As expected, Egypt’s 22-year-old Ramy Ashour heads the new January 2010 Dunlop PSA Men’s World Squash Rankings for the first time—becoming the youngest player to top the list produced by the Professional Squash Association since legendary Pakistanis Jahangir Khan and Jansher Khan in the eighties.
Ashour becomes the 15th men’s World No. 1 since the rankings were first introduced in the mid-seventies—and the third Egyptian in the past 14 months.
After becoming the youngest ever Men’s World Junior (U19) Champion in August 2004 at the age of 16, Ashour went on to become the first to win it a second time two years later in New Zealand.
The teenager’s impact on the senior circuit was no less dramatic: He lifted the trophy in the first PSA World Tour event he participated in (the Athens Open in Greece) and clinched the World Open title last year in only his third appearance in the sport’s most prestigious event.
His exemplary 2009 campaign included appearances in six Tour finals, with title successes in four—including the final two Super Series events of the year last month at the Punj Lloyd PSA Masters in India and the Saudi International in Saudi Arabia.
It was Nick Matthew that the Cairo King had to overcome in both the December finals—Ashour surviving the longest battle of his career in a dramatic 110-minute climax in Saudi—and the Englishman also celebrates a career-high world number two ranking this month.
The 29-year-old from Sheffield has enjoyed a remarkable return to form since spending most of last year on the sidelines after undergoing shoulder surgery. In addition to winning the British National title and the World Games gold medal this year, Matthew notched eight Tour final appearances—in all but one case against expectations—securing his first Qatar Classic crown and his second British Open trophy. The Yorkshireman’s new ranking is all the more stunning considering that he was ranked outside the top ten at the beginning of 2009!