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Squash champs Shabana and David's success formula

By Jenny Coutinho
From www.merinews.com

SUSTAINING AT the top is a Herculean task in any sport. Squash is no different. Current world number one Egyptian Amr Shabana in the men’s section and Malaysian Nicol David in the ladies have been adopting different approaches to the games to keep themselves on the top perch.

Shabana, who recently lost in the World Open championship in Manchester, England to fellow Egyptian, Ramy Ashour in the semi-finals, treats every game as an important match of his life

"I treat every match as an important match. I stop thinking that I am the top ranked player when I step on the court and I try to keep it simple. I keep reminding myself that I have to stick to the basics of the game."

But then doing the same thing again and again for several days and months, is not an easy thing. Shabana too finds that some days, he lacks the will power and commitment.

"Sometimes, I don’t find the will power to go out there and deliver. I’m sure everyone goes through that, but then I, remind myself that I have been in a blessed position of being the World No1, a position which many are trying to snatch from me. The thought of holding on to the top position, eggs me on to give my best."

But then his status as the undisputed leader at the top is facing a threat. It is a position which he continues to hold for the last 31 months. A six-month break from tour meant that he lost a number of points.

"From January to May I took a break from the game after many years. It is likely to affect my ranking in the coming months. I am eager to do well in the all the upcoming tournaments, to maintain my top billing. I had to choose between my new born baby and Squash. I choose to be with her. Sometimes the family has to come first and here I fell for it. I might have to give away my long running reign for that."

His greatest strength he says is his determination to reach his goal and will overcome everything else to reach it.

"What ever goal I set I make sure I achieve it at any cost. That has been my strength all through."

Women’s world number one David, who is having an un-interrupted spell of 27 months as the top, tries to forget that she is the world number one to keep the pressure off.

"The moment you start thinking that you are No. 1 you are putting yourself in a pressure situation. The best is to expect anything to happen when you enter the courts and everything will fall in its place."

"It feels great to be there at the top. It is challenging to keep to your position. I do not go into a match with a game plan. I try to gauge the opponent’s moves. Force the opponent to make mistakes. Try and add a thing or two to your game to keep the opponent guessing."

And success motivates her to add to the titles she has already won so far.

"Success motivates me to do well and when you set your tournament targets and win it. It further keeps the adrenalin pumping."