10:17 am
16 Apr 2024

Shabana Celebrates World Open Hat-Trick In Bermuda

2 Dec 2007

Following an impeccable display of near faultless squash on an all-glass court at the Fairmont Southampton Resort in Bermuda, Egypt's world number one Amr Shabana beat France's Gregory Gaultier, the world No3, in straight games in the final of the Endurance World Open to become only the fourth player in history to lift the world title for a third time.

The triumph marks Shabana's 20th PSA Tour title and, after lifting his fourth successive PSA Super Series trophy in under five weeks, it also his extended his unbeaten run to 20 matches.

Second seed Gaultier, who only 24 hours earlier had been in devastating form to crush England's world No5 Nick Matthew in straight games, took a 4-1 lead in the first game.

But it turned out to be the only lead the 24-year-old from Aix-en-Provence had in the match as left-hander Amr Shabana took control of the encounter, playing a succession of sensational winners to record his historic 11-7, 11-4, 11-6 victory in 42 minutes.

Shabana's brilliance could not have been better demonstrated than by the championship-winning rally in which Gaultier played a seemingly irretrievable shot - which the Egyptian miraculously returned before smashing the ball out of the Frenchman's reach to clinch the title.

"I came to Bermuda three years ago and was blown away," the new champion told the packed and passionate crowd of near capacity 1,400 spectators - from the island's total population of 60,000! "This is the perfect model of how squash tournaments should be."

Complimenting the hosts, led by Tournament Director Ross Triffitt, Shabana later told journalists: "With organisers like Ross, there's no reason why squash can't become a major sport."

In paying tribute to his opponent, Shabana said: "Greg is a true champion. But I was able to stop him today. In the second game, I played like a dream. You can only play like this once in your life."

When asked if he had thought he could win the four titles in a row that he did - the World Open preceded by the Saudi International, Qatar Classic and Hong Kong Open since the end of October - the Egyptian replied: "When I am seeded one, I try and win each match at a time - and then when I get into a run, I try and keep winning.

"I don't think I have ever played as well as today," added Shabana. "To beat Greg after the way he has been playing this week - he beat everybody 3/0 - I had to play the best squash of my life.

"And, of course, he beat me in front of my home crowd in Egypt in the World Open last year," Shabana recalled.

It was a downcast Gaultier that tried to find words to describe his feelings: "I am very disappointed, to be sure. But I felt heavy, almost overweight, after the first four points - and just couldn't move, even though I tried to push myself.

"He played so well tonight - and in the end I just didn't know what to do. I tried hard and didn't want to give up. But it just wasn't my day.

"Maybe I was putting too much pressure on myself. I will just have to refocus.

"But I will get this trophy soon - that's for sure," added the Frenchman who was celebrating his 25th appearance in a PSA Tour final.

Final:
[1] Amr Shabana (EGY) bt [2] Gregory Gaultier (FRA) 11-7, 11-4, 11-6 (42m)