Ramy Ashour & Natalie Grinham Win Tournament of Champions Titles

Ramy Ashour & Natalie Grinham Win Tournament of Champions Titles
Egypt’s Ramy Ashour became only the third player to win the prestigious J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions title three times when he beat Gregory Gaultier in a dramatic sell-out final at the spectacular Grand Central Terminal in New York. Natalie Grinham of Holland retained her women’s crown.
 
Ashour, the reigning World No.1 and World Champion staged a dramatic comeback on the all-glass court under the magnificent chandeliers in the spectacular Vanderbilt Hall to recover from two games down to overcome French rival Gregory Gaultier 7-11 6-11 12-10 11-3 11-1 in 72 minutes.
 
Gaultier, who had upset title-holder Nick Matthew in a typically gladiatorial 93 minute four game semi-final, took the first two games of the eagerly anticipated final with relative ease, establishing possession of the ‘T’ and using devastating pace and tight length to keep the ball deep in the court to limit his opponent’s attacking options.
 
The 25-year-old Ashour, a renowned slow starter, eventually found his rhythm in third, and with a two-point advantage for most of the game was able to take the edge off his opponent’s previously relentless attack, before the Frenchman countered by hitting an audacious cross court kill at 9-10 down to tie the game. Just two points away from losing the match, Ashour regrouped and forced a loose ball from his opponent, who was pinned behind him, and flicked the ball for a backhand winner which was followed with a backhand cross court winner in the next rally to take the game.
 
The 20-minute third game had clearly taken its toll on the Gaultier who was unable to contain his rival’s fast and furious play nor prevent a succession of stunning reflex volley winners. Ashour, whose competitive desire was evident in his wide eyed and focused expression, sensed his opportunity to close out the match and conceded just four more points in the final two games, to become only the third player to win three Tournament of Champions titles, and the first since Peter Nicol in 2004.
 
"Once he saw my energy drop, he raised the pace even more and that was it for me," recalled an exhausted Gaultier after his second Tournament of Champions final appearance.
 
"The thing is, I have never seen Greg so relaxed as he was in the first two games," added the three time champion. "He was more than perfect in the first two games. With Greg playing so well in the beginning, I just had to keep digging. To beat Greg when is playing as well as he did at the beginning of the match, is amazing. I am so proud of myself."
 
Ashour, often lauded for his extraordinary shot-making ability, is not content to have just those skills to be his ultimate legacy and his dogged performances throughout the event, particularly his equally impressive 78-minute 5-11 11-8 12-10 10-12 11-4 victory over James Willstrop in the semi-finals, provided ample evidence of his fighting qualities.
 
In the women’s final, Natalie Grinham retained her Tournament of Champions crown and claimed her 19th WSA World Tour title with an 11-6 11-6 11-5 victory over Kasey Brown, a player whom she had never lost to in their previous six matches on the international circuit.
 
J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions, New York, USA
Men’s Final:
[4] Ramy Ashour (EGY) bt [3] Gregory Gaultier (FRA) 7-11, 6-11, 12-10, 11-3, 11-1
 
Women’s Final:
[4] Natalie Grinham (NED) bt [3] Kasey Brown (AUS) 11-6, 11-6, 11-5

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