PARIS: Egyptian Ramy Ashour became the youngest squash world number one since Pakistani legends Jahangir Khan and Jansher Khan in the 1980s when the January rankings were released on Wednesday.
The 22-year-old – who earlier this month captured the PSA Masters in India and the Saudi International – is the third Egyptian to top the rankings this year and the 15th ever world number one since the rankings were first introduced in the mid 1970s.
After becoming the youngest ever Men’s World Junior (Under-19) Champion in August 2004 at the age of 16, Ashour – known as the ‘Cairo King’ – went on to become the first to win it a second time two years later in New Zealand.
The then teenager’s impact on the senior circuit was equally explosive.
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.
He enjoyed a superb 2009 campaign which saw him reach six Tour finals, winning four of them – including the final two Super Series events of the year at the PSA Masters and the Saudi International.
Ashour beat Englishman Nick Matthew in both finals with Ashour surviving the longest battle of his career in a dramatic 110-minute climax in Saudi.
Some consolation for Matthew is that he celebrates a career-high world number two ranking next month.
Pakistan will be represented in the top 20 in the New Year following teenager Aamir Atlas Khan’s four-place leap to 19th.
The 19-year-old celebrated surprise quarter-final finishes in both the Qatar Classic and Saudi International. -AFP