in Al Khobar: Fri 18th, The Final
Fram reports, Steve clicks away in Sunset Beach
Boys, Boys, Boys
We had a good giggle during this week, as we always do, he is as
passionate and original as I can be, and it's always a great
chance to work alongside him...
En Bref #4
"This was an incredible match, and the winner is the World
number 1. Any of those two champions deserve to win it, they are
just two incredible athletes.
"And of course, thank you to all our sponsors, and in particular
his Highness Prince Faisal Bin Fahd Bin Abdulah Al Saud, who has
been supporting us for five years now…
Without them, this
tournament would have never existed…
 Ramy Ashour (Egy)
bt  Nick Matthew (Eng)
11/7, 7/11, 11/9, 9/11, 11/8
The match was not only Ashour's longest of the tournament -
but his longest all-time (by almost 20 minutes) on the PSA Tour
DREAM FINAL IT REALLY WAS....
match was a mental battle, nothing else, from start to finish”,
Ramy told me after his match.
To reach him, I had to dig my way
straight into a horde of admirers that were surrounding the boy.
Thanks Lee for helping me get through, couldn’t have not done it
And that is an excellent summary of what happened on there
tonight…. The adulation this young 22-year-old ignites with the crowd of
all age, gender and nationality is just stupendous.
When he stepped on court tonight, Legend Ramy had on one
shoulder trying to please his sponsor and mentor, Ziad Al Turki,
promoter of the tournament. Ramy always feels an enormous
pressure when he comes here.
Kicked out in the first round in
the first two editions, then runner up in 2007, again a step
backwards in 2008, quarter finalist.
On the other shoulder, the battle for the top spot. Nothing less
than that. On one match, all is decided. Dicey or what???
On his back, he had the back venue, chanting his name, RamyRamy,
clapclapclap, RamyRamy, clapclapclap… Difficult not to hear that
3000 people are expecting you to do a miracle, as in perform as
if everything was normal in a crazy situation!!!
grabbing his two legs, his dream. The dream he had since his
first step on a court, the dream of his family, of his
supporters, of his friends…
Hard to step forward, isn’t it. Like I said, no pressure at all
tonight on Ramy’s….
For Nick, it was simpler. If in India, the crowd was 50/50 for
the final, both players getting their fair share of supporters,
tonight, none of that, and Nick knows it.
He knows he has to perform the miracle of beating one of the most
gifted ever squash players that touched Earth, at the end of a
long year, a player that you cannot in any way, shape or form,
predict the next shot of, in front of a partial and roaring
Piece of cake…
Add to that, an enormous night for the Central Ref, Damien
Green. His first Central Ref post for a major match – difficult
to get a harder baptism of fire…. On the right, Nasser, on the
May the fun begin…
First game (Ramy Winner), 3Tins Ramy, 4Tins Nick.
Second game (Nick W), 5T Ramy, 0T Nick
Third game (Ramy W), 3T Ramy, 1T Nick
Fourth game (Nick W), 7T Ramy, 1T Nick
Fifth game (Ramy W), 2T Ramy, 1T Nick
You can see immediately that Nick never put a foot wrong, and
that the game fluctuated with Ramy’s racquet…
First game is an observation round, with both players (yes,
Ramy too bless him), being extremely patient, but Ramy taking a
better start, although very nervous – he is basically green -
4/1 then 5/2. Nick starts to get comfortable, and comes back to
6/6. Great effort. But Ramy takes it to the front, Nick chooses
to battle at the front of the court, counterdropping, and I
guess that at that game, Ramy is that much better.
A great sportsmanship behaviour of Nick at 7/8, where he calls
his ball not up, frankly, he was unsighted, a let would
probably have been played. And there is a big difference between
8/8 and 9/7.
Ramy pockets the game, the crowd goes mad…
But Nick doesn’t care about that loss, he is the
first player ever to have won a match against Lee Beachill from
2/0 down after all.
And he digs in, and he puts more weight on the ball, and Ramy,
who starts to think, gets behind, on the back foot. Nick is more
and more confident with his shots, the crowd is worried. Still
Ramy is matching shot for shot. 3/3. 4/4. 5/5. 6/6. 7/7. A few
hard contacts from Ramy onto Nick, the Egyptian gets a conduct
warning for excessive pushing.
The crowd grumbles…
Under pressure, Ramy makes too many unforced errors, and back we
are at 1/1, ball in the centre, 11/7, 7/11.
The third is a classic, with rallies that make you
breathless, counterattacks, counterdrops, attacks from so far
back, taking the ball earlier and earlier, running, reading each
other's game, trying to wrong foot each other.
We are all in need of oxygen masks, honestly. Suddenly, Ramy
gets on a roll, and zooms to 8/5. Surely that’s enough… Nope, Nick as ever,
works, and digs in, and fights for every millimetre of that
court. 7/8. Ah, Ramy finds one of his stunning lobs, 10/7 game
The seating scaffolding is vibrating with the chanting.
Incredible. An amazing rally at 10/7. Nick saves it. 8/10. Ramy
knocks Nick down on his way to the ball, Nick is on the floor.
“You’ve been warned Mr Ashour, conduct stroke”.
Houah. We may have to get an escort to get Damien out of there
methinks.. If anything, that Australian has got guts…
Needless to say that Ramy is not happy, but accepts the decision…
Three lets will follow, along with an absolutely amazing
incredible stunning words in English are missing to describe the
rally. We are on the edges of our seats. Let. Well played, guys.
