After coming so close four times, Gaultier hopes this will be the year he rules the world
By NATHAN CLARKE
Four-time runner-up Gregory Gaultier says that the pressure is off his shoulders ahead of the 2015 Squash World Championship which is set to take place in the United States for the first time ever when Bellevue, Washington plays host to the prestigious tournament from November 15 – 22.
The ‘French General’ has come excruciatingly close to breaking his World Championship title duck on a number of occasions, none more so than the 2006 final against David Palmer where, despite going 2-0 up and amassing five match balls, he contrived to lose the match.
Four-times world champion Amr Shabana, now Egypt’s head coach, issued his own assessment of that match via Twitter today, saying: “Well in my opinion, and a lot of others, the World Open in Egypt in 2006 was won by him, snatched from him by the ref!”
But after admitting that he has placed too much pressure on himself to perform and succeed in the past, the Frenchman insists that things are different this time around and that the pressure is off heading into the sport’s biggest event.
“I don’t feel any pressure on me, I feel less and less pressure,” said Gaultier, who has already claimed two PSA World Tour titles during the 2015-16 season.
“Over the years I have accumulated too much pressure so my focus is just on playing well and feeling free and fluid when I’m on court because the more relaxed I am, then the better I perform and I do my routines every day to make me as relaxed as possible.
“I train very hard and I’m very disciplined and that’s all designed to help me win titles and major titles like the World Championship so I’m looking forward to it, especially as it’s in a new city which will be amazing for the tournament.
“I can’t wait to be there to be honest.”
The 32-year-old has had a stunning start to the 2015-16 PSA World Tour season, winning the Stars on the Bund China Open in September before lifting the first PSA World Series title of the campaign, the Delaware Investments U.S. Open, last month.
In Qatar he beat three young Egyptians, Fares Dessouki, Karim Abdel Gawad and Mazen Hesham, on his way to the final. There he found a fourth, Mohamed Elshorbagy, who was simply too strong on the day.
Gaultier and Elshorbagy have built an exciting rivalry based on respect and phenomenal quality. Gaultier overcame Elshorbagy in the semi-finals of the US Open and went on to beat Omar Mosaad in the final. Buoyed by his triumph in Philadelphia, Gaultier is hoping to take that confidence into his next appearance stateside.
“The World Championship is the most important tournament in the world,” he said.
“It’s the highest target in the sport and the tournament that you really focus on and spend your summer training for. Everyone wants to peak for this tournament so it’s a huge event.
“You work hard to lift trophies and enjoy those kind of moments and the adrenaline and everything that goes with it.
“Winning the U.S. Open was a massive boost for me and I’ve felt really good since then and that confidence helps you be more positive when you are correcting things in training as well.”
Gaultier begins his tournament against compatriot Lucas Serme in round one and is seeded to meet last year’s runner-up Mohamed Elshorbagy in a mouthwatering semi-final fixture.
The 2015 PSA Men’s World Championship takes place between Sunday November 15 – Sunday November 22 in Bellevue, Washington at the Meydenbauer Center and tickets can be purchased here: http://www.worldsquashchamps2015.com
Pictures courtesy of PSA and US Open