Tournaments in Egypt
El Gouna International Squash Open 2012 at Egypt: 13 April 2012
It was an unlucky Friday 13th for world number one James Willstrop as he pulled out of the final of the El Gouna International Open when trailing Ramy Ashour by two games and 5/2 in the third.
It was the second time in two editions of the event that the final failed to reach a natural conclusion, but whereas in 2010 Ashour had been the one forced to pull out with injury, this time he was the recipient as he succeesed Karim Darwish as the champion to keep the title in Egyptian hands.
In the first game, which was punctuated by stoppages as the court was cleaned and the players occasionally stepped out of the side doors to clean their shoes, Willstrop had for the most part contained the attacking opportunities of his opponent, muh as he had done in their previous meeting in February’s North American Open final.
As the game neared its conclusion though, Ashour managed to raise the pace with often brilliant attacking play and delicate flicks and drops, and Willstrop began to struggle to contain him.
The Englishman’s slender lead was whittled away and Ashour took the game 12/10 with a joyous pump of the fist.
The momentum was with him now, and he dominated the second game to take it 11/5, and amid more stoppages built a 5/2 lead in the third.
Willstrop approached his opponent at the front of the court, explaining that he was struggling with the conditions and didn’t feel able to continue, and offered his hand to the new champion.
“Horribly disappointed. At times like this, losing is not the problem. I can’t explain. Losing having given your 200% is just 20 times better than the frustration I’m feeling right now. It feels like the chance to compete in a major final has been taken away from me,” explained Willstrop.
“I just never felt steady on there from the 3rd rally in the first game. So I found myself thinking about the floor, and not about my squash, so I’m thinking, what am I doing!!!
Ashour was delighted to be the champion, but was understandably muted in his celebrations.