Skip to content

G.O.A.T: The Contenders 1980–1999 – Part Four

Over the coming weeks, we’re giving you the chance to decide the greatest players in squash history as we take a look at the achievements and legacies of some of the most recognisable names ever to take to a squash court.

Last week we looked at some of the outstanding squash players to have graced the courts between 1960-1979 in part two of our public vote.

You can also vote for the pre-1960s era here.

We’re onto the 1980-1999 era now and will relive the achievements of some of the best players to have competed during that era.

Read part one from this era, part two, part three.

You can then determine the top players in a public vote at the end of the week.

Chris Dittmar

Nationality: Australia
Months Spent at World No.1: 2
World Championship Title Wins: 0
World Championship Final Defeats: 5
British Open Title Wins: 0
British Open Final Defeats: 2

Aussie legend Chris Dittmar was one of the only players to threaten to break up the Jahangir and Jansher Khan duopoly in the 1980s and 90s and came desperately close to lifting the sport’s biggest prizes, with only the two Pakistani powerhouses preventing him from building up an even bigger trophy cabinet.

Dittmar, who was known for his incredible fitness on court, was an extremely talented junior and twice reached the final of the World Junior Championships, while he took the honours at the prestigious British Open Junior Championship in 1981.

Two years later, Dittmar reached his first World Championship final where, seeded 13th, he blew away all challengers until he came unstuck against Jahangir in the final, who was in the midst of his incredible 555-match win streak.

Dittmar would go on to reach four further World Championships, with the other Khan, Jansher, being his nemesis in each final.

The closest he ever came to overcoming the eight-time World Champion was in the 1989 final, where he had come through an epic semi-final match with Jahangir to prevail in what is widely regarded to be one of the greatest matches in squash history.

His final clash with Jansher was a historic one – it was the first World Championship final to be played using point a rally, first to 15 scoring, and it looked like he was on course to shock the squash world when he took an incredible 2-0 lead.

But his brutal semi-final match finally caught up with the Australian as Jansher came back to deny him a maiden World Championship crown.

Dittmar made it to the final the following season, losing to Jansher this time in four games, while the man from Pakistan also got the better of him in the 1992 final.

Dittmar also has two British Open final appearances under his belt, falling to Jahangir in 1985 and Jansher in 1993.

Away from the sport’s two major tournaments, Dittmar was successful on the international scene as he captained Australia to the World Team Squash Championships title in 1989 and 1991, while his honour list also consists of three Australian Opens, three Canadian Opens, three European Opens, three New Zealand Opens, and two South African Opens.

Dittmar spent two months atop the World Rankings in 1993 before announcing his retirement the following year.

Dittmar, who during his playing career served as President of the International Squash Players Association, was inducted into the Squash Australia Hall of Fame in 2005 and has worked a sports commentator in Australia for both TV and radio.

Ahmed Barada
Nationality: Egypt
World Championship Title Wins: 0
World Championship Final Defeats: 1

Egyptian stars such as Mohamed ElShorbagy, Ramy Ashour and Ali Farag may sit at the summit of professional squash at present, but the explosion of Egyptian talent over the past decade and a half may never have happened were it not for the feats of Ahmed Barada.

When Ahmed Barada stunned the squash world by becoming the first wildcard to reach the final of a PSA Super Series tournament – as World Series events were known then – he laid down the foundations for Egypt’s domination of the sport at present.

He was the first Egyptian to win the World Junior Championships, beating compatriot Omar El Borolossy in the 1994 final, while he claimed four successive British Open Junior titles between 1991-1994.

Two years later, Barada stormed through a field that contained the likes of former World Champion Rodney Eyles and former World No.4 Chris Walker to reach the final of the Al Ahram International, the iconic tournament which takes place in front of the Great Pyramid of Giza – one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

Despite losing to the legendary Jansher Khan in the final, Barada had exploded onto the world squash scene and he would rise up to World No.2 1998.

Barada returned to the pyramids in 1999 as he took on Scotland’s Peter Nicol in the final of the World Championships, with the hometown hero having the hopes of 5,000 Egyptians in attendance on his shoulders.

He pushed Nicol hard in all three games but ultimately ran out of energy as he narrowly missed out on lifting the sport’s biggest trophy.

Barada bounced back from the disappointment though as he helped Egypt claim their first ever World Team Championships title just five days later.

His career was cruelly cut short though when, in 2000, he was stabbed by an unknown assailant at his home when returning home from a friend’s engagement party.

Barada resumed playing squash for a short while after recovering, but ultimately announced his retirement from the sport in 2001, aged 24.

Rhonda Thorne
Nationality: Australia
World Championship Title Wins: 1
World Championship Final Defeats: 1

Queensland-born Rhonda Thorne was one of the leading players in the early 1980s and has the distinction of winning the second ever World Championships in 1981, beating fellow Australian Vicki Cardwell in the title decider in Toronto, Canada, while she also won the Australian Open that year.

Thorne became World No.1 later that year and also held that honour in 1982, ultimately enjoying an unbroken five-year spell amongst the world’s top five between 1979-1984.

She reached a second World Championship final in 1983, again facing Cardwell in the final, but this time her compatriot got her revenge to deny Thorne a second Worlds crown.

Thorne teamed up with Cardwell in the 1981 World Team Squash Championships, where she captained Australia to a first place finish, while she led her country to a successful title defence two years later.

Thorne retired in 1985 but her feats were recognised when she was given the Queensland Sportswomen of the Year Award and she has also been inducted into the Squash Australia Hall of Fame.

Lisa Opie
Nationality: English
World Championship Title Wins: 0
World Championship Final Defeats: 2
British Open Title Wins: 1
British Open Final Defeats: 4

Between 1962-2004, all but one British Open title was won by either an Australian or a New Zealander but Guernsey-born Lisa Opie was able to put an end to 29 successive years of antipodean success when she captured the famous title in 1991.

Opie had threatened to lift the sport’s major titles on a number of occasions before then, twice finishing as runner-up at the World Championships and making it to four British Open finals, where each time she fell to either New Zealand’s Susan Devoy or Australia’s Vicki Cardwell.

She was also part of the England team that won the World Team Championships on four successive occasions between 1985-1990, which is the country’s greatest ever period of success at the championships.

Opie spent a number of years as England’s No.1 player and also spent two months at World No.1 in 1988, while she defeated compatriot Sue Wright three years later to become the first British woman to win the British Open for 30 years.

Opie announced her retirement from professional squash in 1995 and was awarded an MBE for services to squash in the New Year’s Honours List.

Join SQUASHTV and get closer to the PSA World Tour