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17 Apr 2024

Toronto Beckons Classic Final

16 Feb 2008

The world's top two squash players Amr Shabana and Ramy Ashour, both from Egypt, will contest a dream final of the PACE Canadian Classic after felling fellow Egyptians in four games in the semi-finals of the 5-star PSA Tour event at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre in Toronto.

After beating fourth seed Karim Darwish 11-4, 11-7, 8-11, 11-5 in the first semi-final, world number two Ramy Ashour admitted that he had guilt problems, which caused him to throw away the last two points of the third game.

"I knew my ball was good, but Darwish was so sure it was down, I began to feel guilty about taking the point and then hit the next ball into the ground," explained the No2 seed and defending champion.

All Freudian confessions aside, Ashour was in top form from the very first rally and took the first game in just six minutes. Darwish admitted later that he started flat and defensive - "which you can't do against Ashour who attacks from the start and is so accurate."

Darwish picked up his pace in the second game, but Ashour worked his incredible speed and accuracy to take the game.

The score was eight-all in the third when a controversial call occurred, followed by an animated discussion between the two players. Ashour, obviously upset, gave away the final game points.

Turning anger into overdrive, 20-year-old Ashour returned after a two-minute break, delivering a barrage of shots for which Darwish had no answers. Ashour won the game handily in less than eight minutes, earning his final berth - his 13th PSA Tour final since November 2004.

Favourite Shabana was sharp and relaxed in his semi-final against Wael El Hindi, the fifth seed. But, instead of being the killer shot, his forehand drop was letting him down - hitting the tin and giving El Hindi a number of lifelines. This allowed the UK-based 27-year-old to keep in touch with Shabana to nine-all, but a lucky nick at the back put Shabana at game ball and he was gifted the final point with an error from El Hindi.

After building up a two-game lead, Shabana went walkabout in the third game, allowing El Hindi to take it fairly comfortably. But the 2006 champion went up a notch in the fourth game, and Shabana clinched the match 11-9, 11-9, 5-11, 11-7 in 60 minutes to claim the 27th Tour final appearance of his career, and the fifth in a row.

El Hindi said later that he should have won that first game.

"It would have been different if I had not been so loose. I relaxed too much and you can't relax against guys like Shabana. Against Shabana and Ashour, you have to play every point like it's match point. I haven't yet learned to get that level of concentration. With me it comes in waves," he said, adding that he felt he had a good tournament.

[1] Amr Shabana (EGY) bt [5] Wael El Hindi (EGY) 11-9, 11-9, 5-11, 11-7 (60m)
[2] Ramy Ashour (EGY) bt [4] Karim Darwish (EGY) 11-4, 11-7, 8-11, 11-5 (52m)