ē El Gouna International Squash Open ē 10-18 April 2014 ē El Gouna, Egypt ē


El Gouna International 2012 - Final        Full 2012 coverage
Ramy is the El Gouna Champion
It was an unlucky Friday 13th for world number one James Willstrop as he pulled out of the final of the El Gouna International Open when trailing Ramy Ashour by two games and 5/2 in the third.

It was the second time in two editions of the event that the final failed to reach a natural conclusion, but whereas in 2010 Ashour had been the one forced to pull out with injury, this time he was the recipient as he succeeded Karim Darwish as the champion to keep the title in Egyptian hands.

In the first game, which was punctuated by stoppages as the court was cleaned and the players occasionally stepped out of the side doors to clean their shoes Ė although there were no obvious slips Ė Willstrop had for the most part contained the attacking opportunities of his opponent, much as he had done in their previous meeting in Februaryís North American Open final.

As the game neared its conclusion though, Ashour managed to raise the pace with often brilliant attacking play and delicate flicks and drops, and Willstrop began to struggle to contain him.

The Englishmanís slender lead was whittled away and Ashour took the game 12/10 with a joyous pump of the fist.

The momentum was with him now, and he dominated the second game to take it 11/5, and amid more stoppages built a 5/2 lead in the third.

Willstrop approached his opponent at the front of the court, explaining that he was struggling with the conditions and didnít feel able to continue, and offered his hand to the new champion.

Horribly disappointed. At times like this, losing is not the problem. I canít explain. Losing having given your 200% is just 20 times better than the frustration Iím feeling right now. It feels like the chance to compete in a major final has been taken away from me.

The floor, well, there is no rhyme no reason to the way itís been reacting this week. Iím not looking for trouble, I played my matches this week, I was down 1/0 to LJ, and I came back. And there was no wind tonight, so no reason why it should have been slippery.

I just never felt steady on there from the third rally in the first game. So I found myself thinking about the floor, and not about my squash, so Iím thinking, what am I doing!!! Head not on the game anymoreÖ And against any other player, I would have been able to handle the movement differently, but against Ramy, youíve got to be able to move to your full capacity, havenít you.

Ramy didnít seem to be as much bothered, but then again, his movement is completely different from mine, he is not a lunger like I am, we donít have the same way at all to move. He obviously handled the floor better than I did tonight. Already, last night, I just couldnít believe they played on last night after what Karim and I went through on there.

Very unsatisfactory to say the least. Terribly disappointing. Hugely frustrating.


I feel strange happy. I feel good because Iím happy with the way I played all week, Iíve been consistent from the first match to the last one, and that doesnít normally happen to me. With all what happened this week, on, off the court, slippery, the wind, etc, a bit of a chaotic week, a very tough week, Iím happy I was mentally able to handle it.

Playing in Egypt always add an extra pressure on your shoulders. Itís nice to know that people are following you, and supporting you throughout the matches. But it can work for you, or against you, a bit of a nightmare/fairytale all in one. Because you can be happy when you are leading and you feel them behind you, but when you are losing, you have that feeling that you are letting all those people down. Extra pressure for sure.

About the match, James played well I thought, but I managed to keep the match going the way I wanted to. I was sharp and alert. As for the ending, I know James is a fair player, and I am sure our next meeting will be harder than that one.Ē.

This past 5, 6 months have been a long journey that started right after the world, when I asked myself if I really should go on playing squash, or if I should stop my career altogether. And I would like to thank the people that have been helping me during those past months.

First, there is you Fram. You are the one that inspired me to go and get treated by Aspire in Qatar. It was probably the best decision I took in my life, and I really need to thank you for it. They really educated me, opened my eyes on so many elements I had overlooked up to now. How to take care of my body, my diet, how to handle the mental side of thingsÖ

I need to thank from Aspire, my nutrition Richard Allison, and of course, Dr Christiano Eraile, my orthopaedist, who sorted my joints out/bones outÖ And in Egypt, Anna, my physio, Ahmed Gala, Hussam Chabbad, Haitham, Amin Dabo, and Iím sure Iím forgetting others, so many people have helped me, please forgive me!

Least but not last, I really also want to thank Amr Mansi for putting up that tournament for us, so glad that Squash is now back in Egypt. And of course, Hisham and my parents.

Full 2012 coverage


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