Gunning for Power

MIKE RUTSEY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:14 AM ET

Both on and off the court, Amr Shabana has the bearing of a champion.

Easy going, in control, self assured, Shabana is looking forward to meeting Montreal's Jonathon Power in the final of the 2006 PACE Canadian Squash Classic.

SHOWDOWN COMING

Both Shabana, ranked second in the world, and Power, the world No. 1, last night took steps towards that showdown -- both posting quarter-final victories.

Shabana, of Egypt, downed fellow countryman and good friend Wael El Hindi 12-10, 11-6, 8-11, 11-4 while Power triumphed in a spirited match against Borge Golan, beating the Spaniard 11-5, 11-3, 11-7.

Tonight in one semi-final, Power takes on France's Gregory Gaultier, No. 12 in the world, who romped by Jean-Michel Arcucci, also of France, 11-0, 11-4, 11-0. Power holds a 4-1 advantage in lifetime meetings versus Gaultier.

Initially, the Power-Shabana rivalry was decidedly one sided.

"I started the tour 12 years ago when I was 15," Shabana said. "Growing up as a junior I was playing him in the quarter-finals or the semi-finals and he'd go on and win the tournament.

"When I was growing up he was on top of his game and I think we played 11 or 12 times and he got me 11 times (actually they've met seven times with Power winning six). But now things are getting closer. He's still on top of his game but I'm older and wiser and not overwhelmed by playing him like when I was a kid."

While the players are in a virtual tie as far as talent goes, they are different personalities on the court.

Power is explosive, emotional and colorful while Shabana rolls with the punches.

"He's exciting to watch," Shabana says of Power. "He has always been like that and it's part of his game. As long as it doesn't affect his mental abilities inside the court and he keeps it in control, I think it's good for the game."


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