Ashour downs Pilley to set up all-Egyptian Australian final

Andrew Dent reports

Top seeded Egyptian Ramy Ashour booked his place in the final of the HI-TEC Australian Open after overcoming Australian Cameron Pilley in a brilliant men’s semi-final in Canberra on Saturday.

Ashour will play fellow Egyptian Omar Mosaad in Sunday’s decider following his come-from-behind 8-11, 11-7, 11-7, 11-7 win over the Australian number one.

Ashour and Pilley are two of the best shot-makers in the men’s game and they put on an attacking master class for the large crowd in Canberra’s Royal Theatre.

Pilley took the early advantage when he claimed the first game, only for defending champion Ashour to take the second after jumping away to an early lead. The two men went point for point in the next two games, however, Ashour was able to win the big points towards the end to seal victory.

“The match could have been anyone’s it was so close,” Ashour said. “I’m glad to win in four and make the final.” Ashour said he knew what to expect playing against someone like Pilley.

“The top players go everywhere in the world together and play each other a lot,” he said. “We know each other’s games so well. There is a very thin line between the players in the top 20, so I’m happy with my performance.”

Pilley was also happy despite the loss: “That’s the best I’ve played all tournament, it’s the best I’ve moved all tournament,” he said. “I think I was definitely there, just towards the end of the games he’s pretty experienced in those situations.

“I’m happy I stuck to my game plan, but he managed to play some nice shots at the right time.”

Earlier, Mosaad downed an injured Tom Richards of England 9-11, 11-3, 11-3, 11-3 in the first of the men’s semi-finals.

Richards has been in great touch this week and looked on course for an upset when he won the first game, but he pulled a glute muscle towards the end of the game and his movement was severely restricted thereafter.

Mosaad took full advantage, going short at every opportunity and leaving Richards stranded at the back of the court unable to chase the ball down.

“It was my right glute, I just couldn’t push off it,” a devastated Richards said. “Generally I’m able to push through, but movement’s quite a big part of my game so when I couldn’t move, I couldn’t put any pressure on him.

“I think he knew because he started taking it in a lot more. It’s very, very disappointing because I thought I had a really good chance of winning this match today.

“I know Omar’s a very good player and it would have been very tough, but I think I could have beaten him.”


[2] Omar Mosaad (Egy) bt [4] Tom Richards (Eng)  9/11, 11/3, 11/3, 11/3 (45m)
[1] Ramy Ashour (Egy) bt [3] Cameron Pilley (Aus)  8/11, 11/7, 11/7, 11/7 (52m)

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