19 Feb, Final :
Grégory Gaultier bt Mohamed El Shorbagy
11-7, 13-11, 11-9
Gaultier Tames “The Beast” in Cambridge Cup Final
The final at the Cambridge Cup could not have been hand selected any better with the two best squash players on the planet facing off, and the Frenchman was clearly keen to de-throne the previous back to back Champion Elshorbagy.
With an opening 37 shot rally both players quickly burn off their adrenaline with Elshorbagy on the winning end of the point followed by a “Here we go” glance at Greg and a coy grin. At the mid-game point these two are quickly living up to their best in the world titles, with Gaultier’s lightning fast counter drops and Elshorbagy’s digs off the playcon, the Cambridge Club fans are watching in awe.
Greg rallies on, showing variety with an unexpected trickle boast, wrong footing Shorbagy. Some late focus turns to the ref with a couple controversial out calls, which rapidly intensifies the mood between the competitor’s, both wanting to raise the trophy high! Gaultier is up one game after a rare error from the world #1, 11-7 Gaultier.
Both men come out trading “showman” shots and the crowd is immediately captivated. Mohamed continues on and sells a lean left drive right forehand with the Frenchman watching from mid-court. Shorbagy’s not done… next rally has the Egyptian leaping for a full extension backhand volley that he manages to flick down into the crosscourt nick, with Greg applauding as a true fan of excellence in the sport.
Gaultier is seeking an answer against the world #1, but Elshorbagy shows no signs of letting up. Continuing to exhibit his bag of tricks he anticipates a cross drive from Greg and quickly snaps the ball straight, leaving the Cambridge Cup attendee’s howling. Gaultier is inspired and has had enough. He storms back with quick put away holds and carving nicks to pull the game to 11-11. Both players hesitant to end the game and go for the winner, trade errors. Elshorbagy goes for it with one of his most famous shots, the through the legs forehand straight nick drop off the back wall, but finds tin.
The Frenchman leads by two, 13-11.
Elshorbagy comes out in the third with a show-stopper of a shot. His token full swinging crosscourt racquet motion that deceptively drives the ball straight and has Gaultier leaning and looking for the cross. These guys are in their element, with fakes and holds everywhere trying to catch the other off guard….Mohamed proceeds to do so with a triple forehand fake that he crushes left when Greg inches right…. Special to watch.
The class of these two is next level. Deep into a late rally Elshorbagy hits a behind the back off Gaultier’s cross and Greg responds with a through the legs drop nick into the front left giving the World #1 a “There’s more where that came from” look and friendly smirk.
With Elshorbagy trying to get on the board, Gaultier steams ahead with crushing low drives to perfect length and successfully becomes the 2015 Cambridge Cup Champion winning 3-0 against world #1 Elshorbagy, 11-9 !
Amazing stuff… Thanks to all that came out, supported Cambridge Cup and see you all next year!
18 Feb, Semi-Final :
Grégory Gaultier bt Amr Shabana
9-11, 11-6, 11-9, 11-9
Redemption is sweet for Gaultier at The Cambridge Cup
The second semi-final was off to a quick start with both opponents raring to go. Gaultier strikes first looking to be in fine form with his familiar high leaping skip forehand snapped short and straight into the nick. The Frenchman follows this with another cross nick and adds some separation at 6-4. The poised Shabana begins to lull Gaultier into his unreadable deceptive play showing a hard cross, waits for Greg to take the bait and then re-directs the drive straight with humbling power. With Shabana under pressure he tries for a float crosscourt drop hitting the tin and hitting his wrist in the process and looking up for crowd/ref sympathy. With no one giving into the Maestro's showmanship he backs up his efforts jumping on a short front left ball from Gaultier and push floating it into the front right nick from about 2 feet off the front wall threading the needle. With confidence in the Egyptian corner he rips a forehand drive and then squeezes Gaultier on the backhand to close out game 1, 11-9 Shabs.
Gaultier opens up game 2 with a carved backhand straight nick that manages to roll out. Shabana tries to respond by going for some quick attacks that find the tin. Quick 3-0 Greg. Shabs, steadies himself and steps in to a short length slicing in the forehand drop to get on the board. The Frenchman is starting to dictate the game with patience winning him position and Shabana chasing. Greg stays the course and keeps his thumb on Amr forcing him to go for a nick off the serve... he converts. Amr follows by showing a hard cross and dropping his shoulder for a soft forehand drop into the front left. Not done yet, Shabana pounces into the front right on a short ball and opts for a up the middle drive that is bye Gaultier, but still has him sheepishly glancing at the ref hoping for a let to be offered...no luck. The Frenchman is happy to earn his points and ends any chance of a comeback closing out game 2, 11-6. One all in games.
Best of 3 here we come... Shabana kicks things off with a lefty forehand drive nick roller from centre court with the Egyptian contingent in attendance chanting for Shabs and fueling his fire. Gaultier is a bull dog and won't back down, hitting refined shots with pin point accuracy takes the lead at 6-4. Shabana digs in through a grueling rally and finishes it, waiting to the last second snapping a low cross off his forehand wrong footing Greg. Deep in the 3rd, the longest rally of the match ensues and 53 shots in Gaultier goes for a half paced forehand drop roller and gets it. 2-1 Frenchman.
The Egyptian won't roll over Vs the #2 and forces two back to back strokes to start off the 4th. Next rally Shabana quick steps upto a short ball fakes the forehand, steps around and pushes the backhand into the front right with Gaultier needing a scraper to unglue him from the front left wall. Gaultier starts to rise to the occasion with a sense of urgency in his step. He starts popping drives with the most power the Cambridge crowd as seen yet. The Frenchman is not taking anything for granted picking up tight balls, forcing Shabana to hit what seems to be 5 winners to get one bye Gaultier. Amr pushes back to a 8-8 tie with an inside out backhand drive. The more patient man prevails in this match with Greg leaning in on a few more dying power tight lengths to close this one out 11-8 and 3-1 in games.
Redemption is the Frenchman's tonight, beating out the Egyptian who took him out in 2014.
#1 Mohamed Elshorbagy Vs #2 Gregory Gaultier in the heavy hitter Cambridge Cup final tomorrow showcasing the world's best !
17 Feb, first round - quaters
Laurens Jan Anjema
11-8, 11-8, 16-18, 11-7
The Toronto Lawn Tennis Club was treated to an exciting evening of squash by Gregory Gaultier (WR 2) and Laurens Jan Anjema (WR 29).
Anjema has recently returned to competitive play after recovering from an injury, having previously reached a career high ranking of 9.
However Gaultier, who has held the world number 1 spot numerous times over the last 5 years, proved too strong for the Dutchman in this first round match of the Cambridge Cup.
Gaultier won the first two games 11-8, 11-8 with a tempo too high for Anjema. The third was hard fought by Anjema, who managed to sneak the game 18-16, with several incredible rallies and many crowd-pleasing shots from both players.
Unfortunately for Anjema, Gaultier regrouped and came out strong and fast in the fourth game winning it 11-7 to take the match.
With plenty of showmanship throughout the match, the 70-strong crowd had quite a spectacle, getting behind both players and thoroughly enjoying the performance.