18 May 2012


Yesterday we had a squashtv highlights and a bit of pre-match report of the Ramy Ashour-Borja Golan second round match that ended 3:2 to Ramy at the 2012 British Open.
Today I would like to publish the rally which swivelled the match totally. The rally starts, from Ramy's point of view at 0:2 down in games and 7:8 in the third. Up to this point Ramy was playing very messy, very much up and down, and more down than up. I have described some details of the mess in my yesterday post.
But the below rally has changed everything. The predator-artist that Ramy is came back all of a sudden (really in the last possible minute) and beyond the raise of quality in both his length and short game (every single shot in this rally by Ramy was near perfect) it was very evident watching in the first row how much this affected Golan mentally, who started to doubt suddenly and even suffer - apparently - physically in the fourth game that he lost 11:1. 
No way the reason of this apparent tiredness was due to the length or the intensity of the match that hasn't even lasted 25 minutes at that stage, that Borja dominated mostly and was full of short rallies with forced and unforced errors by Ramy. I presume that Borja's leggs suddenly started to tire because of the overdose of adrenaline that the very near possibility of beating Ramy Ashour at the British Open (and failing to do so by being so near to it at 2:0 and 8:6 in the third) has generated psychologically. 
Going into the match Golan was a clear underdog and I think his focus is excellent in general., but a bit less at crucial stages of the game. At the gate of such a big result, the stress can cause even cramps (do you remember that Argentinian tennis player, Guillermo Coria, who was leading type of 6:1/6:1 in the final of Roland Garros and started to cramp in the third so that he could hardly walk in the rest of the match and ended up losing it). Golan was not quiet there, but visibly his amazing reach, that beautiful last long lounge preparing tough-to-read ponded held shots has altered dramatically.
But let's get back to what Ramy was doing in this rally. Being three points away from defeat he avoided high risk shots (they were anyway not working very well during the match) but managed to apply more and more pressure with each shot. At 0:10 and 0:16 he played two near perfect - very deep but not overhit - backhand drives in situations where in normal circumstances he would have gone for drops. Then the two drops that he played at 0:13 and 0:21 were both low-risk (not too low, not too short) but highly accurate shots (tight and fading into the sidewall). Ramy, in this rally, pulled out the traditional squash-player of himself. He did not know when he was going to win the rally, but he knew he had to make sure to keep on the pressure.