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US Open: First titles for Ramy and Nicol

Ramy Ashour dives across the floor to get to the ball as he beats Gregory Gaultier in the final of the US Open. Pictures by STEVE CUBBINS courtesy of

Delaware Investments U.S. Open 2012
Fri 12 Oct, Finals:

From STEVE CUBBINS in Philadelphia

Two new champions were crowned at Drexel University in Philadelphia as Nicol David and Ramy Ashour joined the list of winners of the prestigious U.S. Open Squash Championships.

[1] Nicol David (Mas) bt [2] Raneem El Weleily (Egy) 14-12, 8-11, 11-7, 11-7 (45m)
[4] Ramy Ashour (Egy) bt [3] Gregory Gaultier (Fra) 11-4, 11-9, 11-9 (43m)

First-time champions Nicol David and Ramy Ashour

Nicol completes the set

The U.S. Open was the only major title that was missing from Nicol David’s trophy cabinet, but tonight in Philadelphia not only did she fill that particular gap, by gaining revenge for her home defeat in the Malaysian Open final by Raneem El Weleily, she set a new record of WSA titles, moving one ahead of Sarah Fitz-Gerald to 63.

Compared to yesterday’s semi-finals this was a fast and furious match with El Weleily unafraid as ever to go for her shots and David, as well as trying to contain her opponent, at times joining in the shot-making contest, more often than not to good effect.

After the Egyptian made the slightly better start the first game was evenly contested. David led 9-6 but El Weleily fired in four winners to earn game ball. She would have three chances, but Nicol typically took her first opportunity as an Egyptian drop shot found the tin for 14-12.

Raneem reduced the errors to lead all the way in the second, taking it 11-8, and the world champion looked in trouble as the Egyptian led 6-2 in the third.

However, David responded with a run of eight unanswered points that took her to 10-6, then 11-6 on another Egyptian error.

The top seed held a slight advantage throughout the fourth, and from 8-6 two short volleys into the nick brought up match ball. After a drop shot from David, Raneem struggled to reach the ball and tripped over her opponent.  As she was being assisted to her feet, the match was over as a “no let” decision echoed around the Drexel basketball arena..

For David, it was a first US Open title, revenge for thaa home defeat, and a new record, not a bad night’s work.

Nicol David gets in front

“I can’t believe it,” said a delighted new champion, “I keep thinking I should still be out there running after Raneem’s dropshots like I’ve been doing all night!

“When she gets on a roll like she did in the third she can score six points before you’ve even moved off the T, but I just got my act together, became more positive and stronger on my shots, and played my game not hers, which is what my coach Liz Irving had told me to do.

“It feels fantastic to be US Open champion! Next I just hope we can get in the Olympics – if we do I’ll make sure I’m there, even if I have to turn up with my walking stick!”

Ramy races to title

There was a first-time men’s winner, too, as Ramy Ashour continued his recent run of good results against Gregory Gaultier to beat the Frenchman in straight games in a match lasting two minutes less than the women’s final.

For Gaultier it was almost like a role reversal from yesterday’s semi-final clash with James Willstrop. There, he had been in control and in the lead from the outset, yet today he was the one doing the chasing, both on the court and the scoreboard.

The crowd rise as Gregory Gaultier salutes Ramy Ashour’s victory

Ashour, playing with the speed and control with which he finished his semi-final with Nick Matthew, was quickly 6-3 up in the opening game, and took it 11-4. Ashour raced ahead 6-1 at the start of the second game, and although Gaultier pegged it back to 6-7 and then drew level at 9-9, Ashour found two winners to double his lead.

After an even start to the third, Ashour raced away again, from 5-5 to 9-5 in a flash, and although Gaultier again pulled back, on Ramy’s third match ball Greg’s volley found the tin and another new US Open champion was about to be crowned.

“I lost in this final three years ago so to win a prestigious title like this against such a great player as Greg feels just unbelievable,” said Ramy. “I felt good on court tonight but I had to fight really hard to win.

“It’s been a great week. Everyone here does a tremendous job and makes us all feel so welcome, so thanks to everyone involved. We’re all looking forward to next year already!”

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