Tuesday, December 18, 2012


Purely Astonishing

You may or may not have seen this. It has been making the rounds on social media ever since it spawned from a match between Egyptians Ramy Ashour and Mohamed El Shorbagy during the recent PSA World Championship in Qatar. Even if you have seen it, it is worth a least another look or two. And I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to share it with you all.

Let me set the scene: Ashour and Shorbagy are playing the final of the 2012 PSA World Championship. Ashour has won a world title before and at the tender age of 25 can almost be considered a veteran. His rise to the top of the rankings was meteoric. He joined the tour in November 2004, was in the top 50 within 12 months, the top 10 a year after that and, was ranked number 1 for the first time in December 2010 and will once again regain that ranking come January.

Shorbagy is almost just as impressive. Currently only 21 years old, he joined the tour in ’06. It took him just over 2 years to reach the top 50, before getting into the top 10 in September 2010. He has yet to break into the top 5, but will do just that come January. Wise beyond his years, he beat the current world number 1 James Willstrop in the semi final of this tournament 11-8 in the 5th in 124 minutes. Previous to this match, Shorbagy has played Ashour twice on tour, losing 3-0 on both occasions.

Now, on the biggest squash stage in the world, in the biggest, most important match of the year, during the PSA World Championship final, this rally happened. The score was 2 games to 1 for Ashour and 9-9 in the fourth game. There could hardly be any more pressure in this situation. Ramy is 2 points from winning his second world title and rather than go defensive, Shorbagy decides to throw all caution to the wind and produces this gem of a rally:
To play a back-corner-between-the-legs-forehand-drop in this situation left me speechless. The finishing kill shot was the strawberry on top of what must be one of the best rallies I have ever seen. Even for the fact that Ramy returned the drop amazed me too! I hope the IOC was watching.

Shorbagy ended up winning the fourth game but lost the fifth 11-8. The match took 90 minutes. I doubt this was his last PSA World Championship final. Another Egyptian has risen to the top. I can assure you, there are more where he came from. Scary thing is, it’s many more.

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