London: Squash legend Amr Shabana may have missed his chance of winning a title in Britain at long last after players, spectators, and staff, were evacuated during a spectacular emergency at the famous 125-year-old Queens Club.
The revolutionary new demountable stadium was still considered a risk to life and limb today after gales ripped a hole in the roof the night before the PSA World Series final, threatening the collapse of the giant synthetic structure and emptying the club even of its members.
Shabana, the 31-year-old four times former world champion from Egypt, now expects to complete his showdown with Nick Matthew, the World and Commonwealth champion from England, at a much later date.
It may also have to take place in another country, as the PSA searches for a venue and a time which fits the schedules of two of the busiest players in the world.
“Although it was an extremely unfortunate thing to happen to such a superb and ground-breaking event we are determined to find a way of completing the tournament,” said a PSA spokesperson prior to an emergency de-brief today.
Plans to finish the tournament on a conventional court at Queens were apparently scuppered because Shabana had had a flight to New York pre-booked for the Tournament of Champions at Grand Central terminal in five days time.
It left Matthew waiting to learn where and when he would get his chance of winning a third major title in three months and of capturing the title of the PSA Tour’s flagship event for the first time.
It also left the PSA to decide what action to take over the destruction of such a high profile, allegedly weather-proof stadium, which was erected alongside Queen’s
world famous tennis centre court in a rebranded event costing about a million dollars to stage.
The World Series finals were billed as a tournament which is “the new face of squash” and as an event which will lead the sport “into a new era.”
Instead it may lead to a period of uncertainty, as the legal, logistical, economic, and promotional implications of the disaster are assessed and addressed.
Later the PSA released a statement stating that the final will go ahead but the date and venue would be announced at a later date.
“In consultation with all parties involved, the Professional Squash Association has made the decision that the PSA World Series Final will go ahead.”
“Currently, we are working through the logistics and assessing forthcoming schedules to establish the exact date for when this will take place.”
“The PSA is committed to delivering a fantastic finale to what has been a world-class event. We look forward to announcing the date as soon as possible.”