those ridiculous heights at the start of the match and Rosner was able to take the second game to level matters, but Ashour’s athleticism and shotmaking rose to the task as he completed a 11/9, 9/11, 11/8, 11/3 win with increasing authority.
“We’ve played three times now, and every time, we just battle it out, because we know that the one that is giving/pushing 100% is going to be rewarded,” said Ashour. “He is a fair player, and it’s always good to play him, he is a great character that belongs in the top ten.
“I am a little tired, maybe I’m a bit slow to get to the front!” quipped Ashour who is now unbeaten for 33 matches as he aims for a tenth successive final and a seventh tournament win in a row, “but seriously, I’m happy to keep playing, to keep winning.”
“We played in New York a few weeks ago, and I just managed to get through, it was a tough battle, so beating somebody of his calibre 3/0, I couldn’t be more pleased,” said Willstrop.
A third English quarter-finalist was guaranteed from the next match, but it wasn’t the expected one as Daryl Selby produced a stunning 3-0 upset win over second seed and world number two Nick Matthew.
Selby played superbly, looking calm and unflustered throughout and making less than a handful of unforced errors. Matthew, by contrast, made well over a dozen untypical unforced errors as he struggled to contain an opponent who had famously beaten him in the 2011 British Nationals final but had had far less success in PSA matches. Selby took the first two games with something to spare, then held his nerve in a tight finish to the third, taking the match on his second match ball as Matthew put one final shot into the tin.
“I’m very happy with the game plan I used in this match,” said Selby, “I’d tried it before but it didn’t work, I’m happy that it worked tonight! I’ve been close to a big upset a few times, Karim twice, James in the US Open, we were 1/1, 9/4 up, and I let it go. So I was aware of that today, and I didn’t want it to happen.
“I’m ecstatic to win… Sorry, that’s my wife, I’m going to take the call….”
Following two consecutive Englishmen reaching the quarters, the day was rounded off with two Egyptian winners as Karim Darwish and Mohamed El Shorbagy beat Mathieu Castagnet and Ong Beng Hee, the two upset winners from yesterday..
Darwish had to work very hard to quell Frenchman Castagnet, and for three games there was little in it, but Darwish asserted at the end of the fourth to take it 12/10, 11/7, 5/11, 11/6 in just over an hour, setting up a rematch of the last Kuwait Cup final with James Willstrop.
“You can’t shake those French players off, we just got rid of Thierry, and you have another one that comes up,” quipped Darwish. ” I played him in Richmond a few days ago, it was the same battle, the same tough match. Tomorrow James. What to say, he is one of the most talented players there is, I will have to have my basic game well in place tomorrow before thinking of going for shots.”
Shorbagy had a slightly easier time of it against Ong, but after taking a two-game lead still needed to save a game ball – rather than the four match balls he faced in the previous round – before closing out the match 11/7, 11/6, 13/11 in just 39 minutes.
“Today I was more relaxed on court, more focused on the squash, on the job to do, and on nothing else,” said Shorbagy. “He had a good lead in the third, I lost a bit of focus, but I really gave it a big push, I really didn’t want to play another game tonight.”
The quarter-finals – Ashour v Shabana, Gaultier v Barker, Willstrop v Darwish, and Shorbagy v Selby – will feature four Egyptians, three Englishmen and a Frenchman, and start at 17.00 local time.