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Sunday, 08 December 2019

Close-shave Shabana begins title defence in style

Amr Shabana began the defence of his World Open title with a familiar clean sweep in three games and a clean pate for the first time in his life

AFP, Thursday 2 Dec 2010
Amr Shabana
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The four-time champion from Egypt was content with his performance during a well-paced 11-7, 12-10, 11-8 win over Chris Simpson, a qualifier from Guernsey, but less so with the stark outcome of a hairdressing session on the morning of the match.

The close shave was applied at his request by Wael El Hindi, a fellow top 20 Egyptian, but Shabana will be seeking to avoid anything like that in his next encounter with a compatriot, in the second round on Saturday with the improving Ali Anwar Reda.

The 31-year-old squash star's intention had been, he said, to make his appearance younger. Asked whether he now does, Shabana quipped: "No -- I still look 31."
But he sometimes played like someone of fewer years, moving lightly, accelerating well at 5-7 in the second game against Simpson, and playing brilliantly in the last three points of the contest.

Shabana probably has enough youth and skill to win the title again if he is fully fit and healthy - but at this stage only he knows whether he is.
Two other squash greats also started well in their first round ties.

David Palmer, the two-time former world champion from Australia, recovered from 6-9 down in the third game to win 11-3, 11-2, 12-10 against Stephane Galifi, an Italian qualifier.

And Thierry Lincou, the only Frenchman to win the World Open, came from 6-7 down in the third to win 11-4, 11-4, 11-7 against Kashif Shuja, a New Zealand qualifier.
Both are 34-year-olds and both showed the ability to apply subtle extra pressure when it mattered.

"Probably no-one is giving me a chance this week, which is fair enough," said Palmer, who has says this is probably his last tournament.
"But if I get through the first two rounds without damage, I might be able to show I'm still a danger," he added.

Palmer next plays Jonathan Kemp, the left-handed Englishman who has spent much of the last five years just outside the top 20.
Lincou says he regards this as like any other tournament.

"Of course I know it's the World Open. But I just want to be consistent as I have in most other tournaments this year," the world number seven from Marseille said.

Lincou next faces Omar Mosaad, the 22-year-old Egyptian who broke the top 20 for the first time last month.

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