World No.14 Miguel Angel Rodriguez has become the first South American player ever to win a PSA World Series tournament after the unseeded Colombian stunned men’s World No.1 Mohamed ElShorbagy to win the iconic Allam British Open title inside Hull’s Airco Arena on a day that also saw women’s World No.1 Nour El Sherbini down World Champion Raneem El Welily to win her second title at the ‘Wimbledon of Squash’.
Rodriguez, the first unseeded player in the modern era to win the British Open, and ElShorbagy, a two-time British Open champion, contested one of the most dramatic finals the tournament has ever seen, with 32-year-old Rodriguez prevailing in a gladiatorial, 102-minute battle by an 11-7, 6-11, 8-11, 11-2, 11-9 scoreline.
ElShorbagy, who prior to the final had spent almost an hour longer on court than his opponent during this tournament, fought through the fatigue to take a 2-1 lead but the Egyptian took just two points in the fourth as he recharged his batteries for one last push in the fifth.
The reigning World Champion fought on manfully but he couldn’t deny his opponent and, when the Colombian went match ball up and deceived him with a well-disguised boast, he called an attempted pick-up to be down to ensure that Rodriguez made history.
“I think everything was mental, I dreamed it,” said Rodriguez after claiming the 27th – and biggest – PSA World Tour title of his career.
“I had emotions during the week but I am just speechless. I’m so grateful for this opportunity to win this major tournament, the greatest of all time. I’m so proud of myself, this is for my parents, my family and Colombia.
“It’s huge, this is like winning the ‘Wimbledon of Squash’. No one in South America has achieved this before, I’m a legend I think I can say. I couldn’t believe that I was able to fight with a top player like Mohamed, he has achieved so many titles. I can’t believe that I am 32 years old and I just won the British Open.”
Women’s World No.1 El Sherbini made it two British Open titles out of three finals after the 22-year-old put in a scintillating performance to overcome compatriot and World No.2 El Welily in straight games, avenging her defeat to the 29-year-old in the final of last month’s El Gouna International.
The pair were meeting in a fifth major final of the season with each player taking two wins apiece prior to today’s final. El Sherbini became the first female Egyptian to win the British Open in 2016 and had also reached the final in 2012 at the age of just 16, while 29-year-old El Welily was contesting the title decider of the iconic tournament for the first time in her career.
And it was the younger Egyptian who prevailed in Hull as she played an immaculate brand of squash to record an 11-6, 11-9, 14-12 triumph in 47 minutes to win her 16th PSA crown.
“We always have very tough battles, it’s never an easy 3-0 and I’m really glad it’s ended this way.
“I’m glad I came back and won the third. Every time we play, it gets harder. We’re really good friends and I learn from her a lot and she is a role model to any player. I hope this battle continues and we keep playing each other in the finals.”
Both Rodriguez and El Sherbini take home over $24,000 in prize money after the tournament offered up equal prize money for the second year in succession.
Men’s Final: Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL) 3-2  Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) 11-7, 6-11, 8-11, 11-2, 11-9 (102m) Women’s Final:  Nour El Sherbini (EGY) 3-0  Raneem El Welily (EGY) 11-6, 11-9, 14-12 (47m)
World No.14 Miguel Angel Rodriguez has become the first South American squash player ever to reach a PSA World Series final after he ended the giant-killing run of German qualifier Raphael Kandra to reach the title decider of the prestigious Allam British Open on a day that also saw the defending champions exit the event held at Hull’s Airco Arena.
Rodriguez, the 32-year-old from Bogota, had followed up an opening round scalp of 2013 champion Ramy Ashour with wins over Omar Mosaad and World No.2 Ali Farag to reach the last four, but he was up against one of stars of the tournament, with World No.37 Kandra ending Nick Matthew’s final British Open in round two before claiming a massive win over World No.3 Marwan ElShorbagy yesterday.
Kandra – the first German to reach the semi-finals of this tournament – troubled Rodriguez at times during the opening stages of the match until, with the scores poised at 1-1, the Colombian former World No.4 took control and he completed an 11-5, 5-11, 11-4, 11-3 triumph to secure a top eight place on the PSA World Series Standings, which sees him become the last player to qualify for next month’s ATCO PSA Dubai World Series.
“I had a little bit of pressure, this is a World Series semi-final, so the emotions you feel on court while you are playing are difficult. The first two games were edgy but then I was moving much better and I felt good physically, my shots were deeper, and I think that was the key. I was patient and that helped.
“It’s huge [to be in the final], this is one of my dreams when I was a kid and I told myself at the beginning of the year that I wanted to reach a final, I have and I’m very proud.”
Rodriguez will be up against World No.1 Mohamed ElShorbagy in the final after the Egyptian powerhouse overcame last year’s winner and three-time British Open champion Gregory Gaultier to reach his third final at the sport’s longest-running tournament.
ElShorbagy and Gaultier contested a highly-entertaining five-game battle, with 27-year-old ElShorbagy’s physicality giving him the edge over his French opponent, 35, to claim an 8-11, 11-6, 11-6, 3-11, 11-5 win which sees him book his place in a fifth World Series final of the season.
“There are players that can beat you on the day, great players, but there are players who have the consistency to keep it going the whole season. I miss playing against someone who does that, because he has been injured most of the year, but we are the best two players in the world.”
Meanwhile, World No.1 Nour El Sherbini and World Champion Raneem El Welily will contest their fifth major final of the season after they achieved wins over title holder Laura Massaro and 2015 winner Camille Serme, respectively.
The Egyptian – who became the first female Egyptian to win the British Open in 2016 – will now compete in a fifth World Series final of the season after avenging her defeat to Massaro in the semi-finals of last year’s tournament.
“It’s always really tough to play Laura in Hull, she was playing so good here but I’m really happy that I managed to get back and win the fourth and happy to be in another final.
“The British Open is one of the biggest tournaments we have on the tour, it’s an honour to win it once and hopefully I can go on to do it again.”
El Welily reached her maiden British Open final courtesy of a 3-1 victory over France’s Serme, winning 11-7, 4-11, 12-10, 11-6 in 43 minutes to complete a three-strong Egyptian presence across both the men’s and women’s title deciders.
The World No.2 has claimed most of the big titles on the PSA World Tour but the prestigious ‘Wimbledon of Squash’ is one of the few missing from her expansive collection. El Welily took one step closer to getting her hands on the iconic trophy today though after taking a crucial tie-break in the third game en route to completing the victory in four games.
“It’s very special and I’m very happy to be in my first final at the British Open,” El Welily said.
“I haven’t been very lucky in previous years and I’m a little bit gutted to be missing Ramadan back home, but at least I’m in the final and that will make up for it.”Men’s Semi-Finals:  Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) 3-2  Gregory Gaultier (FRA) 8-11, 11-6, 11-6, 3-11, 11-5 (71m) Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL) 3-1 [Q] Raphael Kandra (GER) 11-5, 5-11, 11-4, 11-3 (44m) Women’s Semi-Finals:  Nour El Sherbini (EGY) 3-2  Laura Massaro (ENG) 11-13, 11-4, 11-13, 11-7, 11-5 (70m)  Raneem El Welily (EGY) 3-1  Camille Serme (FRA) 11-7, 4-11, 12-10, 11-6 (43m)
The finals begin at 15:00 on Sundayand will be shown live on SQUASHTV (Rest of World), Eurosport Player (Europe only) and will be broadcast on mainstream channels around the world, such as BT Sport, beIN Sports, Fox Sports Australia and Astro.
