Friday, October 30, 2009

Ashour & Shabana In Third Final Bid In Kuwait

Leading Egyptians Ramy Ashour and Amr Shabana will be hoping to contest their third successive final in Kuwait in next month's Kuwait Men’s World Open 2009, after sharing honours in the 2007 and 2008 Kuwait Open finals.

The pair are seeded three and four, respectively, in the premier event on the PSA World Tour which will be staged at the Salmiya Club and Green Island Resort from 1-7 November.

After winning the World Open title for the first time last year in England, 22-year-old Ramy Ashour will be bidding to become the first player to successfully defend the title since the legendary Jansher Khan in 1996.

Meanwhile Amr Shabana is also seeking to emulate an achievement of the great Pakistani player of the 80s and 90s.  World Open champion in 2003, 2005 and 2007, Shabana is hoping to become the first player since Jansher to win the title four times - a feat only otherwise achieved by Australian Geoff Hunt and Pakistani Jahangir Khan.

Currently ranked four in the world, Ashour made history in July 2006 when he became the first man to win the world junior title for a second time.  Less than a year later, the formidable youngster had leapt to a career-high No2 in the world rankings.

Ashour faces unseeded Mexican Jorge Isaac Baltazar Ferreira in the first round and is expected to meet Dutchman Laurens Jan Anjema in the last sixteen before a predicted clash with England's seventh seed Peter Barker in the quarter-finals.

In the lower half of the draw, the reigning World Champion is expected to line up against the sport's new French World Number One Gregory Gaultier in the semi-finals.

Amr Shabana will be celebrating his tenth successive appearance in the World Open in Kuwait - and has reached at least the quarter-finals in every event since 2003.  Despite ending a remarkable 33-month reign as world number one in January, the 30-year-old left-hander from Giza has continued to dazzle on the PSA World Tour - picking up the Malaysian Open and US Open titles in the summer before clinching his fourth successive Hong Kong Open crown earlier this month.

Shabana takes on English qualifier Shaun le Roux in the opening round, before a likely confrontation with Malaysia's 12th seed Mohd Azlan Iskandar in the last sixteen round.  The draw predicts a clash with Australian rival David Palmer, a two-time World Open champion, in the quarter-finals before a meeting with top-seeded compatriot Karim Darwish in the semi-finals.

However, should Ashour and Shabana confound the seedings to contest the 2009 World Open final, it will be the pair's 13th PSA Tour meeting.  And it is the senior of the two who leads the current head-to-head standings, at 7-5.

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