The ATCO PSA World Series Finals – covered live by Sky Sports – came to a glorious conclusion today at The Queen’s Club in London when Egyptian maestro Amr Shabana (pic ri) rolled back the years to win the World Series Finals title, and his 1st ever squash trophy on British soil.
The sensational 91-match, in which the 32-year-old 4-time World Champion was taken the full distance by higher-ranked Frenchman Greg Gaultier (pic le), was a fitting climax to the flagship PSA Tour event which featured the eight most successful players from the nine PSA World Series championships in 2011.
The packed Queen’s Club crowd certainly got their money’s worth – and no more so than at two-all in the decider when Shabana twice dived full length in the rally to keep the ball in play, and Gaultier inexplicably responded by putting the ball into the tin to give the Egyptian the point!
The next two points went to Gaultier, but thereafter it was Shabana who maintained the lead – and after one match-ball was saved, it was an irretrievable backhand drop shot from the back of the court that gave Shabana his historic 6-11, 12-10, 11-7, 7-11, 11-8 victory.
The crowd gave the two players a standing ovation while Shabana lay flat on his back outside the court. When Sky MC Natalie Pinkham began to interview the new champion after he sat up, he urged her to keep on talking while he got his breath back!
When asked to sum up his feelings about his win at this stage of his career, Shabana admitted that he had considered quitting the game a year ago: “I can’t player better. I was nearly out last year – thinking about if it’s time to watch the players play rather than competing with them.
“If it wasn’t for my friends and family – one of whom was Greg, who kept telling me to push – I think I would have retired. I tried my best.”
How special was it to win his first title in the UK, asked Ms Pinkham: “I’m not going to miss that question, so I thank god I won’t be asked it again now that I have won,” said the Cairo-based star, who now boasts 28 PSA World Tour titles.
Gaultier also joined in the post-match interview: “I am disappointed to lose – but I am really happy for him as he was struggling last year. I learned a lot from him – he’s great for the game,” said the Frenchman.
“Hopefully I will win the next one!”