Malcolm Willstrop on Amr Shabana

6th July 2018

I first saw Amr Shabana at the World Junior Championships in Cairo in 1996, where Lee Beachill, Stewart Boswell and Anthony Ricketts were also competing and Shabs had the reputation of being a shotmaker without serious intent.

Along came Nadjla and suddenly he became a different proposition, ending up as one of the great players of his or any other generation.

Unassuming and understated he is the player I most tell my aspiring youngsters to watch since he has a complete game.

Above all watch his total relaxation: there is no tension in the upper body or shoulders, saving energy and ensuring that the racket is unaffected.

malcolm willstrop amr shabanaThere may have been better athletes, but his relaxed approach served him well. He had no weak areas and a shot I always associate with him is when he played from deep, behind his opponent, manufacturing a low hard cross court, when straight looked the probability. It had the surprise element backed by his skilful execution.

One of the best ways to improve is to watch the World’s best, something readily available nowadays, identifying what has made them the players they are.

I feel lucky and privileged to have watched him many times when he was at his glorious best. I learned from watching him, so can you.

Malcolm Willstrop

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