James Willstrop (Eng) bt  Ramy Ashour (Egy)
12/10, 11/5, 9/11, 11/3 (49m)
JAMES, AT LAST…
Sorry if I’m bluntly honest, but tonight was not about James. I
know, people are going to jump in the air and scream that James
played superbly well. Of course he did. He was perfect from start to
finish, played the perfect game, except for a few rallies at the
start of the third.
as ever when Ramy is on court, it was all about what the Egyptian
did, or better, what he didn’t do.
Ramy and James alike, are mental players. They need to be confident,
with nothing bothering them, to perform at their best. If James was
a bit worried with slipping on the previous matches, tonight,
nothing came to disturb his confidence and focus.
Ramy, well, his movement impaired by a pain in the ankle and a
problem on one of his toes – no he didn’t tell me, he wouldn’t use
that excuse – meant that the boy was not at his top mentally. And
that is, and will stay, Ramy’s weakness…
In front of him, he had a starving for victory player, as in James,
who kept having heavy and great matches, but without getting a big
title for a while. Was Ramy hungry for victory tonight? Yes of
course, but probably not as much as James. He had a pretty good run,
and it wasn’t a matter of life and death was it.
For James, it was.
The Egyptian tonight, taken from the first rally by the throat,
never really had a purpose in his shots. He was a lot at the back,
and on the backfoot, returning the ball “as it came” more that
really meaning to send the ball somewhere in particular. As in, not
putting James under enough pressure, not getting him out of his
comfort zone by twisting and turning that tall boy….
Of course, Ramy was still brilliant, and found great shots, and
fantastic angles. But as James kept his head for the whole duration,
never getting frustrated, never giving him easy rides, the
Englishman kept him under control with his tight lengths and
inspired short game.
James was so happy you couldn’t help feeling happy for him. And I
guess it was not too bad of a tournament for him, beating Shabana,
Karim, and Ramy, night after night.
Yes, that was not too bad, was it…
James, on the spot
such a great sport to play, he is so young, and he has achieved so
much. It’s such a pleasure to play against him, and getting a win
over him is just amazing. And I was the better player on the day….
This title means so much to me. The players value this tournament,
and we keep coming back, it’s an unbelievable crowd, unbelievable
atmosphere. And we’ll be coming back as long as this tournament is
A victory like that is the result of a tremendous amount of work,
from an awful lot of people. And as I didn’t much chance to thank
them for a while – as I didn’t win anything for a while – I would
like to try and remember a few of the people that have worked so
hard around me, and I apologise if I forget anybody…
the physical side of things, Alison and Mark back in the UK, who
helped me to recover after my surgery a few months back, Caroline
who was here; Then we have Damon, who had many many input in my
squash career, DP, Stafford and Peter Nicol, all with the ES
setting, whose support and funding makes it all possible for us, my
brother David, who worked to hard with me, my manager, Mick Todd,
Ponte’s owner, I’m so grateful he’s been here all week with me, and
my father, I’m so glad I’m able to repay him, although that’s not
the right word, for everything he’s been putting in. You can’t
imagine the amount of conversations, time those people spent with
And of course, my girlfriend Vanessa, who had to fly tonight back to
the UK, for all the support she’s is giving me every day of my life.
Yes, I know, sorry to be long, but I don’t know when the next chance
I’ll get to come to thank them!!!!!
Ah, I couldn’t not thank JP Morgan and all the sponsors, you do not
realise I’m sure how grateful we are for your support.
James, one hour later…
did get a bit excited, didn’t I!!! The emotions went just pouring
out… Oh well, if I can’t get excited after what I’ve achieved
tonight, I’m not sure when could I…
Ramy burst onto the scene, with a squash completely different from
what anybody had seen before, he is a one off. It takes some
adjustments from the other players, we have to get used to his speed
with the racquet and his shots and his pace.
It takes a few years of hard work, and a lot of thinking,
calculation to be able to prevent him from competing, from playing
his shots, he really nailed the drop shot…. So the plan was there,
but I still had to execute it!
In the third, he came back strong, and maybe I didn’t stepped off
the wall either, I didn’t do much, but I stayed positive, you can’t
be at your top all the time during a match, but the fact I still
came back strong at the end, may have created a bit of doubt in his
Ramy was not his most blinding tonight, but maybe I’m might have
prevented him to do that…
Is it my best win? Yes, I think so. The fact I was able to beat
three outstanding world number ones in three days, including the
current one, that’s really special to me. Not to mention that this
event may not be the most prized event, but it is certainly out
there being one of the most prestigious ever…
He played so
much better than I did, and he deserve to win.
I would like to think all those people who’ve made this tournament
possible, the sponsors, John Nimick, Ziad my sponsor, and Hisham my
brother, who’s been at my side on most of the tournaments.
I’m glad I’m doing well without the support of any coach, of any
physio, no nutritional help, except at home, I have my physical
trainer, Memes, who I thank, and my brother, Hisham, that is so
close to me, travelling with me, supporting me when I need him. He
is a great brother, and a great guy to have in your corner.
For a while I was thinking about having a coach, but now, I realise
that no coach will push me as hard as I push myself. And I’m proud
of what I’ve achieved on my own…
And don’t worry, I’ll be back next year, to win it!!!