German qualifier Raphael Kandra continued his giant-killing run at this year’s Allam British Open as he followed up a second round victory over three-time winner Nick Matthew with a stunning 3-2 win over World No.3 Marwan ElShorbagy inside Hull’s Airco Arena – becoming the first German in history to reach the semi-finals of the iconic tournament.
Kandra made headlines in round two as he sent home favourite Matthew packing in his final appearance at this tournament and he put in one of the most remarkable performances the British Open has ever seen as he sent ElShorbagy to a shock defeat.
The World No.37 from Paderborn had never before reached the semi-finals of a World Series tournament but put in a display full of grit and endeavour as he claimed a stunning 11-7, 11-13, 6-11, 13-11, 11-6 victory to send the crowd into raptures as he became the first qualifier to reach the last four of the men’t tournament since 2001.
“I definitely enjoyed the crowd,” said the 27-year-old after the biggest win of his career.
“I was just trying to enjoy my squash out there and the support of the crowd was amazing. It was a spectacular match, it’s hard to say but for me it probably wasn’t the best of Marwan’s squash today, but you need those days.
“I’m fighting through, whoever comes, I don’t mind. Whoever it is, if it’s Gregory Gaultier… or Mohamed ElShorbagy – I don’t mind. These guys are just so impressive at the moment and they play so well.”
Kandra will line up against Colombia’s former World No.4 Miguel Angel Rodriguez after he upset World No.2 Ali Farag to reach the semi-finals of this tournament for the first time since 2015 – a result that sees him leapfrog Matthew into eighth place on the PSA World Series Standings, which means that the Englishman is unable to qualify for next month’s season-ending ATCO PSA Dubai World Series Finals.
Matthew’s loss to Kandra means that the 37-year-old three-time World Champion has now officially began his retirement after a glittering 20-year career and his place in Dubai will now be contested by Rodriguez and Kandra, with the latter only able to qualify if he goes on and wins the title.
“What a way to do it,” said Rodriguez.
“The last few seasons have been tough for me with injuries but I’m back and I’m happy to be reaching semis again. I’m over the moon, I’ve been working so hard since last year and today was difficult because I’m sometimes too emotional, but I tried to be disciplined today and it worked.”
The other men’s semi-final will see defending champion Gregory Gaultier and World No.1 Mohamed ElShorbagy lock horns for the 23rd time on the PSA World Tour. Gaultier defeated Kandra’s compatriot – World No.6 Simon Rösner – while ElShorbagy overcame New Zealand’s World No.10 Paul Coll.
Massaro is now the only English player left in the tournament after compatriots Sarah-Jane Perry – the 2017 runner-up to Massaro – and Alison Waters fell to Egyptian duo Raneem El Welily and Nour El Sherbini, respectively.
The 34-year-old from Preston avenged her defeat to El Tayeb in October’s U.S. Open as she put in a real masterclass to record an 11-9, 11-9, 11-6 victory that will see her take on World No.1 El Sherbini in the last four as she appears in a sixth British Open semi-final.
“I’ve done nothing but think about this match since I won the other day and I’ve had my eye on it since the draw came out, without being disrespectful to my two first round opponents, because you can’t take it for granted,” said two-time British Open champion Massaro.
“I’ve seen how Nour has been playing and how she has improved. She is part of the reason that I’ve been training so hard because of how she’s been playing and changing the game and what she’s doing to it.
“But, I also didn’t like the way she showboated and played so amazing against me in the U.S. Open, it was borderline cocky, and I wanted to get my own back for that, but she is bringing a whole different flair and it is what the squash game needs.”
Massaro will aim to end a three-match losing streak to World No.1 El Sherbini in the semi-finals, while El Welily will clash with 2015 British Open champion Camille Serme after the Frenchwoman prevailed in a thrilling five-game battle with Wales’ Tesni Evans.
Serme went 2-1 down after some sublime squash from the Welsh player but the physicality eventually took its toll on her opponent as she ground out an 16-14, 7-11, 7-11, 11-9, 11-6 victory to bring an end to an entertaining 72-minute clash.
“She has had an amazing season,” said 29-year-old Serme, who will face World Champion Raneem El Welily in the next round.
“It was a big battle today and I was enjoying it while we were both working really hard. It’s amazing to have all my staff and team behind me. Greg had already played but stayed to watch me and I’m very lucky.”
The semi-finals of the begin at 13:00 on Saturday and will be shown live on SQUASHTV (Rest of World), Eurosport Player (Europe only) and mainstream broadcast channels around the world, such as BT Sport, beIN Sports, Fox Sports Australia and Astro.
The new PSA World Rankings reveal that, for the first time ever, Egyptians hold the top three places in both the Men’s and Women’s lists …
Marwan ElShorbagy Reaches Top Three in Men’s May World Rankings
Bristol-based Egyptian Marwan ElShorbagy has today overtaken France’s Gregory Gaultier to reach a career-high World No.3 ranking and complete the first all-Egyptian presence amongst the world’s top three positions on the men’s tour since April 2009.
The 24-year-old defeated World No.2 Ali Farag last week to lift his maiden World Series title at the El Gouna International to join Farag and older brother Mohamed – the current World No.1 – inside the world’s top three as they become the first brothers to reside in the top three at the same time since Brett and Rodney Martin in May 1994.
Gaultier’s drop down to No.4 marks his lowest ranking since April 2013 and he sits a place ahead of Tarek Momen, who retains his place inside the top five.
Germany’s Simon Rösner stays at No.6 ahead of 2016 World Champion Karim Abdel Gawad, three-time World Champion Ramy Ashour, Egypt’s Mohamed Abouelghar and New Zealand’s Paul Coll, who complete the top 10.
Ahead of what could be his final month in professional squash, England’s Nick Matthew – the 37-year-old veteran who will retire at the end of this season – moves up to No.11, while Peru’s Diego Elias and Saurav Ghosal of India take the next two spots inside the top 15.
Colombia’s Miguel Angel Rodriguez moves up two places to No.14 – his highest ranking in 14 months – with Commonwealth Games gold medalist James Willstrop dropping a place to No.15.
Australia’s Ryan Cuskelly falls to No.16, while Egypt’s Omar Mosaad moves up four places to No.17, which is his highest ranking since March 2015.
Switzerland’s Nicolas Mueller and England’s Daryl Selby sit at No.18 and No.19, respectively, while Hong Kong’s Max Lee ends a nine-month hiatus from the top 20 to take the final spot inside it.
Raneem El Welily’s title win at the inaugural women’s El Gouna International last week has cut the gap between her and current World No.1 Nour El Sherbini to under 250 points after the PSA Women’s World Rankings for May were released today.
An imperious display inside the all-glass showcourt held on El Gouna’s marina saw El Welily defeat El Sherbini 3-1 in the title decider with the points gap between the two now at its lowest since January of this year.
El Sherbini, El Welily and their compatriot Nour El Tayeb make up an all-Egyptian women’s top three which, after Marwan ElShorbagy joined older brother Mohamed and U.S. Open champion Ali Farag in the top three of the men’s World Rankings, means that the top ranking spots in both the men’s and women’s rankings are taken up by an Egyptian trio for the first time in history.
