Thursday, 17 May 2012
Amr Shabana, the squash great who has somehow never won the British Open, believes that at the age of 32 he still has a chance of capturing the famous title.
The four-times former World Open champion from Egypt looked in great form while coming from 7-9 down in the first game to win 12-10 11-4 11-4 against Olli Tuominen, the world No.23 from Finland, afterwards speaking with renewed optimism about his chances.
"I am playing well and I don't think that on a good day I am worse than any player in the tournament," said Shabana, who earlier in the year seemed to have lost the desire to compete.
"I think I have just as good a chance as anyone."
One of the reasons may be that this British Open, revived after three years, has a more spectacular venue, higher prize money and a far more exciting ambience than for a long time.
In recent times, when the 80-year-old tournament has been struggling for survival
, it has lacked some of its former lustre - and so have some of Shabana's performances.
"I always play better if the tournament is better," added the man whose total of 29 titles is more than any other man on the tour.
"The better you make conditions for the players the better they will perform.
"If the tournament is right, with a good atmosphere and good crowds, you feel very nice. If it isn't you feel like you want to go home."
Shabana now has a sumptuous clash with Ramy Ashour, his brilliant younger Egyptian compatriot who is also a former world champion and recently made a comeback after a long-lasting hamstring injury.
Now Ashour made a comeback of a different kind, from two games down and 4-8 down in the third game against unlucky Spnaird Borja Golan to win 7-11 3-11 11-9 11-1 11-6.
Golan did nothing wrong. Ashour simply switched up a gear as danger came close, launching winner after wristy winner which earned him 22 points out of 24 at one stage.
"For two games he was a lot of steps ahead of me - footwork, attitude, mentality, and racquet preparation, all of that," Ashour said.
"Sometimes I'm too nice. It depends what's in my head. And I can't tell you what that is - there are too many things."
Earlier Annie Au of Hong Kong became the first Chinese player in the quarter-finals of a major tournament when she also made a tremendous comeback from two games down, overcoming England's Alison Waters 9-11 7-11 11-9 11-9 11-7.
Second-seeded Englishwoman Jenny Duncalf ended Donna Urquhart's campaign with a tough 11-2 11-13 11-4 12-10 second-round win over the Australian.
Four-times champion Rachael Grinham is the only Australian left in the event and plays rising New Zealand star Joelle King on Thursday.