14th, Round Two, Top Half
reports, Steve clicks away in Sunset Beach
 Aamir Atlas Khan (Pak) bt [Q] Joey Barrington (Eng)
11/2, 11/4, 11/8 (30m)
 Adrian Grant (Eng) bt  Farhan
8/11, 11/9, 11/7, 11/7 (71m)
 Nick Matthew (Eng) bt  James
11/8, 11/8, 4/11, 11/9 (70m)
 Wael El Hindi (Egy) bt Jonathan
11/7, 11/9, 11/2 (36m)
Matthew maintains momentum
for number one ...
There were no upsets as the second round of the richest Super
Series Platinum event of the year got under way in Al Khobar, as
England's Nick Matthew kept his bid to become world
number one on the rails.
Matthew extended his winning run over fellow-Yorkshireman James
Willstrop to six matches in an intense four-game battle, and now
meets Egyptian Wael El Hindi for a place in the
semi-finals. To become world number one Matthew must reach the
semi-finals and do better than rival Ramy Ashour in this
Earlier Pakistan's Aamir Atlas Khan proved too quick and
nimble for Joey Barrington, while Adrian Grant beat
Farhan Mehboob in four games to set up another England-Pakistan
clash in the quarter-finals.
Atlas Khan (Pak) bt
[Q] Joey Barrington (Eng)
11/2, 11/4, 11/8 (30m)
JOEY GOT CHOPPED…
5/0 in the 1st, 6m game. 8/0 in the 2nd, 7m game.
Needless to say that Joey didn’t feel at his ease on those first
two games. He just couldn’t find a length, had trouble moving to
the front, and had his timing off.
He gradually came back into the match, although Aamir took an
excellent start yet again in the third, 4/0. But this time Joey
was able to lengthen the rallies (that last game was 13m), apply
some pressure, good length, excellent counter attacking, and
came back close, 7/9. Aamir gave it a last big push, and one
match ball was enough…
I know that Aamir was on fire today, and behaved on there with
the confidence of a top ten, beating Greg in Qatar gave him
wings, but I have to say that in India, Joey had a bad foot
injury, and, although he left right after the match, and I
couldn’t speak with him, I know his game too well to believe
that his struggling with his movement came only from Aamir’s
excellence…. I could be wrong of course, but I think that Joey’s
injury impaired him immensely tonight…
had prepared myself to face Shabana, and measure myself with
him, but he got injured, and I got to play Joey. Again today I
was very sharp. I saw that Joey couldn’t pick up my shots to the
front, so I kept firing them there! I thought my shots were very
"I felt very comfortable on the court today, overall, I thought
that all my shots, both in front and at the back, were really
good. The floor is really good, and I guess beating the world
number one gave me a lot of confidence…
"Tomorrow, I hope Inshallah I’ll play Farhan tomorrow, it would
be good for his ranking, and if it’s the case, I can’t tell
who’ll win, because we’ve been playing many times, and the
result is never certain….
"Reaching the quarters will help me for my points, and my
ranking will go up…"
"I played so well in the first game, so confident, and then in
the second, I relaxed too much. And the third, that was bad, I
was not on the court at all, my mind was wandering… somewhere!!!
"At the end, I played my shots, it’s so close ..."
Grant (Eng) bt  Farhan Mehboob
8/11, 11/9, 11/7, 11/7
LEFTIES ON COURT
They had two things in common those two tonight. One, they were
both lefthanders, which is still unusual, and two, although PSA
guidelines are asking the players to have contrasting shirt
colours, they both came on court with white shirt, with green
(same one) stripes. Only difference, Adrian’s had black stripes
Adrian was not as focused as he was yesterday. He had a few
drifting periods, like at the end of the second, when he leads
9/3 and lets Farhan come back at 9/9, only saved by a tin from
his opponent, and finishing the game with a lovely wrong
footing. And again when he is up at 7/2, he makes a few unforced
errors to let him come back at 5/7.