New Zealand’s Joelle King is the only non-Egyptian in the top five as she stays at No.4, a place ahead of Nouran Gohar, who remains at No.5.
The rest of the top 10 is unchanged as Camille Serme (No.6), Laura Massaro (No.7), Sarah-Jane Perry (No.8), Nicol David (No.9) and Alison Waters take up the final spots inside.
Hong Kong’s Annie Au stays at No.11, with Tesni Evans (No.12), Olivia Blatchford (No.13), Joshna Chinappa (No.14) and Victoria Lust completing an unchanged top 15.
Egypt’s Salma Hany is one of the few movers in the top 20 as she moves up to a career-high No.16 ranking, switching places with Australia’s Donna Urquhart, while India’s Dipika Pallikal Karthik stays at No.18.
Hong Kong’s Joey Chan moves up three places to No.19, while 17-year-old Egyptian Hania El Hammamy – who in March 2015 became the first player born in the 21st century to win a PSA World Tour title – rises into the top 20 for the first time in her career.
Raneem El Welily and Marwan ElShorbagy are the 2018 El Gouna International champions after they beat Nour El Sherbini and Ali Farag in an all-Egyptian finals line-up at the PSA World Series tournament held in El Gouna’s marina.
The Alexandria-born 29-year-old played some spell-binding squash to go 2-1 up and five match balls up in the fourth before nerves kicked in and she began to find the tin with her shots, resulting in El Sherbini fighting back to force a tie-break.
“What a match that was, Nour played fantastic and was fighting back all the way to the end,” said El Welily.
“Even at 10-5 down at the end she wasn’t letting go all the way to 11-10. I still can’t believe that, last time it happened I lost that match.
“I was thinking too much about that today, so I’m very happy that I managed to win it at the end and that I pushed myself.”
The 24-year-old had won three of their five matches on the PSA World Tour, with all of their previous meetings coming in semi-finals, including in the last four of December’s PSA Men’s World Championships where ElShorbagy came through a dramatic five-game, 75-minute thriller.
But ElShorbagy was rarely troubled by an out-of-sorts Farag tonight as he dominated the U.S. Open champion and played an impeccable match of squash, outclassing his compatriot to take an 11-8, 11-5, 11-4 victory to win a World Series final at the third attempt, joining his brother on the list of El Gouna International tournament winners in the process.
“Especially to win it here at home means the world. I’m so happy, I’m over the moon and I can’t even describe how I feel.
“I’ve lost a few major finals before, but coming into this one I just had to learn from the losses I had and I had to be more relaxed and more focused. Me and my coach put a good game plan together before the match.”
 Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) 3-0  Ali Farag (EGY) 11-8, 11-5, 11-4 (39m)
 Raneem El Welily (EGY) 3-1  Nour El Sherbini (EGY) 5-11, 11-8, 11-3, 14-12 (50m)
The first world squash championship ever to be held in China will take place in September when the city of Dalian hosts the 2018 WSF Women’s World Team Championship.
Dalian, a major city and seaport in the south of Liaoning Province, will stage the biennial World Squash Federation championship at the Xigang Gymnasium, from 11-16 September, in another example of the worldwide reach of the sport as squash makes its case for Olympic inclusion.
The venue will feature three all-glass showcourts, with arena seating, plus four permanent all-glass courts.
Alongside hosts China, confirmed entries include Australia, Canada, Egypt, England, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong China, India, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, South Africa, Switzerland and USA.
On awarding the rights to the event’s new hosts, WSF President Jacques Fontaine said: “China is a member of the world squash family that is showing its maturity with this hosting. There have been major international championships held on showcourts in iconic settings such as the Bund in Shanghai, and now women players from across the globe are excited about playing the World Team Championship in the city of Dalian.
“We are very grateful to the Chinese Squash Association, Dalian Squash and the city authorities who have collaborated to bring this premier event to China. We know that the teams, officials and spectators will have a memorable time in Dalian.”
Mrs Zhao Liping, Vice-Dean of the Multiball Center of the General Sports Administration of China said: “The Women’s World Team Championship 2018, which will be held in Dalian city of Liao Ning Province, is welcoming elite lady players from all over the world to compete together. The great squash event will definitely be a successful one, contributing to the development of the sport of squash in China as well as the world.”
On behalf of Dalian Squash, Mr Wang Guoguang looks forward to the event, saying: “It is our pleasure and honour to welcome so many elite women players from around the world to our XiGang Centre, where they will inspire the passionate Chinese squash community. Squash in China is growing quickly and hosting this prestigious championship demonstrates our capability.”
Since its launch in 1979, the Women’s World Team Championship has been held in 11 different countries across all five continents – the most recent being France in 2016 when Egypt won the title for the third time, beating former champions England in the final in the capital Paris.
Defending men’s champion Gregory Gaultier and top seed Mohamed ElShorbagy saw their hopes of winning the 2018 El Gouna International dashed at the semi-final stage as they bowed out at the hands of Ali Farag and Marwan ElShorbagy, respectively.
In the fifth meeting so far this season between Elshorbagy brothers Mohamed and Marwan, it was younger brother Marwan, the World No.4, who ended a four-match sibling losing streak to book his place in the tournament’s show-piece match for the first time in his career.
Marwan beat his brother here twelve months ago – his last victory over Mohamed before consecutive defeats in the finals of the 2017 World Championships and 2018 Windy City Open prior to defeat at the 2018 Canary Wharf Classic last month – and tasted success on the banks of the Red Sea once again as he prevailed in a testing five-game battle.
“He’s a nightmare to beat but that’s why he’s the World No.1. If I want to be in his place I have to come through matches like this consistently.
“I probably could have won it in the fourth but he played the crucial points better than me. The start of the fifth was so important, I had to be mentally focused and I’m happy to come through.
“I’ve been very consistent this season. It’s another final and I’ll just enjoy it.”
Farag took the opening game but Gaultier responded to increase the intensity and come through to take a 2-1 lead. But the French General paid the price in the fourth as he began to fatigue – with Farag pouncing to swing the match back in his favour.
“Greg is such an experienced campaigner and knows exactly how to play to make the game suit him,” said Farag.
“He kept changing his plan and I had to try and adapt. I was going to short too early at times but I think coming back and taking that third game to a tie-breaker, even though I lost it, gave me some momentum that I could take into the fourth and fifth.
“Tomorrow against Marwan I think it will be a great match. I admire the way he plays and we’ve had some big matches this season so I’m preparing for another battle tomorrow.”
El Sherbini, who prevailed when the pair last played in El Gouna in the 2016 World Championship final, put England’s Laura Massaro to the sword with an impressive 3-1 win while El Welily had to dig deep into her mental resolve to come through a thrilling encounter with Nour El Tayeb.
With both players at their spell-binding best, exchanging sublime winners with abandon, the duo traded games to reach 2-2 before El Welily dug deep to overturn an 1-5 fifth game deficit and seal the match 11-9, 5-11, 8-11, 11-8, 11-9.
“In the fourth and the fifth I was behind but I just kept digging in. I had a feeling that she was starting to tire in the fifth and I just tried to build on that.
