Gaultier tames The Beast in Cambridge Cup classic
By Squash Mad Reporter in Toronto
Gregory Gaultier ended Mohamed Elshorbagy’s winning run to lift the 2015 Cambridge Cup in Toronto.
The final followed an entertaining third-place showdown between Miguel Rodriguz of Colombia and Egyptian legend Amr Shabana, ranked six and five in the world respectively.
Believe it or not the start to this battle was slow. Flashes of attacking and pace, but quick exchanges of errors had both players settling into the match early and waiting for chances.
Amr finds his range with a classic, what we at the Cambridge like to call, “carving the turkey” cut drop into the front right and un-gettable. The match is under way now with Rodriguez flashing around the court picking up get after get, Shabana hits a lefty backhand philly, Miguel retrieves, Shabana hits a forehand philly to perfection that comes across glued to the back wall and Rodriguez looks at Shabs with a sheepish smile. 4-3 Shabana.
Angel answers with some flair of his own, crushing a forehand cross nick. With a lot of front to back movement these two exchange points to 10 all with Shabs closing out a gruelling rally, with another perfect forehand Philly. He follows it up with a pouncing hold, no-look backhand drop off the Rodriguez loose ball. Shabana takes the game with a late tin from Miguel.
Game 2 starts off with a bang. The Colombian Cannonball hits a jumping forehand crosscourt nick to open game two and has a refreshed determination in his eyes to make is mark at the Cambridge cup. He keeps the momentum going keeping Shabs a half step behind and working in some unassuming trickle boasts.
Amr punches back with a low controlled volley touch that finds the nick, but the Colombian was fired up in this game salivating at the front wall waiting for a defensive off the back wall shot from Shabs and proceeds with a forehand volley drop that finds the nick…unbelievable. Games are tied and crowd is alive.
Now into the meat of the match the players go back and forth exchanging penetrating length’s and high pressure drops, while displaying their class to the onlookers.
Shabana is going for it. He nicks Miguel’s serve, then hits a brilliantly poised hold freezing Rodriguez on the T and popping the ball down the rail.
The Colombian Cannonball won’t be stopped and keeps on rolling, exhibiting a swing around the ball forehand that pauses Shabana and continues to drive wide of the Egyptian. Miguel continues with an effective power boast and a late error from Shabs makes it 2-1 Colombia.
Rodriguez is determined and displaying deception not many have witnessed by motioning to grab the ball mid-rally, but then quickly retracting the grab and driving the ball down the forehand side, Shabana gets it and steps up on a Angel loose ball, hitting a backhand no look drop while walking away, Rod scrapes it up, but just for Amr to pound the ball into the back….stellar.
From here the Colombian pushed forward with fate on his side. He hits a topspin cross lob off his backhand with high-arching dead weight and the ball pops straight up on the back wall with Shabana stuck to the glass in disbelief and smiling through the glass at the crowd while clapping his racquet for his competitor. Rodriguez takes the bronze medal match 11-4 in what was a highly entertaining contest!
Gaultier stops Elshorbagy from a Cambridge treble
The final at the Cambridge Cup could not have been hand selected any better with the two best squash players on the planet facing off. The Frenchman is clearly keen to de-throne the previous back to back Champion Elshorbagy.
With an opening 37 shot rally both players quickly burn off their adrenaline with Elshorbagy on the winning end of the point followed by a “Here we go” glance at Greg and a coy grin.
At the mid-game point these two are quickly living up to their best in the world titles, and the Cambridge Club fans are watching in awe.
Greg rallies on, showing variety with an unexpected trickle boast, wrong-footing Shorbagy.
Some late focus turns to the referee with a couple of controversial out calls, which rapidly intensifies the mood between the competitor’s, both wanting to raise the trophy high! Gaultier is up one game after a rare error from the world #1, 11-7 Gaultier.
Both men come out trading “showman” shots and the crowd is immediately captivated. Mohamed continues on and sells a lean left drive right forehand with the Frenchman watching from mid-court. Shorbagy’s not done… next rally has the Egyptian leaping for a full extension backhand volley that he manages to flick down into the crosscourt nick, with Greg applauding as a true fan of excellence in the sport.
Gaultier is seeking an answer against the world #1, but Elshorbagy shows no signs of letting up. Continuing to exhibit his bag of tricks he anticipates a cross drive from Greg and quickly snaps the ball straight, leaving the Cambridge Cup attendees howling.
Gaultier is inspired and has had enough. He storms back with quick put away holds and carving nicks to pull the game to 11-11. Both players hesitant to end the game and go for the winner, trade errors. Elshorbagy goes for it with one of his most famous shots, the through the legs forehand straight nick drop off the back wall, but finds tin. The Frenchman leads by two, 13-11.
Elshorbagy comes out in the third with a show-stopper of a shot. His token full swinging crosscourt racquet motion that deceptively drives the ball straight and has Gaultier leaning and looking for the cross.
These guys are in their element, with fakes and holds everywhere trying to catch the other off guard….Mohamed proceeds to do so with a triple forehand fake that he crushes left when Greg inches right…. Special to watch. The class of these two is next level.
Deep into a late rally Elshorbagy hits a behind the back shot off Gaultier’s crosscourt and Greg responds with a through the legs drop into the front left nick giving the World #1 a “There’s more where that came from” look and friendly smirk.
With Elshorbagy trying to get on the board, Gaultier steams ahead with crushing low drives to perfect length and successfully becomes the 2015 Cambridge Cup Champion winning 3-0 against world #1 Elshorbagy, 11-9!
Amazing stuff… Thanks to all who came out and supported the Cambridge Cup. See you all next year!