By LEE HORTON
Ramy Ashour’s stranglehold on world squash is a tight as ever after the Egyptian despatched Gregory Gaultier 3-2 in San Francisco last night to land the NetSuite Open title and push his unbeaten stretch to 45 matches.
On paper, Frenchman Gaultier is Ashour’s closest rival in terms of world ranking and respect, and many at the sell-out Justin Herman Plaza anticipated an upset despite their head-to-head battles favouring the man from Cairo 19-4.
That anticipation grew into real belief as Gaultier battled into a 2-1 lead having surrendered the first game 11-4. The reigning NetSuite champion upped his game, hunted Ashour and had the world No.1 looking for answers taking the second and third games 11-7.
Gaultier was a tiger throughout those games as he hunted his prey, and his first win over Ashour in seven outings. Ramy was rocking, make no mistake, but if he was down he was by no means out.
Ashour celebrated his 26th birthday on Sunday, and he had his eyes on the 12,000 dollar winner’s prize pot as a gift to himself. Not that prize money is his motivation.
Game four was crucial. Gaultier was on the limit of his reserves, Ashour mis-firing slightly but still looking strong.
Previous history was repeated as the birthday boy dug deep, held his nerve and levelled the match 11-3.
The fifth, if not a formality, went the way of form. With the match clock showing 68 minutes, Ramy brought proceedings to a conclusion winning 11-3 leaving Gaultier, and the packed house, wondering who will bring this amazing unbeaten run to an end.
NetSuite Open images courtesy of Andreas Hofweber