Monday 3 December 2007

Third title for Shabana

Shabana and Gaultier in the World Open final"I don't think I've ever played better".

Amr Shabana has made it three World Open titles in the past five years, beating Frenchman Greg Gaultier in only 42 minutes in the final in Bermuda.

Frustratingly for the loser from Epinal, it was the third time that Gaultier had been on the wrong end of a result from Shabana in major finals this season.

The 28 year-old from Cairo must now surely receive the plaudits that he deserves, joining the élite handful that have won the World title more than once.

Given that the Egyptian plays a dynamic game that makes him a bigger draw for spectators than some other top-ranked players, it is strange that his profile seems - for a triple World champion - relatively low ...

The frenzy surrounding the explosion on to the scene of Ramy Ashour seems to have allowed Shabana to quietly rack up the months as the best player in the world, with his compatriot and the rest of the top ten scrapping it out for the runner-up position in most of the big tournaments.

Shabana secured his third World title with a relatively easy win over the Frenchman, who perhaps succumbed to the frustration he is prone to. The champion was also quick to praise the organisation of the Bermuda event, claiming that it "should be a model of how every squash tournament should be".

I've also watched PSA videos of Shabana talking about the game, it is evident that he is an eloquent guy who has a strong sense of how a professional circuit should be ran.

Amr ShabanaMaybe this is why his profile has bubbled under the radar: the maturity that has led to a greater consistency has meant that a great player has emerged, but this in turn has driven away the more visible (in media terms) but less successful (in squash terms) "personality" that once walked on to court.

It now appears that people were too quick to stereotype him in the earlier part of this career as an undisciplined player who was too inconsistent to reach the very top. Things certainly looked this way when I saw him a lose a few years ago to David Palmer in the British Open in Nottingham.

However, his considered, sensible opinions on the game and his fellow professionals certainly don't reveal any weakness of mind, and three World titles hardly scream inconsistency.

It's just a shame we don't get the chance to see more of him in England.

He's overdue the coverage he deserves.

World Open 2007.

1 comment:

  1. I should also have added that The Guardian carried a small (though syndicated) article on the result.

    Better than nothing!


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