2015 Men's World Championship Bellevue - QUARTERS
Reports:  Gaultier | Willstrop | Mosaad | Momen

[3] Gregory Gaultier (Fra) 3-2 Ali Farag (Egy) 5-11, 11-8, 10-12, 11-1, 11-3 (72m)

GREG CONTAINS ALIÖ

Ö and that took some doingÖ

Itís all in the head you know? And the head talks to the legsÖ

If last time those two played, Greg didnít expect the Hurricane Farag to hit him hard Ė forcing him to battle for 90m and only clinching the game 12/10 in the 5th in the first round of the San Fran Open Ė this time, the Frenchman was ready.

But still, he didnít manage to overcome the Egyptian at first. ďI hadnít been really tested up to thenĒ he told me at the end. ďHe sure did open my lungs! I needed that, it didnít damage me physically, au contraire, it helped me cleansing out my tirednessĒ. Ali dominates the first game from 3/3, he goes to 11/5 in 14m of hard work, but with a nice safety net all the way.

The second is a typical of Greg, like it could be of the top 4 guys. Under enormous physical strain, looking like under distress and about to fall, white as it comes, 3/3, 4/4, Greg just finds a way. He takes more time to receive serve, just 10, 12s more, then gets the cleaners out, another 15, 20s to recover. And the magic Ė that comes with hours and hours and hours of physical preparation Ė occurs: second wind, he gets the game to 9/6, 10/7 11/8 in 15m, and has found his rhythm.

But in the 3rd, Ali gets him under his control tactically again! From 2/2, the young Egyptian soars to 7/3, 9/5, 10/6 game ball! Turning point of the match. ďCome back time, GregĒ shout in front of me a young Indian that has been coming to each and every match from the start of the week. And he is spot on. Like he did in most of his matches in Qatar, Greg claws back to force Ali to dig in mentally and physically. And Ali will finally take the game 12/10 on his 5th game ball. But the damage is done.

From that point on, the stress, the physical and mental stress has gone to Aliís legs. Because if the first time they played, Ali was pressure-free, this time, he KNOWS he can win. He EXPECTS himself to win. And thatís just too much for the Body/Brain to handle at the point.

During that 4th, Ali is constantly trying to stretch his left left while Greg just strings the points , 4/0, 11/1 in 6m.

The 5th will be of the same suffering for the Cairo boy, who just cannot move at all, and is in excruciating pain. He still manages to win a few points, God only knows how, and when he finally loses the last point, just collapses in agony, absolutely unable to leave the court. Greg is helping, Shabana and Hossan Ė the Egyptian physio Ė just get him first to a seat on the first row of the backwall seating, then will help him with Greg all the way to his corner.

Heíll lay there for about 15m before being able to be movedÖ. ďCíest la loi du SportĒ states Greg. ďThere is always one that cracks up before the other one. This time it was him. Maybe next time it will be me.Ē

That was tough enough, he is only 23 years old, and the way he plays already is incredible.

Still feeling good after the match. That was the first match where I was really tested - I havenít had that kind of level of intensity so far during the tournament so at the beginning of the match I was a bit surprised by the speed because i havenít played that kind of match since I played against Elshorbagy in Qatar so it was a good test and it will definitely open up my lungs for the next match.

Even when I was down 2-1 I still believed in myself. This is the World Championship and the tournament that everyone wants to win. I have been training so hard all summer - injury free - to try and make my dream come true and even when you're down you have to keep your head up.

I made some errors in the third at 10-10 - I wasnít confident with my feel today but I fought hard to the end and that made the difference.

I could see he was struggling with cramp so I had to keep pushing and pushing until he was truly broken down.

Heís an unbelievable player. His ranking will be top ten in a few months - heís already up there at that level. Itís good for us all to have new players like him coming through and testing us because it keeps us all on our toes.

Thatís what experience does, you knowÖ

I had a game plan in the first three games, but after the 4th, no game plan, nothing, just thinking. Thinking happened to me in the 4th, and I couldnít stop it. I tried, I shouted, I told myself to be calm, to stay focus, I even tried hitting the ball very hard, still I couldnít stop the thinking.

I told Amr, what do I do? He told me just take rally per rally, point per point. But it was too late, the too much stress I put on myself took its toll, and my whole body started to cramp down.

But itís not taking anything away from him, itís actually all credit to him, he push me to my extremesÖ

Iím just upset because itís my brother Waelís birthday today, and I wanted to pay back a little bit what he does for me. But I came just short.

