19 December 2011


Time goes by, and even though some champions are still there with their body, they are not really present anymore with their heart. Whilst I had the feeling that David Palmer was, and Thierry Lincou still is giving their all on the court, Amr Shabana looked this year somewhat half-hearted, a bit even at the US Open where he nevertheless beat everybody, Nick Matthew, the world #1 included. If you watch this rally against Ramy Ashour from 2007, you see a Shabana bouncing like a ball, split-stepping like thunder and even arguing passionately to receive a 'Stroke'. He was a lot less energetic most of 2011, and mostly the last few tournaments. I know, at this stage of your carrier, you must have a few redundant pains/injuries that make life not easier (this might be also Karim Darwish's case, another Egyptian monster on noticeable decline this year). Concerning the below rally: beyond creativity and energy, the other key word is sportsmanship; first Ramy playing a great cross volley instead of stopping for a 'Stroke' at 0:32, then the friendly handshake between the two after the 'Let' decision even though Shabana was after a 'Stroke' - I think even rightly, as Ramy's shot was pretty loose at that stage, but the referee might have considered Ramy's fair-play attitude at 0:32, where Shabana's ball was probably even more loose. If you consider only the shot, it could have been a 'Stroke', but I think it's the right refereeing philosophy taking into account the whole rally/game when deciding about borderline situations. Anyway, Shabana, after having skipped the Punj Lloyd PSA Masters last week, could still come back strong in London in a few weaks at the ATCO PSA World Series Finals, he seemed to enjoy himself there very much last year, probably also due to the shorter best-of-three games structure.