News & Highlights

Tue 2nd, The FINAL

[2] Ramy Ashour (Egy) bt [3] Amr Shabana (Egy)
             9/11, 11/4, 13/11, 11/1 (45m)

This match won’t stay in my mind as one of the best ever encounter between those two magical champions. For two reasons.

One, because the end was a bit one-sided. And two. Because I feel that Shabana played the wrong tactic. As in, trying to match Ramy at the front, in his garden. And at Ramy’s game, nobody is better than Ramy himself.

But then again, was Shabana fit enough to beat Ramy today? Meaning, was he fit enough to make the rallies gruelling and forcing him to the back again, and again, and again?

Only Mighty Shabana could say, I suspect not but what do I know????

Still, a fast and furious first game, with Shabana attacking from the word go, and Ramy forced to put on his Lord of the Retrieving armour, again and again. Five unforced errors from Shabana, and four from Ramy. Not much between the players up to 6/6, with the Elder leading 9/6, which we know through experience means squat against Ramy.

And of course, 9/9 we reached. Two gigantic ridiculous attacking rallies from Shabana, both mixing quality, pace and shot angles at will, Ramy picking up the “unpickupable”, but going Shabs way, 11/9 in 12m.

In the second, Shabana goes too short far too early, and becomes a bit of a sitting duck, and although he read and anticipated beautifully Ramy’s shots, at 4/4 a big drop on the energy level for Shabs. Right after giving back a let to his opponent for a ball that was called down – I never saw the shot, hence don't know if it was up or down, went soooo fast – Shabana never scores another point in that game, obviously letting that one go.

The third is furious, yet again, and crucial. Nothing between the players, again with Shabana on the attack, and Ramy on the counter attack/defence. At 5/5, a rally that seems would never end, both players throwing whatever they have at each other, with Shabana finally hitting the ball out.

And for me, that’s the moment where it all clicked in Shabana’s mind. I saw his look to Ramy, as if he saw his opponent under a different light, as in saying “what do I have to do to shake that boy off? I don’t think I can today”…

Still, Mighty Shabana got back in there. 6/6. 7/7. 8/8. The rallies are getting faster and more ridiculous by the shot. 10/8, two game balls to Ramy, saved. Shabana is giving it a last push, putting in all that he probably doesn’t have anymore.

And he gets his game ball, at 11/10. And that freaking ball goes out of court again. And the same for the next one. Feeling that he may not recover from those two errors, Shabana shouts in frustration. Another unforced error, and Ramy gets the next game ball, to take it 13/11.

In the wings, Shabana’s face is drained. The heat. The pace that Ramy imposed. The disillusion of thinking I could have been 2/1, and now, I have to still score two games against that ET. All the images, thoughts are boiling in Shabana’s head as he steps on court.

Ramy, as sensitive as he is, picks up on it, feels it, and for the first time in the match, is attacking, attacking, attacking, not giving Shabs a chance to breathe, settle or adjust a shot. Shabs is on the backfoot, unable to make any impression on the rallies anymore.

And in 2 minutes and 4 seconds, it’s all over. Shabana has scored 1 point….

Ramy, writing from Egypt

"Well, for me the whole week was very tough as I played a lot of strong players which I had to be solid in front of, otherwise I wouldn’t have made it to the final and these matches give you experience and a lot of confidence in your body and mind......

"Tonight’s match was different as I had to push myself for another day against a four times world open champion which makes it very special to have a win over him..... He is great player ......

"I think we both pushed in the first three games really hard so one of us had to take the high way in the fourth and luckily it was me ....

"I am happy with the way I played for the whole week and I am very content with myself. I just need to relax a little and get back for another battle in Qatar.....

"I want to thank Sheikha Fadyah for the great very well organised tournament. We have the best treatment every time we come here, all the players love it. And hopefully we'll be back next year...

"I also want to thank my fitness coach Memes , my brother Hesham and Haitham my Feeder for their great job with me......"