“Tomorrow will be another huge battle with Nour – if I can play as well as I did today, both in terms fo attitude and charter, I will be happy so I hope I can bring that into tomorrow’s match and we will see what happens.”
 Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) 3-2  Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) 11-6, 6-11, 11-9, 10-12, 11-2 (75m)
 Ali Farag (EGY) 3-2  Gregory Gaultier (FRA) 11-9, 5-11, 10-12, 11-2, 11-9 (71m)
 Nour El Sherbini (EGY) 3-1  Laura Massaro (ENG) 11-8, 8-11, 11-4, 11-6 (42m)
 Raneem El Welily (EGY) 3-2  Nour El Tayeb (EGY) 11-9, 5-11, 8-11, 11-8, 11-9 (63m)
After eight days of play in Egypt’s Red Sea resort, the top four seeds are set to contest the semi-finals of the lasest PSA World Series event …Defending Champion Gaultier sets up Semi-Final clash with Farag
Reigning El Gouna International champion Gregory Gaultier moved a step closer to a third successive final at the PSA World Series tournament as he defeated Colombia’s Miguel Angel Rodriguez to set up a semi-final meeting with World No.2 Ali Farag at the El Gouna Marina.
The World No.3 didn’t have everything his own way today though and the pair contested a high-octane clash until Rodriguez twisted his ankle in a coming together early on in the fourth game with Gaultier 2-1 up at the time. The former World No.4 played on but Gaultier had too much in the tank and the Frenchman held on to complete an 11-9, 8-11, 11-6, 11-7 victory in 70 minutes.
“I’m happy I managed to get back on court but after the accident it was not easy,” said Gaultier.
“It was tough to get the rhythm back but I’m happy that after losing the second game I managed to find my length and my focus again.
“He is everywhere, he’s very skilful and moves around the court well so it is very difficult to put the ball away.”
He will go up against the man who took his World No.2 ranking earlier this month, Egypt’s Farag, after the 26-year-old put in a mesmerising display against World No.5 Tarek Momen to end a two-match losing streak to his compatriot which encompassed semi-final wins at the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions and the Canary Wharf Classic.
It was a windy evening at the marina and Farag adapted best to the conditions as he put in a rampant display which saw him outplay Momen and he claimed an 11-4, 11-3, 11-7 victory in 33 minutes to book his place in the semi-finals of this tournament for the first time.
“Today it wasn’t about who was the better player, it was about who was going to adapt to the conditions better,” Farag said afterwards.
Maybe I can thank [Wife] Nour [El Tayeb] as well. Nour is my main inspiration, she plays very well herself and maybe I was lucky that she had a match before me and she told me how the wind was. I had that to my advantage and I adapted.”
Farag’s win followed immediately after his wife, World No.3 Nour El Tayeb, earned her place in the semi-finals of the women’s tournament courtesy of an impressive 3-0 win over England’s Alison Waters.
Waters came within a whisker of taking the opening game after El Tayeb recovered from game ball down to go ahead and the Egyptian was in control from that point onwards as she claimed a 12-10, 11-6, 11-7 victory to reach a fourth World Series semi-final in a row.
“The conditions were very hard tonight for both of us,” said El Tayeb.
“It took us a while to adapt to the conditions. Last time we played she beat me, so I was expecting a tough match, and I know how hard she is to beat.
“I really prefer playing first, Ali [Farag] had to warm up watching me. I have done it a few times and it’s not easy.”
Up next for El Tayeb is a meeting with World No.2 Raneem El Welily, who put Hong Kong’s Annie Au to the sword in a dominant display 12 months after losing the women’s PSA World Championship final on this court to World No.1 Nour El Sherbini.
El Welily was in splendid form once again after following up a impressive second round display against England’s Sarah-Jane Perry with a comfortable 23-minute win over Au to move to within one win of what would be a fourth World Series final this season.
“Annie’s got a very strong game and like the previous players said, the conditions on the court today are not the best,” El Welily said.
“I’m just happy to be through in three today against a tough opponent.”
World No.1 Mohamed ElShorbagy and his younger brother, World No.4 Marwan, will go head-to-head for the fifth time this season as they advanced to the semi-finals of the El Gouna International, PSA World Series tournament held at El Gouna’s marina courtesy of respective wins over Germany’s Simon Rösner and 2017 runner-up Karim Abdel Gawad.
The two ElShorbagy’s met at the quarter-final stage of last year’s tournament when Marwan eased past his sibling – who was out of form at the time – in just 24 minutes but he has lost their four previous meetings on the PSA World Tour, including the final of the PSA World Championships in December.
Mohamed booked his place in the semi-finals this time as he defeated World No.6 Simon Rösner by a 3-1 margin, claiming an 11-2, 11-8, 9-11, 11-8 victory to ensure that he has now reached the semi-finals at 10 of his last 11 tournaments.
“Simon has been in great form this year, he’s at his highest World Ranking and he won the Tournament of Champions in January, so I knew how tough it was going to be,” said ElShorbagy.
“I think we played here two years ago and it was tough as well. I just expected it to be tough from the first point and it kept getting tougher and tougher. I’m just glad that I pulled away at the end.
“I didn’t want to go to five games but with a player of his quality it was tough going in the end but I’m glad I pulled through.”
Marwan, meanwhile, overcame 2016 World Champion Karim Abdel Gawad after a superb display saw him mix up his shots well in a tactically-astute performance that saw Gawad unable to sustain any kind of rhythm.
“My brother is a completely different player from 12 months ago so I’m expecting a completely different match,” said Marwan afterwards.
“Even when he’s not at his best I’m expecting a tough match, he’s never going to give it to me easy, especially me because I’m his younger brother. He wants me to have it the hard way, which is making me stronger. I’m just going to enjoy my day off tomorrow and I’m not even going to think about my match with him until a few minutes before my match.”
World No.1 Nour El Sherbini joined her compatriots in the semi-finals as she sent French World No.6 Camille Serme out with an 11-5, 11-6, 11-6 victory to underline her status as the favourite for the women’s title.
The 22-year-old, who was 8-7 up on the head-to-head was majestic as she dismantled her opponent pushing Serme deep into the back of the court, while her precision at the front was too much for the Frenchwoman to handle as she stormed to the win in 35 minutes.
“The match was tough even if it finished 3-0,” said El Sherbini.
“I’m used to playing with Camille in the semi-finals of the finals, so it’s really hard to play two tough matches after each other. But I’m really glad that I played well, I’m pleased with the way I’m playing and I’m happy to be in the semis.
“I think today I just relaxed, didn’t put any pressure on myself, enjoyed my game and I was just having fun.”
She will face England’s Laura Massaro for a place in the final after the 34-year-old World No.7 put in a clinical display to reach a fifth semi-final in her last seven tournaments, winning 11-4, 11-8, 11-2 in just 23 minutes.
“I feel good and I felt like it was a solid performance,” said Massaro.
“It’s probably just what I’m known for, consistent and solid, and I guess maybe I haven’t been consistent and solid recently, so it’s nice to be back to playing that sort of squash.”
The WSF has awarded the rights to host the 2020 World Masters Squash Championships to Poland. Fittingly, the world championships boasting the biggest field will take place at the world’s biggest club – the 33-court Hasta La Vista Club in the historic city of Wroclaw.
Fittingly, the world championships boasting the biggest field will take place at the world’s biggest club – the 33-court Hasta La Vista Club in the historic city of Wroclaw.
