The 2015/16 season will go down in history as one of the most exciting and enthralling seasons in the history of the PSA World Tour, with a series of stunning tournaments and thrilling matches lighting up courts around the globe.
For the next few weeks, our Throwback Thursday pieces are going to look at some of the finest matches of the season as the world’s best players went toe-to-toe in some spectacular, action-packed encounters.
One such fixture was the nail-biting five-game thriller between Egyptian maverick Ramy Ashour and World Champion Gregory Gaultier in the last four of March’s Allam British Open, a match which saw both players complete their comebacks from respective injury problems with a climactic battle in Hull’s Airco Arena.
Ashour was making his first appearance on the PSA World Tour since limping out of the World Championship four months earlier, and was hoping to put the hamstring injuries that had dogged the last two years of his career firmly behind him in a bid to get back to his sparkling best.
It was a difficult run to the last four for Ashour, who twice had to recover from 2-0 down against Cesar Salazar and Ryan Cuskelly in the opening two rounds, before dispatching compatriot Ali Farag in the last eight to reach the semi-final stage.
Meanwhile, an ankle injury had kept Gaultier out of action since January’s J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions, and the Frenchman was looking to reach the final of the prestigious British Open for the fourth year running.
Like Ashour, Gaultier also struggled early on and had to overturn a 2-1 deficit against Australian No.1 Cameron Pilley, but he moved up the gears to see off Stephen Coppinger and Simon Rösner in straight games to set up a tantalising matchup with his Egyptian counterpart.
A capacity crowd were treated to an absolute classic of a match, with vociferous applause greeting each culmination of a series of brutal, breathtaking rallies, full to the brim with attacking artistry and frantic retrieving. Ashour looked to be heading to the final after building up a two-game lead, but Gaultier fought back with improved composure and control in the front of the court to bring the match back to all square and set up a deciding fifth game.
After storming to a 5-0 lead, it appeared as if it would be Gaultier who would stride on to the showpiece finale but Ashour, just as he did against Salazar and Cuskelly, dug in and came back magnificently to ensure that ‘The Artist’ would move on to face long-term rival Mohamed ElShorbagy in the final.
Check out the highlights of Ashour and Gaultier’s sensational clash below
Tune in next week, where we will be looking at another exciting match from the 2015/16 season. In the meantime, log in to SQUASHTV where you can relive some of the greatest matches from the past nine months – including the Women’s British Open final between Nour El Sherbini and Nouran Gohar.