|Ramy is the
El Gouna Champion
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.