The event, which is expected to attract players from all over the globe, aged from 35 to over 80, will take place from 25-31 August 2020 – following the 2018 championships in Charlottesville, Virginia, USA, from 29 July to 4 August this year.
The Hasta La Vista Club (the showcourt of which is pictured above) hosted the World Junior Championships in 2013, then the squash action of the 2017 World Games, before attracting the continent’s top senior players for the European Masters Championships in September last year. Early next month, the region’s top players will converge on the Hasta La Vista to compete in the annual European Team Championships.
“With the possibility of a thousand or more players of all ages participating in the World Masters it seems fitting that the world’s largest club should host the matches,” said WSF CEO Andrew Shelley. “The championship, played in five year age bands features a great blend of past champions, age group stars and masters players who will simply enjoy taking part.
“2020 World Masters will truly showcase the wide geography of Squash – played today across more than 185 countries all over the world, and its intergenerational profile – two of the reasons why we believe the sport would be a strategic choice for inclusion in the Olympic programme as well.
“Doubtless so many of the players going to Charlottesville will be marking up their diaries for 2020 straight afterwards. They can be sure of a great welcome in Poland.”
Hasta La Vista owner Zenon Waniak added: “I would like to cordially invite all of you to Hasta la Vista in Wrocław, Poland to World Masters Championships 2020!
“Squash is my great passion, that is why the place, in which we can host the best players from around the world, was created. Above all, I am very pleased, when people do not give up playing squash even despite their age.
“For several years I have been dreaming to organise the World Masters Championships, so I am waiting with great anticipation for year 2020. I hope that this event will be the great meeting of many nationalities in the atmosphere of sport competition, interesting conversations, good vibes and friendship.
“On the area of 10,000 sq metres, 33 squash courts with comfortable and modern facilities are waiting for you!
“Wrocław, as a city was honoured and won the title of the Best European Destination 2018. Its history is very worthwhile, Wrocław is charming city with positive energy, hence I would like to invite you to visit and explore city of Wrocław.”
The Professional Squash Association (PSA), in collaboration with the World Squash Federation (WSF), has reached a cooperation agreement with the Olympic Channel in a partnership that will see all three organisations collaborate on content for the multi-platform global media destination.
The agreement will provide the Olympic Channel, launched by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 2016, with access to highlights from the world’s biggest squash tournaments, a range of feature video content featuring the sport’s greatest athletes and an array of written content for its global platforms, ensuring that squash will reach a bigger audience than ever before.
“We are delighted to officially launch our relationship with Olympic Channel, which is a key step for squash as we continue to work toward our goal of bidding for inclusion in future Olympic Games,” said PSA Chief Executive Alex Gough.
“The Olympic Channel is a pioneering multi-media platform and we feel that squash, with its commitment to innovation, will make a fantastic addition to their existing content output.
“Establishing this partnership will ensure that our sport gains greater visibility through the Olympic Channel’s distribution platforms and we are looking forward to highlighting our athletes with engaging and relevant content.”
The agreement means that squash has joined more than 65 international governing bodies who have partnered with the Olympic Channel, strengthening the profile of squash amongst fans of other sports.
Commenting on the agreements, Olympic Channel General Manager Mark Parkman said:
“We share a common goal to increase both the size of the audience and active participation for their organisations, and we look forward to working together to promote their sports and to help grow their audiences worldwide.”
The partnership with the Olympic Channel comes after squash has gone through a strong period of growth in recent years. The PSA launched their OTT streaming service – SQUASHTV – in 2010 and, since then, huge strides have been made in improving SQUASHTV’s coverage of professional squash.
State of the art glass courts host the sport’s greatest players in some of the most iconic sporting locations in the world, while recent partnerships with the likes of interactive Squash and Sports Data Labs have revolutionised the sport’s coverage, enabling biometric data such as player heart-rate data and distance covered to be used in live broadcasts.
While Squash relished its sixth appearance in the Commonwealth Games since making its debut in Malaysia in 1998, hosts Australia together with New Zealand and England shared the gold medals in the five events at Oxenford Studios in Gold Coast – with New Zealand topping the medals table for the first time since 2002.
105 athletes from 28 nations, officiated by 27 referees from 11 Commonwealth nations, competed in some 140 Singles matches and 115 Doubles matches – the busiest and most successful athlete being Kiwi star Joelle King (pictured above) who compressed 15 matches into the period en-route to collecting two gold and one bronze medal.
Athletes from India returned home with a best-ever two medals, while Malaysia celebrated its first men’s singles medal thanks to unexpected bronze medal success by Nafiizwan Adnan.
Australian veterans David Palmer and Rachael Grinham, both aged 41 and former world number ones, also had much to celebrate. With a successful defence of his Men’s Doubles gold medal – this time in front of a packed and partisan home crowd, and with Zac Alexander, a different partner from 2014 – Palmer extended his tally over six Games to nine medals, more than any other squash athlete.
Queenslander Grinham (pictured below with Palmer) became the most decorated female athlete after a Women’s Doubles bronze took her total to eight medals, thereby maintaining her record as a medallist in each Games in which she has competed.
“It has been a great spectacle for the spectators and the sport as a whole,” said Squash Australia CEO Richard Vaughan. “It was great to see our players exceed expectations. It’s been excellent all round.
“This will be a huge injection for the sport going forward and it’s our job to maximise this.”
The spectacular all-glass showcourt, plus the six side courts which can easily be converted to four doubles courts, will be moved to a new National Squash Centre as a legacy of the Games.
“For the next six weeks we’re going to be busy transitioning these courts into our new Squash Stadium in Carrara,” Vaughan continued. “We’ve been missing a really good venue with a glass court. This will give us a solid foundation to host major events in the future.”
Australian legend Geoff Hunt, the eight-time British Open and four-time World Open champion between the 60s and 80s (pictured above with Australian Men’s Doubles gold medallists Palmer and Alexander), was overwhelmed by the spectacle of the event and the unprecedented home crowd – some 2,500 spectators surrounding the glass court on all sides.
“The great thing about a court like this (see below) is that you can see the squash from everywhere. You’ve got a good view wherever you sit.
“Also, the quality of the TV coverage now is fantastic – it’s made a huge difference. It’s one of the best things to have happened for our sport.”
Hunt, who presented the medals at the Men’s Doubles ceremony, continued: “I coached the Australian team in the 1998 Games. I would love to have been involved in my day as a player – but it wasn’t to be!
“The people like me, Jonah Barrington, Ken Hiscoe, Gogi Alauddin and Hiddy Jahan were the pioneers – we started the PSA Tour. To see the sport to develop to where it is now is exciting for us because we all started it off!”
Cyrus Poncha, the Indian National Coach, said: “We were very disappointed not to get another gold in the Women’s Doubles, but our pair was beaten by the two-time world champions.
“But we are delighted to be going home with two medals rather than one. Joshna (Chinappa) and Dipika (Pallikal) in the women and Saurav (Ghosal) [all three pictured below] in the men have done great honours for Indian squash over the past ten years – and it’s testament to the system we started in 2000. All credit to our Patron Mr N Ramachandran – it was his foresight to build our Academy in Chennai. It was his brainchild”
Speaking about the success of the New Zealand team, manager Wayne Werder said: “We’ve got such a small team. But it’s been a brutal week – Joelle’s had 15 matches and Paul (Coll) 14.
