TODAY at the Saudi International:
Wednesday 20th 2006, Day Five, THE FINAL
Amr Shabana (Egy) bt  Gregory Gaultier (Fra)
11/7, 11/9, 11/4 (44m)
Shabana takes Saudi Spoils
Framboise reports, quick summary from Steve Cubbins
It was a packed crowd who turned up at Sunset Beach to watch the
last major final of 2006, most of them hoping for an Egyptian
Gregory Gaultier, who had beaten Shabana in four of their last
five meetings, started well, taking a 3/0 lead in the first to
momentarily quieten the crowd. But Shabana struck back, taking
the next six points as he took the lead, the 18-minute game the
first game Gaultier had lost all week.
The second proved to be crucial. With both players mixing sweet
winners with thier share of tins, the moved together up the
scoreboard, 6/6, 7/7, 8/8, 9/9, then Shabana hit the nick off
the Frenchman's serve and gratefully accepted Gaultier's next
error to win game in 15 minutes.
The third was one-way traffic, and just seven minutes later
Shabana was the new Saudi champion and the crowd was on its feet
SHABANA WAS HOT, GREG WAS FLAT…
Framboise reports ...
bit of a damp squib, that final was. Then again, the couple of
thousand spectators who were chanting Shabana’s name from an
hour before the final started won’t mind I’m sure that their
idol won a three setter in 44 minutes…
They won’t mind that Greg looked subdued and not as pumped as he
would normally be in a final of a Major… They won’t mind that
Greg made six unforced errors in the first game only, and 12 in
all, when Shabana only made four… They won’t mind that only two
people were supporting the Frenchman tonight, quite loudly bless
their souls… They won’t mind anything, because their man won…
And the Prince of Egypt did it with style, it was some
“Champagne Squash” tonight. He was patient when he needed to be,
and astonishing as soon as he could be.
was a stunning performance from a stunning champion on a
stunning court in front of a stunning crowd. Slightly biased,
you may say … Greg didn't really mind … “You gave me a hard time
tonight,” he smiled in his speech at the end to a crowd that
warmly clapped him at last…
But hey, we are in the heart of the Arab world, Shabana is the
best player that this part of the world has ever produced, and
it’s only natural that they get the reward of all that squash
investment they’ve made for years and years…
Shabana is one of the gentlemen of this game. I hope he finally
gets all the recognition and fame in his country and around the
world he so deserve. Well done Amr, well done....
think Greg had a harder route to the final than I had. I was
fresher and also more determined than he was, I didn’t have the
"What made the difference is that I was more patient today. Greg
likes playing me because I attack all the time. So today, I told
myself that I was going to change my style of play, and not
attack, and be more patient. I tried to make it as physical as I
could. It’s hard to play like that, changing your natural game,
but Greg is so good I didn’t have any other choice…
"Greg played really well during this tournament, and for him to
beat Thierry and David 3/0 proves that he is so dangerous at the
moment. I think he is going to be number two soon, and that if I
don’t win the next tournament, he will!
"He’s hammered me so many times I need a win today… on me, he
had, and I was up to get him…
I was just a bit less fast than I am normally, and he was just
better than me. The energy I spent coming in the second game
cost me the match, whereas it gave him more confidence…
"If only I’d played him earlier in the tournament, it’s hard to
arrive fresh in the final, but even had I been fresher, he would
still been difficult to beat today. And hey, that’s the name of
the game, no excuses…
"I didn’t play that badly, but I was not fast enough, I was just
a fraction late on every ball, and I couldn’t accelerate…
"I wanted to thank Ziad for everything, it’s been an excellent
week. What he does for our sport is wonderful, we need people
like him, and I hope he will support our sport for many years.
"I’m disappointed, of course, but not that much, come on, what a
positive result and a great end of the year, so, see you next
"And today it was his turn…"
The commentators view ...
In my opinion, Shabana’s gameplan was to slow Greg down, tighten
the ball and contain him, which he did perfectly in the first
which led Greg to make a few impatient errors.
In the second, Greg tried to forced the pace, which he needed to
do. Shabana went along with it for the first part of the game,
then went back to containing him again. Again the Frenchman made
two or three unforced errors.
By the time the third came, Greg looked like a beaten man, and
Shabana went into attack mode and picked off winners at will…
Tuesday 19th, Day Four, SEMIS
Amr Shabana (Egy) bt
 James Willstrop (Eng)
7/11, 11/2, 11/7, 11/9 (49m)
 Gregory Gaultier (Fra)
 David Palmer (Aus)
11/8, 11/2, 11/9 (43m)
It's Amr and Greg ...
Framboise reports from Sunset Beach
Quick Summary from Steve Cubbins
World number one Amr Shabana recovered from a game
down beat England's James Willstrop in four games to move to
within one match of the Saudi International title.
After Willstrop took the first the Egyptian struck back with a
blistering start to the second, and to the delight of the packed
crowd at Sunset Beach got the better of two well-fought games to
reach the last major final of 2006.
There he will face Frenchman Gregory Gaultier, who turned in a
sparkling performance to avenge his world open final defeat
against David Palmer ...