Alister Walker Wins EBS Dayton Open In Dayton, Ohio, USA

The gallery was packed a full 40 minutes before the start of the championship match. Tournament promoter Charlie Johnson, a classically-trained trumpet player who plays professionally with area symphony orchestras when not coaching squash, played the national anthem of both Pakistan and Botswana as the spectators eagerly anticipated the beginning of the match.
 
Butt took the opening three points, but Walker struck back to reel off five in a row before closing out the first game.
 
"Game two of the championship match was a different story and the pivotal game of the match," said Johnson. "With the large crowd cheering great rallies and winning shots from both players, the pair traded points back and forth until the score was tied at ten-all.
 
"In the opening rally of the tie-break, both players attacked and retrieved punishing lengths with dogged determination but a crucial cross-court kill from Butt found the tin as the strings in his racquet broke on shot. Walker went up 11-10 but was denied the win as Butt stretched to reach every length that Walker through at him trying to get the ball past him.
 
"The torturous play from both players, attacking, driving, moving each other around the entire court was furious and feverous over the next four points as they traded rallies to 12-all," Johnson continued.
 
"All through the match, Walker had been mixing attacking power from both sides with incredibly tight control on the slower paced back-hand drives and drops when faced with potential problems - and it paid off in these last two rallies of the second game: the point won to go up 2/0 at 13-12 in the game was a back-hand drop that was painted on the wall."
 
Butt fought hard in the third but it was Walker who emerged triumphant after 48 minutes, winning 11-4, 14-12, 11-4.
 
In the awards ceremony, Butt was gracious in defeat and congratulated Walker for his strong performance. He thanked the sponsors and promoter Charlie Johnson for a fabulous event that gave him the opportunity to showcase his talent, and he attributed his strong showing this week to the work he's put in with his coach and trainer at home, Zahid Butt, and Ajaz Azmat with whom he's trained recently in New York.
 
After accepting the winner's trophy, Walker also thanked the sponsors and promoter Charlie Johnson for bringing PSA squash back to Dayton after a three-year lay-off - and said he felt honoured to have his name added to the trophy that includes some of the greatest players of the modern game: Peter Nicol, John White, Ramy Ashour, Thierry Lincou, and Karim Darwish.
 
The win marks 29-year-old Walker's fourth PSA World Tour title success, but his first since February 2009.
 
PSA International 25 EBS Dayton Open, Dayton, Ohio, USA
Final:
[2] Alister Walker (BOT) bt [Q] Yasir Butt (PAK) 11-4, 14-12, 11-4 (48m)
 
Semi-Finals:
[Q] Yasir Butt (PAK) bt [1] Adrian Grant (ENG) 11-6, 11-8, 11-9 (47m)
[2] Alister Walker (BOT) bt [4] Chris Simpson (ENG) 15-13, 11-7, 12-10 (43m)
 
For the second time in five years, a qualifier has reached the final of the EBS Dayton Open in the USA after unheralded Pakistani Yasir Butt removed top seed Adrian Grant in the semi-finals of the PSA World Tour International 25 squash event in its eighth year at the Dayton Squash Center in Dayton, Ohio.
 
It was in 2006 that a young 19-year-old Ramy Ashour fought his way through two qualifying rounds, became a crowd favourite with his flashy play and determination to win, and found himself in the championship match against world No10 John White. Ashour lost that final but came back the next year to avenge the loss and beat White in the final of the 2007 championship.
 
In 2011, history has repeated itself: Qualifier Butt, a 23-year-old from Lahore ranked 95 in the world, now finds himself in the final with No2 seed Alister Walker, the world No20 from Botswana.
In the opening semi-final, in front of a packed gallery at the Dayton Squash Center, Butt defeated England's world No17 Adrian Grant 11-6, 11-8, 11-9 in 47 minutes.
 
The English left-hander looked tentative in the first game and wasn't moving as well as the night before. Down 5-9, the crowd could see that Grant knew he had a problem on his hands and Butt won the first game.
 
