Louis MPM Open
30-03 Oct, St
Louis, USA, $30k
After a lighted hearted doubles game between Mark Chaloner, Alex
Gough, Simon Parke and Graham Ryding, the crowd enjoyed a serious
battle as Karim Darwish overcame Joe Kneipp to take the 2004 St. Louis
MPM Open Title.
 Karim Darwish (Egy) bt  Joe Kneipp (Aus)
6/11, 11/4, 11/8, 11/5 (46m)
Ethan Oetter reports from St Louis
Darwish Delight in St Louis
The final match of the St. Louis MPM Open pitted a gifted shot-maker
(Darwish) against a more traditional opponent (Kneipp).
The first game started slowly, with both players straining to get
comfortable. Three early errors by Darwish coupled with Kneipp playing
stellar, patient, textbook squash gave Kneipp an early edge. Darwish
began sweating about half way through the game, indicating that his
two previous five game wins may have taken their toll. Darwish’s
movement was a bit languid; he seemed a little late in reaching
Kneipp’s expertly placed drops. However, Darwish tried to claw his way
back into the game, and emerged on the winning side of some colossal
A distinct difference in the two players’ approaches to the game began
to emerge. Kneipp seemed to use the drop shot to manoeuvre his
opponent out of position, while Darwish’s drops were intended to end
the rally. Thus, Darwish’s game both lives and dies by the drop. He
hit an untimely tin at 9-5 to give Kneipp game ball. Kneipp, looking
fresh and determined, won the following point with ease. It appeared
as if Darwish’s sore and tired legs might not be up for the challenge
of a fresher and patient Kneipp.
In the second game, Darwish began to take every shot short. Kneipp
played into Darwish’s hands, and started attempting outlandish winners
as well. The points were short, but the shots were spectacular.
Kneipp’s length was a little loose, resulting in Darwish being awarded
three strokes in the first half of the game. With Darwish leading 7-4,
Joe Kneipp (ever the sportsman) called a down ball on himself to give
Darwish a nearly insurmountable lead. Darwish used his momentum to
reel off some quick winners to take the game 11-4.
Darwish walked onto the court with renewed confidence in the third
game. It was obvious by his refusal to get caught up in long rallies
that he did not want to have another five game marathon like his
semi-final match with Jonathon Power. Darwish was in the zone and
began to play flawless squash. However, at 3-3, Kneipp countered a
Darwish smash with a delicate boast that barely grazed the front wall
for a brilliant winner. Kneipp’s cat-like reflex boast was arguably
the most unorthodox shot of the tournament, but it swung the momentum
his way temporarily. The end of the game was characterized by both
players invading the other’s space, and the points being determined by
the referee. Darwish took the game 11-8 with his famous whip-like
forehand kill shot.
was all Darwish in game four. Simply put, Darwish possessed more
weapons in his shot arsenal today than Kneipp. Darwish broke away from
Kneipp with three nicks from awkward back court positions. At this
point, Darwish had succeeded in turning the match into a shot-making
exhibition. At 3-10 down, Kneipp refused to quit and won the next two
points by returning everything Darwish could throw at him.
Unfortunately for Joe, the writing was on the wall, and Karim clinched
the tournament with his signature forehand counter drop. Darwish
flashed a quick smile to the crowd, and was all business as he exited
the court, one step closer in his quest to become the best squash
player in the world.
