‘I feel empty without squash’ admits champion Ramy
By NATHAN CLARKE in Hong Kong
There was double delight for Egyptian squash in the finals of the 2016 Cathay Pacific Sun Hung Kai Financial Hong Kong Open as three-time World Champion Ramy Ashour and World Junior Champion Nouran Gohar took the honours inside Hong Kong Park Sports Centre today.
In the women’s final, 18-year-old Gohar, who beat World No.2 Laura Massaro before ending World No.3 Nicol David’s 10 years of dominance at this event to reach the final, got off to a slow start against American Amanda Sobhy, quickly falling behind courtesy of a 6-11 first game that saw the Boston-based 23-year-old on fire.
But Gohar managed to lift her game and turn the match around by saving four game balls in the second game to snatch it 12-10 and from then on she was in total control, dominating the court to secure the title courtesy of a 6-11, 12-10, 11-7, 11-8 win.
“I can’t believe it,” said a delighted Gohar. “I was 1-0 down and 10-7 down in the second game and I was just trying to stay on court and not be beaten 3-0 in the final.
“I tried to fight for every point and it paid off in the end. Raneem [El Welily], my mum and my coach, gave me a game-plan but I couldn’t execute it on court in the first game.
“But I managed to change it up and push myself – I told myself it is a final and you have to give everything to win and I’m so happy to win – it’s an amazing feeling to win a World Series tournament.”
In the men’s finale 28-year-old Ashour looked to have put his recent injury demons to bed as he came through a highly competitive and entertaining five-game battle with compatriot Karim Abdel Gawad, the World No.8 who was competing in his first ever PSA World Series tournament final.
The 2010 and 2012 champion Ashour has endured an injury-plagued two years on Tour, with repeated hamstring difficulties restricting him to competing in only a dozen events, but he looked to be back to his unpredictable best during a 11-9, 8-11, 11-6, 5-11, 11-6 win that saw him string together spell-binding runs.
“It feels great to win here and winning the title means so much to me,” said Ashour.
“I played a very tough opponent today. Karim’s very smart and fluid on court so it is not easy to beat him and he’s actually one of my favourite players on Tour. It was a collaboration of ideas to get past him but I thought it was a great show and I think we both enjoyed it
“It’s been tough journey for me to get here but I’ve always wanted it so much. I feel empty without squash – playing fulfils everything inside me. I appreciate being able to play and to lunge without pain is such a blessing – I’ll do whatever it takes to keep being the best I can be.
“I have so many people to thank – my parents, coaches, physio, promoters, sponsors, doctors, lawyers and fans – they’ve all helped me get to where I am now.”
The victory sees Ashour and Gohar open up an early lead on the PSA Road To Dubai as the race to qualify for the season-ending Dubai World Series Finals gets underway.
The duo collected 100 points each to top the standings after the first PSA World Series tournament of the season and take the first step towards securing a place at the lucrative event that will take place in the Dubai Opera in June.
Cathay Pacific Sun Hung Kai Financial Hong Kong Open (August 28, 2016).
 Nouran Gohar (EGY) bt  Amanda Sobhy (USA) 3-1: 6-11, 12-10, 11-7, 11-8 (43m)
Ramy Ashour (EGY) bt  Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) 3-2: 11-9, 8-11, 11-6, 5-11, 11-6 (75m)
Pictures courtesy of PSA