Nice guy Simon keeps improving
By ALAN THATCHER and SEAN REUTHE
Everyone likes to see the good guys do well. So I am sure that a chorus of warm feelings echoed round Planet Squash when the latest PSA men’s rankings showed Germany’s Simon Rösner rising to a career-high place of number three.
Rösner has risen two places in the December list to achieve another milestone in a year of consistent improvement and achievement.
It is a deserved reward for a tall, powerful competitor who always plays the game aggressively but fairly. He is always respectful, always gives 100 per cent, and has worked out ways to consistently compete at the highest levels to stop the Egyptians from having things all their own way.
At 6ft 3in tall, he has earned the nickname of the German Tree Chopper. But there is so much more to his game these days than raw power (although I would still love to test him on the Squash Mad radar gun). He is more confident going into the front corners, and the confidence gained by his recent run of results has seen a steady evolution in the more subtle forms of attack.
It is always a pleasure to welcome Simon to Canary Wharf, and we have enjoyed some interesting private chats in addition to the post-match interviews on the glass court at the East Wintergarden.
He lost the final at Canary Wharf in 2015 after competing with England’s top trio on consecutive nights. He beat James Willstrop in the quarter-finals, overcame Peter Barker in a hugely physical semi-final, but lost to Nick Matthew in the final.
Nick was clearly superior on the night, but Simon has improved in so many areas of the court since that occasion.
However, the abiding memory of that year’s tournament for me was how he handled the challenges presented in a semi-final (right) when Peter was employing one or two of squash’s dark arts.
It was a clear sign that Simon was learning to cope, both physically and mentally, with the pressures of competing at the highest level.
The big breakthrough results took a year or two to emerge, but it was the constant willingness to adapt and work hard that finally delivered the goods.
Rösner, who was 31 on November 5, has produced plenty of fireworks this year. He has enjoyed his greatest ever year on the PSA Tour and claimed his first Platinum title at the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions in January, while he followed that up with runner-up finishes at October’s U.S. Open and last month’s Qatar Classic.
Rösner’s run to the semi-finals of the Hong Kong Open has enabled him to leapfrog World No.4 Tarek Momen to claim a place among the world’s top three. He wrote on social media: “It’s an unreal feeling to reach No.3 in the world. I am so proud.”
Rösner, who is based in Paderborn, was also honoured last week as Sportsman Of The Year in his original home town of Wurzburg, where he was born.
One measure of his popularity in squash is the long-term partnerships he enjoys with his main sponsors, especially Oliver Rackets. As well as enjoying the ceremony in Wurzburg, he was happy to get on court with his backers from Flyer Alarm.
Hong Kong Open winner Mohamed ElShorbagy tops the rankings for a 10th successive month ahead of runner-up Ali Farag.
Marwan ElShorbagy drops two spots to No.5, while Colombia’s Miguel Angel Rodriguez and New Zealand’s Paul Coll both move up a place to No.6 and No.7, respectively.
Former World No.1 Gregory Gaultier, who has been ruled out until the new year due to knee surgery, falls two places to No.8. Egyptian duo Karim Abdel Gawad and Mohamed Abouelghar complete the top 10.
Peru’s Diego Elias rises to No.11, switching places with India’s Saurav Ghosal, while Hong Kong’s Max Lee moves up to No.13 to trade spots with Australia’s Ryan Cuskelly.
Meanwhile, James Willstrop is on the rise as he moves up three places to No.15, overtaking compatriot Declan James to reclaim the men’s England No.1 spot.
After claiming the QSF No.1 title last month – his first title in two years – England’s Daryl Selby has enjoyed an eight-place increase to No.16, with Germany’s Raphael Kandra moving up three spots to a career-high No.17 ranking.
Egypt’s Omar Mosaad, James and Switzerland’s Nicolas Mueller round out the top 20.
Three-time World Champion Ramy Ashour has dropped out of the top 20 for the first time since September 2006. The Egyptian maverick is yet to appear on the PSA Tour this season due to injury.
PSA Men’s World Rankings Top 20 – December 2018.
Pictures courtesy of PSA and social media