St Louis MPM Open 2004
Jonathon Power (Can)
11/6, 9/11, 3/11, 11/8, 11/8 (84m)
[Q] Simon Parke (Eng)
11/9, 11/7, 6/11, 11/2 (52m)
11-6, 9-11, 10-11 (0-2), 11-6, 11-6
11/8, 11/5 (46m)
Anthony Ricketts (Aus)
11/6, 11/3, 8/11, 11/9 (40m)
[Q] Ben Garner (Eng)
11/4, 11/10(5-3), 6/11, 11/7 (51m)
[Q] Wael El Hindi (Egy)
11/6, 4/11, 8/11, 11/8, 11/5 (60m)
11/10(2-0), 11/3, 4/11, 11/6 (56m)
Mark Chaloner (Eng)
3/11, 11/5, 11/6, 11/5 (43m)
 Joe Kneipp (Aus)
11/7, 11/5, 11/2 (30m)
8-11, 11-2, 11-2, 11-4 (38m)
6/11, 11/8, 11/1, 11/2 (52m)
 Gregory Gaultier (Fra)
Laurens Jan Anjema (Ned)
11/9, 8/11, 11/7, 11/10(2-0) (55m)
 Mohammed Abbas (Egy)
11/8, 9/11, 11/4, 10-11(1-3), 11/5 (75m)
11/4, 11/4, 4-0 rtd (20m)
 Amr Shabana (Egy)
report from David Barry:
Simon Parke (Eng) bt Cameron Pilley (Aus) 11-3, 11-5, 8-11, 11-6 (68m)
Laurens Jan Anjema (Ned) bt Rodney Durbach (RSA) 11-6, 11-10 (2-0), 11-10 (2-0) (53m)
Wael El Hindi (Egy) bt Gavin Jones (Wal) 11-6, 7-11, 11-4, 11-4 (52m)
Ben Garner (Eng) bt Lee Drew (Eng) 11-9, 11-3, 11-7 (44m)
A packed house was treated to another
exciting night of squash as Karim Darwish and Joe Kneipp
advanced to the final.
 Karim Darwish (Egy) bt  Jonathon Power (Can)
11-6, 9-11, 10-11 (0-2), 11-6, 11-6 (68m)
 Joe Kneipp (Aus) bt  Amr Shabana (Egy)
8-11, 11-2, 11-2, 11-4 (38m)
Ethan Oetter reports from St Louis
Power outgunned by Darwish
The first match of the evening was an epic battle, reminiscent of the
Jonathon Power and Simon Parke first round encounter a couple of
nights earlier. Darwish started beautifully, fully utilizing his
lethal arsenal of blistering drives and punishing drops. Darwish was
aided by some uncharacteristically bad shots from Power’s racket to
take the first game. Incredibly, Darwish won 7 of his 11 points on
Power settled down in game two and showed that he was able to handle
Darwish’s deftly placed shots. There were many rallies where Darwish
had to hit about three of four winning caliber shots in order to work
Power enough out of position to win the rally.
The players traded points till 9 all, when Power went on to win the
game, but not without some controversy on the point that tipped the
momentum in his favour. Court one at the Missouri Athletic Club uses
tins that beep loudly and flash when struck. However, the electronic
sensors cannot be relied upon to detect a delicate touch on the top
edge. Darwish hit a nice backhand drop, and Power rushed in to play
the counter drop. Power’s ball did not trigger the tin’s flashing
lights, but may have touched the tin. The ball was ruled good, to the
dismay of Darwish.
With the games tied at one apiece, both players believed that the
match was theirs to win. Consequently, both shot maestros tried to
dictate the pace. This resulted in a complete lack of rhythm and short
rallies punctuated by frequent drop shots. Darwish began to go for
winners from Power’s serves, and Power would drop him right back. At
6-5, Power pushed Darwish out of his path and threw his horizontally
stretched body to the ball, just to show the referee that he could
return the shot. At 8-8, Darwish and Power duelled over who could hit
the better drop; the rally was eventually won by Darwish, 14 drop
shots later! It was clear that the match would be determined by shot
making finesse rather than fitness. Darwish brilliantly disguised a
forehand crosscourt to wrong foot Power at 9-9. Power relinquished the
next point on an errant drop that landed 4 inches below the tin.
However, Power managed to take the game by extending the points and
waiting for Darwish to make the mistakes.
The momentum shifted as soon as the players stepped on the court in
game four. Darwish was in the zone and cruised by Power with
Game five was characterized by extremely tight drives and
out-of-this-world retrieving. Darwish shot out to a quick lead with
early winners. However, as long as Power has a racket, he is in the
match. Power struggled valiantly to level the score, but Darwish’s
early lead in the fifth was too much for Power to overcome. The last
point was a classic, a 55 shot stunner that produced various looks of
awe among the capacity crowd. It was fitting that the last shot was a
Darwish kill shot about a millimeter above the tin.
Kneipp Crushes Shabana
The second semi-final of the evening could not have been more
different from the first. Both players started nervously. Loose shots
flew equally off both players’ rackets, resulting in numerous strokes.
The very tricky Shabana found his rhythm first but played fairly
uninspired squash, in stark contrast to his brilliant and energetic
performance in his semifinal victory over fellow countryman Mohammed
Abbas. Although Shabana was not playing his best, he dictated play in
winning the first game and seemed assured of winning the match unless
Kneipp could raise his game.
