in Doha: Daily Reports from the World Champs
Fram reports, Steve clicks away
Thu 20th, SEMI-FINALS
It's unusual for the
top four seeds to contest the World semi-finals - it hasn't
happened since 1988 - but that's what we had in store tonight at
the Khalifa International Tennis & Squash complex.
 Ramy Ashour (Egy)
3-0  Gregory Gaultier (Fra)
17/15, 11/7, 11/5 (57m)
Mohamed Elshorbagy (Egy) 3-0  Nick Matthew (Eng)
11/9, 11/5, 11/8 (60m)
Lots of good stuff
on our Twitter feed
Egyptian 2014 World Champion was guaranteed as Ramy Ashour and
Mohamed Elshorbagy won their semi-finals in straight games
tonight in Doha.
Ashour beat top seed Gregory Gaultier after taking an
astonishing first game 17/15, while Shorbagy beat defending
champion Nick Matthew to set up a repeat of the 2012 final here.
First game was of course crucial. Greg wasn’t able after that to
find the mental resources to restart the fight from the
beginning of the second game. That weakness is the “fil rouge”
the “running sore” of Greg’s career: in the heat of the battle,
he gives up too easily. He is of course working hard on it, but
it’s a hard load to carry.
Apart from that, Greg’s attacks were not sharp enough, and Ramy,
only too glad, jumps on the opportunity. Greg couldn't find his
length, was too passive, not pro active enough.
One thing is sure though, he is and always has been completely
committed to his career. That, you can’t take away from him.
 Ramy Ashour (Egy) 3-0 
Gregory Gaultier (Fra)
17/15, 11/7, 11/5 (57m)
Ramy through to the final
Never ever ever ever ever
thought Ramy would win.
I can honestly swear that when we did predictions with the Boys
(Press, Officials), nobody, I mean NOBODY came out with Ramy
winner. Not one. It was all 3/0 Greg.
mean. COME ON!!!! Who does get a 30cm tear in his hamstring, get
two injection of PRP, as in you are on crutches for 10 days,
then you gradually can walk, then swimming, then light hit, then
heavy lower leg work, and hop, you do it all over again, last
injection about 4 weeks before the Worlds. No competitive match
since the semis of the British, against Greg, where his
hamstring was damaged was tore. No tournament. Nothing.
And makes it to the final of the Worlds.
When James (we miss you mate) told me back in 2006 that squash
was such a mental game is was a joke, he just foresaw
Greg/Ramy’s semi-final. It was all in the first game, 37m. And
it was all in Greg’s mind, and Ramy’s Bionic Leg.
Ramy has done a crash course in Squash Tactic/reflex. He had
like a gradual coming back to world front stage manual, and
please, I mean that with all the respect I have for the noted
players. First game, Yvan Yuen, testing his shots, leg. Game 2.
Adrian Grant. Testing his mental strength/speed. Miguel? Having
a ball, RubberBalling like him, testing movement. Borja? Tactic,
speed of the ball, reflex, vision of the ball and mental
strength BIIIIG time. In one word, Ramy has ADAPTED to each
situation that was thrown at him, like layers of memories that
kept flashing back in his mind.
What I find amazing, is the level of Squash he reached in this
first game. “Greg inspired me” he said. And he meant it. He just
raised his game to Greg’s. And Greg was playing beautifully in
that first game. Truly. I’m still stunned that Ramy – slow
starter in anything, who normally raises his game during the
match – was at Greg’s level right from the start.
Started well for Greg, though, 3/1, 6/3, Ramy catching him up
3/3, 7/7. Won’t be more than a point up to 17/15. Can you
BELIEVE IT? Ramy, 6 game balls, Greg 2.
point that was important for Greg’s mental state. At 13/13, Ramy
got rid of the plaster he had on the right elbow – when he dove
the previous day, scratched it. Healed enough not to bleed (I’ve
seen it close), but as safety, he asked the permission to get
out of court to the Central Ref.