But an excellent performance from Adrian’s perspective, he kept
his calm at the crucial points, and that led him to a very
deserve victory, playing a great tight game and responding shot
per shot to the firing at will from Gifted Farhan...
Now for the Pakistani, same old, same old. Again such a gifted
player, as inventive at the front than a Ramy can be, shots are
really impossible to read or predict, but he forgets too often
that there is a backwall, shame as when he hitting hard, his
lengths are often irretrievable…
And again, his mind which wanders in and out of the match. He’s
got to get it sorted, because that talent needs to be pushed
forward, not wasted by mind promenade…. That boy has got the
talent to be at minimum top 15, but he’s got to sort out his
won’t be my first quarter finals of a platinum event, I played a
couple already, but never on a consistent basis. Getting to the
quarters normally means the top 8, so everybody is going for
that spot… And with Shabana out of the tournament, it’s now or
"Farhan is so gritty, he’s got super hands, he is super
talented, and he is going to cause trouble to the top guys very
soon. And nowadays, you cannot underestimate anybody around the
top 30 40, and make sure that you take day by day.
"When I got a bit out of focus in the match, I tried and not
panic, it’s only a game after all, it’s all a question of
momentum and movement. When we started, with fresh legs, he got
out firing, and my movement was not fluid enough.
"But then, I was able to step up, get in front of him. My errors
came when I let him get in front of me really.
"This is such a true court, probably the best ever glass court I
played on, thanks to Ziad and his team. Now tomorrow, a day of
rest, looking forward to play my next match, I can only get
better from now on…"
Matthew (Eng) bt  James Willstrop
11/8, 11/8, 4/11, 11/9 (70m)
It's Nick again
Nick Matthew improved his winning record against English rival
James Willstrop to 15-9 with a sixth consecutive win over his
fellow-Yorkshireman, but as in their last meeting in the British
Open final, it was a hard-fought affair, to say the least.
From the outset every ball was hit with purpose, every point had
to be won the hard way. There were no disputes, no comments, it
was all much too intense for that.
took the first two, pulling away at the end of each, but
Willstrop took a good start in the third and Matthew wasn't too
inclined to bust a gut to close it down.
Willstrop led for most of the fourth too, 5/2 and 8/4, but
Matthew seemed to sense the time was right for another push, as
he came back to 7/8.
Willstrop was dismayed to concede a stroke on a ball glued to
the wall at the front, held his head as he tinned the next
service return, and couldn't believe it when on the next rally
the ball dribbled out of the nick in the back corner to give
Matthew two match balls.
One was saved as Matthew received a no let he didn't like, then
on a rally which upped the tension even more if that was
possible, finally Willstrop's drive went out on the side wall
and the match was Matthew's.
court felt great, no bad bounce, no slipping, hopefully, it will
look good on TV too.
"I’m so happy I’ve got a day of rest tomorrow, it’s not
physically, more mentally. The standard of squash was so high,
that a little drop in concentration, like in the third, and
James was all over me like a rash… And in the fourth, I was
determined not to have a 5th, because might as well toss a coin…
"James came back really well after his surgery, he is pushing
for the top 4, top 5. Against him, you never get an easy point,
and a tin is like a present from God, you are so grateful when
you get one…
"So I just kept pushing, there were so many emotions, James and
I were real professionals out there to handle them that well, it
was a clean and fair game.
"It was the worst draw for both of us, and you knew by the
number of players that were sitting watching the match that it
was going to be fireworks, and a great match. By the way, I was
a bit disappointed that a few of them gave James as the winner
before the game. I thought I would prove them wrong!!!!
"This was the first time James and I played after our match in
the British Open. "A lot of things were written and said, and
I’m glad that we had none of that rubbish today, it was a clean
and good match, now we can all move on with our lives and look
to the future…"
going to try and be positive, because close to me, there are a
lot of people who try and make me having a positive look at
things, but recently, I feel that important things haven’t been
going my way, sometimes it happens in sport…
"Nick played better today, he deserved to win. Today he was
stronger than me, his body held it better, everybody knows how
great professional Nick is.
