10:03 pm
20 May 2024

Shabana Celebrates Fourth World Open Title In Kuwait

7 Nov 2009

Egypt's Amr Shabana joined the sport's all-time greats when he lifted the Kuwait Men's World Open Squash title tonight at Green Island Resort in Kuwait - becoming only the fourth player in history, after Australia's Geoff Hunt and Pakistanis Jahangir Khan and Jansher Khan, to win four World Open crowns.

Both Hunt and Jahangir Khan were among the distinguished guests in the record 1,300 Green Island crowd, witnessing the final of the premier event on the PSA World Tour between world number two Shabana and the defending champion Ramy Ashour. It was the second all-Egyptian in successive years - and one which undoubtedly attracted the standing-room-only crowd.

Third seed Ashour, the 22-year-old from Cairo whose near magical performances had entranced the Kuwait crowds all week, was unable to reproduce the magic in the long-awaited climax to the richest ever event in world squash which boastedS a $277,500 prize fund.

Controlled squash gave the first game to Shabana in just 12 minutes. The 30-year-old, who reigned as world number one for 33 unbroken months until the end of last year, again took the second game without ever losing the lead.

There was a resigned look to Ashour throughout the third as Shabana seemed on course to maintain his 'odd' sequence of world successes - having won the titles previously in 2003, 2005 and 2007.

After being denied a let midway through the third game, Ashour - who was becoming increasingly frustrated by the officials' decisions - shouted later 'can I get a let this time?'.

'Yes, you can get a let' responded central referee Nasser Zahran.

Shabana reached match ball at 10-4 after wrong-footing his opponent. But Ashour took the next point and served for the next rally.

But it lasted one single shot as left-hander Shabana pulled off his trademark return of service straight into the sidewall nick to record his historic 11-8, 11-5, 11-5 victory in 50 minutes.

"I felt nervous before the match, and I'm sure he was feeling the same," conceded the victor - who now boasts 26 PSA World Tour titles, equalling Australian David Palmer's haul, more than any other current player on the Tour.

"The final always feels different. And playing such a great player like Ramy, you don't know what to expect," added Shabana.

"It was a very mental match - I felt I had to take it point by point. I was really focussed.

"I think it was just my day - I'm 100% sure he's going to get days when it's all him!"

When asked how he felt, equalling the achievements of Hunt and the Khans, the 'Prince of Cairo' responded: "It's a dream. You don't think about it - you just dream about it.

"It will take a month or two for it to sink in," concluded the new World Open champion.

Ashour was almost inconsolable after his defeat. "I have nothing to say. He played well - he was just more consistent than I was."

[4] Amr Shabana (EGY) bt [3] Ramy Ashour (EGY) 11-8, 11-5, 11-5 (50m)