And raise his game was exactly what Kneipp did in the second game. The
first rally was the best point of the tournament, and it looked like
another five gamer was under way. Kneipp dug all of Shabana’s shots
out of the front corners and began to hit some brilliant winners of
his own. Kneipp built his lead to 7-2 with consistent play, at which
point Shabana surrendered. Shabana lost the next four points in about
Games three and four were all Kneipp. Kneipp opened both games by
building early leads to discourage Shabana’s thoughts of a comeback.
Shabana’s concentration escaped him, and he began heaving his racket
at the various corners of the court.
Referee Jonathon Power said it all when he remarked to Shabana: “next
time you throw your racquet, try to throw it away from the camera”
(which was positioned in the front left corner of the court). Enough
A packed house was treated to an exciting
night of squash as Power, Darwish, Kneipp and Shabana advanced to the
Taylor reports from St Louis
Power bumps past Ricketts
Jonathon Power (Can) bt Anthony Ricketts (Aus)
11-9, 11-7, 6-11, 11-2 (52m)
At times this match appeared to be more of a wrestling match than a
squash match. Power and Ricketts bumped and battled one another
throughout. At one point they went to the floor on top of one another.
Ricketts complained to referee Simon Parke that Power was bumping him
excessively, to which Parke replied: “I know, I played him
“Play on,” said Parke.
Game one was close throughout with Power prevailing 11-9. The second
game was the most physical of the match with both players requesting
lets and appealing to anyone that would listen. In this, the longest
game of the match, Power maintained his composure in spite of the
physical play to win 11-7 and take a 2-0 lead.
In the third Power became frustrated with his own shot making and
appeared to almost deliberately bury several balls into the tin mid
way through the game. Clearly his head
was not in tune and he surrendered the game 11-6.
But in the fourth the Canadian proved why he is a champion, totally
dominating the play to win 11-2 and advance to the semi-finals.
Darwish & Ryding treat the fans
Karim Darwish (Egy) bt Graham Ryding (Can)
11-6, 4-11, 8-11, 11-8, 11-5 (60m)
Darwish and Ryding gave the fans a treat with a very stylish match
featuring a broad array of shots. Many rallies with drop and boast
winners showed the tremendous touch of these two players, and their
willingness to play an extremely aggressive game.
They traded games in a very even contest to send the match to a
decisive fifth game, but in the end Darwish controlled the tempo of
that final game, and applied pressure to Ryding in a sequence of play
that featured multiple let calls. Finally, an unforced error from
Ryding at 9-5 put Darwish in position to close out the game 11-5 and
move into the semi final.
Kneipp despatches Gaultier
Joseph Kneipp (Aus) bt Gregory Gaultier (Fra)
11-7, 11-5, 11-2 (30m)
This match was almost over before it started. Kneipp despatched
France’s Gaultier in just 30 minutes.
Gaultier put up a strong opening game but thereafter the match was
never really close, with Kneipp playing at his best. Kneipp totally
controlled the pace and at 6-2 in the third game it became clear that
Gaultier wanted to be off the court. The final points lasted only a
couple of minutes and Kneipp eased into the semis.
Shabana shows his class
Amr Shabana (Egy) bt Mohammed Abbas (Egy)
11-8, 9-11, 11-4, 10-11 (1-3), 11-5 (75m)
A great match featuring fellow Egyptians truly captured the crowd.
This match was either player’s to win all the way to the end. Neither
was the clear dominator as the game four 11-11 tie suggests.
However, Shabana ran to an early lead in the fifth and deciding game
and never looked back. Some incredibly athletic diving gets and
lightning quick changes of direction allowed the World Champion to
take the final game 11-5 and earn a spot in the semi finals against
First Round in St
Todd Taylor Reports …
Jonathon Power (Can) bt
[Q] Simon Parke (Eng)
11/6, 9/11, 3/11, 11/8, 11/8 (84m)
Todd Taylor reports from St Louis
Jonathon Power, in his first match
after withdrawing from the US Open through injury, would have wanted
anyone but Simon Parke from the qualifying draw. But Parke it
was who came out of the hat against the Canadian, and it proved to be
just as stern a test as Power would have feared.
