5:32 am
14 Jun 2024

Ramy Ashour & Nicol David Share World Honours In Manchester

19 Oct 2008

Egyptian Ramy Ashour and Malaysian Nicol David shared honours in the Hi-Tec World Open Squash Championships after victories in today's finals of the first joint staging of the Men's World Open and Women's World Open in the UK at the National Squash Centre at Sportcity in Manchester.

Spurred on by a capacity home crowd in the English city in which she was born and raised, England's Vicky Botwright took the opening game against favourite Nicol David in the women's final - but failed to prevent the world number one from reclaiming the title she lost last year in Madrid.

Botwright, the 11th seed playing in her last competition before retiring to take up a position as Head Coach at the National Centre, led throughout the opening game to take a surprise lead.

But, after dropping her first game of the tournament, David raised her game in the second to draw level after the loss of just a single point.

The Malaysian superstar extended her lead by taking the third. It was nip and tuck in the fourth before David clinched the match 5-11, 11-1, 11-6, 11-9 in 44 minutes to win the world title for the third time - and extend her unbeaten Tour run to 43 matches since last October.

"I knew I had to play my best squash of the week - after all she's world number one, the best player in the world," said the 31-year-old local heroine who made her breakthrough when beating Australia's defending champion Rachael Grinham in the second round.

"It's been a fantastic week - the crowd were fantastic. When they started shouting as I went onto court, I felt a bit emotional. But I am definitely not going to play on the Tour anymore," Botwright confirmed.

David, who has massive support in her home country, acknowledged the significance of the crowd: "I now know what it's like for people to play me in Malaysia," said the 25-year-old after her tenth Tour title success in a row.

But she was full of praise for her opponent, ranked 12 in the world: "Every shot she played, every drive, was so tight," said David of her unexpected opponent in the final. "She really kept on fighting - it was a great achievement to get to the final."

Less than 24 hours after competing in the world final, Botwright will be back at work for her employers Manchester City Council, running a coaching session at the city's Abraham Moss Recreation Centre!

The men's event climaxed in an all-Egyptian clash between Ramy Ashour, the fourth seed from Cairo who removed compatriot and defending champion Amr Shabana in the semi-finals, and close friend Karim Darwish, the No7 seed who ousted Australia's two-time champion David Palmer.

Both were playing in their maiden world final - and 27-year-old underdog Darwish took the opening advantage by winning the first game.

But the exuberant Ashour, the 21-year-old world No4 and twice winner of the world junior title, changed his tactics and clinched the second game to draw level.

By now the younger Egyptian was in the ascendancy and - to the joy of the vociferous Egyptian section of the crowd - beat Darwish 5-11, 11-8, 11-4, 11-5 in 60 minutes to become only the second player in history (after Pakistan legend Jansher Khan) to win both the junior and senior world titles.

"Putting me in the same category as Jansher is a huge thing for me," said new champion Ramy Ashour. "I have been watching his videos on YouTube recently - and have used some of his shots in my game.

"I didn't think about becoming world champion during the whole match," added Ashour. "Karim is a very tough player - I had to keep my focus the whole time."

Manchester is clearly a lucky city for the 21-year-old, who won the PSA's flagship Super Series Finals last year at the National Squash Centre. "For sure I'll be back to try and win another title in front of this great crowd."

Ashour, who now has ten PSA Tour titles to his name, admitted that he had played conservatively in the first game: "I did it on purpose - but he came out doing the things I should have been doing, and this provoked me!"

When asked what winning the world title would mean to him, Ashour said: "It will mean a lot - but it will mean more to my mother and father."

Men's final:
[4] Ramy Ashour (EGY) bt [7] Karim Darwish (EGY) 5-11, 11-8, 11-4, 11-5 (60m)

Women's final:
[1] Nicol David (MAS) bt [11] Vicky Botwright (ENG) 5-11, 11-1, 11-6, 11-9 (44m)