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G.O.A.T: The Contenders 2000 – Present – Part Three

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.

Read part one, and part two from this era.

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

Amr Shabana

Nationality: Egyptian
Highest World Ranking: #1
World Championship titles: 4
British Open finals: 1
PSA World Tour titles: 33

Egypt’s Amr Shabana is widely considered to be one of the greatest players of all time, having won the majority of the top accolades the sport has to offer and also reaching the coveted World No.1 spot.

Nicknamed ‘The Maestro’, Shabana was crowned World Champion on four occasions in 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2009.

The talented left-hander from Cairo first showed promise when he was the runner-up in the British Under-14 Open in January 1993. Four years later he reached the final of the British Under-19 Open.

Shabana also represented the winning Egyptian team in the 1999 Men’s World Team Squash Championships held in Cairo and the 2009 Men’s World Team Squash Championships held in Denmark – when they won gold.

One of Shabana’s finest moments came in 2003 when he crowned a remarkable year in when, as ninth seed, he forced his way through a star-studded field in the World Open in Pakistan. He dispatched title-holder David Palmer, the third seed, in five games in the third round. He then went on to take out Palmer’s Australian’s teammate Anthony Ricketts in the last eight.

After defeating Karim Darwish in a four-game semi-final, Shabana clinched the historic title by beating Thierry Lincou in the final 15-14, 9-15, 15-11, 15-7 to become Egypt’s first winner of the sport’s premier title.

After a disappointing following year, in which his only final appearance was in the British Open where he lost to David Palmer. Shabana stormed back to the top of his game in 2005. Over a short career he acquired a new coach and a new manager and the effect was plain to see as he clinched title after title.

The World Open in Hong Kong confirmed his renaissance as he brushed aside Lee Beachill and Peter Nicol before powering past Palmer in the final to become the first player since the heyday of the Khans to win the World Open title for the second time.

The next year continued to see the titles flow for Shabana as he wrote his name into the squash annals to become the first Egyptian player to reach the World No.1 ranking in April 2006.

In 2007, Shabana was crowned World Champion for the third time in five years at the World Open in Bermuda and later in January 2009, Shabana’s 33-month reign as World No.1 was ended by his countryman Karim Darwish. However, later that year he defeated compatriot and defending World Champion Ramy Ashour to become World Champion for the fourth time in his esteemed career.

Nick Matthew

Nationality: English
Highest World Ranking: #1
World Championship titles: 3
British Open titles: 3
PSA World Tour titles: 35

England’s Nick Matthew has achieved everything there is to achieve in squash with the Yorkshireman racking up an impressive 35 PSA World Tour titles during his glittering career.

Matthew is widely regarded as one of the greatest squash players of all time, having achieved all of the sport’s major honours multiple times and has been ranked World No.1.

Nicknamed ‘The Wolf’ for his ferocious will to win and merciless reputation on court, Matthew is also regarded for his athleticism, strength and fitness.

The Englishman first came to the squash world’s attention as an outstanding junior player. He was the 1999 British Junior Open Under-19 champion, a semi-finalist at the 1998 World Junior Championships and a member of the England team which won the 1998 World Junior team title.

In 2006, Matthew became the first English player to win the British Open men’s title since 1939. In the final against France’s Thierry Lincou he came from 0-4 down in the fifth game to win 11-8, 5-11, 11-4, 9-11, 11-6. But it was 2009 which saw Matthew top the men’s World Rankings as he became World No.1.

2010 continued Matthew’s spell of dominance as he claimed the Gold Medal at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi when he defeated compatriot James Willstrop.

He then won the iconic World Championship title at the end of the year held in Saudi Arabia, defeating Willstrop once more, to become the first Englishman in the event’s 35-year history to win the tournament.

He followed that up by winning the event the year after, this time beating France’s Gregory Gaultier in the final to add to his list of accolades and in October 2013, he released his autobiography Sweating Blood: My Life in Squash to positive critical acclaim.

Matthew won the World Championship for the third time in November of that year, defeating Gaultier once more. 2014 also saw more Commonwealth Games success for Matthew despite a knee injury which overshadowed his preparations. The Yorkshireman carried the baton through his native Sheffield before the game and was then chose to be flag bearer at the opening ceremony in Glasgow by his fellow athletes.

