January 2 - Ramy Ashour of Egypt has started 2013 at the top of his sport after he regained his number one position in the Dunlop PSA Men's World Squash Rankings, the Professional Squash Association (PSA) confirmed today.
The 25-year-old from Cairo took the top spot – a position he first claimed three years ago, after beating Briton Nick Matthew in the final of the 2009 Saudi International Squash Tournament, retaining the title for all but three months of 2010 – after he secured his second world squash title against compatriot Mohamed El Shorbagy in Doha last month.
A series of injuries had seen Ashour slip to number five in early 2012, but he bounced back to record arguably the most successful year of his career to date by reaching the finals in seven Tour events and claiming titles in five, including the Australian Open, US Open and Hong Kong Open.
Such success also made him the first player since Pakistan's Jansher Khan in the mid-nineties to reach the final of every event in which he competed in a calendar year.
"Being number one in the world and world champion means a lot to me," Ashour said.
"When you feel that the hard work has paid off, you just thank God for the reward – and feel proud of yourself, your team and grateful for everyone who helped you, like my manager Fatma Kader, my parents and my brother and my training partners Hossam Shadad and Haitham Ashoush.
"I haven't got a coach in the strict sense of the word, but we are like brothers - we respect each other's athletic mentalities and work together hoping for the best results.
"I think the harder part starts now - which is trying to maintain injury-free, and the number one position.
"My biggest aim this year is to get stay injury-free – and to see squash as an Olympic sport where it belongs."
Further Egyptian success comes in the form of El Shorbagy as the 21-year-old rises to a career-high of number five after reaching the World Championship final for the first time when he upset top seed Willstrop in the semis.
Another Egyptian Amr Shabana – one of five in the top nine – begins the tenth year of an unbroken run in the world top 10 after he reached December's World Championship quarterfinals for the tenth year in a row and moves up to number eight in the new list.
Spaniard Borja Golán returns to a career-equal-high of world number ten, as Britain's Daryl Selby sits at number 11, followed by Egypt's Tarek Momen, who achieves a best world number 12 ranking after surprise successive title triumphs at the Colombian Open and Malaysian Open in September.
There is a welcome return to the world top 20 after a two-year absence by Malaysian Ong Beng Hee, who won his 14th Tour title at the Motor City Open in the United States in January and maintained consistent success throughout the year, which he rounded off with a last 16 berth in the World Championship in Qatar.
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December 2012: Egypt's Ashour claims Qatar PSA World Squash title