UAE in focus: Abu Dhabi-born Adil Maqbool hopes to smash back into squash’s top 100 again

Adil Maqbool the UAE’s top squash player, is on the verge of cracking the world top 100, writes Amith Passela.

Adil Maqbool. Courtesy: Suleman Khan
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Adil Maqbool flew to Kuala Lumpur last night to participate in a Malaysian Squash Tour event, his third ranking competition in three weeks, in a bid to reach the top 100 in the Professional Squash Association (PSA) world rankings.

He is ranked 102 after reaching the last-16 in his previous tournament, the Malaysian Tour, and the semi-finals of three other events – the Parco Roshan Khan Open in Lahore and two events in Qatar.

Maqbool, 28, was the No 1 European Junior at Under 13, U15 and U17 level, until he moved to the Senior World Circuit at 16 with a world ranking of more than 300 and broke into the world’s top 100 within a year.

Maqbool, who was born in Abu Dhabi to Pakistani parents, was the youngest player to win an Open title, in Abu Dhabi, at the age of 12. He has been the No 1-ranked player in the UAE since 2003, and undefeated since 2004.

He achieved a career-high ranking of 66 in the world in 2009 before taking time off to complete his computer science degree at the University of Bedfordshire in the UK. He set up his own web designing firm in Fujairah three years ago.

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Do you think you can reach as high as your career-best ranking of 66 in 2009 again?

After establishing my business, I have a lot more time to spend on squash. And above all I still have the passion and I want to give a final push to reach another career best. If I do well in the next two competitions in Lahore [FMC International Championship] and the Abu Dhabi Open, I can break into the top 94.

Has your training regime has also changed?

I have been doing on-court sessions with my coach/father Maqbool Khawaja at Murooj Rotana in Dubai, along with Gary Nisbet, who works with Squash Skills and is based in the UK. I have not trained twice a day since my junior days and I am really pleased with the results of the last 12 weeks of training so far.

When did you first start playing?

At the age of three. I was born three weeks premature and had to spend some time in the hospital before being taken home, and my father took me to the squash courts before taking me home.

Have you got any ambition to become a coach?

I’m already a [Asian Squash Federation] Level 2 coach and looking forward to do the Level 3 which is the highest you reach. I have been helping my father in coaching. Yes, at some point I would love to go into coaching.

You have a four-year-old son, Amaar. What’s the chances of him taking up squash?

In our home squash is the only sport that is seen and spoken of. My father has got him to start early as he did to me. But actually I would want him to have a proper education first and then squash, if he chooses it as a profession.

What's you most cherished moment in sport? Winning the Abu Dhabi Open for the first time when I was 12. I was born and spent my early days in Abu Dhabi. I lost to everyone in that competition when I was in Abu Dhabi, and then going back and winning against all of them was special.

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