J.P Morgan Tournament of Champions 2013
 Ramy Ashour
7/11, 6/11, 12/10, 11/3, 11/1 (72m)
11/8, 10/12, 13/11, 11/3 (94m)
Ashour will have a fight on his hands in the finals when he takes on Gregory Gaultier who defeated defending champion Nick Matthew in four hard-hitting games. It was a gladiatorial contest between the two players known as being the strongest men on the PSA tour.
The first two games saw the players trading crackling drives and cross courts, shot for shot, and exchanging the lead on almost every other point. Gaultier drew first blood, winning the opening game 11-8. Matthew responded by grabbing the second, 12-10. Although Gaultier took the early lead in the third game at 5-3, he became irritated with the referees and the lead slipped away. When Matthew surged ahead to 10-6, it seemed a foregone conclusion that the 32-year-old Englishman, known for his competitive focus, would win the game and take the match lead.
But it was Gaultier who regained his focus. Two winners from Gaultier were followed by two unforced errors from Matthew and the game was tied at 10 all. When Gaultier won the game 13-11, the match momentum shifted dramatically to his racquet.
The 30-year-old Frenchman looked like a man on fire at the start of the fourth as he sprinted out to a 7-0 lead. A dispirited Matthew was unable to mount a charge and Gaultier finished out the game 11-3 to earn his second finals appearance at the Tournament of Champions.
“Credit to Gaultier for never giving up the third game,” said Matthew after the match. ”It was psychologically tough in the fourth; I couldn’t get my mind off not having closed the door when I was up 10-6 in the third.”
“I felt a bit flat at the end of the second game,” said Gaultier. “At one all, I knew it was going to be very tough. But when I won the third game, it gave me confidence and I forgot about being tired.”
Mohamed El Shorbagy
11/9, 13/11, 13/15, 11/4 (79m)
The semifinal between Gaultier and the El Shorbagy did at times resemble a slugfest. It was a fast and furious start from the very first point of play in the match between the third seeded Frenchman and the sixth seeded Egyptian. Both men were hitting the ball quickly and with tremendous pace.
Gaultier, however, managed to use the corners of the court more effectively than his opponent, and made El Shorbagy cover a lot of court. At 5-3 in the first game, the ensuing rally lasted several minutes with Gaultier winning the point on an El Shorbagy error. Although Gaultier seemed to be dictating the rhythm of the rallies, El Shorbagy hung tight and managed to close the gap to 9-10. Gaultier won the game, however, at 11-9.
Gaultier shot out to a 6-1 lead in the second, but again, El Shorbagy stayed close and tied the score at 11 all. The Frenchman, continuing to pull his opponent from corner to corner, snatched the second game 13-11. The intensity of Gaultier’s competitive desire to win this match was abundantly evident from the double fist pump and loud shout of self-encouragement before he left the court for the 90-second game break.
There was no lack of competitive desire on the young Egytian’s part. He continued to pummel the ball in an effort to overpower his opponent, but instead, Gaultier used the pace to his own advantage by picking up the ball quickly.
Gaultier, the 2009 ToC champion, looked as though he would close the match out in three straight games when he had match ball at 11-10, 12-11 and 13-12. The young Egyptian showed no fear as he fought off each match point, twice with gutsy cross court roll out nick winners. El Shorbagy won the third game 15-13.
The 29-year-old Frenchman, known for his mercurial temperament, demonstrated patience and mental fortitude in the fourth game. Continuing with his game plan to contain El Shorbagy’s potential power and explosive strength, Gaultier earned his semifinal berth with an 11-4 fourth game victory.
“He’s young and hungry,” said Gaultier after the match. “But I am old and hungry. I had to play very accurate shots and have good length, so I could keep him from volleying the ball. And I had to be aggressive at the right time.”
Shot selection was a key component of the match outcome:
“I was not playing the right shot at the right time,” El Shorbagy shared in his post- match analysis.
For Gaultier, the most important element of his winning game was the fact that, ”I kept my focus, stayed calm and relaxed.”
Becoming a father for the first time this fall has had a beneficial effect on Gaultier’s competitive mien. Now that squash is no longer the most important thing in his life, the new father has been more relaxed on court, and very possibly playing the best squash of his career.
second tour :
Tom Richards (Eng)
11/3, 11/6, 11/4 (45m)
premier tour :
Hisham Ashour (Egy)
11/6, 11/2, 11/1 (25mn)
The 30-year-old Frenchman played the briefest first round match, dismissing Hisham Mohd Ashour in three games in 25 minutes.