World number one Ashour hobbles past lucky loser in Squash World Open

AFP, Friday 3 Dec 2010

World number one Ramy Ashour suffered an injury scare as he limped into the second round of the World Open with a faltering performance against a lucky loser on Friday

Ramy Ashour
Ashour defeated Kristian Frost (Denmark) in the opening game of the World Open

The brilliant Egyptian hurtled through the first game against Kristian Frost of Denmark, but aggravated a hamstring strain in the second and became involved in a dogfight in the third and fourth before surviving 11-1, 11-5, 3-11, 11-9.

Ashour also needed a three-minute injury time-out in the third game before he could continue, and several times decided against running or stretching for the ball as the contest moved into its tense closing stages.

Probably the quickest he moved was after he had snatched victory with a sensational backhand volley return of serve into the sidewall nick, making the ball roll across the floor.

Ashour stumbled out of the court and, keen to avoid discussing his ailment either with the on-court interviewer or the media, dashed away from the club with his entourage.
The clandestine getaway confirmed the feeling which had been growing throughout a strangely fraught contest that Ashour's challenge is under threat.

From the middle of the match onwards his movement looked odd, and his relief at surviving against the world number 76 caused him to hurl his racket away after the final points and face the spectators with a theatrical gesture.

It earned Ashour what could be a vital day's rest before taking on Aamir Atlas Khan, the talented Pakistani number one who beat Steve Finitsis, an Australian qualifier 11-5, 12-10, 11-5.

Ashour's third round could be with his compatriot Mohammed El Shorbagy, whom many rate as a future world champion and who beat Martin Knight, the improving New Zealander, 11-6, 11-9, 11-9.

The biggest threat in Ashour's quarter though should be James Willstrop, the sixth seed from England, who again showed himself one of the handful of most skilled players in the draw. Willstrop recovered brilliantly from a difficult start to win 9-11, 11-4, 11-7, 11-2 against Nicolas Muller, a 21-year-old who has just moved into the top 40 and already looks the best player ever to come from Switzerland.

"In the past I've though about winning, winning, winning," said Willstrop. "You want to be world champion and there's several of us who can.
"It's such a massive thing and sometimes it gets on my mind -- and that's not good for me. So now I'm trying to take it bit by bit. I have to take the tournament in bite sized chunks.

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