"The second and third games were eerily similar," reports tournament organiser Charlie Johnson. "Butt sensed that Grant was vulnerable and got off to early leads in both and kept the ball in the front of the court and applied constant pressure with incredible attacking drops. The final rally was a 45-second youtube video of the whole match: a long rally that Butt finished off with a winner."
 
Butt later acknowledged that his strategy from the start was to attack the front of the court on every loose ball: He knew Grant's game from the back of the court was strong and that if he tried to play a length and power game against Grant, he'd be out on the court too long and playing to Grant's strengths.
 
"Grant admitted he started tentatively and a little tight in the first game and could never find his stride after that," added Johnson. "Grant had seen some of Butt's earlier matches, respected his shot-making ability and knew that the front was going to be attacked - but just couldn't find the right counter strategy on this night in Dayton."
 
In the other semi, former England international Alister Walker beat fourth seed Chris Simpson, the world No54 from England, 15-13, 11-7, 12-10 in 43 minutes.
 
The final will be Butt and Walker's first meeting since September 2005, when the pair contested a first round match in the Kolkata International in India - where Walker prevailed in five games.
 
Butt is marking the ninth PSA World Tour final of his career - but his fourth this year - while Walker is celebrating his eighth, but first in 2011.
 
Quarter-Finals:
[1] Adrian Grant (ENG) bt [Q] Danish Atlas Khan (PAK) 12-10, 11-9, 11-5 (46m)
[Q] Yasir Butt (PAK) bt Campbell Grayson (NZL) 4-11, 11-6, 11-8, 11-2 (56m)
[4] Chris Simpson (ENG) bt Adrian Waller (ENG) 5-11, 2-11, 11-6, 11-7, 11-9 (71m)
[2] Alister Walker (BOT) bt [Q] Olivier Pett (ENG) 18-16, 11-6, 11-7 (63m)
 
Pakistan qualifier Yasir Butt continued his giant-killing run in the EBS Dayton Open in the USA when he overcame New Zealander Campbell Grayson to claim a place in the semi-finals of the PSA World Tour International 25 squash event in its eighth year at the Dayton Squash Center in Dayton, Ohio.
 
The 23-year-old from Lahore made his breakthrough in the first round where he ousted Robbie Temple, an Englishman ranked more than 60 places higher. Butt went on to take Grayson 4-11, 11-6, 11-8, 11-2.
 
"Butt dropped the first game, looking a little unsure of his game and made a few mistakes, but settled down and took the next three games in the match that lasted 56 minutes," explained tournament organiser Charlie Johnson.
 
"The pivotal point in this match was in game three where, down 6-8, Grayson won a long rally to get to 7-8 - but Butt countered winning another astoundingly long rally to stifle a run and won the game 11-8. After Grayson won the first point of the last game, Butt ran off seven straight points but to his credit, Grayson fought hard to the end despite the insurmountable lead Butt had and the crowd was highly entertained by the final rallies where both players were giving it their all."
 
The Pakistani progresses to face Adrian Grant, the top seed from England. The London left-hander dismissed Butt's 17-year-old compatriot Danish Atlas Khan, also a qualifier, 12-10, 11-9, 11-5.
There will also be English interest in the other semi-final where Chris Simpson takes on Alister Walker, of Botswana.
 
Fourth seed Simpson staged an impressive comeback, recovering from 2/0 down to beat fellow countryman Adrian Waller 5-11, 2-11, 11-6, 11-7, 11-9 in 71 minutes.
 
"Really happy with my comeback," tweeted Simpson later. "It's about time I won 1 in 5!"
 
Walker, the second seed, survived a marathon first game before going on to beat English qualifier Olivier Pett 18-16, 11-6, 11-7 in 63 minutes.
 
