Egyptian legend hoping that hard work will pay off again as he graces Grand Central Terminal in New York
By NATHAN CLARKE – Squash Mad PSA Correspondent
Egyptian legend Amr Shabana says he is relishing the prospect of returning to New York’s iconic Grand Central Terminal for the 2015 J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions and the scene of his last major PSA World Series triumph.
The 35-year-old, four-time World Champion, dubbed the ‘Maestro’ by his peers, put in an impeccable performance in 2014 to get past current World No.4 Nick Matthew and World No.2 Gregory Gaultier en route to the title. And he is hoping to find his rhythm again in 2015 as he returns to one of his favourite venues.
“Starting the new year at the TOC is very exciting especially because it is the first major of the year and I have had some good memories there over the years there,” said Shabana.
“Playing the TOC in Grand Central is a great experience. I am always excited to step onto the court for this event because there’s always a huge number of people who are exposed to the court, and a large gallery of fans, and you can feel the anticipation and excitement in the crowd.
“Winning the TOC title in 2014 was very important for me. I had been putting in a lot of time training leading up to that point, with no real success, and that win was a reminder for me that hard work does pay off.”
Shabana goes into the 2015 edition ranked World No.3, his highest ranking on the PSA World Tour since October 2010, but he says he can’t get too far ahead of himself in what is the first major tournament of 2015.
“I’ve been working a lot on the body and mind over the recent holidays and keeping healthy and injury free is my main priority,” he said.
“I’m not looking at retaining the title any more than anybody else in the draw who’s looking to win it for the first time.
“You know it’s going to be five tough rounds competing against the best in the world if you are going to be in with a chance of going all the way so you have to take each round as it comes and give it everything.”
Shabana begins his campaign against Finnish No.1 Olli Tuominen on Friday January 16.
The J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions Draw:
 Mohamed Elshorbagy (EGY) v [WC] Todd Harrity (USA)
Nicolas Mueller (SUI) v [Qualifier]
Chris Simpson (ENG) v [Qualifier]
[Qualifier] v  Borja Golan (ESP)
 Tarek Momen (EGY) v Adrian Waller (ENG)
Saurav Ghosal (IND) v [Qualifier]
Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) v Cameron Pilley (AUS)
Olli Tuominen (FIN) v  Amr Shabana (EGY)
 Nick Matthew (ENG) v Daryl Selby (ENG)
Omar Mosaad (EGY) v [Qualifier]
Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) v [Qualifier]
Stephen Coppinger (RSA) v  Simon Rösner (GER)
 Peter Barker (ENG) v Gregoire Marche (FRA)
Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL) v [Qualifier]
Alister Walker (BOT) v [Qualifier]
Max Lee (HKG) v  Gregory Gaultier (FRA)
Tickets for the 2015 J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions range in price from $8 to $170 and may be purchased at www.tocsquash.com. Patron packages are also available at www.tocsquash.com
Picture courtesy of PSA