It's An All Egypt Finals
ABOZEID SILENCES ATLAS KHAN; USA's FROOT GETS TO PLATE FINAL
Defending champion Ramy Ashour admitted to feeling a strong weight of expectation approaching the individual final of the 14th Prince world junior men’s squash championships at Palmerston North’s Arena Manawatu Stadium.
“I have more pressure from the people at home in Egypt than I did last time (when he won in Islamabad in 2004),” Ashour said looking to his final against fellow Egyptian and third seed, Omar Mossad Abozeid.
was the underdog then. Now there’s the chance to make history
by being the first player to win two titles in a row. I hope I can do it. I’m
really asking God to make it possible.”
Though he said Momen performed “the best he’s played” and it was a quality game, Ashour was disappointed he had been pressured into a more conservative match than he wanted before the final.
“Tarek was brilliant. He changed a lot of things to the way he normally plays. There was lots of deception, and he was very fast around the court.”
Abozeid, aged 18, had to upset the second seeded Aamir Atlas Khan, of Pakistan, 9-1 9-5 9-7 in the other semifinal in 47 minutes to make it the second occasion two Egyptians have appeared in a junior men’s final. The other was in Christchurch, New Zealand, in 1994 when Ahmed Barada beat Omar El Borollossy.
For Atlas Khan it was his second defeat in the semifinals of the world junior championships, having lost to Ashour, also in straight games, two years ago.
Ashour might have preferred to have played Khan, having consistently had his measure in their previous matches. It is not quite so clear-cut with Abozeid, who had a win over Ashour in an Egyptian tournament in November and whose considerable size might make it awkward at times for Ashour in the final despite his remarkable speed on court.
He has beaten Abozeid since last November but he wants to do it in a more convincing manner in the final. Abozeid attends the same university in Cairo as Ashour, the Arab Academy of Science and Technology, and interestingly they are majoring in the same subject, lingistics.
Momen surprised Ashour in stealing the first game after the victor had led 7-4, and it took Ashour three game balls to win the second. He ran away with the third but Momen stood his ground for a long time in the fourth, not wilting till the last few points when he had become wearied by all the running he was required to do, conceding the match with a stroke.
Ashour will not be sorry when he can give up wearing the protective eye glasses when he finally leaves the junior ranks in October. His semifinal with Momen was repeatedly disrupted by the pair taking time to wipe their glasses, which Ashour says “slows the game and is very bad for the crowd”.
“I felt like it was raining in my eyes tonight,” he said.
THIRD SEED SNUFFS OUT PAKISTANI HOPES
He never allowed Atlas Khan to settle in the first game as he dominated the tee, and left the Pakistani scampering hither and yone to try and stay in the rallies. Abozeid led 4-1 in the second before Khan caught him at 5-5. Again though Abozeid applied the squeeze, and Khan was left scrambling in his wake.
The third looked all grim for the Pakistani with Abozeid having match ball at 8-2. Khan made a last desperate surge though and he saved a second match ball at 8-2 and a third at 8-4 before succumbing on the fourth at 8-7. However, there were four lets at 8-7 till Khan ended it by hitting an ambitious backhand in to the tin.
Khan was playing the better squash at the end, and there was a feeling had he won the third it might have turned the match in his favour.
“I was a little surprised to win but I trained so well before the tournament I felt I could do it,” Abozeid said. “It was getting tense in the fourth game, and I told myself to concentrate.”
Khan was generous in defeat, saying Abozeid had played “very well”.
“He picked up my volleys, and put me under pressure,” Khan said. “I know if I’d won the third game it might have been the turning point.”
Khan said he was handicapped by his “movement being very slow”, which one might have attributed to the occasion.
FROOT MAKES GOOD ON SHOW COURT
Froot, who starts in early September as a freshman at the University of Pennsylvania, beat tall, ginger-haired South African Jason Cole Niven 9-10, 0-9 9-6 9-4 9-2 in a 45 minute semifinal, and will meet Australian Zac Alexander in the deciding match.
Initially the slight 18-year-old Froot was all at sea against his much bigger opponent, and he conceded later he found the cold, all-glass court hard to adjust to. However, Froot worked Niven over so well that by the end of the match it was the South African, who had lost his way. It helped too that Froot’s soon to be university coach, Craig Thorpe-Clark, was courtside to offer support.
“I made a lot of mistakes in the first two games as I tried to get over the shock of playing on that court,” Froot said. “Jason had height and reach on me but I found he did not move well side to side, and he didn’t get down to play shots at the front (of the court).
“I was fortunate a
bit of treatment between games helped with the cramp and shin splints.”
Froot was quickly down 5-1 in the first game against Niven, who had the first of his three game balls at 8-5 before Froot’s tactics became more effective. He had game ball himself at 9-9 before another shot in to the tin allowed Niven to take it.
The second flashed past in a blur for Froot, and the third was not much better when he was quickly trailing 5-1. From then on the match turned, and it was Froot who would become the more dominant as he began to expose the South African’s ponderous movement, and lifted the tempo.
He won the fourth with a backhand volley winner, and capitalising on three strokes in the fifth, two of them consecutively, and the third on match ball, the fleet-footed Froot could not be denied. He won the match with a forehand that died in the back forehand corner.
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