Qatar PSA World Squash Championship  • 13-21 Nov 2014 •  Doha  •



  in Doha: Daily Reports from the World Champs
                                                                                                                                Fram reports, Steve clicks away

Fri 21st, the FINAL

[4] Ramy Ashour  3-2 [2] Mohamed Elshorbagy
                   13/11, 7/11, 5/11, 11/5, 14/12 (90m)

Ramy is officially an Alien...

and comes from Planet Squash.

Let me get you on a little secret. Today, I went for lunch – and killed the buffet – and I thought, if I sit long enough, I’ll probably meet both my finalists. Didn’t fail.

Ramy arrived first, relaxed as possible, chatting away, bouncing like an kangaroo, grabbed some broccolis, and chicken, drawn them in pepper – his shoulder injury I SWEAR comes from turning that bleeping grinder for hours on end – off went back to bed with a “let’s keep everything crossed”.

About 5mn later, Mohamed comes in. Not springing at all. Dark face. Tense. The whole body language was telling me he was not taking this match for granted for a second. In my mind, I could see what he was thinking. “If I lose, I’m not good enough, because Ramy just came back, and I should beat him. If I win, people will say, pffff, easy, Ramy just came back, too easy.”

Somehow, Mohamed couldn’t win today, could he….

My feeling went on as they both warmed up. If I could smell from my seat the liniment on Ramy’s shoulder, I could see how completely relaxed he was. No pressure. For once, it was all on Shorbagy’s shoulders. Obvious in his warm up. Tin, Tin, Tin and re-tin….

Still, didn’t stop the Alex boy to completely dominate the first rallies, 5/1, 6/3, 9/4 in exactly 4m and 45s. I kid you not. Thanks to 5 unforced errors from Ramy. Suddenly, one ball that goes out of court for Mohamed, followed by a tin, and a double bounce (that he calls). Before we know what’s happening, Ramy is back at 8/9!!!

Mohamed get two game balls he cannot close out. Winners, tins, Strokes, Reviews, it’s happening so fast I don’t have time to take notes! But on a stroke, the Artist takes a crucial game, 13/11. We’ll discover later that Mohamed probably desperately needed that opening one.

But Mohamed is not world number 1 for nothing. He doesn’t stop at losing a game in 20m. He goes back and takes a splendid start, 3/0. But Ramy’s body language is clear. The shoulder is painful. “I thought the shoulders were the only thing that was not damaged!” says a voice behind me. “It is now” I’m thinking… Troubled, Ramy just cannot stop the Bulldozer Shorbagy from rolling on from 6/7, scoring five points in a row. Game was 6m….

Third, about the same story really. Ramy plays far too softly, Mohamed is just too strong, too fast, too powerful, 5 UE from Ramy, and 11/5 Alexandria in 10m.

It looks very dark for the former World Champion. After the Bionic Leg troubling him, is it the Shoulder of Stone that’s going to cost Ramy his fairytale come back?

The heck it is. 3/0 to Ramy at the beginning of the fourth. He has changed his tactic completely. Instead of slowing down the pace like he’s been doing the whole match, suddenly, he is paying for the court, and wants to stay as little as possible! Mohamed, a bit taken back, takes a little while to adapt. And Ramy has just that little cushion, 2, 3 points, that allows you to attack that much more. 6/3, 8/4, 10/5 and game, in 19m of a splendid, sublime, ridiculous squash. Honestly, one of the best matches I’ve seen in my career so far.

And with the roar of the crowd, Ramy gets to force a decider. Surely, surely Ramy will feel tired at some point. You cannot just come back, played 456matches in a row, and play a 5th game like that against Shorbagy.

But the Alien can. The fifth is one of the best games you’ll ever see people. The rallies that were seconds at the start are just going on, and on, and on. Nobody’s dominating. “Back and Forth”, said Ramy. Exactly. A monumental rally at 6/5 Ramy leading, mammoth, immense, ridiculous, impossible, call it whatever you want. Turning point of the match. Mohamed is broken. Ramy will get his first match ball, 10/5.

And it’s all over. Or is it?

The hell it is. The pressure finally getting to Ramy, he is now the one that plays with fear wrapped about his neck. Mohamed is flying. Stringing winner after winner. On a roll. Ramy just cannot stop him. And my Alex boy scores 5 points in a row.

An incredible moment, where the crowd is chanting Ramy’s name, then Shorbagy’s name. I have never experienced anything like it. And when Mohamed gets his match ball, 12/11, it’s all over surely. Ramy had 6 chances, he is gone. A drive kill sorts that one out. 12/12. A tin, and it’s Ramy’s 7 match ball.

