US SQUASH

Ramy Ashour, the new World Champion

The PSA World Squash Championships, the pinnacle of competition on the professional men’s squash calendar and last major professional tournament for the year, were today decided in Qatar…with current world #4 Ramy Ashour crowned the world champion for 2013.

In the all-Egyptian final, 24 year old Ashour was up against compatriot Mohamed El Shorbagy, who had been seeded eighth in the tournament and created a huge upset the previous night by ousting world #1 James Willstrop in a grueling 112-minute five-game match.

In the final, 21 year old El Shorbagy took the first game an easy 11-2, with Ashour appearing to not have his head in the match.  However tables swiftly turned in the next couple of games as Ramy refocused and took the next two.  The match ended up going down to the wire in the fifth, but Ramy had the extra energy needed to make it across the finish line at a close 11-8.  [2-11, 11-6, 11-5, 9-11, 11-8]

Mohamed El Shorbagy tweeted after the match:

“Had the most amazing tournament of my life, but this is only the start for me and I am so looking forward to the next few tournaments now.”

“I played my best ever squash here but Ramy totally deserved the title, he was the most consistent player and I am really happy for him.”

“This sport deserves to be in the Olympics and I just hope we can get into 2020 so me and Ramy can have another great final like this.”

PSA Squash TV commentator Paul ‘PJ’ Johnson said : “Ramy put in his best performance of the tournament.  I just don’t know how Mohamed was still standing after what he’s been through over the past few days – he has amazing heart and talent.”

64 of the world’s best men’s players competed for the major championship, which boasted a prize pool of $325, 000.

US qualifying contender, Chris Gordon, who at #57 is currently at his highest world ranking ever after a huge win over current world #17 Hisham Ashour at the U.S. Open in October, was knocked out in the qualifying draw.

Gordon played against England’s Joe Lee, #48, losing 3-1 in the tight 68 minute match, 11-6, 7-11, 10-12, 8-11.

“It was very hard physically, he got back some amazing shots, ” said Gordon.

“And these are difficult conditions – a moveable wall means there are some pretty big nicks, so it privileges the big swings.

“He is a pretty good player, very consistent. We played a good hard game, it got really close at the end of the games, and it all came down to who played the better points at the end.”

The top half of the main draw, America’s #1 player, Julian Illingworth, currently world ranked #29, went down in the first round in an upset match to qualifier Omar Abdel Meguid from Egypt, world ranked #68.

The 75-minute match saw Illingworth take the first game 11-8, but Meguid slowly found his feet in the following three coming back to win them 15-13, 11-7, 11-4.

There were some great rallies in what was a reportedly highly charged and tense game, awash with disputes and clashes that saw the referees continuously involved.

At the end of one tangled game, the referee warned the two players that they would be given a stroke against them if ever they were to get in each other’s way due to the volume of let calls and lack of access to the ball from each.

In the end the Egyptian managed to outplay Illingworth, taking the match in what Meguid describes as his biggest ever win.

“I want to be a top player, I am working so hard, every night I go to bed early, I train hard, I eat a good diet, ” he said.

“This is without a doubt the best victory of my life.”

Full details and results from the 2012 PSA World Squash Championships can be found by clicking here.

Images courtesy of Squashpics.com.

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