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A kiss for the cup

WSF: General Gaultier Takes Dubai Crown

Just four months after suffering an horrific ankle injury that threatened to keep him away from the game for an extended period of time, Frenchman Gregory Gaultier ensured his 2015/16 PSA World Tour season ended on the most positive of notes as he downed Cameron Pilley 3-1 in the final of the PSA Dubai World Series Finals.

The World Champion, who also won this tournament in 2008 and 2009, was competing without an ankle brace for the first time since his comeback in last March and was in prestigious form all week, playing a high-pace brand of squash that saw him sweep aside all opposition to claim the 33rd title of his illustrious career.

“I started the season in a great dynamic winning events such as the U.S. Open and World Championship and was the maybe best player on Tour before the nightmare hit with injury in January,” said Gaultier.

“I had a few months where I didn't even hit a squash ball until the British Open, when I didn't even expect I would be back, but my team did a great job. It was only in El Gouna that I felt I was getting back into it and this week I was able to play without tape and move fluently and to end this half of the year with this title is a really positive note something I'm really pleased with.”

In the opening two games the World No.2 was in commanding form, keeping Pilley at bay despite the Australian playing solid and secure squash.

The third saw Pilley enjoy his best spell of the match as he began to assert himself on the match and take Gaultier's pace and power away from him and he managed to keep the match alive by closing it out 11-8 but the huge efforts took their toll as he fell away in the early stages of the fourth to allow Gaultier back in, and the 'French General' wasted no time in sealing the title.

“Cameron had a great week,” said Gaultier. “Obviously I played really well in the pool but today, especially in the third, he played very well.

“I managed to get back to my game and push myself in the fourth and I knew, as tough as I was finding it, that he was also in the red zone. I may be 33 but I still feel young. I'm so much more experienced and I'm professional and disciplined than ever before and I think that makes the difference.

“Now I'm looking to start up again in August in Hong Kong and do what I can now to keep winning major titles. There is no pressure on me anymore, I'm just enjoying it, and I think when there is no stress I play ever better.

“I'm very thankful to Ziad Al-Turki, who has been putting so much effort and bringing the sport up, and the PSA, who have been doing such a fantastic job. We've been increasing the prize money, we've been adding a lot of tournaments everywhere in the world and it's fantastic to have such a prestigious event in Dubai finally – we're really happy for the work those guys do.”

After the match Pilley said: “Right now I’m still disappointed about losing, but there’s a lot of positives to take out of this, I’ve beaten three top ten guys this week. So for me there’s far more positives than negatives. It was so exciting playing in front of this crowd in Dubai, the crowd was great and it’s a cool court, I wanted to play best of seven!”

[2] Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt [8] Cameron Pilley (AUS) 3-1: 11-4, 11-5, 8-11, 11-6 (67m)

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