“We started our preparation for this two years ago. I think our strength is our team culture – all the players get on so well with each other.”
Major Maniam, now a Director of the Squash Racquets Association of Malaysia but from 2002-2016 the Director of Coaching in India, said: “I was delighted to be involved in the historic debut of squash as head coach in the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur.
“We did not earn any medals at the Games but that’s when we enhanced our long-term elite training programme to do well in the coming years. Nicol David went on to win gold in 2010 and 2014.
“No other Malaysian had won a medal until Nafiizwan’s bronze this year. We are absolutely thrilled with this result and hope to better it the next time around.
“I’m also pleased with all our doubles pairs as they put up creditable performances. We’ll be there with a vengeance at the next games I’m sure.
“My thanks to the hosts Australia for organising a great event and my hearty congratulations to all participants and in particular medal winners.”
World Squash Federation CEO Andrew Shelley summed up the sport’s Gold Coast experience: “When squash started its Commonwealth Games journey 20 years ago, the staging and presentation bar were set high in Kuala Lumpur – and it has been nothing but continued progress ever since. The spread of nations, the innovation on and around the court, superb broadcast and general sports presentation are general features that grow edition upon edition.
“Here specifically, the wonderfully ebullient atmosphere generated by the spectators has been memorable – with our athletes responding to it; and the firm, fair and consistent standard of refereeing a standout too.
“Squash will evolve still further and Birmingham will doubtless rise to the challenge in four years’ time – but the splendid Gold Coast Games will give them something to think about!”
2018 Commonwealth Games images courtesy of Toni Van der Kreek
It was fitting that the final match on the final day of 11 days of intense Commonwealth Games Squash competition at Oxenford Studios in Gold Coast produced a second gold medal for hosts Australia – when Zac Alexander & David Palmer held off English rivals Daryl Selby & Adrian Waller in a thrilling near-hour-long Men’s Doubles climax which went the full distance.
It was almost certainly the farewell Games performance of veteran campaigner Palmer, the 41-year-old former world number one from New South Wales who has featured in the sport’s six appearances in the Commonwealth Games since 1998, and has now extended his record medals haul to nine.
But it was New Zealander Joelle King who topped the individual medals table in the 2018 Gold Coast Games after striking gold in the Women’s Doubles, to add to her Singles gold and Mixed Doubles bronze.
King, the world No.4, partnered Amanda Landers-Murphy to an 11-9, 11-8 win in the Women’s final over Joshna Chinappa & Dipika Pallikal Karthik, the Indian pair who won gold in the 2014 Games in Glasgow. It was the climax of an arduous 11 days for 29-year-old King whose tally is now five medals over three Games since 2010.
Men’s Doubles Final:
 Zac Alexander & David Palmer (AUS) bt  Daryl Selby & Adrian Waller (ENG) 11-9, 3-11, 11-6 (57m)
Bronze medal play-off:
 Declan James & James Willstrop (ENG) bt  Alan Clyne & Greg Lobban (SCO) 11-9, 11-9 (58m)
Women’s Doubles Final:
 Joelle King & Amanda Landers-Murphy (NZL) bt  Joshna Chinappa & Dipika Pallikal Karthik (IND) 11-9, 11-8 (22m)
Bronze medal play-off:
 Rachael Grinham & Donna Urquhart (AUS) bt  Laura Massaro & Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) 11-6, 11-8 (21m)
Donna Urquhart & Cameron Pilley, an Aussie pairing that has only been together for eight months, claimed Commonwealth Games Squash gold after winning the Mixed Doubles final in straight games in front of a capacity and partisan crowd at Oxenford Studios in Gold Coast – thus keeping the event’s gold medal in Australian hands for the fourth time since 2006.
The fourth seeds made their breakthrough in the semi-finals when they despatched second-seeded English pair Alison Waters & Daryl Selby. Their opponents in the final also pulled off a semi-final upset – Dipika Pallikal Karthik & Saurav Ghosal, an Indian pairing celebrating their second successive partnership in the Commonwealth Games, surviving a dramatic third game tie-break against the event favourites.
But, buoyed by the crowd, Urquhart & Pilley – first cousins who hail from Yamba in New South Wales – defeated the Indians 11-8, 11-10 in 31 minutes to claim the first squash medal for the hosts on Gold Coast.
Mixed Doubles Final:
 Donna Urquhart & Cameron Pilley (AUS) bt  Dipika Pallikal Karthik & Saurav Ghosal (IND) 11-8, 11-10 (31m)
Bronze medal play-off:
 Joelle King & Paul Coll (NZL) bt  Alison Waters & Daryl Selby (ENG) 11-6, 11-6 (28m)
Men’s Doubles Semi-finals:
 Daryl Selby & Adrian Waller (ENG) bt  Declan James & James Willstrop (ENG) 11-9, 9-11, 11-10 (86m)
 Zac Alexander & David Palmer (AUS) bt  Alan Clyne & Greg Lobban (SCO) 11-8, 11-5 (30m)
Women’s Doubles Semi-finals:
 Joshna Chinappa & Dipika Pallikal Karthik (IND) bt  Laura Massaro & Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) 11-10, 11-5 (25m)
 Joelle King & Amanda Landers-Murphy (NZL) bt  Rachael Grinham & Donna Urquhart (AUS) 11-9, 11-5 (20m)
India and hosts Australia will go head-to-head in a surprise Commonwealth Games Squash Mixed Doubles final after the top two seeds failed to survive three-game semi-finals at Oxenford Studios in Gold Coast, Australia.
It was the end of the line for the favourites when Dipika Pallikal Karthik & Saurav Ghosal, the fifth seeds from India, defeated New Zealanders Joelle King & Paul Coll, the reigning world champions, 9-11, 11-8, 11-10 in 53 minutes.
From 6-3 down in the third and final game, the Kiwis came back to take a 7-6 lead before India moved on to match-ball at 10-9. King & Coll grabbed the next point to force a sudden death 10-10 ‘match-ball’ for both pairs – but after a lengthy rally, King hit the ball into the tin to put Pallikal and Ghosal into the final.
The second semi immediately followed on the all-glass showcourt – with the capacity crowd eager to cheer on a home pair. Undoubtedly buoyed by the crowd, Donna Urquhart & Cameron Pilley recovered from the loss of the first game to beat Alison Waters & Daryl Selby, the No.2 seeds from England, 10-11, 11-7, 11-7 in 55 minutes.
