Kuwait Cup Quarter-Finals Preview

Kuwait PSA Cup Quarter-Finals, 27-Nov, Green Island

After the drama of last night’s draw it’s back to on court action tonight, as the eight players left battle it out for semi-final places of the eighth World Series event of the year (strangely the World Open doesn’t count).

from 18.00:
[5] Gregory Gaultier (Fra) v [15] Stewart Boswell (Aus)     8-1
[3] James Willstrop (Eng) v [6] Peter Barker (Eng)             24-2
[1] Nick Matthew (Eng) v [2] Karim Darwish (Egy)               6-4
[7] Mohamed El Shorbagy (Egy) v [10] LJ Anjema (Ned)    1-0

First up is Gregory Gaultier, the Frenchman who has contested each of the last three major finals, in Qatar, Rotterdam and Hong Kong, and he won’t have been unhappy with his draw given that he holds an 8-1 advantage over Stewart Boswell, the Australian’s only (dubious) win coming the first time they met, in a World Teams dead rubber back in 2001. They haven’t played for almost three years, although each of the last three lasted an hour or more before Gaultier claimed his victories.

Next two old friends and rivals in an all-English clash. James Willstrop and Peter Barker smiled ruefully when Peter pulled James’ number out of the bowl to select his opponent, and well they might – the pair have played 26 times since meeting in the quarter-finals of the U12 Nationals in 1993, and Willstrop has won all but two of those. They’ve met five times already this year, Barker getting his first ever PSA win against Willstrop in Canary Wharf, but the Yorkshireman has avenged that defeat thrice since, in Philadelphia, Qatar, and just a few days ago in Hong Kong.

Then we have the ‘dream quarter-final’, seed number one versus seed number two. The way the draw went, if Karim Darwish hadn’t picked that number one ball out of the bowl he would have been looking at a potential semi-final meeting with Nick Matthew anyway, given that once the first four had come out that way a #1 v #2 final was impossible.

Nevertheless, the look on both of their faces, something along the lines of “knew it, xxxxx knew it”, was a treat to behold.

(as it happens, based on current world rankings, it would be Matthew #1, Willstrop #2, so a final between the two top-ranked players is still possible)

The Englishman holds a 6-4 advantage in their meetings (4-all if you take away Matthew’s two wins in the 2006 non-PSA British Grand Prix, but he does have a 2009 Swedish Open final walkover to add if push comes to shove), but more significantly he has won three of the last four, including the recent World Open semi-final in Rotterdam.

Finally it’s Egypt’s Mohamed El Shorbagy against Laurens Jan Anjema. When MC Adrian Davies last night asked the big Dutchman if they’d ever played before, it was rueful grin time again as LJ imparted:

“Just the once, he beat me 15/13 in the fifth after about 3 hours in the Colombian Open final a couple of months ago. Hopefully we can have another good match, but I want to get two more points this time.”

So it looks as though the pattern of having quick matches to finish the day’s Green Island schedule might be in danger, but with four matches like these in store no-one’s going to be complaining about a late night, that’s for sure.

It all starts at 18.00 local time (we’re plus 3 hours from the UK), so make sure you catch it all, live on SquashTV, via our game-by-game twitter updates, or catch up on the reports, quotes and photos at the end.

All of that and more on
TODAY in Kuwait

As they undoubtedly say in Kuwait … stay tuned …

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