6:25 am
16 Jul 2024

Ramy Ruins Pakistan Party

20 Aug 2004

Egypt's Ramy Ashour put paid to an all-Pakistan semi-final line-up in the PIA Men's World Junior Championship when he upset 3/4 seed Farhan Mehboob in four games in today's quarter-finals at the new Mushaf Squash Complex in Islamabad, Pakistan.

Ashour, a 5/8 seed, will meet Pakistan's unseeded Aamir Atlas Khan in Saturday's first semi-final, while Aamir's older brother Khalid Atlas Khan, the No2 seed and the only player expected to reach the last four, will face team-mate Yasir Butt in the other.

In a match which thrilled the packed Islamabad crowd, Ramy Ashour defeated 15-year-old Mehboob 9-5 7-9 9-3 9-1. "This was two wonderfully-talented players taking any opportunity to attack, with very little attritional play at all, as seen in the total time for four games of only 40 minutes," said event spokesman George Mieras. "Ramy floated the ball around, controlled the pace of drives better than seen in any game so far and simply did not allow his Pakistani opponent to generate the pace he wanted. Classic Egyptian coaching of old was very apparent."

After the first game went to Ramy, Mehboob was looking tense. But the coaches worked on him and he stormed back in game two to draw level as Ramy, perhaps, relaxed a little. The third was the crunch game - and the longest (16 minutes) - but, apart from occasional bursts, the 16-year-old Egyptian always managed to get the pace back down. Farhan emerged for the fourth mentally down - and a series of brilliant shots from Ashour ensued to wrap it up in only 5 minutes.

The opening match of the day saw an upset in the Pakistani camp. Aamir Atlas Khan had a bad run in the trials and was not picked for the team, nor seeded in the individual championship. One of two unseeded Pakistanis in the quarter-finals, Aamir had reason to be motivated against seeded compatriot Basit Ashfaq, conqueror of India's No1 seed Saurav Ghosal. For Basit it was a touch of deja vu, as the height difference between the players was almost the same as in his favour against the favourite.

Aamir, just 14, set off right from the start, attacking at any opportunity. "Some of his overhead nicks and his long-range cross court drops were as good as anything seen in this tournament," said Mieras.

Ashfaq seemed subdued, playing in fits and starts and perhaps feeling the pressure with a lot more to lose. Towards the end, Amir's real determination became increasingly apparent and a winning cross court nick to seal the fourth game, and the match 9-7 6-9 9-7 9-5, was greeted with huge celebration - first onto court was big brother Khalid to congratulate the young kid on the block!

There was a further upset to come, this time in favour of the hosts and against Egypt. Yasir Butt, a 5/8 seed, overcame 3/4 seed Mahmoud Adel 9-7 7-9 9-1 9-4, with both players exhibiting awesome power and playing at a fast and furious pace.

In the final match, second seed Khalid Atlas Khan beat unseeded compatriot Shah Nawaz 9-7 9-7 9-2 to reach the event's semi-finals for the first time, two years after falling at the quarter-final stage in the previous event in India.

Amir Atlas Khan (PAK) bt [9/16] Basit Ashfaq (PAK) 9-7, 6-9, 9-7, 9-5
[5/8] Ramy Ashour (EGY) bt [3/4] Farhan Mehboob (PAK) 9-5, 7-9, 9-3, 9-1
[5/8] Yasir Butt (PAK) bt [3/4] Mahmoud Adel (EGY) 9-7, 7-9, 9-1, 9-4
[2] Khalid Atlas Khan (PAK) bt Shah Nawaz (PAK) 9-7, 9-7, 9-2