Men’s Doubles quarter-finals:
 Daryl Selby & Adrian Waller (ENG) bt  Ryan Cuskelly & Cameron Pilley (AUS) 9-11, 11-8, 11-10 (73m)
 Declan James & James Willstrop (ENG) bt  Vikram Malhotra & Ramit Tandon (IND) 10-11, 11-8, 11-5 (48m)
 Zac Alexander & David Palmer (AUS) bt  Paul Coll & Campbell Grayson (NZL) 11-9, 6-11, 11-7 (64m)
 Alan Clyne & Greg Lobban (SCO) bt  Mohd Syafiq Kamal & Eain Yow Ng (MAS) 9-11, 11-6, 11-5 (52m)
Women’s Doubles quarter-finals:
 Laura Massaro & Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) bt  Rachel Arnold & Sivasangari Subramaniam (MAS) 11-8, 11-10 (25m)
 Joshna Chinappa & Dipika Pallikal Karthik (IND) bt  Samantha Cornett & Nikki Todd (CAN) 7-11, 11-5, 11-9 (39m)
 Rachael Grinham & Donna Urquhart (AUS) bt  Tesni Evans & Deon Saffery (WAL) 9-11, 11-10, 11-3 (48m)
 Joelle King & Amanda Landers-Murphy (NZL) bt  Jenny Duncalf & Alison Waters (ENG) 11-10, 11-5 (24m)
Mixed Doubles semi-finals:
 Dipika Pallikal Karthik & Saurav Ghosal (IND) bt  Joelle King & Paul Coll (NZL) 9-11, 11-8, 11-10 (53m)
 Donna Urquhart & Cameron Pilley (AUS) bt  Alison Waters & Daryl Selby (ENG) 10-11, 11-7, 11-7 (55m)
With medals in sight as competition intensified on the first day of knockout action in the Commonwealth Games Squash Doubles in Gold Coast, Australia, it was athletes from India and Malaysia who upset the form book at Oxenford Studios.
A strong united delegation of senior officials of the World Squash Federation (WSF), joined by the Professional Squash Association (PSA), are in Gold Coast this week to attend the XXI Commonwealth Games, as the sport celebrates the 20th anniversary of its inclusion in the event.
Squash’s participation at the Commonwealth Games is a powerful demonstration of where it stands today internationally: a well-established sport that is played worldwide on 50,000 courts in no less than 185 countries and one that regularly reinvents itself by placing a strong emphasis on innovation, inclusiveness and sustainability.
As Squash is vying to be included in the programme of the Olympic Games, the Commonwealth Games, along with other high-profile international multi-sport events such as the World Games, Pan American Games and Asian Games have been providing the sport with a high-level testing ground for the latest showcourt, refereeing and broadcast technologies, as well as a platform to showcase the legacy that Squash is capable of leaving to the host cities and countries.
The Commonwealth Games have indeed left significant tangible legacies in Delhi, Glasgow, Kuala Lumpur and Manchester, where the Squash venues have become major centres or the sport’s National Centres, providing access to high-performance training and competition for thousands of young people over the years.
The showcourt from the Melbourne Games in 2006 is still in use – and the state-of-the-art Gold Coast showcourt, plus the nine match courts, will be relocated locally to establish a new Australian National Centre in Carrara.
The Games have also showcased the development of referee Video Review, and a new generation of all-glass showcourts, which have since become an integral part of Squash competitions around the world.
To name a few examples of intangible legacy: Malaysia attributes its current major status on the international Squash scene to its debut in the home Commonwealth Games back in 1998; India can claim a similar effect, as the country’s greatest success in the sport was achieved when Joshna Chinappa and Dipika Pallikal, initially perceived as outsiders, claimed the Women’s Doubles title and India’s first gold medal in the Commonwealth Games. This victory not only reinforced India’s sporting profile internationally, but also created the new role models for all young women in the country.
In 2018, Squash makes its sixth appearance at the Commonwealth Games and the sport’s truly international profile is on display in Australia. 105 players from 28 nations, including the host country, England, New Zealand, Pakistan and India, but also Lesotho, Uganda, Sierra Leone, Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Mauritius, Cayman Islands, Malta, Trinidad and Tobago, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, all came together in Gold Coast to do their best at this prestigious competition.
WSF President Jacques Fontaine said: “With the inclusion of Squash in the Commonwealth Games twenty years ago, the event became a major showcase for our sport. Today we want to take it even further. As our sport goes through a significant transformation inspired by new technologies, new ways of youth engagement through sport, new geographies joining in, and a better representation of women in sport, we hope to capitalise on this incredible journey and showcase why Squash has all the ingredients to be included in the Olympic Games programme.”
PSA CEO Alex Gough commented: “With its ultra-modern glass showcourts on display here at the Commonwealth Games this week and the innovative plans we have for the upcoming Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games in October this year, Squash has been at the forefront of the innovation which enhances the spectator experience and allows for sustainable, cost-effective and adaptable infrastructure solutions.”
Next week delegation members will travel from the Commonwealth Games in Australia to represent WSF and PSA at the SportAccord Convention in Bangkok where they will be able to discuss the current international sport agenda and make the case for Squash with representatives of the global sport movement.
After a day two count of 30 pool matches spread across five courts, Commonwealth Games Squash action moves into the knockout stages on Thursday in the Women’s and Mixed Doubles at Oxenford Studios in Gold Coast, Australia.
A crucial encounter in the Women’s event opened proceeding on the all-glass showcourt where top-seeded New Zealanders Joelle King & Amanda Landers-Murphy faced Aussie pair Sarah Cardwell & Christine Nunn, the No.8 seeds, in a match which the Kiwi world champions – after losing in Monday’s first pool match – had to win in order to progress to the knockout stage.
With King, the newly-crowned Commonwealth singles gold medallist, now in the ‘doubles zone’, the favourites took just 21 minutes to see off the home duo 11-8, 11-6.
“If we lost, we were definitely out,” conceded King afterwards. “I guess we just wanted to come back and try and play better than we did yesterday – it was a pretty poor start from myself. I had the afternoon off yesterday and was able to recover a bit more.
“Doubles is one of those games where it takes a little bit to gell – especially when you’ve been playing singles and you’ve got to try and switch over. And we certainly gelled a lot better in that game.”
Women’s quarter-final line-up:
 Rachel Arnold & Sivasangari Subramaniam (MAS) v  Laura Massaro & Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG)
 Joshna Chinappa & Dipika Pallikal Karthik (IND) v  Samantha Cornett & Nikki Todd (CAN)
 Rachael Grinham & Donna Urquhart (AUS) v  Tesni Evans & Deon Saffery (WAL)
 Jenny Duncalf & Alison Waters (ENG) v  Joelle King & Amanda Landers-Murphy (NZL)
Mixed last sixteen round line-up:
 Joelle King & Paul Coll (NZL) v  Meagan Best & Shawn Simpson (BAR)
 Joshna Chinappa & Harinder Pal Sandhu (IND) v  Amanda Landers-Murphy & Zac Millar (NZL)
 Tesni Evans & Peter Creed (WAL) v  Faiza Zafar & Farhan Zaman (PAK)
 Dipika Pallikal Karthik & Saurav Ghosal (IND) v  Aifa Azman & Sanjay Singh Chal (MAS)
 Rachael Grinham & Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) v  Madina Zafar & Tayyab Aslam (PAK)
 Donna Urquhart & Cameron Pilley (AUS) v  Marlene West & Cameron Stafford (CAY)
 Jenny Duncalf & Adrian Waller (ENG) v  Lisa Aitken & Kevin Moran (SCO)
 Alison Waters & Daryl Selby (ENG) v  Dianne Kellas & Bradley Hindle (MLT)
Less than 24 hours after the drama of the Singles medals finals day, Commonwealth Games Squash action switched to Doubles as players took to the wider courts in bids for glory in the Men’s, Women’s and Mixed events at Oxenford Studios in Gold Coast, Australia.
