TODAY at the Saudi International 2007:
Steve Cubbins in Al-Khobar ...
Sunday 28th Oct 2007, THE FINAL:
Amr Shabana (Egy) bt  Ramy Ashour (Egy)
11/5, 11/5, 1/11,
Saudi Showdown ...
They don't come much bigger than this - the winner would not
only pick up the biggest cheque in the history of squash, but
would also become world number one come the November rankings.
At the start it looked as though the pressure might have got to
Ramy Ashour, as Amr Shabana eased into a two-game lead without
having to do anything special.
It was good, steady squash from the world number one and
defending champion, no flashing winners, but it was good enough.
Ramy was denied the pace, the action that he thrives on and
mistakes came as his frustration grew.
3-all four tins helped Shabana along the way to a 9/4 lead, and
the first game shortly after.
More tins at the start of the second and Ramy was soon 6/1 down
and still no sparkle. A tin to make it 10/3 brought an "aarrgghh"
of frustration from the wunderkid, one echoed by the crowd which
was largely favouring the young pretender.
They were given reason to cheer in the third. This time Shabana
started with two unnecessary tins, Ramy took heart and the
rallies became faster, more varied, more to his liking. 5/0 and
Shabana soon realised he wasn't going to win in straight games,
letting the game go once he was 7/1 down.
Shabana was back on court early for the fourth, keen to get back
on top, but Ramy too was up for it now. Level up to 5-all.
Shabana pulls ahead 7/5, Ramy gets one back then has a ball
called not up - "you can't do this to me now, guys ...".
The youngster gets it back to 8/7 with a straight drive that
leaves Shabana stranded, then tins an easy ball - "aargghh."
A straight volley gets it back to 9/8, then Shabana's boast off
the serve is too tight. Match ball and Shabana clenches his
fist. He wants this.
Shabana puts in a drop and starts to celebrate .... let. A tin
brings it back to 10/9. Shabana thinks he's won it again ...
A straight drive, Ramy desperately tries to get past Shabana
into the corner. A winner. Shabana hears the "no let", Ramy
doesn't. There's a brief confusion, it's Shabana who breaks the
news to his opponent ...
So Shabana wins the showdown. He's still the champion, still the
number one. Ramy is close, very close, but today was Shabana's.
He earned it.
man, what a big match, so much at stake.
"You have to keep it as simple as you can against Ramy, or he's
going to eat you up. The first two games were good, I played
simple, steady squash and contained him. I could see in his eyes
as he came out he was up for the third, but I mixed it up too
much and he played too good.
"I got it back in the fourth, but Ramy's such a good player, it
was hard, very hard.
"It meant a lot when I got to match ball . I've been thinking a
lot about getting to match ball in a big tournament, thinking
about it for some time, it's been a long time for me. I knew I
had to push, really push then, it might not come again …
"It's going to be so hard playing Ramy over the next few years,
but I'm really pleased to win this one again, it's massive. I'm
not thinking about three for now, two is enough …"
very happy with the tournament, very happy.
"Amr Shabana won it again, he's a deserving champion, and for
the second time in three years the final decided who would be
"Overall it was a great event. It would have been nice to see
Ramy win, but the future is his …"