And Nick just clips the tin on the let… Ramy up 2/1.
The crowd is now wild….
But that's when Ramy switches off. His mind goes out of the
venue, out of the match, all the way out there where only he goes,
between the clouds on the left, and the moon on the right, way
way out there.
Seven tins later, Nick is pushing for a fifth, 11/9 in the fourth…
The fifth, oh well…It’s the third, just more intense, if
possible. 1/1. 2/2. 3/3. 4/4.
I'll need a cardiac massage soon.
Suddenly, not sure how, Ramy is up 8/4, but the brain telling him, warning,
warning, your dream is about to come true, are you ready for it,
can you handle it? Pressure, pressure...
While Nick is as ever, pushing, and pushing, and putting as much
pressure on the Egyptian as he knows how…
At 9/6, the crowd breathes at last. Their man is two points away.
But the court is so slippery, the players are forced to ask for
the court maintenance at every shot. “Trust me, my strength is
fitness, I wouldn’t ask for an interruption if it was not
necessary,” states Nick.
8/9. Nick again is coming back, although Ramy is giving
everything he has, he runs, he slips, he goes up again, and
slips again… They are both on the verge of complete melt
But Nick just clips a backhand counter drop. Match ball, 10/8.
In a few shots, Ramy finds a crosscourt backhand kill that Nick
cannot get out of that corner. Before the ball rests on the
floor, the crowd has erupted. Their man is the winner. Their
champion is the World number one.
Nick salutes his brother in arms with the grace of a true
champion. He steps down the four steps off the court, to go to his
corner. The sadness of that boy is tangible, the despair, the
taste of victory still in his mouth, that now bitters his throat.
Proud as an Englishman, he swallows his tears, and bravely
replies to a Saudi journalist.
His world just collapsed, he is white as sheet, but he carries
his head high. He can. He was three points away from the Number
spot. My hat to you Sir.
While Ramy is flying… Flying… Flying…
the winner receives $37,406
and the runner-up $24,581. Shabana won $38,000 for the World
Open, but the runner-up got $23,750, less than the combined
amount for the Saudi final (Saudi is a $250k 32-man draw, World
Open was a $277k 64-man draw)
told me before the match, whatever happens, I’m proud of you, and
you are my champion.
So tonight, I would like to dedicate this victory and my title to
you Ziad, and thank you once again for the support you’ve been
giving me over the years…
"I think we both played well, and to be honest, this is probably
the toughest match I ever played. And I think it’s good that Nick
and I are pushing each other that hard, because we’ll keep playing
for a long time…
"I was able to relax at the start of each game, but when I got
the lead, then I started thinking, and started to get all tense, and
didn’t go for my shots!
"Tonight, it could have been anybody’s, it was the most amazing
match ever! But at the end, it was so slippery out there! The sweat
was coming out of our bodies, our shirts, our shoes!!! Maybe it was
my shoes I don’t know, but I kept slipping on there!
"In the beginning, when Nick started to stop and chat, with me,
with the refs, that disturbed me a bit, but after a while, I went
along with him, started chatting as well, and that actually relaxed
me, and helped my game…
"I never wanted to push Nick, I swear. It's just that when I go for
the ball, I just cannot stop!!!
"I’m so happy about winning this title, that’s something I’ve
been working hard all my life, it was my dream, my brother, my mum,
my dad, my coaches, and all the people who have been pushing and
supporting me all those years…
"Before anything else, I want to thank God for this title, and
my mum, who’s been working so hard, Hisham, who has inspired me, and
taught me so many things, he’s been such a great big brother, my
coach Mems, for the hard work he’s put me through…
"When I played my last shot, I just didn’t realise what happened, it
was a bit of a blackout, really. I was only aware of people shouting,
So gradually, I started to realise that my dream had
become a reality. And it’s a bit like my life can start now, I got
it over with, like in a video game, game over, you get the big
monster out of the way…
My life starts now…"
"The most incredible, most tense match I have seen in a long time!"
"Considering what was at stake, both players played fearlessly and
produced squash of the highest quality."
"It's an old cliché, but it was a shame someone had to lose - but
tonight Ramy was the one who held up in the final throws. Tough for
Nick to take, but he can be proud at being as close as he was.
"2010 is set up to be an incredible year all around and we have the
players to elevate the sport to where it deserves."
Where to start…..
We fought hard, really we fought all the way, but there is an
immense respect between us too. I think we both played well
tonight, and that there was the smallest of margins at the end…
There were a lot of talks about the schedule, and players got
injured, but I got the worst of injuries in September, and still
came back to contest the world title!
I started the year in
January being the runner up in the ToC, and I was world number
12 then. So this has been a fantastic year for me, and I can be
proud about my match today, my week, my last three months, my
year, about everything!!!!!
Of course, although I guess back in September, I would probably
have signed up for a runner up in the Saudi final and second in the
world rankings, it’s so disappointed when you get so close,
honestly with the smallest of margins…
I had Adrian in my corner, he was pushing me hard, but at some
point, I had the impression that we were two against two thousand!
Still, I kept imagining everybody back in Sheffield, looking at
the match at the club on the big screen, and supporting me, and
shouting for me… So I kept on telling myself, come on, push,
just push, for them… And that gave me a lot of strength…
All credit to Ramy, he deserves this victory, and the title.
Although, we were smiling with Ziad during the trophy ceremony,
when he said that he worked all his life to get that title, he
is only 22! I really have worked all my life, so I think he
should have let me have it then….
Shabana bt Gaultier