US-based Nigerian squash player, Babatunde Ajagbe’s rise continues as he moved up ten places in the latest PSA Men’s World Rankings released yesterday (Tuesday, January 1st).
Ajagbe, who ascended from 218 to 196 in the December rankings to return to the top 200 for the first time since 2017 starts the year in fine fashion.
Although, the 31 year old did not feature in any tournament in December 2018, he was still able to accelerate to 186 in the world. His highest career ranking of 144 was achieved in December, 2014 during that year’s PSA World Tour.
For National Sports Festival double gold medalist, Abdulrahaman Yusuf, he drops three places to No. 276.
Another US-based player, Adewale Amao, champion in the $1,860 prize money Prime Atlantic PSA National Closed Satelite 2018 in Ikoyi, Lagos is rewarded with a nineteen-place rise to World No. 250 in the January rankings.
19 year old Adegoke Onaopemipo ‘Onas’ is the biggest Nigerian mover in the year-opening rankings. The promising athlete who made it to the final of the Ikoyi tournament in December shoots up from 606 to World No. 388.
New entrant – but experienced player, Idowu Enimakure is placed No. 475 globally.
Meanwhile, in the women’s rankings, undisputed Nigeria squash queen, Yemisi Olatunji enjoyed a meteoric leap as she climbed 45 places to 150 in the world. The younger Olatunji, Busayo remains at No. 286.
GAWAD RETURNS TO TOP FIVE IN MEN’S RANKINGS
In the international scene, Egypt’s Karim Abdel Gawad starts the new year inside the top five on the PSA Men’s World Rankings after his title-winning run at the inaugural CIB Black Ball Squash Open in Cairo last month.
Alexandria-born Gawad, a former World No.1, defeated World No.2 Ali Farag in the final to capture his first PSA World Tour Platinum tournament since January 2017 and is rewarded with a four-place rise to World No.5 in the January rankings.
Fellow Egyptian Mohamed ElShorbagy stays at No.1 for a 10th successive month after Farag squandered the chance to take top spot at the Black Ball Open. The battle for World No.1 will reignite at the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions later this month – if Farag wins the tournament and ElShorbagy bows out at the semi-final stage or earlier, then the former will claim top spot.
Germany’s Simon Rösner is the highest-ranked non-Egyptian at No.3, while Tarek Momen is the other player featured in the top five.
Colombia’s Miguel Angel Rodriguez and New Zealand’s Paul Coll stay at No.6 and No.7, respectively, while Marwan ElShorbagy drops three places to No.8. Frenchman Gregory Gaultier – who is currently out of action due to a knee injury – drops to No.9, with Mohamed Abouelghar completing the top 10.
Peru’s Diego Elias stays at No.11, while India’s Saurav Ghosal (No.12), Hong Kong’s Max Lee (No.13) and Australia’s Ryan Cuskelly (No.14) all retain their places. Germany’s Raphael Kandra has moved up two places to a career-high No.15 ranking.
England’s James Willstrop drops a place to No.16, with Egypt’s Omar Mosaad moving up to No.17. Switzerland’s Nicolas Mueller rises two places to No.18, while England’s Daryl Selby falls three spots to No.19.
The final place in the top 20 is taken up by Englishman Tom Richards, who returns to the top 20 for the first time since August 2013.
MASSARO AND SOBHY ON THE RISE IN WOMEN’S WORLD RANKINGS
England’s Laura Massaro and America’s Amanda Sobhy have moved up to World No.7 and World No.11, respectively, after the PSA Women’s World Rankings for January were released yesterday.
Massaro defeated Wales’ Tesni Evans to win the Monte-Carlo Squash Classic, PSA Challenger Tour event last month to lift her first PSA title since the British Open in May 2017.
Meanwhile, Sobhy has risen two places to No.11 – her highest ranking since October 2017 – and the Boston-based Harvard-graduate will look to break back into the top 10 when she competes on home soil later this month at the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions in New York.
Egypt’s Raneem El Welily will begin the new year at World No.1 ahead of previous incumbent Nour El Sherbini, while Nour El Tayeb stays at No.3. New Zealand’s Joelle King and Camille Serme take the other two spots in the top five.
Sarah-Jane Perry stays at No.6 ahead of compatriot Massaro, while Egypt’s Nouran Gohar drops to No.8. England’s Alison Waters rises a place to No.9, switching places with Evans, who rounds out the top 10.
Sobhy’s rise up the rankings means Hong Kong’s Annie Au and Malaysia’s Nicol David fall to No.12 and No.13, respectively, while India’s Joshna Chinappa moves up a place to No.14, swapping places with England’s Victoria Lust.
Salma Hamy stays at No.16, while Hania El Hammamy moves up three places to a career-high No.17 ranking. The Egyptian shares that spot with Hong Kong’s Joey Chan due to their equal points average.
Meanwhile, United States No.2 Olivia Blatchford Clyne drops two places to No.19, ahead of Yathreb Adel, who moves up two places to a career-high ranking of World No.20.
Report By: Ridwan Adeola Yusuf
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