7:23 am
15 Jul 2024

Ramy Regroups To Beat Borja In British Open Battle

16 May 2012

Egyptian squash superstar Ramy Ashour survived a massive scare as he fought back from two games down to beat Spanish No1 Borja Golan in today's second round of the Allam British Open in London.

The 24-year-old No4 seed from Cairo admitted that his head was all over the place at the start of the match at the O2 Arena.

Ashour recovered from a perilous position and suddenly transformed his game into an attacking whirlwind to reach the quarter-finals of the fourth PSA World Series event of the year.

"Mentally and physically I was two paces behind Borja," explained the former world number one later. "Footwork, movement, racket preparation - everything - he was so much better than me. That's the first time I have played him and he played incredibly well at the start.

"I would have been really disappointed if I'd lost that 3/0 - but not so much if it had been 3/2. Hopefully I learnt a lesson from that!

"I can't explain what goes on inside my head. I know it's something I should work on to find a solution.

"Sometimes I think I am just too nice. You walk on court, shake hands and smile at your opponent and it's difficult to find the right motivation. You lose concentration and you just can't seem to find your way out.

"It helped when Egyptian coach Amir Wagih came to my corner. Often my head is too crowded to take in information between games. But today, when Amir was talking, I was listening."

Ashour was so out of sorts, and Golan looking so in control of the match, that the Egyptian was on the brink of a shock defeat - but from 8-6 down in the third game he tightened up his game. He won that 11-9 and his game was transformed with a spell of electrifying squash as he produced a succession of astonishing winners to win the fourth 11-1.

Golan, ranked 20 in the world, looked broken and the drop shots that were earlier so reliable began to find a magnetic attraction to the tin. Ashour continued to conjure up more outrageous shots as he closed out the fifth 11-6.

He will need to be mentally alert throughout his quarter-final against fellow Egyptian Amr Shabana on Friday.

In contrast to Ashour, four-time world champion Shabana looked calm, controlled and confident as he overcame Finnish No1 Olli Tuominen in straight games.

Top seed James Willstrop won a physical 79-minute battle against former England team-mate Alister Walker, the world No13 who now represents Botswana, his country of birth. The first game included 31 refereeing decisions and Walker received a conduct warning for pushing after a succession of collisions and mid-court blocks.

Willstrop, the 28-year-old world No1 from Leeds, won 9-11, 11-7, 11-7, 11-5 and now meets Mohamed El Shorbagy.

The 21-year-old seventh-seeded Egyptian saw off Londoner Adrian Grant in straight games - and immediately caught a train back to Bristol for a university exam on his tournament rest day.

Official event website: www.britishopensquash.net

For all the latest Tour news: www.psaworldtour.com

2nd round (top half of draw):
[1] James Willstrop (ENG) bt Alister Walker (BOT) 9-11, 11-7, 11-7, 11-5 (79m)
[7] Mohamed El Shorbagy (EGY) bt Adrian Grant (ENG) 12-10, 11-4, 11-8 (37m)
[5] Amr Shabana (EGY) bt Olli Tuominen (FIN) 12-10, 11-4, 11-4 (32m)
[4] Ramy Ashour (EGY) bt Borja Golan (ESP) 7-11, 3-11, 11-9, 11-1, 11-6 (49m)