Amr Shabana crowned a remarkable year in 2003 when, as ninth seed, he
stormed through a star-studded field in the World Open in Pakistan to beat
the future world No1 Thierry Lincou in the final – and become Egypt’s
first winner of the sport’s premier title.
The 24-year-old left-hander from Cairo first showed his promise when he was
runner-up (to compatriot Ahmed Faizy) in the British U-14 Open in January
1993. Four years later he reached the final of the British U-19 Open, where
he again lost to Faizy.
PSA member since 1995, Amr claimed his first Tour title in July 1999,
winning the Puebla Open in Mexico. Seven days later he grabbed his second,
the Mexico Open, again beating Australia’s Craig Rowland in the final.
But 2003 proved to be a year of extremes for the Egyptian – victory in the
revived Spanish Open in Seville (where, unseeded, he toppled second-seed
Australian Anthony Ricketts in the first round before defeating
higher-ranked compatriot Karim Darwish in the final) complemented by first
round losses in six other events. Before arriving in Lahore for the World
Open in December, Shabana had not fared better than a second round loser in
all other Super Series events that year.
made his World Open breakthrough, however, when he despatched title-holder
David Palmer, the third seed, in five games in the third round. He
then went on to take out Palmer’s Australian team-mate Anthony Ricketts
in the last eight.
Amr reached his seventh PSA Tour final after defeating Darwish (the Egyptian
No1) in a four-game semi-final. By now it was known that Lincou would be
the next world No1 - but Shabana continued to ignore the status of his
opponents as he swept to a 15-14 9-15 15-11 15-7 over the Frenchman to lift
the biggest title of his life.
Shabana spent most of 2004 failing to live up to his world champion status –
but rediscovered his form in the British Open in Nottingham in November
when, in his fourth meeting with Lincou since the World Open final, he beat
the Frenchman in straight games to reach his first final of the year.
stretched David Palmer to four games, which included two tie-breaks, but
ultimately went down to the Australian in 89 minutes.
Despite losing his World Open crown in Qatar following a further defeat by
Palmer, Amr came back with all guns blazing in 2005 – getting to the finals
of both the Windy City Open and Dayton Open with his remarkable racquet
wizardry. Former world number ones Jonathon Power and Lee Beachill were
notable scalps in these event – but he went on to defeat Beachill for the
second time in a month in the quarter-finals of the Tournament of Champions
in February, before bowing out to Anthony Ricketts in the last four.