Ramy Masters Matthew in Mumbai

Egypt’s Ramy Ashour significantly boosted his chances of becoming world number one next month for the first time when he beat Englishman Nick Matthew in four games in the final of the Punj Lloyd PSA Masters, the $152,500 PSA World Tour Super Series squash event at the Bombay Gymkhana in Mumbai, India.

Fourth seed Matthew is enjoying the form of his life and arrived in the final of the penultimate PSA Super Series event of the year without dropping a game.  Meanwhile Ashour, still smarting from his straight games loss in last month’s World Open final in Kuwait, had avenged that defeat by beating fellow countryman Amr Shabana in the semi-finals – and was ready to tip the scales in his pre-final three-all head-to-head count against the Englishman.

The 22-year-old from Cairo led from the outset in the opening skirmishes soon moved a game up.  But it was Yorkshireman Matthew who was in the ascendancy throughout the second game and levelled the score after 41 minutes.

It was neck and neck throughout third – with Matthew mostly in the lead.  But, a point away from game ball at 9-7, Matthew saw the third seed romp away with four points in a row to reclaim the advantage.

Ashour maintained the momentum to go 3-0 ahead in the fourth – but Matthew led twice thereafter at 5-3 and 7-5.  The Englishman went on to save two match balls from 7-10 down – but Ashour converted his third attempt to record his 11-6, 9-11, 11-9, 11-9 title-winning triumph after 79 minutes.

The win marks Ashour’s first Super Series success of the year, but the 13th PSA Tour title of his career – of which, remarkably, eight are Super Series!

“I’ve got great respect for Nick – he played so well tonight, he’s really improving his attacking game, and he mixed up his pace really well,” Ashour told www.squashsite.co.uk afterwards.  “I think Nick and I really play well together, we seem to have a complementary game, and to keep pushing each other up.

“This is my first win of the year – I’m so happy and I hope I’ll just keep on playing like that in Saudi, and after that.  Win or lose, I just want to play well.”

Matthew, who reached a career-high world No4 last month, is widely being tipped as a future world number one back in his home country:  “I guess there was a lot at stake today – the PSA Masters title, the world number one.  It was a lot to handle, and maybe I was thinking about it too much,” admitted the 29-year-okd from Sheffield.

“I’ve learnt from this, and I’ll be keeping challenging for the number one spot.

“But he was playing better squash than me today, that’s about it.  I’m disappointed with my performance, my movement to the front was not good enough, and of course, all credit to Ramy, who was 80% responsible for it – his racquet skills, his movement, his shots.

“But I still lost 20% of it, and that made the difference.”

[3] Ramy Ashour (EGY) bt [4] Nick Matthew (ENG)     11-6, 9-11, 11-9, 11-9 (79m)

[3] Ramy Ashour (EGY) bt [2] Amr Shabana (EGY)     11-9, 13-15, 11-8, 11-2 (44m)
[4] Nick Matthew (ENG) bt [8] Peter Barker (ENG)     13-11, 11-6, 11-5 (55m)

[2] Amr Shabana (EGY) bt [12] Mohamed El Shorbagy (EGY)     11-5, 5-11, 12-10, 11-7 (53m)
[3] Ramy Ashour (EGY) bt [5] David Palmer (AUS)     11-8, 16-18, 9-11, 11-4, 11-8 (78m)
[4] Nick Matthew (ENG) bt [7] Thierry Lincou (FRA)     11-8, 11-7, 11-4 (40m)
[8] Peter Barker (ENG) bt [13] Laurens Jan Anjema (NED)     11-8, 11-7, 11-5 (61m)

2nd round:
[2] Amr Shabana (EGY) bt Saurav Ghosal (IND)     11-6, 6-11, 11-5, 12-10 (48m)
[12] Mohamed El Shorbagy (EGY) bt [6] James Willstrop (ENG)     7-11, 11-5, 11-4, 5-11, 13-11 (64m)
[3] Ramy Ashour (EGY) bt [14] Stewart Boswell (AUS)     11-9, 11-7, 11-7 (41m)
[5] David Palmer (AUS) bt Omar Mosaad (EGY)     11-9, 11-9, 11-5 (40m)
[7] Thierry Lincou (FRA) bt [16] Ong Beng Hee (MAS)     11-5, 8-11, 11-6, 13-15, 13-11 (104m)
[4] Nick Matthew (ENG) bt [9] Adrian Grant (ENG)     11-3, 11-5, 11-7 (42m)
[8] Peter Barker (ENG) bt [10] Alister Walker (ENG)     7-11, 11-9, 11-5, 11-7 (64m)
[13] Laurens Jan Anjema (NED) bt Daryl Selby (ENG)     11-7, 9-11, 11-9, 11-5 (82m)

1st round:
[2] Amr Shabana (EGY) bt Mathieu Castagnet (FRA)     11-5, 11-9, 11-5 (37m)
Saurav Ghosal (IND) bt [15] Cameron Pilley (AUS)     11-8, 11-2, 10-12, 11-8 (77m)
[6] James Willstrop (ENG) bt Jonathan Kemp (ENG)     11-5, 6-11, 11-3, 11-5 (44m)
[12] Mohamed El Shorbagy (EGY) bt Mohd Azlan Iskandar (MAS)     14-12 ret.
[3] Ramy Ashour (EGY) bt Hisham Mohd Ashour (EGY)     11-13, 11-6, 11-8, 11-3 (35m)
[14] Stewart Boswell (AUS) bt Mohd Ali Anwar Reda (EGY)     11-6, 11-8, 11-3 (44m)
[5] David Palmer (AUS) bt Tom Richards (ENG)     11-9, 11-6, 11-7 (41m)
Omar Mosaad (EGY) bt [11] Wael El Hindi (EGY)     10-12, 11-8, 11-9, 12-10 (69m)
[16] Ong Beng Hee (MAS) bt Joey Barrington (ENG)     11-9, 10-12, 7-11, 11-9, 11-9 (96m)
[7] Thierry Lincou (FRA) bt Olli Tuominen (FIN)     11-3, 11-5, 10-12, 11-5 (39m)
[9] Adrian Grant (ENG) bt Chris Ryder (ENG)     6-11, 11-7, 11-3, 11-9 (54m)
[4] Nick Matthew (ENG) bt Renan Lavigne (FRA)     11-9, 11-5, 11-7
[10] Alister Walker (ENG) bt Ritwik Bhattacharya (IND)     11-4, 11-5, 11-3
[8] Peter Barker (ENG) bt Julian Illingworth (USA)     11-4, 11-6, 11-4 (32m)
[13] Laurens Jan Anjema (NED) bt Davide Bianchetti (ITA)     11-5, 11-3, 11-4 (47m)
Daryl Selby (ENG) bt [1] Gregory Gaultier (FRA)     12-10, 1-11, 11-13, 11-6, 11-6 (83m)