10:24 pm
17 Apr 2024

Top Seed Tested At Grand Central Terminal

14 Jan 2008

Top seed Ramy Ashour was fully tested in his quarter-final match against fellow Egyptian Wael El Hindi in the Bear Stearns Tournament of Champions - but he passed with flying colours and a standing ovation from the sell-out crowd at Grand Central Terminal in New York. In their quest to reach the semi-finals of the prestigious PSA Super Series squash event, the two players went all-out - delighting the spectators with a display of skilled shot-making that is the trademark of Egyptian squash.

It was eighth-seeded El Hindi who took the early lead in the match, using his physical play and his touch in the front of the court to win the first two games 11-5, 11-7. Ashour found himself consistently having to move around El Hindi to get to the ball and he hit a significant number of unforced errors. The 20-year-old world No2 nonetheless returned to the court for the third game with confidence and turned the match around as he stepped up his pace and used a quick attack on the ball to keep El Hindi off balance. In the third and fourth games, Ashour took the lead from the very first point, and never relinquished it, evening the match at two-all with 11-4, 11-5 game wins.

As Ashour quickened the pace and the speed of his attack, El Hindi started to visibly tire, but he stepped up to challenge his higher-ranked opponent in the decider. El Hindi took an early 4-1 lead, fell behind at 4-5, the evened the score at six-all and eight-all. But Ashour was not about to leave the court without the win and closed out the deciding game 11-8 - hitting a stunning volley cross court nick winner on the final point.
With characteristic enthusiasm, Ashour shared his delight with the victory. "I wanted to test myself, to prove that I could be down and come back - and this match was a great test," the 20-year-old winner said after the match. "I am going to be put in a lot of hard situations and I have to figure out how to deal with that."

In the first match of the day, fourth-seeded Australian David Palmer also found himself in an all-out battle as Mohammed Abbas, the third Egyptian player still in the draw, came out shooting. The match was a superb display of style, technique and all court strategy as the two men treated the crowd to the highest standard of squash they had seen since the tournament began. After taking the first game 11-8, Abbas fended off two game balls before succumbing in the tiebreak, 0-2.

The third game saw another tiebreak; Abbas had a chance to win the game at 11-10, but Palmer nabbed it to go ahead 2/1 in games. It was a back and forth battle in the fourth but Palmer held Abbas off to earn his third trip to the Tournament of Champions semi-finals.

"I haven't had any match play for a few weeks, so it was good to have a tougher match today," said Palmer, the world No4 from New South Wales. As for his chances against Ashour in the semis, Palmer said: "I feel pretty relaxed. I am the underdog now and Ramy has the pressure. Just a year ago, he was chasing the top ranked players and now he is the one being chased."

Quarter-final (top half):
[1] Ramy Ashour (EGY) bt [5] Wael El Hindi (EGY) 5-11, 7-11, 11-5, 11-4, 11-8 (79m)
[3] David Palmer (AUS) bt [7] Mohammed Abbas (EGY) 8-11, 11-10 (2-0), 11-10 (4-2), 11-8 (69m)