Shabana Shines, Matthew is Masterful, Willstrop Wins and Barker Beats Castagnet
The vaunted Egyptian squash player Amr Shabana shone as brightly as the stars in the Grand Central constellation ceiling in his second round 11-7,11-3,11-5 victory over seven-time Dutch national champion Laurens Jan Anjema.“You always feel the pressure when you play him,” said Anjema after the match. “It is not just about making mistakes against him. If you don’t hit the ball super well, you get punished right away.” With his basic game falling short, the world #17 felt the full fusillade of the Egyptian maestro’s shotmaking excellence.
The 34-year-old former world #1 from Cairo was pleased with his afternoon outing on the glass court in Grand Central. “To win matches, you have to enjoy your time on court,” said Shabana, now ranked #7 in the PSA rankings. The capacity crowd in Grand Central also enjoyed his time on court – both for the match with Anjema and for Shabana’s five point games with two youngsters whose names were pulled in a raffle as part of Kids and Family Day at ToC. The Egyptian dazzled the crowd – and his young opponents- with a dizzying array of two and three wall shots hit in every conceivable configuration of angles.
Shabana’s next opponent is world #1 Nick Matthew, who dispatched South African Stephen Coppinger with relative ease – 11-7, 11-2, 11-4 -in just 39 minutes. “Nick was just too good today,” said Coppinger. Matthew, the reigning World Champion, savored his masterful victory only briefly. “I am wary of feeling like I am playing well,” he said. “You don’t want to get complacent.”
Matthew is looking forward to being on court with the Egyptian “Maestro”. “That is what you want as a player,” Matthew said, “to get on court with one of the greatest players ever.”
Fourth seed James Willstrop took a little longer to secure his quarterfinal appearance as Australian Cameron Pilley took a 10-6 lead in the first game. Willstrop, the 2011 Tournament of Champions titleholder, saved three match balls before winning the game 13-11. The second game was all Willstrop – literally – as he won the game allowing his opponent to score just one point. Pilley came back strong in the third to force the tiebreak, which Willstrop won, 13-11.
“I felt sharper today than in my first round,” said Willstrop, “but there were still some tense moments. Cameron made it tough, but I felt like I was putting together some good patches of play.” The 31-year-old Englishman’s quarterfinal opponent will be his longtime colleague and competitor Peter Barker. The two men have shared many squash courts, and now they share the perils and pride of parenthood, as both became fathers in the last year.
Barker, who had been off the court for three months at the end of the year after tearing his calf muscle in two places, had a tough four game match against Frenchman Mathieu Castagnet. Barker won the first two games, 11-9 and 11-8. Castagnet got himself into the match by winning the third game 11-3. Barker notched the victory by holding fast to win the fourth game 13-11. “Both of us were looking to take our space on the court, so it became a little contentious. But I kind of needed a bit of a battle to get me going.”,” said Barker, who credited the victory to his experience and ability to play a few crucial points better than his opponent.
Main Draw Second Round Results – Top Half of Draw
J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions, NY, NY
Grand Central Terminal
A Professional Squash Association (PSA) World Series Gold event
Sunday, January 19, 2014
 Nick Matthew (ENG) v Stephen Coppinger (RSA) 3-0: 11-7, 11-2, 11-4 34 mins
 Amr Shabana (EGY) bt Laurens Jan Anjema (NED) 3-0: 11-7, 11-3, 11-5 39 mins
 Peter Barker (ENG) bt Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) 3-1: 11-9, 11-8, 3-11, 13-11 81 mins
 James Willstrop (ENG) bt Cameron Pilley (AUS) 3-0: 13-11, 11-1, 13-11 64 mins
Schedule of Play Monday, January 20 – Second Round, Bottom Half
Grand Central Terminal
3:00 pm –  Mohamed Elshorbagy (EGY) v Tarek Momen (EGY)
4:30 pm – Chris Simpson (ENG) v  Daryl Selby (ENG)
7:30 pm –  Karim Darwish (EGY) v Simon Rosner (GER)
6:00 pm – Alister Walker (BOT) v  Gregory Gaultier (FRA)