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David and Shabana dominant in ToC finals


2014 J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions, Finals:

[1] Nicol David (Mas) bt [2] Laura Massaro (Eng)     11/4, 13/11, 11/8 (45m)
[7] Amr Shabana (Egy) bt [1] Grégory Gaultier (Fra)   11/8, 11/3, 11/4 (42m)

David and Shabana dominant in ToC finals

10-14TC42640Egyptian squash maestro Amr Shabana dominated Gregory Gaultier in the final of the 2014 J.P Morgan Tournament of Champions, beating the Frenchman 3-0 to seal the title in New York’s Grand Central Terminal.

Shabana was in ominous form from the very first point, looking back to his best, and displayed the calibre of talent that saw him occupy the No.1 ranking for 33 consecutive months between 2006 and 2008.

Shabana’s victory, his first PSA World Series event title since 2011, and his third ToC title after victories 2006 and 2007, also prevents Gaultier from becoming World No.1 outright in February as the Aix En Provance man now goes level with England’s Nick Matthew atop the rankings.

12-14TC42817“Greg wasn’t maybe at his 100 per cent best tonight but I took full advantage of that,” said Shabana.

“I can remember so many times when he has beat me 3-0 when I have been playing my best so I’m happy to win today especially as it has been eight years since I last won the title here and playing a final here is such an amazing experience.

“Everything came together for me this week. You can do all the training you want but you still need things to go your way and that’s what happened for me this week so I’m going to remember it for a long time. 

“I had a tough few years with injury and every time you get injured you don’t know if you’ll be back again. I’ve had moments when I’ve thought that would be it for me but luckily I’ve kept my head down and I’m ok for now.”

08-14TC41791World #1 Nicol David claimed her first J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions title with a resounding 11-4, 13 -11, 11-8 victory over world #2 Laura Massaro on the iconic glass court in Grand Central Terminal

“The ToC is huge,” said the Malaysian superstar after the match. “There is something in the air here. I get goose bumps every time I walk into Grand Central.”

There was a buzz and eager sense of anticipation among the crowd as they took their seats under the majestic chandeliers in Vanderbilt Hall for the women’s final. This was the first time the most dominant player in women’s squash over the past seven years had competed in the Tournament of Champions and the first time in a decade that the two top players in the sport would contest the final.

04-14TC41490“In that first game, both of us were figuring out how the ball was going to play this evening,” David said. “The ball got faster as we were playing, and I was able to play some good, low attacking shots.”  In what seemed like the blink of an eye, David had notched the first game, 11-3.

Massaro was the attacker at the start of the second game. After getting coaching advice from her husband Danny, the English #1 took a 7-2 lead by playing more aggressively and moving up in the court. Just as it looked like Massaro was well on her way to evening the match, David dug in and began chipping away at Massaro’s lead.

“As soon as Nicol’s back in the game at all, she’s like a dog with a bone,” said Massaro. “She doesn’t let go.” The seven-time World Open champion reeled off six straight points to move ahead 8-7. Massaro evened the score at 8 all. Over the next eight points, David would take a one point lead and Massaro would tie the score. At 9-10, Massaro saved a game ball, but David converted the next game ball opportunity, 11-9. “I just kept telling myself, ‘keep going, keep going, keep going,’” said David about her come-from-behind second game win.

At the start of the third game, the players exchanged points until David surged ahead, 7-4. Massaro fought back to 6-7 and then saved two game balls when her opponent took a 10-6 lead. But the top seed was not to be denied the one major title missing from her resume, and closed out the championship 11-8 in the third game.

03-14TC41378“I wanted this title badly,” said the 30-year-old from Penang. After the match, she basked in the glow of the majestic chandeliers and the appreciation of a squash savvy crowd who savored the opportunity to see this great champion in action, up close, on the ToC glass court.

Even though she now has 72 WSA titles to her name and has been at the top of the rankings for 89 consecutive months, the 2014 ToC champion is still enthralled with her sport. “I have learned so much from this sport, and I am continuing to learn,” she said.When asked her most important lesson, David replied, ”How to trust myself and do what I am capable of.”

The fortunate spectators at the 2014 J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions were thrilled to witness that capability as Nicol David did what she does better than anyone else in the world – win yet another squash championship.


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