Greg immediately questioned the ref “Isn’t there a rule for
that???” “Mr Ashour has 3 minutes for a self inflicted injury”.
Apparently, I’m told that actually no, Ramy didn’t have 3
minutes, because it’s an old injury. I’m told he should have
just get rid of the plaster, and get on with it. Had it bled
again, Game should have been awarded to Greg, I’m told.
It must have played on Greg’s mind, as he told off the Central
Ref when he lost the game. “It’s in the Rules”, he shouted.
“C’est la règle”, he repeated in French.
When my compatriot came back in the 2nd, his head was not on the
court anymore. He made 4 tins in the first 9 points, opening a
door that Ramy was only too happy to rush into. 6/3, 10/5. Greg
gave a big push but too little too late, 11/7 in 8m.
Third, same amount of tins, four, Ramy did a few too mind, but
at 7/1, I guess you can make 2 tins in a row… 10/4 match ball,
11/5, in 7m.
Contre toute attente, against all odds, Ramy, that flew under
the radar the whole week – “stop asking me about my body, my
body is fine, let’s talk about something else – was in the Final
of the worlds.. Against…?
is such an amazing player, that first game was crucial, and I
thought it would actually go on forever and forever. It was back
and forth, back and forth, I’m just glad it went my way.
Greg was desperate to get that game, I could feel how desperate
he was, and I understand, because I just arrived from nowhere,
and he deserves it more than me. But on the other hand, I’ve
been through a lot. I mean, A LOT. So I went on the there, and I
was always going to fight for every point, and make sure that I
would give 100%. I had to make sure that deep inside, I would
give all what I could, and push away all the demons….
Also, I want to thank all the people that came today for their
support, such an amazing crowd again. They really carried me
As much as yesterday was a bad day, today was a good day. I
don’t want to take anything away from Borja, who played an
amazing match, so strong, so superb athlete, but my head was not
there yesterday. But that match gave me such a boost in
confidence, because I had to fight for every shot, for every
point. And when you can play like that on the worst day, when
you are not 100%, and still push through, it gives you
confidence in your head.
again, no offence to anybody, but the first two rallies with
Greg, it was a different pace all together. And I was like
whooooo, that is different! Such a step up, a different league,
in which I didn’t play for 6 months! Since my last match with
Greg in the British, I haven’t played anybody like Greg!
Completely different. And it’s when you go away from it that you
realise how fast it is when you come back to it.
Yes, my movement was probably freer, but it all goes together.
If you are freer in your mind, your movement is freer too.
At the end of the day, playing Greg was an inspiration. Because
when you play somebody at that level of play, you cannot not
respond in the same way. Such explosiveness he has, that edge.
That game that went on, and I thought it would never end, never
end. I kept doing my best. Maybe the difference tonight was that
I was even more desperate than he was….
 Mohamed Elshorbagy (Egy)
3-0  Nick Matthew (Eng)
11/9, 11/5, 11/8 (60m)
The Pharaoh on the Fast Train to the
“Too much pressure. Too quick”
I heard somebody behind me say at the end of the match to explain
the 3/0 result. Yes, summarise the match pretty well. “He was on
a roll, tried to stop him, but could” commented Nick.
for the previous match, first game was paramount (‘I needed that
first game to be honest’ admitted Nick afterwards) and as well,
started well for Nick, 5/1, too good from the English, but it
all changed from a review, Stroke for Nick overturned to Let.
Within seconds, Shorbagy managed to equalise at 6/6. That was
not like Nick at all to let anybody string points like that.
7/7. 8/8. Nick takes a slight advantage, at the “business end of
the game” as Joey would say, it could be crucial. There goes a
bit of well, not sure how to call it except
“A confusing moment” that Cubs explains pretty well.
We are now back at 9/9. Nick, not losing his head – and that
must not have been easy –
but Mohamed is now in full Pharaoh Mode, and he closing the game
on a massive rally, 11/9 in 29m.
