With Egyptian duo Ramy Ashour and Karim Abdel Gawad going head-to-head for the 2016 instalment of the PSA Men's World Championship today, we thought we'd look back at some of the greatest matches ever to light up the sport's showpiece fixture.
2014: Men’s World Championship Final
Ramy Ashour 3-2 Mohamed Elshorbagy: 13-11, 7-11, 5-11, 11-5, 14-12
Coming into the 2014 World Championship all eyes were on World No.1 Mohamed Elshorbagy – the then 23-year-old who had won back-to-back PSA World Series titles and gone four months undefeated.
After thoroughly beating defending champion Nick Matthew 3-0 in the semi-finals, Elshorbagy was on course to live up to his billing but his opponent in the final, Ramy Ashour, threw the script out of the window.
Ashour hadn’t competed on tour for over six months due to a series of reoccurring injuries prior to the championship but the maverick Egyptian turned the form book upside down as he stormed to the final and took on Elshorbagy in the same venue where he beat him to the 2012 World Title – when Elshorbagy had come within three points winning.
The opening exchanges were nervy, with both men making unforced errors in the first two games but the match shot to life in the third with a series of blistering rallies setting up what turned out to be a classic encounter as both men produced some of the best action ever seen on tour.
Tied-up at 2-2 the match went to a decider and it turned into a true classic. Epic rallies were required to win a single point and when Ashour went 10-6 up, it looked like it was all over. But Elshorbagy roused himself and soon he held match-ball at 12-11. But in a roller-coaster affair it wasn’t to be for the younger man, as Ashour once again upped his game to win his third World Championship title to the delight of the crowd.
Watch the highlights here:
2006: Men's World Championship Final
David Palmer 3-2 Gregory Gaultier, 9–11, 9–11, 11–9, 16–14, 11–2 (103mins)
“Maybe Greg should have won the match, he probably deserved to win but I’m proud of the way I gutsted it back.” – David Palmer
Frenchman Gregory Gaultier stunned the squash world to book his place in the 2006 final, beating defending champion Amr Shabana in the semi-finals to set up a showdown the Palmer, the man Shabana had beaten in 2005.
In front of the iconic Pyramids in Cairo, Gaultier, appearing in his first final, shot out to an early lead producing some dazzling squash to take the opening two games before Palmer fought back to get himself on the score sheet.
But In the fourth Gaultier again looked comfortable and a certainty for glory when he found himself 10-6 up with four match balls in hand. But a combination of inexperience, nerves and excitement caught up with the Frenchman and Palmer capitalised to level the match and force a decider.
It was a moment Gaultier wouldn’t recover from as Palmer went on to take the fifth 11-2 to claim his second World title while Gaultier would go on to lose three further finals in his career with the memory of 2006 hanging over him.
2013: Men's World Championship Final
Nick Matthew 3-2 Gregory Gaultier, 11-9, 11-9, 11-13, 7-11, 11-2 (111mins)
"In my wildest dreams, I would never have thought I would get three world titles” – Nick Matthew
Nick Matthew and Gaultier had met in the 2011 final, when Matthew had won to claim his second consecutive World title and consign Gaultier to a third runner-up finish.
But the Frenchman was going into their 2013 match-up full of confidence, having beaten Matthew in all four of their previous meetings in 2013, including two tournament finals.
However, in front of a passionate home crowd in Manchester, it was the Englishman who held his nerve to take a tense two-game lead.
But Gaultier came fighting back to level the match at 2-2 in a dazzling display as he countered everything Matthew could muster and as they left the court, the pumped Frenchman looked as though he would finally end his championship hoodoo.
But the sheer effort of forcing himself into contention wore the Frenchman down and Matthew, the epitome of physical attrition, won the final game 11-2 to take the match and leave Gaultier heart-broken for a fourth occasion.
1986: Men's World Championship Final
Ross Norman 3-1 Jahangir Khan, 9-5, 9-7, 7-9, 9-1
In 1986 Jahangir Khan was in the midst of the greatest winning streak ever known in professional sport. The iconic superstar from Pakistan had won five World Championships back-to-back to assert his dominance on the sport and had beaten Norman to the title in ‘85.
But Norman’s infamous words came true in the final of the 1986 World Championship when his 3-1 victory ended the Karachi-born legend’s 555-match winning streak in what was one of the most significant World Championship victories ever.
In an enthralling final, the New Zealander countered everything Khan threw at him and even claimed a remarkable fourth game 9-1 to win his only World Championship crown and go down in the history books as the man who ended Khan’s unparalleled streak – one of the greatest ever seen in sport.
1989: Men's World Championship Final
Jansher Khan 3-2 Chris Dittmar, 7–15, 6–15, 15–4, 15–11, 15–10
Jansher Khan and Chris Dittmar has met two years previously in the World Championship final with Khan winning 3-1 on that occasion.
This was the first year in which the scoring system had changed, with competitors playing up to fifteen points rather than nine.
Dittmar started the game brilliantly and took the first two games in comfortable 15-7 and 15-6 victories. The Australian had beaten Pakistan legend Jahangir Khan the day before in a gruelling five-game-thriller and it resulted in Dittmar tiring as the match went on.
Jansher Khan took advantage of this and showed a glimpse of what was to come in his career by retaliating with a terrific comeback. He won the next three games in a row, 15-4, 15-11 and 15-10 to take a historic win.
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