The match more than lived up to its billing, captivating both the
crowd and the other competitors, and prompted Michael Puertas,
the MAC club professional who enjoyed a wild-card into the main draw,
to bill it as “the best competition I’ve seen in my 21 years in
Power controlled the pace of the match and never seemed to be under
too much pressure, but Parke proved that he was in top condition and
won the crowd with his “never say die” effort.
A mix of good lengths and well timed drop shots allowed Power to take
game one to 6 and many thought Parke may be overmatched. But in game 2
Parke took control and never gave up the lead. Power surged late and
won several hotly contested rallies but could not overcome the
deficit. On game point Parke made a tremendous retrieval that Power
strongly protested as “down”. It was clear to all but Jonathon Power
that Parke had successfully played the shot.
Clearly in game 3 Power was still fuming over the second game. Parke
hustled out every ball and dominated, winning the game and the awed
But it was not to be for Parke. Power gathered himself, and in spite
of a few tantrums and unforced errors he controlled the pace in game
It was only fitting that this match went the distance. If it is
possible, Parke appeared to get stronger in game 5. Power pushed
Parke’s endurance to the limit, but Parke never quit. At the end of
the most hotly contested game of the match Power prevailed 11-8.
This match was a real treat for the fans who seemed almost as
exhausted as the players.
Joseph Kneipp bt Michael
3-11, 11-5, 11-6, 11-5 (43m)
Had it not been for the Power v Parke face off, this would have been
the match of the tournament. Home pro Mike Puertas gave the crowd a
thrill with a first game 11-3 victory. Puertas showed signs of his
distant youth with some tremendous shot making and deception.
Confused after winning game 1, Puertas thought he had won the match
and left for the bar, but was quickly dragged back to the court to
finish the battle.
Proving that old age is not all it’s cracked up to be Puertas gave
up games 2, 3, and 4 in just over 20 minutes.
Graham Ryding bt Mark Chaloner 11-10 (2-0), 11-3, 4-11,
This match featured world #17 Graham Ryding vs. world #19 Mark
Chaloner. In game one, neither player took total control. Long
rallies and strong play on both sides gave the fans a tremendously
exciting opening game that went to Ryding in the first two points of
Ryding dominated game 2 gaining an early lead and never looked back,
winning 11-3. In game 3 Chaloner took advantage of several unforced
errors by Ryding who fell behind 8-2 and was never able to dig out
of the hole.
Chaloner kept game 4 close until 6 each, when Ryding pulled ahead
with several quick points and ended the match in a game that lasted
less than 10 minutes.
Gregory Gaultier bt Alex Gough (Wales) 6-11, 11-8,
11-1, 11-2 (52m)
Gough, unhappy with his loose play early in the match, tightened up
to win the first game 11-6. This game was not even close with Gough
only giving up a few points shooting and missing when trying to
close out the game.
But Gaultier proved to be the more conditioned athlete and
continually extended the rallies, slowly wearing Gough down.
Gaultier never appeared pressured and seemed to always be in the
right place at the right time. After 6 each in game 2, Gaultier
never lost a lead again, winning game two 11-8 and games three and
four allowing Gough a total of just 3 points.
Mohammed Abbas bt Laurens Jan Anjema 11-9, 8-11, 11-7,
11-10 (2-0) (55m)
Abbas controlled game 1 early but made 3 unforced errors in a row to
allow Anjema to tie the game. In fact 6 of Anjema’s 9 points in this
game came from errors by Abbas, but the Egyptian was able to hold on
to take the lead.
Game two was tight until Abbas put two shots into the tin at 7-7 and
8-7. Anjema took advantage and went on to win it 11-8. Abbas then
sprinted to a 7-2 lead in game 3 and in spite of 2 strokes and a
late surge by Anjema he hung on to take it 11-7.
In a fitting game 4 the lead see sawed back and forth. At 6-6 Abbas
took control and went up 10-7. Anjema took advantage of another
stroke and his own strong play to tie the game 10 each, but Abbas
won two quick points to finish the match.
Qualifying Finals in
Todd Taylor Reports …
Simon Parke (England) bt Cameron Pilley (Australia) 3/1
In what was certainly the match of the qualifying round, former world
#3 Simon Parke outlasted Australian Cameron Pilley in a 1 hour and 8 minute marathon. Parke controlled the opening game, which featured long rallies as the two players felt each other out. Park only surrendered points late in the game when his lead seemed insurmountable.
