Brilliant Ashour denies he is world title favorite

Updated 08 December 2012
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Brilliant Ashour denies he is world title favorite

DOHA: Ramy Ashour, the world’s most in-form player, denied he is the popular favorite to win the title back despite another exhilarating performance to begin his world championship campaign yesterday.
Ashour was in as fine form with words in his second language as with his increasingly impressive deeds in an 11-7, 12-10, 11-8 first round win over Marwan Shorbagy, the world junior champion.
The man from Cairo illustrated some of the reasons why he has been winner of three Super Series titles this year, with moments of outrageous skill against his dangerously promising fellow Egyptian.
When told that many players regarded him as the likely forthcoming champion, Ashour replied: “they want me to think that I’m favorite, so that they can win.
What they really think is ‘he’s a good player, but I will be world champion myself.” Asked if he thinks he is the favorite, he evaded the question smilingly by saying: “I don’t think they think it.” It was notable though that he did not deny the suggestion.
Shorbagy nevertheless had his moments, saving a game ball to reach 10-all in the second game, and brilliantly saving four successive match points in the third.
But Ashour always seemed to be able to accelerate, masking his intentions with his unorthodox swing-less drives and flicks, and feeding off the adrenaline gained from his more spectacular efforts.
He also reveled in the fitness, which has inspired him with new-found belief, after finishing both the last two world championships with injuries and very public tears.
“I look back at how things were and I see myself now with my whole perspective changed,” the 25-year-old said. “My perspective on squash and on life in general is different.
“It’s so pleasing just to be healthy, and to play in a tournament, and to be among these incredible athletes. It’s something for real you know. You really appreciate things after they have been taken away from you.
“I have different priorities now. Of course I want to become world champion again, but my priorities are my health, to be able to play and my sanity.” Ashour next plays Adrian Grant, a top 20 Englishman, and if he wins again he could have a quarterfinal with one of his greatest rivals, Gregory Gaultier, also a former world No.1.
The third-seeded Frenchman similarly started well, winning 11-5, 11-5, 11-1 against Mohammed Abbas, an experienced former top 20 Egyptian who has been struggling with injuries.
Gaultier was struck down by injury himself a week ago, when he quit at match point down with a damaged ankle against Ashour in Hong Kong. But now his movement looked reassuringly good.


Manchester United inflict more semifinal misery on sorry Spurs

Updated 21 April 2018
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Manchester United inflict more semifinal misery on sorry Spurs

  • Manchester United come from behind to make FA Cup final.
  • Mauricio Pochettino yet to win a trophy as manager.

A third cup final with Manchester United for Jose Mourinho. More FA Cup semifinal misery for Tottenham.
While Mauricio Pochettino wins admiration for his style of football, the manager has yet to actually win a trophy in management.
A 2-1 collapse to United at Wembley Stadium on Saturday left Tottenham reeling from an eighth successive loss in the FA Cup semifinals.
Pochettino is responsible for two of the setbacks, having also fallen short against Chelsea last season.
At the stadium where Tottenham have been playing their home matches this season, Dele Alli's goal gave the 1991 FA Cup winners hope of turning around their miserable record in world football's oldest knockout competition.
But Alexis Sanchez leveled in the 24th minute and Ander Herrera struck the winner in the second half. It ensured Mourinho, who won the League Cup and Europa League in his first season at United, has a chance to also end this campaign with silverware against Chelsea or Southampton in the FA Cup final.
"We're getting used to being in finals," Herrera said. "This club is all about titles and finals."
While Mourinho has fallen short in the English Premier League behind newly crowned champion Manchester City, United are second and on course for their highest finish since Alex Ferguson retired in 2013.
Tottenham would settle with holding onto fourth place to secure a third season in a row in the Champions League.
Liverpool missed a chance to considerably stretch its advantage over Tottenham in one of Saturday's two league games. Juergen Klopp's side threw away a two-goal lead to draw with last-place West Bromwich Albion 2-2 and move only three points ahead of Tottenham.
Chelsea, who plays Southampton in the other FA Cup semifinal on Sunday, are five points behind Tottenham with four games remaining.

POGBA TRANSFORMED
When United fell behind to Tottenham, Paul Pogba was culpable.
A high ball was launched forward by Tottenham, a lethargic Pogba didn't try to break sweat in an attempt to prevent it reaching Eriksen. It allowed the Dane to whip in a cross for Alli to slide onto at the far post and strike past David De Gea in 11th minute
Had Harry Kane made a connection at the far post with Son Heung-min's cross three minutes later, Tottenham might have extended their lead.
Instead, United were able to draw level. Pogba made amends for his earlier inertia by dispossessing Mousa Dembele and delivering a cross that Sanchez headed past static goalkeeper Michel Vorm.
Sanchez did the hard work to create the winner in the 62nd, holding off Kieran Trippier and rolling the ball into the penalty area where Jesse Lingard teed up Herrera to shoot past Vorm.