"Everybody has been falling like flies, and I’m one of them! The
body went about a week ago, and the head is now officially
gone!!!! I played my first tournament of the season at the end
of July, and haven’t stopped since. A lot of thinking has got to
be done about the scheduling, The PSA will sort it out, I’m
sure, but this is such a ridiculously tough sport, we need to
have some resting time and a more balance calendar…
"It was a dog of a draw, especially after all the top players
have gone out of the tournament. I’m disappointed, with the
standard I play at the moment, to be out in the second round. I
don’t think I deserve that… I think I need a bit of luck, things
to go my way a bit, although in no way shape or form am I saying
that luck made Nick win the game!!!
"Anyway, I can only be happy that at such a late stage in the
year, with so little rest time recently, I can still compete
with Nick at that level, I was very close to coming back at the
end and take the fourth…It’s encouraging to be able to still
reach that standard…
"It’s the end of the road, I can wait to do nothing in front of
the TV, eating chocolate!!!"
NICK IMPRESSES AGAIN
can only salute the British Open Champion for his performance
tonight, although it takes two to make a great match, and that
was definitely one…
The first two games were so close, played at a ridiculous pace
most of the time, with a few slowing down the pace periods –
both lobbing and driving a bit more – but none of the up and
down the wall game would could expect from English Boys.
Nick was taking the ball that much quicker than James, and when
his opponent was able to outplay him in a rally, like Peter
Nicol before him, Nick was finding volley drop shots with the
extreme end of the racquet that or found the nick, or put James,
who was wining the rally, completely on the back foot again.
The third was all about James, who found both perfect balance
between length and short game, and never let Nick a chance to
settle in the game. And it looked like we were on for another
five setter when in the fourth, James led 4/1, 5/2 and 8/4.
again, whereas James was dominating and controlling the rallies,
Nick would find a lethal counter drop or counter attack that
would put James under a tremendous pressure.
A stroke, then a great shot, another stroke on an unlucky
“corner” shot that fuses right back at James, then a decision
which I found very harsh – stroke, 2 refs against 1, it was in
my mind a let, the ball was far too tight for Nick to be able to
get a winning shot out of it, but hey, what do I know – and we
were back at 8/8. A tin from James, a lucky bounce at the back,
and it’s 10/8, match ball. We all hold our breaths.
James finds a lovely drop shot nick, one match ball saved. The
crowd wants more of it, a bit of support for James. Five lets. A
tremendous rally, that goes on, and on, and on, then Nick who
attacks, a bit of up and down the wall, and James’ lob drive
that catches the outside line. Match over.
Nick roars with relief and utter joy. James is whiter than ever.
And my heart rejoice for Nick, and shatters like crystal for
I’m in the wrong job…
 Wael El
Hindi (Egy) bt Jonathan Kemp (Eng)
11/7, 11/9, 11/2 (36m)
Wael waltzes into quarters
The final match of the day was always going to be a clash of
styles, and while Jon Kemp's fast-paced, winners from anywhere
game kept Wael El Hindi honest for the first two games, the
Englishman's frustration grew, and after two tough games the
Egyptian took advantage to cruise through the third and into the
glad I feel strong again, that I’m enjoying my game again. You
saw me in India, I was not at my best, I had to go home to Egypt
for a few days, and recharge the batteries, and find that hunger
to win again…
"In the first round again yesterday, I was not sure of myself, I
was a bit weary, not sure which side to go, but tonight, I have
found the side I want, and I can’t wait to play Nick, I haven’t
played him for a long time, and I’m glad to have a day off
"He played really well, a very tight game, and he limited my
chances to attack.
"I was ill in India, and today, I just felt so tired today, I
guess that winning yesterday took all the energy I had left!!!
"It’s really disappointed to play like that, but then again, if
I had been told five days ago that I would be playing in the
second round here, I would have signed immediately…"