30 August 2010


Thierry Lincou's backhand volley drop is famous in squash circuits. The below one at the end of the rally didn't have to be very special as Ramy Ashour's cross-court shot was not wide enough and previously at 0:31 he played a wrong chosen cross-drop that shifted the momentum in Lincou's favour - similarly as Wael El Hindi did it at 1:05 in that great rally against Darwish that we've already discussed a couple of times. The cross-drop is typically an 'Egyptian shot', and Egyptian players might also play it almost "l'art-pour-l'art", for the beauty of the risk, for the fun of the game, even if it can have negative consequences. Nevertheless, Lincou's volley drop, to be controlled as it was in this case, still required those rugby-player legs to keep the balance of the upper body - and balance, in general, is the key to racket-control.

27 August 2010


We are not at the heights of a John White, but still, David Palmer has a firm place in the best ever divers section of our imaginary squash museum. Even if the below one did not save him from  losing the point on a 'stroke'. By the way, I happened to be present at this match, and I was approached by a couple of friends pointing out how much Palmer was blocking. I turned myself to Lee Beachill and Malcolm Willstrop to ask their opinion, and they did agree and pointed out themselves that in such occasions the referee should warn the blocking player. All credit to Darwish, he did not say a word, made all the work of those extra inches that one has to do when his opponent makes himself unfairly wide, and won clearly 3:0. But a part from the blocking all credit to Palmer too for the dive - it's good to see this type of spectacular commitment next to the disciplined steadiness - you need to have from both to be a great player.

26 August 2010


This is just a quick example to show the 'derangement' of the lower ranked player when he gets in front of the higher ranked (eventually the world's best) player: even though the weaker player is in a very dominant, central position, he ends up choosing a weak solution. I don't say that Amr Shabana had to read exceptionally well Wael El Hindi's shot, but I do say that Hindi - knowing Shabana's reading abilities - got sufficiently confused to choose the wrong shot - so at the end it's again the 'reading of the game' that made the difference. If you follow my blog, you know at which degree I do underline the role of the anticipation; the only problem is - from a coaching point of view - that this is the most intuitive part of the game, tough if not impossible to teach.

24 August 2010


One of the greatest squash events of the year, the Hong Kong Open approaches. If you wish to follow the actions live, there are two options; either you subscribe at psasquashtv for £50 (or $80) or you can open an account at the long established UK based sports betting page Bet365, deposit a couple of euros (or quids) and there you are, you can watch the same coverage with the same commentary as on psasquashtv.

Remember, you only have to deposit the minimum (I think 5 euros), as long as there is money on your account you're free to watch all the live streamed events at Bet365 - and not only squash, also tennis, soccer, etc. Of course, if you feel like betting, nobody forbids it, but you do not have to. When you are on the Bet365 page, click on 'Live Streaming' and select 'squash' in the 'events' field. The schedule for the Hong Kong Squash Open 2010 coverage on Bet365 is the following (times are 'Central European Time', for the UK deduct one hour):

1st round: Wednesday, 25.08.2010, from 06:30 am
2nd round: Thursday, 26.08.2010, from 09:00 am
Quarter finals: Friday, 27.08.2010, from 07:00 am
Semi finals: Saturday, 28.08.2010, from 09:00 am
Final: Sunday, 29.08.2010, from 11:00 am

The Hong Kong Open is a pretty special event on the PSA tour: first of all, it is quoted with a $147k prize money which for squash standards is high. Secondly, from the semi-finals onwards the matches take place in a shopping mall, so lots of people get to see the event and you can also watch it from the galleries of the mall. In addition it is also a women's event (covered online from the semi-finals), so there is a lot of squash going on. Finally, it has been won by all the squash greats, from Jansher Khan to Jonathon Power, with Amr Shabana winning the last five editions! So let's give the genius a quick tribute with this truly amazing rally, ending in a 'let', against the great Peter Nicol:

23 August 2010


As much as I have seen of it (2 sets), it's been another classic between James Willstrop and Nick Matthew (without the drama of their last match at Canary Wharf). These two guys invest so much work into their games: nobody bends more and deeper to strike the ball. Their short game is now absolutely outstanding, they both play drops from everywhere and anywhere of the court, and retrieve them (except the last one of course) with both rage and finesse. Even though it lacks extremities or extra 'show elements', I will include the below video in 'the greatest rallies ever' section; it has had not a single loose shot, it had so many rhythm/pace switches, every solution had a purpose, and the clearing was exemplary too. We know that these two chase the volley whenever possible, but hardly anything could be volleyed here due to the tightness of the drives, the heights and lengths of the lobs and the perfect width of the cross-court strokes. The only thing is that even though Willstrop would definitely deserve a win, there is apparently not much anybody can do against Matthew these days (weeks, months...) Next time to try to stop the man will be shortly in Hong Kong, but this time they could only meet in the final.

22 August 2010


It's great that Australia, after a long absence, has had the opportunity to organize a serious squash (Super Series) event. There have been some great matches and Nick Matthew confirmed with some style that he is rightly the world number one. The man hasn't lost for 6 months now, and that's more than something. The live coverage by psasquashtv.com was good too, Joey Barrington had an excellent co-commentator (my apologies, I couldn't find out his name as I was following the event in patches). Unfortunately, there was again an issue concerning the colours: the wall below the tin was white, and as a result the ball was not visible on the screen when a drop-shot was played - apparently this was not only an issue for those who followed the event online, but also for the referees as there were a lots of debates whether the ball was good or not. I have already talked about the court-colour issue in an older post, as an addition I would suggest that even the top stripe of the tin should be other than white - as long as the ball itself is white. To get back to the positives: one of the best pairings on the current PSA tour is composed of Ramy Ashour & Gregory Gaultier; and just like in New York last time, it turned out to be highly entertaining again (with the same result as well, 3:2 to Ramy, and the same scenario, 2:1 lead by Greg). The most interesting news was Ramy's discipline - I don't know if it's lack of confidence or an experiment to change slightly his own style, but he seamed to be rather in the search of the perfect length as of his famous nicks. A beautiful example of a perfect mid-low paced dying length can be seen in the below video at 1:02 - first bounce in the service box into the sidewall nick, second bounce dying in the backwall nick - exactly the shot you wish yourself when you are looking for length and depth.

11 August 2010


Wael El Hindi is often mentioned as being a blocker. I am not sure why, I have seen him playing in the flesh, and watched him on the net too, but except one slight sign against Darwish in that great really at 0:28 that we've already  had in this blog earlier, I couldn't observe any really nasty behaviour. I can believe that against David Palmer this might be different as Palmer tends to make himself pretty 'wide' as well, but in the bellow rally there is nothing wrong, I think. Anyway: Hindi is a character, a great addition to any tournament; a good guy who plays beautiful squash and emits a general coolness, 'saying' with his smile and body language that nothing shall be taken too seriously. Don't take me wrong, whatever kind of talent you are, to get as high as world #8, you must work a lot, but I think Wael just refuses deep in his soul that very last degree of seriousness - both in terms of concentration and work - that would have allowed him to get even higher. His strongest points? Anticipation; he takes advantage so often from situations where his opponent is in front of him. His weakest point? Maybe his backhand. It's not bad at all, it's even very good when it comes to play it deep and high, but he can not generate power from that side. In positions in which anybody else in the top 15 would play a simple low 'kill', he keeps lifting the ball back high and deep - except when he decides to play a trickle boast, which again is something he is pretty good at. Anyway, whatever the result, the efficiency might be, thanks for the show Wael.