As Nick said “totally outplayed in the 2nd” I’m sure the 8/9
thingy must have still been on his mind.
the World Champion is back in contention, and like in the first
game, dominates a Shorbagy that maybe started thinking about his
final. 7/2 Nick was. A bit of breathing in the Matthew camp, but
again, Shorbagy just take point after point after poin, 7/7 we
Nick from 6/7, will make three unforced errors, completely
uncharacteristic, 9/7 Shorbagy. Some superb squash will come out
from their two racquets yet again, but Mohamed is in front and
Nick on the backfoot. 11/8 Egypt, in 20m.
Crowd went slightly wild…
feels great to get that win because I came here today and I
really wanted it and I gave it everything I had. We were both
really fired up for the match…
I’m very happy with the fact that I managed to play at a very
fast pace, and still didn’t lose my focus. I was 90%
concentrated, and that’s really good, because normally, when I
go very fast, I can lose my focus quite a lot.
There was a lot of talk and mind games before the match but what
people have got to realise is that there is a huge respect
between us as well. And actually, at the end of the match, I
said to Nick ‘if I win tomorrow, it will be honour to put my
name on the trophy after yours’.
When we saw each other after the whole “passed my peak” story,
we just laughed, and went on practice together. People say that
we have the same style, I guess that yes, we are both fighters,
we don’t let go of anything. On court, it’s war. But once it’s
over, it’s all forgotten. What’s happens on the court stays on
the court. And the respect stays.
Tomorrow, we’ll see each other at breakfast, we’ll have a laugh
about what happened, and just have a chat as if nothing
Nick is an inspirational player and I have learnt a lot from him
during my career so far. He gave me the hope, the belief I can
play and win another 11 years. I owe him a lot. He inspires me,
and he is one of the players I really look forward to watch
Ramy. What to say about him. What Ramy has achieved on this
tournament, and what he did today is nearly a miracle. After
having not a competitive match in 7 months, wining against Greg
3/0 is just incredible.
Two years ago here, we had an amazing match together in the
final, so I expect another exciting one tomorrow and I'm really
looking forward to it.
the match, I was asked by Robert Edwards, MC to the event [aka
the Voice of Squash] if I could predict the winners of those two
matches. But I replied that with the level of quality of those
four players, predictions were impossible.
Ramy tonight played an incredible match, probably one of the
best of his career. His come back is good for Egypt, and good
for the Game in general. Shorbagy as well, what a match. What an
I’m here with two hats, one as the Vice-President of the WSF,
and one as a representing Egypt. So of course, my heart was
hoping for an all Egypt final. But I’m sure that Greg and Nick
will be back next time and getting their revenge. I have the
utmost respect for those two warriors, such amazing players.
I wish the best of luck to both Egyptians for tomorrow. Whoever
wins, it’s good for Egypt, and it’s good for our sport in Egypt.
I tried to make a
big statement in the first as he had won the first game the last
few times we had played.
If somebody can
explain to me what happened at 8/9, I would be grateful. I don’t
want to make a song and dance about it because there was more to
the match than that but have you seen anything like it???
I am a fair player, so I don’t play a loose shot like that for
no reason, it just landed in the middle of the court! So I can
understand a let, fine, and if the video ref is not sure that
it’s a stroke, that’s stays as a let. But how can it be a no
let????!!! Actually, it was so confusing I actually went “let,
for whom???” Real question mark on that one.
First game, very close, second game, totally outplayed, but
first and third, I was disappointed how quickly I lost those
points when I had the lead.
You kow, when you've got the talk, you've got to back it up. And
he certainly did that tonight. He was on a roll. I tried and
take him off that roll, but I just couldn’t.
I don’t know how many I‘ve got left but I want to end my career
on a high, I don't want to embarass myself!
Lost out to the better player tonight. Disappointed to lose the
title of World Champion but proud that I'm still in contention
for the World title at 34 when I'm past my peak!