A good week for sure overallÖ

James Willstrop (Eng) 3-0 [5] Miguel Rodriguez (Col) 11-5, 11-7, 11-4 (42m)

JAMES IS OFFICIALY JIMMY

I guess the Americans have adopted Gentleman James. His fine performance, his underdog status, his English reserve and fair squash seem to have seduced the passionate, loud and numerous crowd Ė not on seat on the side of the court today for those quarters, and thatís a hell of the lot of them Ė who have nicknamed him ďJimmyĒ.

James, well, I guess I havenít seen him play that relaxed and fluid since whatÖ that match against Greg in India when he reached world number 1 status? Yes, I think thatís probably since thenÖ.

I think the ENORMOUS match Miguel produced against Mathieu in the previous round may have something to do with the South American just a bit off performance. Yes, he may be a fitness alien, but still, Miguel is human after all, and maybe even him must have felt a bit of acid lactic in his muscles today.

Gentleman James was on a mission today. On a ďI want to arrive fresh in the finalĒ mission. I know, one match at a time and all. But this man is here now to win this. He certainly has the skills for it. And I start to wonder if he wouldnít have the body for it too!

He went for 6/2, 8/3 10/4 in the opening game, denying Miguel any sniff at it. Taking the pace off the ball, keeping it away from him and playing extremely Pontefract-like tight squash, he just shut off Miguel completely, 11/5 in 12m.

The second is just a bit more intense score-wise, with Miguel giving a big push physically, the rallies are more intense, he is really putting James through a hell of twisting and turning, but James is focus and ďinťbranlableĒ, unshakable, keeping at least two points cushion the whole of the second game, to finally impose his dominance 10/6, same length, 12m for 11/7.

The third is weird as James seem to finally struggle a bit physically under the assault of Miguel who really gives it all on there, the rallies are getting longer and longer, James whiter and whiter, grinding to a halt during some heavy rallies, but always finds the right shot at the end to put the fighting South American away from the ball, 4/0, 5/2, 6/3, and finally, taking the match on his first attempt, 11/4 in 11m.

A masterclass in ball accuracy that was, or how to shut off the court completely from one of the fittest squash athlete of all timesÖ

Iím obviously delighted to be into the last four of the biggest tournament in the squash world - Iím absolutely thrilled. More than anything Iím thrilled with what Iíve managed to do on the court. Iíve won the matches but what Iíve been doing Iím really pleased with because Iíve worked hard and fro it to come together in such an important week is tremendously satisfying. Above everything else Iím thoroughly enjoying it and Iím try as best as I can to keep it going.

You canít help but go online and see messages from people congratulating you (after the win over Mohamed) and I enjoyed it for a little while but I was straight back on it because I knew i had a chance to win again today and I wasnít going to let that slip.You donít get many opportunities to get to any semi-final with the quality of the tour as it is. But I have to keep doing that now and not get carried away.

I donít give off loads of expression but I am really enjoying it. I love playing the game and Iíve found that over the last year. Itís good to go out and enjoy squash and Iíve certainly enjoyed this week - itís been a pleasure.

I don;t want to worry about that (physical test) as I can only do what i can do. I have the physio here and all I can do is prepare right. The training is in there, I feel ok at the moment - the matches have been hard but I donít feel like Iíve hit the bottom of teh well. Itís maybe just whether the body and the joints and muscles, which havenít played four matches in a row, can sustain it but Iím feeling ok.


Iím looking forward to playing Greg. We played in San Fran and it was a real fast explosive match and it was close. He;s obviously going well over the last few years, heís in good shape and I know how much he wants to win this. But Iím there and Iíll give it absolutely everything.Ö

[7] Omar Mosaad (Egy) 3-2 [4] Ramy Ashour (Egy) 11-8, 11-7, 1-11, 1-11, 11-5 (60m)

HEART-EFFING-BROKINí

Iím angry tonight. I am truly angry. Iím angry at the world, Iím angry at my Angels that can bring somebody on earth with the grace and talent of a Ramy Ashour to just keep on breaking his body and prevent him from doing what he was meant for.

Losing a match, thatís nothing. Thatís ďla loi du sportĒ, sportís law. It happens. You can be sad when one of your babies lose a match.

But when their alien talent is being crushed, again and again by fate, sodís law, God, whatever you want to call itÖ basically people, it stinks.

Today, Omar Mosaad played the game of squash to perfection.. for the first two games. He played it so well, that Ramy Ė who had been able to win his matches without really pushing his body to the max Ė had no choice. After losing the 2nd, he HAD to throw caution to the wind, and push the body to the degree it needed to overcome Omar. Yes, Omar played THAT well.

So from the 3rd on, Ramy got into the next gear, the magic gear, the Ramyís Artist Alien Mode, we saw the result: 11/1, 11/1, 5m each game.

But the body, Ramyís hamstring, just couldnít take it. His squash is virtually unbeatable. But the body just cannot take the strain. Only Ramyís body could defeat Ramy.