"Pett has played well all week and continued his high level in the first game that took an astounding 30 minutes," said Johnson. "This initial game got to 10-all and then began an incredible series of game ball rallies alternating between players: these were fabulous displays of both players' ability to retrieve and at the same time, try to pound the ball away to finish the rally.
 
"At 14-14, someone in the gallery exclaimed that 'no one seems to want to win' and I countered with no one wants to lose - no 'seem' about it!
 
"The highest level play we've seen all week took place over the next five points that it took Walker to win this marathon game 18-16. Pett was not deflated after the loss of this first game, both players appreciated the effort of the other for a 30 minute game, and he played very hard over the next two games."
 
1st round:
[1] Adrian Grant (ENG) bt Zac Alexander (AUS) 11-9, 11-9, 11-5 (60m)
[Q] Danish Atlas Khan (PAK) bt Amr Khaled Khalifa (EGY) 10-12, 11-5, 11-9, 11-7 (58m)
[Q] Yasir Butt (PAK) bt Robbie Temple (ENG) 15-13, 7-11, 11-7, 8-11, 11-9 (85m)
Campbell Grayson (NZL) bt [3] Arturo Salazar (MEX) 11-8, 11-3, 11-5 (38m)
[4] Chris Simpson (ENG) bt Marwan El Shorbagy (EGY) 11-7, 11-8, 11-9 (35m)
Adrian Waller (ENG) bt [Q] Scott Arnold (AUS) 11-7, 11-8, 11-8 (42m)
[Q] Olivier Pett (ENG) bt Shawn Delierre (CAN) 12-10, 12-14, 12-10, 11-7 (68m)
[2] Alister Walker (BOT) bt Henrik Mustonen (FIN) 11-8, 11-8, 11-5 (38m)
 
A pair of Pakistanis led a remarkable day of upsets in the opening round of the EBS Dayton Open when qualifiers Danish Atlas Khan and Yasir Butt overpowered higher-ranked opponents to reach the quarter-finals of the PSA World Tour International 25 squash event in its eighth year at the Dayton Squash Center in Dayton in the US state of Ohio.
 
Kahn, a 17-year-old from Peshawar, came back from a game down to beat Egypt's former world junior champion Amr Khaled Khalifa 10-12, 11-5, 11-9, 11-7 in 58 minutes - while Butt, 23, from Lahore, battled for 85 minutes to tame England's Robbie Temple 15-13, 7-11, 11-7, 8-11, 11-9.
 
And a third qualifier made it through to the last eight when England's Olivier Pett ousted Canadian Shawn Delierre 12-10, 12-14, 12-10, 11-7.
 
"Our Pakistani members cheered Khan & Butt on to victory - but stayed to help push qualifier Pett past Delierre of Canada," said tournament organiser Charlie Johnson.
 
But the upsets continued: New Zealand's unseeded Campbell Grayson got the better of in-form Mexican Arturo Salazar, beating the third seed 11-8, 11-3, 11-5.
 
England's fourth seed Chris Simpson played one of the best matches in recent times to overcome Egypt's reigning world junior champion Marwan El Shorbagy 11-7, 11-8, 11-9 in just 35 minutes.
 
"Won my match against world junior champion Marwan el Shorbagy 3/0, really happy with my performance, nice to get a good win in!" tweeted the delighted Guernsey-born 24-year-old later.
 
But the top two seeds restored some order to the well-established Tour event: English favourite Adrian Grant, the world No17 from London, defeated rising Australian star Zac Alexander 11-9, 11-9, 11-5, while Alister Walker, the No2 seed from Botswana, held off the challenge of Henrik Mustonen, beating the promising Finn 11-8, 11-8, 11-5.
 
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internationalSPORTgroup managed player Alister Walker brought Yasir Butt's glorious run in the EBS Dayton Open to an end when he beat the Pakistan qualifier in the final of the PSA World Tour International 25 squash event in its eighth year at the Dayton Squash Center in Dayton, in the US state of Ohio.