In 2015, Matthew lifted the Windy City Open title to earn the distinction of becoming the oldest ever winner of a PSA World Series event at the age of 34.

A superb season was capped by an honour from the Queen who awarded Matthew an OBE in her birthday honours list for his services to squash.

At the start of the 2017/18 season Matthew announced that he would retire from professional squash at the end of the season at the age of 37.

Rachael Grinham

Nationality: Australian
Highest World Ranking: #1
World Championship titles: 1
British Open titles: 4
PSA World Tour titles: 35

Former World Champion Rachael Grinham is one of the most recognisable names on the PSA World Tour with a lengthy career that has seen her win some of the biggest prizes that the women’s game has to offer.

With an unorthodox, unpredictable game, she showed her pedigree from a young age, winning the World Junior Championship at the age of 16, before she breached the world’s top 20 four years later.

2001 saw Grinham break into the top ten in the World Rankings and she participated in the first family final ever on the Tour, defeating sister Natalie to claim the Kuala Lumpur Open title.

Two years later, Grinham won the prestigious British Open for the first time by defeating Cassie Jackman in the final and she retained the title in 2004 while rising to the World No.1 spot.

The Australian was superb in the 2004/05 season and kept her World No.1 ranking for 16 consecutive months. She faced heartbreak though in the 2005 World Championship final as she fell to Nicol David after beating her sister in the semi-final.

2007 was Grinham’s finest year as she gained revenge on David in the final of the British Open, coming from 2-0 down and saving match balls in the fourth game to lift the event for the third time in one of her most iconic matches. Shortly afterwards, she bested her sister yet again to win the coveted World Championship for the first time.

In addition to her PSA World Tour achievements, Grinham also enjoyed success on the international circuit with two Gold Medals at the Commonwealth Games in 2006 and 2014.

Grinham secured gold with her sister Natalie in the Women’s Doubles event at the 2006 Games in Melbourne and another gold followed at the 2014 Games in Glasgow with former World No.1 David Palmer in the Mixed Doubles event.

Injury struck later on in her career as she slipped out of the world’s top five and she still continues to play on the PSA World Tour, currently ranked at World No.29.

Natalie Grinham

Nationality: Australian
Highest World Ranking: #2
World Championship finals: 4
British Open finals: 1
PSA World Tour titles: 21

Next up on the countdown is Rachael’s sister, Natalie Grinham, who during her career won three Commonwealth Games Gold Medals and finished runner-up at both the World Open and the British Open.

She also reached a career-high of World No.2 in 2007.

The Australian finished runner-up at the World Championship four times. In 2004, she lost in the final to Vanessa Atkinson 9-1, 9-1, 9-5. Two years later in 2006, she fell at the hands of Malaysian superstar Nicol David in what was dubbed to be one of the greatest finals in Women’s World Championship history.

Grinham took a 2-1 lead before David powered back to secure the iconic title by a 1-9, 9-7, 3-9, 9-5, 9-2 scoreline.

There was more anguish to follow for Grinham as in 2007 she finished runner-up once more when she lost to sister Rachael 9-4, 10-8, 9-2. She also came face to face with David once more in the final in 2009 when she finished runner-up to the Malaysian once again.

As well as reaching numerous World Championship finals, Grinham also reached the final of the sport’s oldest tournament – the British Open – in 2005. Grinham faced David in another instalment of their long rivalry which saw them meet 30 times during their careers with 16 of their contests coming in tournament finals.

On this occasion, David showed her strength once more as she completed a 9-6, 9-7, 9-6 victory to lift the British Open trophy.

Some of Grinham’s biggest achievements came on the international stage where she claimed three Commonwealth Games Gold Medals.

She claimed all of her Gold Medals at the 2006 Commonwealth Games on home turf in Melbourne when she won the Women’s Singles, Women’s Doubles with sister Rachael and Mixed Doubles with partner Joe Kneipp, events representing Australia. She also secured a bronze medal at the 2002 Games in Manchester in the Women’s Doubles event with Rachael once again.

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