After enjoying the most successful year of his career, Egypt’s Ramy Ashour reclaims the world number one ranking in the new January 2013 Dunlop PSA Men’s World Squash Rankings, published today by the PSA.
The 25-year-old from Cairo, whose unique style has made him the biggest draw on the international squash circuit, first topped the rankings three years ago – and held it for all but three months of 2010.
But a series of injuries led Ashour to slip to No5 early last year – before setting off on a remarkable 2012 campaign which saw him reach the finals in seven Tour events, with title triumphs in five, including the Australian Open, US Open and Hong Kong Open.
Ashour becomes the first player since Pakistan’s legendary Jansher Khan in the mid-nineties to make the final of every event in which he competed in a calendar year.
It was trophy success in December’s Qatar PSA World Championship in Doha, where he was seeded five, that clinched the New Year’s first world number one ranking for Ashour – ahead of Englishmen Nick Matthew, at No2, and James Willstrop, the world’s top-ranked player for almost all of 2012, who drops to third place.
“Being number one in the world and world champion means a lot to me,” said Ashour. “When you feel that the hard work has paid off, you just thank God for the reward – and feel proud of yourself, your team and grateful for everyone who helped you, like my manager Fatma Kader, my parents and my brother and my training partners Hossam Shadad and Haitham Ashoush.
“I think the harder part starts now – which is trying to maintain injury-free, and the No1 position,” Ashour continued. “My biggest aim this year is to get stay injury-free – and to see squash as an Olympic sport where it belongs.”
While Frenchman Gregory Gaultier moves down to fourth position, further Egyptian success comes in the form of Mohamed El Shorbagy, the 21-year-old who rises to a career-high No5. Already the youngest player in the world top 20, Alexandria-born El Shorbagy celebrated the biggest success of his young career by reaching the World Championship final for the first time – after upsetting top seed Willstrop in the semis.
Egyptian Amr Shabana – one of five in the top nine – opens the latest chapter in his distinguished career by beginning the tenth year of an unbroken period in the world top 10. The 33-year-old four-time world champion, who reached December’s World Championship quarter-finals for the tenth year in a row, moves up to No8 in the new list.
Spaniard Borja Golan also has much to celebrate after returning to a career-equal-high world No10. The 29-year-old from Santiago de Compostela made his top ten debut in September 2009 – after which he sustained a career-threatening knee injury, resulting in a long lay-off which saw his ranking plummet to 103. But a determined fight back saw Golan extend his PSA title haul to 27 at the Dayton Open in the USA in November, and then claim unexpected World Series quarter-final berths in both the Hong Kong Open and World Championship.
Surprise successive title triumphs at the Colombian Open and Malaysian Open in September have led to Egypt’s Tarek Momen (who recently got engaged to world number two Raneem El Weleily) celebrating a best-ever world No12 ranking.
And there is a welcome return to the world top 20 after a two-year absence by Ong Beng Hee. The popular Malaysian made his PSA ranking debut in November 1995 – and reached a career high No7 11 years ago. But the evergreen 32-year-old from Kuala Lumpur won his 14th PSA title at the Motor City Open in the USA in January – and maintained consistent success throughout the year which he rounded off with a last 16 berth in the World Championship in Qatar.
January 2013 top 20 (inc. points average):
|5||||Mohamed El Shorbagy||EGY||623|
|14||||Laurens Jan Anjema||NED||330|
|20||||Ong Beng Hee||MAS||275|