There was a significant Pool upset early in the day in the women’s event when Rachel Arnold & Sivasangari Subramaniam, the ninth seeds from Malaysia, brushed aside top seeds Joelle King & Amanda Landers-Murphy, the reigning world champions from New Zealand.
The match took place some 16 hours after King celebrated becoming the first Kiwi to win a singles gold medal – after surviving a dramatic and energy-sapping 78-minute final.
But Arnold & Subramaniam clearly made no allowances for this, storming to a shock 11-10, 11-10 best-of-three victory (the standard doubles scoring) over the favourites.
England and New Zealand shared the glory on Singles finals day at the 2018 Commonwealth Games Squash when Kiwi Joelle King struck gold in the women’s event and it was third time lucky for two times runner-up James Willstrop in the men’s climax at Oxenford Studios in Gold Coast, Australia.
King, a gold medallist in the Women’s Doubles in 2010, became New Zealand’s first ever Singles gold medallist when she beat England’s Sarah-Jane Perry (both pictured in action below). It was always clear that the match would be a close-fought affair – and so it was.
Fourth seed Perry had two games balls in the first, but it was King who closed out her fourth game ball to win the opener 16-14. The New Zealander opened up a two-game lead – but Perry drew level to force a decider.
From eight-all in the fifth, King moved ahead to clinch the match 16-14, 11-8, 6-11, 11-13, 11-8 after 78 minutes take gold.
On winning her country’s first gold, King acknowledged: “Yes, it feels pretty good. We’ve had some great names that have come through the squash community from New Zealand and no-one’s managed to do it yet – so it’s a privilege, to be honest, to be the first one to do it and I’m just looking forward to celebrating with my team-mates.
“Yes, I’m back on court tomorrow – 11am, I’ve heard – so there’s no rest for the wicked really. You’ve just got to go back, recover and be ready to go again. Doubles is a completely different format. I think I’ll be a bit rusty in my first round!”
Whilst seeded two, King became the event’s highest-ranked player after moving up to four in the world on the eve of the start of the event. “To be honest I didn’t pay much attention to that,” said the 29-year-old. “Obviously I was excited and happy that my ranking had moved but I didn’t really look any further than the fact there were probably about 12 players in this draw that could realistically win the tournament – so I just took it match by match.
“Today was typical final squash – a big occasion and both players wanting to give it everything they have. All I can say is she played really well – she just did not go away, she didn’t let me have it all my own way, that’s for sure.”
England gained revenge in the two nations’ battle in the men’s final when Willstrop, the fourth seed, prevailed in straight games over in-form Kiwi Paul Coll, the number two seed ranked nine in the world.
Both players had had arduous routes to the final – Willstrop denying home interest in the later stages by beating top Australian Cameron Pilley in 95-minute quarter-final battle and Coll surviving a 106-minute semi-final clash with Welsh outsider Joel Makin less than 24 hours before the final.
Willstrop (seen above celebrating his success) was in imperious form, claiming his first 3/0 win since the opening round by beating Coll 11-9, 11-4, 11-6 in 47 minutes.
“It just clicked for me today,” admitted the 34-year-old from Harrogate. “It’s stuff you dream of. It’s one of the most brilliant performances I’ve had in my career. It just worked and it clicked – that’s happened today. I don’t know why, maybe the hours of solo practice I’ve put in on my own on court, in Harrogate and Ponte, all my life.
“It’s an incredible thing – and to make it happen on a big day like today – it’s one of the best performances. Whatever happened today, it’s an achievement.
“I love playing the game – and four years ago there were some doubts about that – and to think I’m now here with a gold medal in the singles … I can’t really process it to be honest.
“And if you’d talked to me on Friday when I played Campbell (Grayson), I didn’t feel that great about myself, it was a real fight …. and three days later it’s all different.”
Is it his biggest title? “I guess as a title, I reckon it probably is the best. It’s a wonderful occasion – and the atmosphere and everything around it adds to it.”
The Bronze medal matches were just as dramatic and emotionally-charged. The women’s clash saw Malaysian superstar Nicol David, the long-time world number one and gold medallist in 2010 and 2014, take on fast-rising Welsh star Tesni Evans.
Undaunted by a 4/0 career head-to-head record in the 34-year-old Malaysian’s favour, sixth seed Evans (pictured above at the medal ceremony with King and Perry) delivered a scintillating performance to see off David, the No.3 seed, 11-7, 3-11, 12-10, 11-7.
“It’s truly amazing – unbelievable really – I’m absolutely over the moon,” exclaimed the Welsh wizard. “I’ve had a great week and to beat someone like Nicol for the bronze medal is just out of this world. If you’d asked me 10 years ago, 5 years ago, I never would have thought I would beat her. She’s an absolute legend. That’s the first time I’ve ever beaten her so that’s extra special as well.
“I’ve gone from the bottom of the scale to the top of the scale, literally. I was really down yesterday after my semi-final match – but thank you to Dave (Evans) and my team, they really picked me up last night. They made me just realise where I am and that I still had a medal to fight for.
“I can’t do too much celebrating tonight as I’ve got a doubles match tomorrow. At this minute I don’t know but, don’t worry, I’ll definitely be celebrating.”
The first Games medal for Wales for 20 years was greeted with delight by national coach David Evans. “It’s an amazing result for Tesni and Welsh squash as a whole, getting a medal in the Commonwealth Games,” said the former British Open champion. “The last one was in 1998 with Alex Gough, so to get a medal is unbelievable.
“But more, to beat Nicol – who we’ve all got so much respect for, with what she’s achieved. For Tes to beat Nicol to get a bronze just adds a little bit extra to it.”
On the impact this will have for Welsh squash, Evans added: “I’m only a mere coach, but funding-wise this should help. What Tesni’s done in getting a Commonwealth Games medal is pretty special – we’re a very proud country, we all fight for each other. Hopefully it will put squash back up there again.”
Defending champion David was composed about the result: “I gave what I could today – someone has to come out a winner. I just couldn’t quite put some things together. It’s tough out there but I’m really proud of the years of representing Malaysia.
“Maybe it’s pushing it a little bit to make another Commonwealth Games. If I play it would only be for the singles – and that would definitely be a tough task.”
Malaysia took bronze in the men’s play-off where 12th seed Nafiizwan Adnan (pictured below, right, with Willstop & Coll) beat Welshman Joel Makin, the No.11 seed, 11-7, 6-11, 9-11, 11-4, 11-5 in 81 minutes.
When asked how big the win was, Adnan replied: “It was the biggest ever match I’ve ever played – it was enormous. I can’t believe it, I was so nervous just now.
“Today I’m the first male player in Malaysia to win a medal – I am very proud, not just for myself but for my team. Everyone’s behind me – my coach and the support team. Every day we prepare – so I want to give to them.”
2018 Commonwealth Games images courtesy of Toni Van der Kreek
 James Willstrop (ENG) bt  Paul Coll (NZL) 11-9, 11-4, 11-6 (47m)
Bronze medal play-off:
 Nafiizwan Adnan (MAS) bt  Joel Makin (WAL) 11-7, 6-11, 9-11, 11-4, 11-5 (81m)
 Joelle King (NZL) bt  Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) 16-14, 11-8, 6-11, 11-13, 11-8 (78m)
Bronze medal play-off:
 Tesni Evans (WAL) bt  Nicol David (MAS) 11-7, 3-11, 12-10, 11-7 (40m)