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Richards Stops Champion Ashour In Montreal
PSA reports...

Richards Stops Champion Ashour In Montreal

23 March 2012

RESULTS: PSA International 35 Open de Squash Banque Nationale Groupe Financier, Montreal, Canada

Semi-finals:
[4] Tom Richards (ENG) bt [1] Hisham Mohd Ashour (EGY) 11-8, 12-10, 10-12, 14-12
[2] Thierry Lincou (FRA) bt Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) 11-9, 13-11, 11-6

England's Tom Richards denied champion Hisham Mohd Ashour a second successive appearance in the final of the Open de Squash Banque Nationale Groupe Financier in Canada when he upset the top seed from Egypt in the semi-finals of the PSA World Tour International 35 event at Club Sportif MAA in Montreal.

The first semi-final started off at a blistering pace, with Ashour hitting a behind-the-back drop, followed by a cross-court dead roller, as a preview of what was to come.

The Egyptian was hitting the ball with more sting than his calm English opponent, but it was fourth seed Richards who drew first blood.

"The pace didn't let up in the second, as both players continued to crack the ball with incredible velocity, the well-conditioned Richards looking more comfortable at this pace of the two, and Ashour continuing to bestow gifts upon Richards with unforced errors," explained event spokeswoman Runa Reta.

Ashour drew level from 8-5 down in the second, but underdog Richards recovered to open up a two-game lead.

From 8-5 down again in the third - with Richards looking to win in three - Ashour levelled at nine-all and, after an uncharacteristic error from the Englishman, Ashour hit a winning drop to take the third.

"Richards changed shirts in the fourth, and now dressed in all red, was perhaps subconsciously yelling out 'DANGER!' as he came out flying, taking a 4-0 lead, then a 7-2 lead, attacking with ferocity and hitting some perfect dying length," continued Reta.

Ashour recovered from 9-5 down to save match ball at 9-10 with a sweet deceptive boast before Richards eventually clinched his 11-8, 12-10, 10-12, 14-12 victory following a volley drop error from Ashour.

"I'm very happy to get into the final here in Montreal," said the 25-year-old from Surrey, now in the seventh - and biggest - PSA Tour final of his career.

"It was a great match with Hisham tonight which I managed to sneak in the end, at times it seemed like he was hitting nicks off every shot I played but I kept faith in the overall pressure I'd applied and it paid off."

Veteran Frenchman Thierry Lincou survived an all-Gallic clash with Mathieu Castagnet, beating his unseeded compatriot 11-9, 13-11, 11-6 in the other semi. The 35-year-old former world number one and world champion from Marseille is celebrating his 43rd Tour final appearance.

"Tomorrow I play Thierry," continued Richards. "He is someone who I watched as I was growing up and a player and person I have the upmost respect for.

"Saying that, I'll be trying my very hardest to win!"

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