Despite beginning his 19th year as a professional squash player, 33-year-old Amr Shabana proved that he is still the one to beat when he recovered from a game down to defeat England’s world number two Nick Matthew in today’s final of the ATCO PSA World Series Finals to retain the title he won for the first time last year.
The match brought to a thrilling climax the flagship PSA World Tour event at The Queen’s Club in London which featured the top eight players from last year’s elite PSA World Series championships. Staged on the unique all-glass Z-court, the final was broadcast live to more than 300 million homes around the world for the first time.
Two-time world champion Matthew, the event’s No2 seed from Sheffield, looked in commanding form as he took the opening game for the loss of just four points.
But a reinvigorated Shabana, the four-time world champion from Cairo, immediately turned the tables in the second and drew level after dropping just two further points.
The illustrious left-hander continued his assault on the home hero, taking the next two games to record a magnificent 4-11, 11-2, 11-4, 11-7 victory in 57 minutes.
The win marks the 30th PSA World Tour title of Shabana’s career – a milestone which puts him three titles ahead of compatriot Ramy Ashour, the world No1 and reigning world champion, and five in front of Matthew.
“It’s an amazing feeling to win here again,” said Shabana, who dedicated to his win to his wife Nadjla. “I’ve been playing this tournament for ten years and I love it. When everything is so well taken care of and you feel like all you need to do is come and play squash, then it really makes you want to raise your game.”
He was full of praise for his final opponent after their high-octane clash: “Nick doesn’t have any weaknesses – he’s an amazing athlete. I’m just happy to still be able to play like this against players like Nick today.
“I was just trying to hang in there and it worked out for me today,” added the modest Egyptian.
Matthew, denied the chance of becoming the first home winner of the title since 2001, was not unhappy with his own game: “I didn’t play badly at all, he was just too good for me – but I think he would have been too good for most people today,” said the 32-year-old Yorkshireman.
“I tried to get my aggressive game going but he didn’t give me anything. In the end, he was like a steam train.”
Both players were asked about the sport’s bid to join the Olympic Games programme in 2020. Shabana said: “I’m really looking forward to Squash getting into the Olympics – it’s a great game and it’s about time we got the recognition of being in the Games.”
Matthew added: “Shabs has won all those world titles – and he’s gone on and reinvented himself.
“If he carries on playing like that, 2020 might just be a possibility for him!”