Skip to content

G.O.A.T: THE CONTENDERS 2000-Present - PART ONE

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.

This week, we're looking at the best players between 2000-Present – each day we will profile some of the best players from this period and you can then vote for who you think is the greatest at the end of this week.

Voting is also open for the following eras:
1980-99
1960-79
Pre-1960s

Ramy Ashour

Nationality: Egyptian
World Championship Wins: 3
World Championship Finals: 5
British Open Wins: 1
British Open Finals: 3
PSA Tour Titles: 40

Described as one of the ‘most talented racket sport players ever’, Egyptian Ramy Ashour is unquestionably one of the greatest players of the modern era but a player who’s achievements could have been even greater were it not for a series of chronic injuries that have limited his playing time to just a handful of tournaments during the past five year period.

As a teenage prodigy – and the first player to win the World Junior Championship twice – Ashour suffered serious knee issues which forced him to adjust his style of play, an incident that led him to develop an unorthodox style that his rivals have described as ‘a total one-off’ while his enigmatic personality, often humorous post-match interviews and decision to spend most of his career without a formal coach have created a mysterious appeal that his seen him become a firm fan favourite worldwide.

After becoming the youngest World Junior Champion ever in 2004, he quickly adapted to the senior game and began to show off his unique talents in 2007, winning five major titles including the World Series Finals. In 2008 he then claimed the biggest title of them all with victory over Karim Darwish in the World Championship final.

He added a second World Championship crown in 2012 with victory over Mohamed ElShorbay in a thrilling encounter in Qatar that came when he was at the peak of his powers. During the 2012/13 season when he went 15 months and 49 matches unbeaten, a streak that saw him win nine consecutive titles and become the first player since Jansher Khan to reach the final in every event he played for the entire season. That streak came to an end at the 2013 World Championship when a hamstring issues forced him to retire at the semi-finals stage – a moment that signalled the beginning of a tumultuous period for Ashour.

A series of early retirements followed before he returned to full power with a seemingly unthinkable victory at the 2014 World Championship where, after a six month absence from competition, he returned to defeat Mohamed ElShorbagy in one of the greatest matches ever played.

However the injury issues soon returned and while at times he has shown glimpses of his mesmeric best, most recently winning the 2018 Grasshopper Cup without dropping a game, his body appears unable to withstand regular and constant completion play, leaving many fans to wonder just how good he could have been.

Gregory Gaultier

Nationality: French
World Championship Wins: 1
World Championship Finals: 4
British Open Wins: 3
British Open Finals: 5
PSA Tour Titles: 40

Considered to be one of the most charismatic players on the PSA World Tour, Gregory Gaultier is the most successful French player of all time and a player who has transformed from an emotional, often temperamental teenage prodigy, into one of the most consistent players around and the first player in the modern era to play in over 700 matches.

An explosive player and possibly one of the fastest and most dynamic athletes ever to play the game, Gaultier rose to province as a talented junior and finished as runner-up at the 2000 World Junior Championship.

He collected this first senior title just one year later and became an instant major title contender, really coming of age in 2006 when he collected the US Open crown and reached the final of the World Championship – beating World No.1 Amr Shabana en route to a title-decider with David Palmer.

That match would shape the next decade of Gaultier’s career. After taking the opening two games the Frenchman held match ball to win the title 3-0 only to see the opportunity go to waste as Palmer fought back to eventually win and inflict a heavy mental scar on Gaultier. The memories of that loss would return in 2007, 2011 and 2013 when he again lost in the World Championship final before finally exorcising the demons in 2015 when he clinched the prestigious crown, becoming just the second Frenchman after Thierry Lincou to win the World Championship.

In the years following his 2006 World Championship defeat Gaultier was a regular name in major event finals, but more often than not he failed to convert in the decisive matches. Major wins did come in 2007, when he became the first Frenchman ever to win the British Open, in 2008 when he won the World Series Finals for the first time and in 2009 when he claimed the Tournament of Champions for the first time.

Buoyed by that World title win in 2015, Gaultier looked to have gained a new confidence and in 2017, showing no signs of slowing down, he went on a six tournament winning streak that saw him become the oldest squash World No.1 in history in the process.

Despite being 35 years old, he remains a perennial title challenger and is still considered one of the players to beat and having suffered from a run of injuries over the past three years, he could still add further titles to his name before his career comes to an end.

Nicol David

Nationality: Malaysian
World Championship Wins: 8
World Championship Finals: 8
British Open Wins: 5
British Open Finals: 7
PSA Tour Titles: 80

At just 5ft 4in tall Nicol David may be diminutive in size, but her stature and legacy within the women’s squash scene is one of epic proportions.

Rising to prominence in 2001 when she won the World Junior title for the second time, becoming the first player of either gender to achieve the feat, David began to assert her authority on the senior squash scene in 2005 when she won six PSA World Tour titles, including the World Championship, to herald the start of what was to become an era of total domination for the Penang-born superstar.

That victory in the 2005 World Championships catapulted David to the top of the World Rankings for the first time in her career and, after dropping to No.2 for a four month spell later that year, her run of a further six wins including the successful defence of the World title in 2006 would see her regain the World No.1 spot – a position she then held for an unprecedented 109 consecutive months from 2006-2015, becoming the longest reigning World No.1 in squash history in the process to overtake the previous mark of 105 months set by Susan Devoy.

During that time-frame David won the World Championship title a total of eight-times, racking up a 56-match unbeaten spell, while she became the youngest person ever to receive a ‘Datukship’ in her home Provence of Penang. She reached a total of 100 PSA event finals – winning 80 – and won four Asian Games Gold Medals alongside two Commonwealth Games Gold Medals.

David’s reign atop the rankings came to an end courtesy of Egyptian Raneem El Welily but she continued to write new records into the annals, setting a new record for the longest ever run inside the World’s Top 5 at 143-months, and a new record for consecutive months inside the top 10 at 151-months.

Still ranked inside the top ten at 34-years of age, David could yet add more titles to what has already been one of the most glittering careers in all of world sport.

Nour El Sherbini

Nationality: Egyptian
World Championship Wins: 2
World Championship Finals: 4
British Open Wins: 2
British Open Finals: 3
PSA Tour Titles: 17

Despite being just 22-years-old, Egypt’s Nour El Sherbini has already written herself into the squash history books and put her name into the debate as one of the greatest players ever to pick up a squash racket.

The Alexandria-born player first captured the attention of squash fans when she clinched the World Junior Championship in 2009 as a thirteen year old, becoming the youngest player ever to win the tournament. She would go on to win the event on two more occasions – in 2012 and 2013 – to become the first player ever to win the title three times.

In 2012 she became the youngest player ever to reach the final of the iconic British Open, losing to Nicol David, while a year later she became the youngest player ever to reach the senior World Championship final – losing a narrow 3-2 battle to Laura Massaro.

In 2016 she avenged both those defeats to win the British Open for the first time in her career before then defeating Massaro to win the World Championship crown – becoming the youngest ever winner of the event, and the first Egyptian woman ever to win the sport’s most iconic title, in the process.

That victory also saw El Sherbini rise to the top of the World Rankings to become just the second youngest World No.1 ever, while she has maintained her place atop the World Rankings unopposed since then, racking up a 27-month consecutive stint as No.1, the fifth longest reign as World No.1 in women’s squash history.

In 2017 she successfully defended the World Championship title and added a second British Open title in 2018 and with a career that could easily continue for another decade, El Sherbini could eclipse the feats of Susan Devoy and Nicol David if she maintains the kind of success that has accompanied her throughout her career to date so far.

Join SQUASHTV and get closer to the PSA World Tour