When he came back for that 5th, he basically couldnít put any weight on his right leg. Match was finished. He kept going as a mark of respect for his compatriot.

So tonight, Iím angry. And Iím also so sad. Not because Ramy lost a match. But because Iím afraid weíve lost him.

Some people play the game. Others change it. Ramy Ashour.

Iím feeling amazing - itís the first time in my life to reach the semi-finals of the World Championship and itís amazing. Iím really happy.

It was my fourth match in this tournament and Iíve got more confidence especially after beating Adnan and Borja Golan. Iím pleased with my performance especially in those first two games. In the third and fourth I got a little tired.

Iím really sorry for what happened to Ramy because he was controlling so I was lucky a little bit tonight but i need to go and recover and get ready for tomorrowís match.

Before Grasshopper I think he was ahead 12-0 on our head to head and that was my first ever win over him. He was injured then but winning is winning. I hope he recovers soon but Iím happy to be in the semis. Iím trying to win and Iíll do my best to win the next match

[8] Tarek Momen (Egy) 3-2 [2] Nick Matthew (Eng) 5-11, 11-7, 9-11, 11-8, 11-7 (84m)

Tarek Believes at last

Tarek Momen is one of those players who, like Ali Farag, chose to get a degree before getting full time on the tour. And I guess Tarek suffered to see his age group succeed before him. Always just a bit behind ranking wise. Not easy.

And in the first round, he nearly lost against a superb Joe Lee, 2/0 down, 4/0. ďHad I lost that match, I was going to pull from HK, and take a breakĒ he told me.

The court conditions were not favourable to the delicate backhand volleying of the Egyptian. And to beat Nick, he would have to play a Plan B on top of his Plan A. And thatís exactly what he had in the bag today.

First game, Nick just flies 2m above the ground, 7/2 up, heíll take the game in 12m, 11/5. Which means that the rallies were constructed and hard work produced. The second, we start to see Tarek showing us what he can do, but Nick just wonít that it, coming back from 1/3 down to 5/3. At 6/6, a little wobble from the three times champ, 3 tins in a row, allowing the Egyptian to score 6 points in a row, to take the second 11/7, in 14m.

The third, Nick is on the war path again. Heís got the racquet between the teeth, he is looking at his support camp, and will fight point for point. Tarek is very close though, very very close, 4/4, 6/6, 7/7, 8/8. Enormous two rallies, 9/9. A not let and a superb backhand drop shot winner, 11/9, and the Yorkshire man celebrates his win with a fist push, while Rockyís Theme just resound in the arenaÖ Great drama!!!!

But the 4th is probably where Nick just made a simple error: 4/0 up, and he relaxed just a bit. Tarek only needed that little breath, to come back to 5/5, 6/6. From there, he just get the momentum, 11/8, in 14m.

The fifth is again so tense, so close, Nick is giving it all what he probably doesnít have anymore, to come back from 3/0 and 4/1 down to equalise at 4/4, but at 5/4, he tins a drop shot when he had Tarek wrong footed. 5/5. Another error, 6/5 Tarek. And a crosscourt from Tarek that Nick just misses by half and inch, 7/5. A superb boast that dies at the front, 8/5.

Nick is not beaten yet, he claws back at 7/8, but a lucky nick stops his come back. He closes his eyes, he wants to shout THIS IS NOT FAIR, but just clinches jaws and fist, 9/7. A gutsy backhand long drop shot from the Egyptian, 10/7.

And I donít know what is the last winner/loser shot. I just look at Nick, white as possible, jaws clinched, and at Tarek, ecstatic. Crowd erupts. Thank Heaven we donít have anymore matches after this one. I just couldnít take any more emotions tonight. 

I won it three times, I canít complainÖ

You have to keep the perspective, I try and console myself by telling myself itís only a game of squash after all, I have a beautiful wife, an adorable daughter waiting for me at home.

Iím happy with the fact I left it all on there tonight. I donít mind losing when I give it everything I have, I donít like when I lose a match like in the US Open, 11/3, 11/4, that Iím not happy at the end, but when I give it all, Iím satisfied I tried my best.

Maybe at 4/0 up in the 4th I thought I had him, and then in that 5th, I miss that backhand drop shot, whereas I had won the point [5/4] and then again, when I miss that crosscourt, [5/6], itís such fine lines, it could have made a huge difference.. There are days that are just not your day somehowÖ

I was quite happy, flying under the radar, all the attention was on Mohamed and Ramy, and then those two went out, and maybe thatís when I made the error, maybe I thought it was my week, that I could take another one. There was not a player left that I couldnít have beaten if I was playing my bestÖ Thatís maybe the disappointing thing. You try and not think about those things, but Iím only human, and somewhere along the way, you just doÖ

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