Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Jansher Khan: The Power-Packed Personality of World Squash Arena - - Dominated The World of Squash For More Than 13 Years

Jansher Khan was born on 15 June 1969, in Peshawar, Pakistan. He is a former World No. 1 professional squash player from Pakistan, who is generally considered to be one of the greatest squash players of all time. During his professional career he won the World Open a record eight times and the British Open six times.

Jansher Khan belongs to a family that is known for producing outstanding squash players. His brother Mohibullah Khan was one of the world's top professional squash players in the 1970s. Another elder brother, Atlas Khan, was a highly-rated amateur contender.

Jansher Khan won the World Junior Squash Championship title in 1986. He also turned to professional arena that year. At the time, the men's professional squash arena was dominated by another Pakistani player – Jahangir Khan.

Jansher Khan was totally different in many aspects from Jahangir, who was average height and squat, shy and sober. Jansher Khan was tall, slim, disruptive and humorous. Once he told some Dutch journalists, he was world number one that time), that he was retiring and taking up tennis. They swallowed it hook line and sinker - as did many British newspapers.

In 1986; Jansher Khan was getting hard training in West London. He would line up four or five players and play them one after the other - and beat them all for 3/0. If he stayed on court for three continuous hours, facing world class players, he felt satisfaction. He was firm to beat Jahangir at his own game - fitness.

The two JK's, as they became known, faced each other for the first time in the first round of the Pakistan Open in December 1986 and Jansher Khan took a game off Jahangir. Three months later they again came across in the final of the Spanish open, and once again Jahangir won 3/1. When Jahangir blew up Jansher Khan 9-6, 9-0, 9-5 in the 1987 British Open in April, it was thought that Jansher was just another dreamer. Nobody could even imagine what would be going to happen over the coming year.


The situation started to be unfolded in the Hong Kong Open in September 1987 when Jansher Khan defeated Jahangir in the semi-final. It wasn’t mere victory; but it was as convincing as incredible score-line of 3/0. That momentous win was just the start of eight-match winning streak over the previously invincible Jahangir. In the same month of September Birmingham witnessed once again that Jansher Khan beat Jahangir in the semi-final of the world open and went on to register his name as world champion.

Jahangir took it as challenge and worked hard to reverse Jansher Khan's winning streak in March 1988 and went on to beat Jansher Khan 11 times in their next 15 meetings. Their match in the 1988 World Open in Amsterdam had one historic and memorable feature; the first rally of the first game lasted only for 6 minutes and 15 seconds - and ended in a let.

They met for the last time in the World Open in 1993 and Jansher Khan won 3/1. In all they had faced each other 37 times in competition with Jansher Khan winning 19 times to Jahangir's 18 victories. But on game count, Jahangir led 79 to 74 and on total points had won just 23 points more than Jansher khan.

By 1997 his knees were giving him trouble and his fitness was decreasing. His opponents accused him of blocking access to the ball and constant fishing for penalty strokes. He just managed to hold off the challenge of the emerging Scot Peter Nicol in the 1997 British Open to scrape a 3/2 victory and again there were accusations of blocking that was not penalised by a weak referee.

A year later in the same venue Peter Nicol and his coach Neil Harvey devised a game plan to beat Jansher “tight on the wall into the back corners and no cross courts for the lanky Jansher to volley for winners”. After a long first game, won by Nicol 17-16, Jansher realised that his usual boast "I am fitter, so I win" was no longer true. He gave up and lost the next two games 15-4, 15-5.


The Khan winning era had finally come to an end. From 1951 when Hashim had won his first British Open, Pakistan had been a huge, dominating force in squash for 47 years. Nicol's victory was decisive in more aspects than one; because the Pakistan Squash Federation had become complacent during the supremacy of Jahangir and Jansher Khan; therefore, the junior development programme had not been accurate enough. Where once there had been six Pakistanis in the top ten, this year there is only one Pakistani in the world top 20.


The Jansher-Jahangir rivalry would dominate squash in the late-1980s through to the early-1990s. The pair met total of 37 times in tournament play. Jansher won 19 matches (74 games and 1,426 points), and Jahangir 18 matches (79 games and 1,459 points). This record doesn't include exhibition matches and league matches between them.

With Jahangir reaching the twilight of his career and then retiring, Jansher Khan came to launch himself as the sole dominant player in the game in the mid-1990s. He won a record total of eight World Open titles, the last being in 1996. He chose not to defend his World Open title in 1997 because the event was held in Malaysia, and he had a pending court order in Malaysia relating to maintenance payments for his son, Kamran Khan, following his separation from his Malaysian wife. Jahangir maintained a stranglehold on the British Open up to 1991 (he won the championship 10 consecutive times), but when he finally relinquished the title it was Jansher Khan who claimed it for the next six successive years.

Jansher officially announced his retirement from squash in 2001. He won a total of 99 professional titles and was ranked the World No. 1 for over six years.

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