Squash: Shabana thanks daughters for reigniting career

Amr Shabana gave credit to his children for helping to revive his career after surviving a first round scare at the British Open.

The four-time former World Open champion showed that he has rediscovered some of his old zest as he fought back tenaciously to beat his Egyptian compatriot Tarek Momen 11-7, 7-11, 6-11, 11-3, 11-6.

The 32-year-old Shabana spoke of lack of motivation and possible retirement earlier in the year, but now he thanked his three- and four-year-old daughters for re-igniting his career.

"Last month after Gouna (the international championships in Alexandria) I decided I want to play," said Shabana, whose determination to keep the ball tight and to focus hard in the fourth and fifth games was exemplary.

"I started changing my training and said to myself that I am not satisfied any more. I used to say 'if I don't win I am not happy' but now I am changing my attitude. Hopefully next season I will be even better."

Shabana was asked what caused the change. "Having kids," he replied. "I have to provide for them."

This is excellent news for a sport which looked as though it might lose a man who has arguably been the finest player of all in the new millennium, often winning titles in a uniquely daring and creative style which thrills crowds.

Here though Shabana was disciplined and tactically astute in the fourth and fifth games against a tremendously fast young opponent on a cold court which made the ball die quickly, concentrating on getting the basics right in none-too-easy conditions.

He played the ball as tight to the walls, maintained as good a length as possible, and picked his moments carefully before taking the ball in short, lest the speedy Momen score with fast kills and counter-drops.

"I had my plan and I stuck to it even though in the second and third games I couldn't achieve what I wanted," Shabana said. "I have to close the corners down with him, because he's so fast, and your shot selection becomes very important."

Shabana next plays either Olli Tuominen of Finland or another Egyptian, Ali Anwar Reda.

He could then have a quarter-final with his fellow Cairo resident, Ramy Ashour, the former World Open champion, in a half headed by the world number one from England, James Willstrop.

The world champion, Nick Matthew, another Englishman, is in the other half, along with Greg Gaultier, the former world number one from France.


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