Egyptian Stars Ashour & Shabana To Compete In Dunlop British Open
21 Apr 2008
Egyptian squash stars Amr Shabana and Ramy Ashour - ranked one and two in the world, respectively - have confirmed their participation in the 2008 Dunlop British Open, the longest-established and most prestigious event in world squash which will take place first time in Liverpool next month.
Widely regarded as the 'Wimbledon' of Squash, the Dunlop British Open - Liverpool 2008 will be staged at the city's new Echo Arena from 8-12 May following qualifying and early rounds at the Liverpool Cricket Club.
Battles between Shabana and Ashour have become the most sought-after spectacle on the international squash circuit. The pair contested yesterday's (Sunday) final of the 5-star Hurghada International in Egypt - and did not disappoint the capacity crowd surrounding the all-glass court on the promenade of the country's Red Sea resort.
Shabana, who this month celebrated his 25th successive month at the top of the men's world rankings, twice levelled the match after his prodigiously-talented 20-year-old opponent took early leads. But it was Ashour who ultimately prevailed, upsetting his 'elder statesman' opponent 11-10 (2-0), 9-11, 11-7, 9-11, 11-10 (2-0) in 79 minutes in their fourth successive meeting in a PSA Tour event final.
Ashour will make his maiden appearance in the British Open in Liverpool: "Injury prevented me from playing last year and therefore this year's British Open will be extra special," said the Cairo-based Egyptian. "English crowds have always given me a lot of support, and having not played in England since winning the ATCO Super Series Finals last August, I'm really looking forward to playing two back-to-back events," added Ashour, who will contest the British Open in Liverpool before defending his ATCO Super Series Finals title at the Broadgate Arena in London from the 19-23 May.
Following an enforced two-month injury break, Ashour capped a successful return to the Men's World Tour in January by capturing the Tournament of Champions title in New York, then the Canadian Classic in Toronto in February. The inclusion of the young Egyptian will ensure that the Dunlop British Open - Liverpool 2008 will be one of the most exciting and eagerly contested championships in its illustrious history.
Shabana, who won his third World Open title in December, has yet to win the British Open crown - the only major trophy to have eluded him so far in his illustrious career.
"I'm really looking forward to the British Open," said the 28-year-old. "For some reason, I've never really performed to my best at the event and I'm determined to give it my best shot this year. Its amazing when you look back at the great players who have won the British Open and it would be fantastic to have my name on the trophy alongside the likes of Jonah Barrington, Geoff Hunt, Jahangir Khan and Jansher Khan," added Shabana.
Shabana's 25th month at the top of the world rankings celebrated the longest unbroken run as world No1 since the legendary Pakistani Jansher Khan more than ten years ago.
"Amr's record over the past three years has been incredible and it is therefore even more surprising that he still has not won the British Open," said Tournament Promoter Paul Walters of internationalSPORTgroup.
"Like all of the Egyptian players, Amr has a real respect for the history of the sport and it will be fascinating to see how he is able to translate that into his challenge for the title this year. Not only is he the most consistent player on the Men's World Tour, but he is arguably the most exciting to watch and certainly one of the most charismatic. His entry in this year's championship will undoubtedly prove a major attraction for all spectators in Liverpool and is further testament to the highest regard that the players hold for the championships."
Leading challengers will include three Egyptians, Amr Shabana, Ramy Ashour and Karim Darwish; two Frenchmen, Gregory Gaultier, the defending champion, and Thierry Lincou; an Australian, David Palmer, and England's Nick Matthew, the 2006 British Open Champion, and James Willstrop.
Promoted by internationalSPORTgroup on behalf of England Squash, the Dunlop British Open - Liverpool 2008 is also backed by the Liverpool Culture Company, Liverpool City Council, the Northwest Regional Development Agency and the ATCO Group.