Shabana stuns Lincou to clinch World Open crown

Monday December 22, 2003

Shabana stuns Lincou to clinch World Open crown

LAHORE: Unfancied Amr Shabana beat newly crowned world number one Thierry Lincou of France in the final of the World Open squash championship here yesterday, becoming the first Egyptian to win the title. 

The ninth seed described the 15-14, 9-15, 15-11, 15-7 win against Lincou, who had only dropped two sets en route to the final, as a “dream come true”. 

The 24-year-old from Cairo, who beat defending champion David Palmer of Australia in round three, received the winner’s crystal trophy and US$24,000 cheque from Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf. 

“The only chance I had to win against a player better than me in ranking was that I play an attacking game and that I did and thanks Allah almighty and the people of Pakistan who supported me, I have won this title,” said Shabana. 

“This is a dream come true and the best and perfect country to win the world title because Pakistan had produced stars like Jahangir Khan and Jansher Khan, who both watched me win the title.” 

The win was his fourth against the odds in the tournament after beating fifth seed Anthony Rickets of Australia in the quarter-final and countryman Karim Darwish, a former world junior champion, in the semi-final. 

Shabana was only the second Egyptian to feature in a World Open final after Ahmad Barada, who lost to England’s Peter Nicol in 1999.  

He came from 8-12 behind in the first set to level it at 14-all with a series of drop shots, taking the set 15-14. 

Lincou won the second set but failed to break his opponent’s nerve. 

“I was never bothered because I knew if I take the third set I will win the final and that came about,” said Shabana. 

“I always knew I had a big chance to win after all those upsets. Today was the toughest day of the tournament and to beat the new world number one Lincou is the best way to win the title,” said Shabana. 

Lincou, the fourth seed, had jumped to the world number one ranking after his semi-final win on Saturday. 

“I think Shabana had nothing to lose so he played freely,” said Lincou, after receiving the runner-up trophy and US$15,000. – AFP