Egyptian squash player Ramy Ashour won the Australian Open by upending world No1 Nick Matthew in five games. The final score was 12-14, 11-6, 10-12, 11-8, 11-4, the 23-year-old Egyptian revealed a robust mental game was behind his success.
His coach was not able to be in his corner for the match so when asked by The Canberra Times for the keys to his victory, Ashour was not quite able to formulate his thoughts. But he did seem to suggest that came down to his mental state. â€˜â€˜Itâ€™s a bit complicated really, I canâ€™t really describe it,â€™â€™ Ashour told The Canberra Times. â€œYou have to always be right in your head as much as you can and thatâ€™s your mission on court.
â€˜â€˜Your missionâ€™s not to keep on running or hit the right shots. You need to have all kinds of plans, you canâ€™t just stick to one plan. In everything in your life you canâ€™t just stick to one plan and thatâ€™s what most of the people do, they just donâ€™t want to get out of their comfort zone. When they donâ€™t get out of their comfort zone they donâ€™t achieve much.â€™â€™
Ashour got off to a slow start, losing the first game, and two of the first three, before building momentum with his patented arsenal of shot-making. Eventually, he was a runaway train. â€˜â€˜He just ran away from me, sometimes he can get on a run of points in a blink of an eye,â€™â€™ Matthew told The Canberra Times. â€œI couldnâ€™t stop the rot.â€
â€˜â€˜He played a good fifth, I played a bad fifth and that was the difference. From the games I won I had the lead and he fought back and took it to tie breaks both times. Everyone gives him credit for his shot-making. Some people forget heâ€™s got that [mental strength] side of his game as well which you need to go alongside and that makes him such a champion.â€™â€™
The victory was Ashourâ€™s seventh in 12 meetings with Matthew, with Ashour being the only player on the professional squash tour with a winning record against the world number one. â€˜â€˜Itâ€™s such a thin margin,â€™â€™ Ashour said. â€œMaybe Nick has a little bit more pressure on him because heâ€™s No1 and Iâ€™m No2.â€™â€™
The two now have the menâ€™s world team championships in Germany to look forward to later this year. And that should be a competition in which Ashour has ample reinforcements, with fellow Egyptians Karim Darwish and Amr Shabana ranked number three and number five in the world respectively.