In game 2, the shortest game of the match, Parke made a couple of early unforced errors but quickly over came them, hitting winners on loose balls by his opponent.
Pilley poured on the steam in game 3 to take an 11 – 8 victory in a game that lasted nearly 25 minutes. Pilley earned his first lead of the match at 3-2 and promptly served a ball out of court. At 3 – 3 Parke made an unforced error giving the serve back to his opponent. Pilley never looked back, and although game 3 was hotly contested, Pilley pressured Parke into several errors at the end of some very long rallies.
In game 4 Parke proved that he had arrived at the tournament in top condition. He gained an early lead in the final and never surrendered. Pilley made a tremendous late surge but could not over come Parke’s advantage. At 9 – 6, in possibly the point of the match each player looked to be out of the point on several occasions. The rally lasted over 100 strokes with Parke finishing with a misdirection drop shot.
Parke’s conditioning and experience gave him the victory in this match. He will need all of his skills in his first round match against #1 seed Jonathon Power Thursday at the Missouri Athletic Club.
Wael El Hindi (Egypt) bt Gavin Jones (Wales) 3/1
In this 4 game match, El Hindi never seemed to be out of position and no ball seemed out of his reach. His movement to the ball looked effortless. The first game lasted only 10 minutes and featured relatively short rallies with several unforced errors by both players.
Longer rallies in game 2 taxed both players causing numerous let calls by both players. In the end, Jones proved victorious due to several late unforced errors by El Hindi.
El Hindi controlled the pace in games 3 and 4 winning both with a score of 11-4. He will go on to face #3 seed Karim Darwish in the first round on Thursday night at the Racquet Club
Ben Garner (England) bt Lee Drew (England) 3/0
After a close first game in which both players performed well, Drew left many shots loose and gave Garner too many openings.
Garner’s solid play moves him into the weekend draw.
Garner faces Australian Anthony Ricketts at the Racquet Club in St. Louis on Thursday.
Laurens Jan Anjema (Netherlands) bt Rodney Durbach (RSA) 3/0
Anjema came out firing in the first game and put Durbach on his heels who seemed a little slow out of the blocks, lacking in depth on the length. Durbach improved, and put up a good battle and gained the lead in games 2 and 3 but was unable to make his leads stick. Anjema played at a typically high pace, restricting Durbach, especially on the return of serve. Despite this, Durbach was able to get ahead 8-6 in the 2nd and to 8 in the 3rd, pushing Anjema to the back corners, but in the end was unable to keep up with the fast pace and constant pressure applied by his opponent.
Anjema faces Egypt’s Mohammed Abbas in the first round on Thursday at the Missouri Athletic Club
Quality Qualifiers in St Louis
Framboise looks at the St Louis Draw
have the pleasure of knowing rather well 3 of the 4 qualifiers, and
they are VERY strong indeed….
LJ Anjema, young Dutch player, training in Chingford for a few
years with Neil Harvey. A very disciplined and hard working young man,
extremely clever, witty, and a touch stubborn, just the way I like
them… I personally believe he could explode in the rankings this year.
Already 2004 was kind to him (a final in
Chartres, and 2 victories:
Dutch and Corona Mexican Open).
|Spot the Match
I think 3 matches in particular have to be particularly
interesting: Ricketts against Garner, Shabana vs Price,
and of course, of course, Power vs Parke, especially as
Jonathan couldn’t participate in the US Open because of a
gluteus mininus injury….
Ben Garner, young brother of Tim of course (the heart of BSPA
and one of the Eventis Trio). In the English
Open this August, he silenced all who questioned his wildcard, by
pushing John White to the limit. Watch out for Ben, he could surprise
And how to miss the Parke! He is EVERYWHERE. And on a personal
note, I wished he hadn’t been in Boston a couple
of weeks ago…. At the age where the others are choosing coaching or
sleepers, he decides to copycat Agassi, and lines up the scalps: Mark
Chaloner, Nick Matthew, Peter Nicol, and of course, Thierry Lincou. Is
he going to add Jonathan Power?
GAULTIER – GOUGH
Do not ask me to guess the winner of that one. I have seen Gough play
so well at the English Open against Matthew, I’m extremely weary of
that welsh old timer. So, a French magician against a clever Welsh? I
wish I was there…