6:29 am
16 Jul 2024

Home Hopes Rest On Butt In World Junior Final

21 Aug 2004

Domestic hopes for success in the PIA Men's World Junior Championship in the Pakistan city of Islamabad will rest on the shoulders of Yasir Butt, a 16-year-old from Lahore who faces Egypt's Ramy Ashour in Sunday's unexpected final of the event at the new Mushaf Squash Complex.

Both players are seeded in the 5/8 group and both earned their places in the climax of this event which has attracted the world's top juniors from 22 countries after straight games semi-final triumphs - Butt upsetting his second-seeded compatriot Khalid Atlas Khan 9-1 9-2 9-3 in 30 minutes, and Ashour ending the giant-killing run of Khalid's unseeded younger brother Aamir Atlas Khan 9-2 9-5 9-6 in 42 minutes.

A packed house and distinguished guests were privileged to watch two of the most talented young players in junior squash today battle out the opening semi-final. Amir Atlas Khan, aged just 14, has years ahead - and who would put money on his not winning this title in a couple of years time in New Zealand? But he was just not good enough for the incredibly-talented 16-year-old Egyptian, who put on another scintillating performance.

Ashour, from Cairo, has everything available to him in his game and when behind seemed simply able to step up a gear, forcing errors from his opponent and playing even better winning shots of every variety and pace. That was how it went over three well-fought games. However hard Amir tried - and he battled valiantly through to the bitter end - Ashour's win always seemed assured.
The second semi-final was not nearly so entertaining. Pakistan No1 Khalid Atlas Khan was simply destroyed by his team-mate Yasir Butt in a little over 30 minutes. Khalid has not looked at all convincing in Islamabad, and it must be a worry for the home team as the World Team Championships approach.

Butt, on the other hand, is in terrific form. He is tall, very lithe and plays a cool and controlled game. The further on the game went, the more confident he became and the more shots he exhibited. Butt was a class ahead on the night and thoroughly deserved his quick win.

Sunday's sell-out Islamabad crowd is assured of a sensational climax between two very in-form players.

[5/8] Ramy Ashour (EGY) bt Amir Atlas Khan (PAK) 9-2, 9-5, 9-6 (42m)
[5/8] Yasir Butt (PAK) bt [2] Khalid Atlas Khan (PAK) 9-1, 9-2, 9-3 (30m)