Egypt’s Ramy Ashour showed just why he is considered the most exciting squash player in the world when he came from behind to overcome defending champion Nick Matthew in today’s enthralling final of the Viridian Australian Open, the third PSA World Series event of the year in Canberra.
Runner-up in 2010, Ashour was forced to dig deep into his considerable bag of tricks to see off the world No1 from England 12-14, 11-6, 10-12, 11-8, 11-4 in a high quality match.
Both men played some spectacular squash throughout the final but the 23-year-old from Cairo finished the stronger and was a deserving winner of his first Australian title.
And he looked every inch the favourite as he opened up a 10-6 lead in the first game, only to hold off a comeback from the Egyptian.
Ashour levelled the match in the next game before Matthew got his nose back in front, again having to hold off an Ashour comeback.
But Ashour fought back again to win a tight fourth game before exploding in the fifth, controlling the front of the court and hitting a string of winners to quickly race to 10-3.
Matthew managed to save one match point but the end, when it came, was inevitable and Ashour raised his arms in triumph as he became the first Egyptian to win the Australian crown.
“It’s such a great thing to win the Australian Open, I’ve been thinking about this since last year when I lost to Nick,” said the world number two.
“It’s one of the biggest names on tour, to win the Australian Open, so I’m glad to join those great players on the trophy.”
Ashour said he went in with a set game plan and he stuck with it right to the end.
“My goal was to fight for every point, to push myself to the limit and give 100 percent, win or lose,” he said. “I think in the fifth I just went for my shots and I pushed myself again and again.
“The match was tough for both of us both physically and mentally, but I think he had a little bit more pressure on him because he’s number one.”
Matthew said one poor game had cost him the match, but paid tribute to Ashour’s fighting spirit.
“Even in the games I won I took the lead and he fought back and took it to a tiebreak both times,” said the 31-year-old from Sheffield.
“I was disappointed with the fifth – I’d like to have it over again. It just ran away from me and sometimes he can get on a run of points in the blink of an eye and before I knew it he was five, six, seven, eight and I couldn’t stop the rot.”
Ashour was buoyed by the good-natured cheering from a group of Egyptians in the stands.
“I didn’t expect these people to be here. It’s good to have Egyptian people here supporting me. It doesn’t happen much and it feels good to hear Egyptian words,” he said.
“But the crowd has been so good, it’s such a knowledgeable crowd and they know about every shot, and that we have to produce the best squash every time – you don’t get any better.”
The success takes Ashour’s PSA Tour title tally to 21 – one more than rival Matthew.
Final: Ramy Ashour (EGY) bt  Nick Matthew (ENG) 12-14, 11-6, 10-12, 11-8, 11-4
Ashour also moves ahead of Matthew to top the latest Dunlop PSA World Series Standings. Englishman James Willstrop holds onto third position, while Australian hero David Palmer is rewarded for his surprise semi-final berth in Canberra with a rise to fourth place.
Frenchman Gregory Gaultier and Dutchman Laurens Jan Anjema both move into the top eight following their Australian Open successes – Gaultier making the semis as fifth seed and unseeded Anjema reaching the last eight.
Updated Dunlop PSA World Series Standings:
|1||(1)||Ramy Ashour (EGY)||265|
|2||(1)||Nick Matthew (ENG)||230|
|3||(3)||James Willstrop (ENG)||105|
|4||(5)||David Palmer (AUS)||90|
|5||(3)||Amr Shabana (EGY)||80|
|6||(5)||Peter Barker (ENG)||75|
|7||(11)||Gregory Gaultier (FRA)||65|
|8||(11)||Laurens Jan Anjema (NED)||50|
|9=||(7)||Mohd Azlan Iskandar (MAS)||45|
|9=||(8)||Tom Richards (ENG)||45|
|11||(11)||Stewart Boswell (AUS)||40|
|12=||(11)||Nicolas Mueller (SUI)||35|
|12=||(20)||Julian Illingworth (USA)||35|
|14=||(23)||Mohd Nafiizwan Adnan (MAS)||30|
|14=||(8)||Alister Walker (BOT)||30|
|14=||(8)||Shahier Razik (CAN)||30|