King James Rules In Richmond
26 February 2012
RESULTS: PSA World Series Davenport
North American Open, Richmond, Virginia, USA
 James Willstrop (ENG) bt  Ramy Ashour (EGY)
11-7, 11-8, 11-7 (51m)
James Willstrop produced a tactical master-class to
subdue Egypt's fiery entertainer Ramy Ashour to win the
Davenport North American Open squash title at the
Westwood Club in Richmond, Virginia.
The top seed admitted that his priority
was to contain Ashour's shot-making opportunities in the second
PSA World Series event of the year - but his own play at
the front of the court was immaculate.
Willstrop's volley-drops, especially,
worked to perfection on both sides of the court. At 6ft 4in, the
Yorkshireman is the tallest player competing on the PSA World
Tour and Ashour, like so many opponents, struggled to place the
ball beyond Willstrop's reach.
Ashour had stunned England's world
champion Nick Matthew the previous evening with a
dazzling display containing a succession of outrageous winners,
but he had no answer to Willstrop's consistent, measured play.
Making his Tour comeback after sustaining
a hamstring injury in the World Open in November, Ashour
was celebrating his fourth consecutive appearance in the NAO
final - and beat Willstrop in last year's semi-finals.
Willstrop had taken 97 minutes to beat
Frenchman Gregory Gaultier the previous evening, but said
he felt no ill-effects. "That gave me confidence coming into the
match. I knew what to expect with a player of Ramy's abilities
and I had to find a way to stop him hitting winners.
"He has come back after injury to play
here in Richmond and it's good for the game to have him back. I
am pleased with my whole week, not just today, and it's great to
win the title again here in Richmond."
Willstrop's performances this week have
propelled him back to the world number one position in March. He
added: "That was a wonderful feeling over Christmas knowing that
I was going to be number one for the first time and I was very
disappointed to lose it the next month.
"It made me determined to win it back, and
I was pleased to play well enough to get back to number one in
"However, you don't need extra motivation
to play in events like this," added the 28-year-old from Leeds.
"This is a superb tournament, brilliantly organised by Gus Cook
and his team, and when you are looked after so well it helps you
to play your best squash."
Willstrop began solidly and moved smoothly
into a 5-0 lead, a pointer for the dominance that was to follow.
Ashour fought back to 5-8 but Willstrop was too far ahead and
closed out the game 11-7.
The second was much tighter but from 5-5
Willstrop tightened up to win it 11-8.
Ashour led 7-6 in the third and the
Richmond crowd were roaring encouragement every time he won a
point, especially when he flicked the ball into the nick while
off balance, but Willstrop again turned the screw. His
immaculate precision produced a crucial run of points as he
edged towards the title.
Ashour hit a volley into the tin to put
Willstrop level at 7-7, and a loose shot from the Egyptian gave
Willstrop a simple straight drive winner to the back of the
Ashour was then unable to scrape a
Willstrop shot off the side wall and the tall Yorkshireman moved
to match ball with a forehand drop. He clinched the match when
Ashour conceded a penalty stroke in the front left corner.
"I don't think many people expected that,"
tweeted world champion Matthew. "James played a tactical
master-class and deserved the win."
Willstrop was celebrating his sixth PSA
Tour final in his last eight events - and has now racked up his
fourth Tour title since November, and the 16th of his career.
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