Immense rally. No let says the ref against Ramy. Yes let says the video ref. And that’s enough for Ramy who finally takes the match 14/12 in 90m.

As he finds his last winner, The Artist/BionicLeg/Alien Ramy jumps in the air, flying he is. Then starts to pray, but the emotion is just too much. He is now lying down on the floor, sobbing, literally sobbing.

Three weeks and a half ago, Ramy Ashour had his last PRP injection and was on crutches. He is now three times World Champion. Meanwhile Mohamed El Shorbagy just missed his second title by two points.

And while all the attention turns to Alien Ramy, my Pharaoh quietly withdraws in the dark, next to the court.

Tears all around.

"I’m speechless. I’m just speechless. I can’t believe it.

Mohamed is so strong, he’ll have much more, so much more to give, and he’ll have many more tournaments to win. Only thing I can say is that we represented our country beautifully today.

I worked so hard. It doesn’t come better than this.

It was dramatic and brutal. It was like a fight. We were both trying to get inside the other’s game, but to be honest, nobody succeeded. We were both trying to produce our best squash.

He is such an amazing player, he is so smart on court, he’s got his strategy, his plan, you cannot be complaisant for a second, any loose ball, and he’ll take it. I admire him so much, he pushes me, and pushes me, and not just me. He is doing it to all the “older guys”, he’s been bursting through the rankings and I know there is going to be a lot of competition between us two. Actually, not just me, between the top guys. Because he is very consistent.

But I am trying to be very consistent too. I am trying to keep doing what I’ve been always doing, and which worked.

In the 2nd/3rd, I could feel my arm, and he felt it as well, and he kept attacking and attacking. I tried and move him around but it was not working.

So I decided to go literally through the pain. I thought what is I damage the shoulder, it won’t matter much as it’s the last match, so I just went through the pain, and kept pushing.

I had my physio from Aspetar, Rod, who kept doing all sorts of treatment during the breaks, I was also sort of coaching him, directing him to my stress points – I have been through so much, I know my body so well – so he was following what I was feeling, and doing stuff of his own. It was a real team effort.

I have been doing it before, pushing through, I did it again today. It takes a lot out of me every time, but I did it.

It was a fair, clean, competition today, and that’s what I like. The last game, I don’t want to remember all the match balls I had, it was back and forth, back and forth. We both wanted to be World Champion, you know…

I would to thank my main sponsors, Prince and Egyptair for all their support. I would like to also thank the people who have been helping, believing in me and supporting me in the US, Doc Doug Scekendorf, James Hashimotoo, Natalie Palmer, Doc Brian Shiple, Rod from Aspetar who was here with me during the final, my fitness coach Alistair Maccaw for being at my side during my darkest hours, and at last but not least, Haitham Effat, my sparring partner for the past four years, who has been working tremendously hard with me.

I cannot not mention my parents, my brother, for their continual support, care, and love, but I would to mention how important the support I got from the Social Medias Squash Enthusiasts all over the world was for me during these dark days, as they’ve always been.

I want to thank Mr Ali Bin Ali, and all the sponsors. This was a special tournament. This was a special moment. Winning my third World title, means so much to much. So much.

One last thought: I just hope Squash will get in the 2020 Olympics. "Because we are worth it”.

"I gave it all I had. Maybe my error was when I was up 8/4 in the 1st game I didn’t push hard enough. I needed that first game. And maybe if I had taken it, things would have been different.

In the 4th, he changed his game and started to play at a very fast pace, and was more patient than he was in the second and third.

The 5th, he kept playing the same tactic, and at 10/5, I kept pushing and pushing and pushing. You just don’t give up when you are in the final of the World Champs. And it went my way, came back at 10/10.

They were crazy rallies. They are rallies only played when we play each other. I would never have envisaged getting some of those balls back in my whole life.

I had my chance, I had a match ball, but when you get at 10/10, it’s a bit of a lottery, it become a matter of luck. And it went his way.
I want to thank my parents of course, who stayed with me all week, my brother, Jonah for all what he does for me, and for preparing me before each match. Also Hadrian Stiff in Bristol.

Thanks to my Management Company, Brqthru, it’s important to feel you have a team around you that you can trust. And of course, my sponsor Pharco, also Rowe, Courtwall, and to Tom Patrick who takes care of my physical side who has been doing such a great job with me and all the aspetar team

And I least but not last, Tecnifibre, who has been for 8 years now like a family to me.

It was a 50/50 match all the way. Of course I’m very disappointed, last time I was three points away, this time I am 2 points away and I had match ball. But I will come back stronger. And if someone was going to stop me winning it was going to be Ramy.


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