Squash: El Gouna final proves a classic – Willstrop

The El Gouna International Event culminated in a repeat of the World Championship final between world number one Mohamed El Shorbagy and Ramy Ashour.

Ashour, who had previously been absent from the tour for six months prior to that match, won it – a match to which I devoted the entirety of a 600-word piece for this paper in November.

It was so good it deserved a whole book.

And from what I’ve heard, though I didn’t see it as I was travelling at the time, the latest in El Gouna was as good, if not even better than the previous encounter.

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Again the subtext was that Ashour had been laid off – for four months this time – his last competition being that world final, having had a knee operation after Christmas.

Again they both took us to the limits, Ashour prevailing 12-10 in the final game.

How he manages to take lengthy periods out of the sport to then come back and immediately beat some of the best squash players in the world really is beyond me.

Though he clearly has put some incredible training effort in to his recovery, it is still tremendously difficult to dive straight back in to the mental and physical intensity of the elite matches.

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For most people, training can only take you so far, but he has a staggering ability to jump right in.

Let’s hope now the man gets a free run at the tour, and an unbroken phase of tournaments without injury.

Ashour beat Greg Gaultier in the semis and ElShorbagy reached the final after Nick Matthew retired injured in their semi-final with an ankle problem.

Some of the men now head to Zurich for the Grasshopper Cup.

After this comes the European Team Championships in Denmark, in the last week of April.

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