Friday, April 13, 2012

"Very unsatisfactory. Terribly disappointing. Hugely frustrating."

James Willstrop, #1 in the world, did not behave like a champ by forfeiting the remainder of the match in his final against Ramy Ashour in the El Gouna International Squash Open. He is quoted on SquashSite as saying, as the title of this blog indicates, that his experience in the final was unsatisfactory, disappointing and frustrating. The reason was the court was slippery. 

Well, it was slippery for Ramy too, but he played on to the best of his ability, and guess what, Ramy was about to win. Ramy had won the first two games and was up 5-2 when Willstrop shook Ramy's hand and walked off the court. 

Willstrop managed to deny Ramy a natural victory by wimping out and blaming the conditions. The conditions may have been suspect, but this is a FINAL man! People are paying good money to see you play. If you are going to lose because the conditions don't suit you then buck up and play anyway, that's what champions do, they continue on unless they can't possibly continue, not because they are worried about getting turf toe from slipping on the court surface! 

Willstrop's experience was unsatisfactory, disappointing and frustrating, but not quite in the way he meant in the quote.


  1. you're an idiot.

  2. It happens. This is their livelihood. If he is worried about getting hurt, I cannot fault him. He appeared to be moving badly at the outset of the third game, but he tried to continue as long as he could.

    Also, I note that Ramy had to retire in the final against Matthew two years ago in Richmond:

  3. Reminded me of Duran going "No Mas" against Sugar Ray Leonard.

  4. Instead of taking to task those who provided the venue for the match you go after a player who did in the semis move to a safer court when he and Kareem both decided conditions were unsafe. Why would anyone risk serious injury because it's a final and he has to play like the champ? Would you play a hockey final in the slush? Or would you play a world series 7th game if the field was slippery? The implication that Wilstrop is a quitter is preposterous, I don't think at his level he's afraid to loose nor is he afraid to loose to his opponent Ashour. When he cramped up in the final game of the British Nationals a couple of years back in a marathon brutal match with Mathew, no one questioned his heart. I think if he played on as you would have suggested with the bravado of being a champ and all that stuff and really hurt himself, i for one, would question why he'd do that and risk injury and deprive fans of months of injury rehabilitation.

  5. Jason: True, Ramy did have to retire, but he had a hamstring injury. And he gamely fought for about 50 minutes even with the injury before heading for the exit. As for the first Anonymous quote, you are probably right, I AM an idiot! For leaving dumb quotes like that on my blog! As for Anonymous #2, you are right on the money: things weren't going his way, so Duran got the hell out of there. As did Willstrop....

  6. Squashist - quite clearley ill informed and lacking in understanding of top flight squash.

  7. I believe with topmost status comes heightened responsibilities.

    As of June 2011, from when the following stat was taken (off of, Roger Federer had played, and I quote the site: "959 matches on tour, the most of any active player, and his determination to finish every single match was perhaps most clearly evidenced in November 2008 during his final Round Robin match of the Masters Cup, against Andy Murray. He lost 4-6, 7-6(3), 7-5. After the match, when asked about the effect of the lower back injury he suffered with during the match which required three medical timeouts, he said, simply, “I don’t quit once I step on court.”

    The tennis site called concurs: see

    Some of the above comments either shame me for my supposed lack of squash knowledge or suggest the potential for injury by a top pro in a final is cause enough to concede and walk away.

    I disagree, that's all. I think he should have played out the match, maybe not at his best, but to honor both the occasion of the final and his opponent. Federer, who rewrote the record book for the great sport of tennis, would agree with me.

  8. I too thought it was poor form that he pulled out so close to the end of the match, any self respecting person would've grit their teeth an played the match out and given Ramy the credit he deserved for winning a huge tournament and beating the top three players in doing so.

    Then again, James is 6'4 and has had many many problems and injuries sparked from poor courts (I mean look at how precise he is about wiping wet patches/sweat drops on court) and there's no chance he's going to risk the rest of his year, when he's playing the best squash of his life on a court that is suspect at best.

    The problem really comes down to the tournament organisers - they put up $115,000 for this event, they flew players to El Goana, put them up in amazing accomodation and looked after them supremely - you'd think the most important thing to take care of would be the court - the place where all these players ply their trade and make their living. Hopefully they see the problem here and sort it out for next year!

  9. The comment above about the condition of the court is absolutely dead-on accurate. It wasn't just Willstrop complaining about the conditions, and to have a major squash tournament be hindered by slippery, sandy courts is laughably bad. The fact is that El Gouna has had this problem before; Willstrop even retired a quarterfinal match 2 years ago for the same reasons. It's time perhaps for the PSA to step in and de-sanction the tournament unless they address this issue........

  10. I think the bad taste Willstrop left in his retirement at El Goana stems from WHEN he stopped. Would he have conceded if the game score was 1-1 or 2-0 in his favor? I doubt it. He didn't concede any of his earlier matches on the very same court.
    As for your comments about Wilstrop above, is your thinking colored at all by Willstrop's carping on American squash in his book? After rereading your Putz blog entry, I question your objectivity. But when I review Mathew's effort vs Ramy as opposed to Wilstrop's, the contrast was striking.

  11. I know it seems like i'm ganging up on Willstrop lately, but I actually like the guy! I was all smiles when he hit #1, he deserved it. But he showed insensitivity to and ignorance about the American version of squash, so I called him a putz, which, though a 4-letter word, is far from a horrific epithet. And then the El Gouna withdrawal came next.... I have to call it as I see it. But i've made a mental note that the next time he kicks ass or acts like the top pro he is, i'll be the first to call attention to it.

  12. You can't blame a guy for being unhappy with the conditions. Fair enough Ramy was on top but the courts should not be have been in that condition, these are the top squash players in the world after all!

    Squash is fortunate that weather and environmental conditions don't have to affect the game, it seems a bit stupid that the PSA let them!?

  13. The suggestion that James being 2-0 down played a major part in his decision to concede the match is valid. But from that to conclude that James "wimped out" of a natural defeat is an example of a non sequitur.
    There is a more rational and commonsense explanantion, viz.James decided that he was in a lose-lose situation whatever he did. If he just went through the motions, people would say that he threw the match; if he made a comeback by winning game 3 that would only increase the chances of picking up a major injury in games 4 and 5. He quit in order to cut his losses, especially as there was nothing major at stake--his #1 ranking was secure, and the BO is around the corner to take revenge on Ramy

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Sorry, but due to increasing spam, I've added the Word Verification step. My policy on comments is anything goes, as long as it is about squash and as long as it isn't unnecessarily nasty....