New Delhi: Former world number one and top seed for the 2011 Punj Lloyd PSA Masters, Ramy Ashour is playing the kind of game that could very well hand him his second title in three years in this country. But the squash ace from Egypt who won the inaugural edition in Mumbai before giving a miss to the event last year because of injury, is determined not to get too ahead of himself, and feels that all the players in the draw are equally dangerous as far as he is concerned.
Having won his pre-quarter match against Australia's Cameron Pilley, Ashour next faces the fifth seed Peter Barker of England in the last eight stage of the tournament.
In an exclusive interview to IbnLive.com, the 2008 World Open champion analyses how the sport has evolved over the years and also talks the two legends of the game, Pakistan's Jahangir Khan and Jansher Khan.
Q: How do you perceive Peter Barker, your opponent in the quarter finals? Do you consider him as a major threat considering that you have beaten him in your last four meetings?
A: For me every player is a threat. I can't say this guy is tougher than this guy. I believe that any guy can beat any guy. There is no guarantee.
Q: Any particular player that you are looking out for as the tournament moves on, whom you feel you need to be careful of? What about Karim Darwish (second seed) and James Willstrop (third seed)?
A: They are all great players. They have all been doing very well. Nick Mathew (world number one) is out because of injury. He is going to come back stronger in the next tournament. I was injured recently, I am back now and hopefully I can keep going. I am just trying to be positive and be happy with whatever the outcome is.
Q: During the 1980s and 90s, you had Jahangir and Jansher Khan calling the shots and there were some Australians around during that time i.e. Rodney Eyles, Brett Martin and Chris Dittmar. Now the rivalry is between the Egyptian and English players. How would you compare the two eras?
A: The Pakistanis at that time were the legends of the game and no one could ever come near them. We are not better or lesser than them. The way they played and the way we play is different. Earlier on a game use to end at 15 points. The courts were different, the quality of the racquets and the strings were different. Things are tougher now even though the scoring system has reduced the number of points to win a game (to 11). Earlier it was just the top five or six in the world who were playing well, now it’s the top 50 because of the technology and the knowledge. The English picked up the style of the Egyptian game and mixed it with their game. Now it’s our turn to do the same and restore the balance. The mixture of styles, the mixture of characters and courts is what makes the game interesting and excitable for everyone to come and watch.
Q: What are your plans for the rest of the year and the coming year in 2012?
A: God knows!
Q: How about reclaiming your number one position?
A: I am taking each day as it comes and not thinking ahead. Right now, my biggest challenge is to remain injury free, replenishing my body with minerals and the right kind of food. As long as I am doing this, I don’t care about winning the World Open, about being world number one or two. I just want to stay injury free, do my best in whatever way possible, whether it is competition or training or something else.