Friday,21 September, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1295, (12 - 18 May 2016)
Friday,21 September, 2018
Issue 1295, (12 - 18 May 2016)

Ahram Weekly

Best of April

Egyptian pair Nour Al-Sherbini and Marwan Al-Shorbagi have been named as the April PSA Players of the Month, Abeer Anwar reports

Al-Ahram Weekly

After recording career-defining victories during a huge month of action on the PSA World Tour, Al-Sherbini and Al-Shorbagi were both named as the most significant squash players in the circuit.

Following her historic victory in March’s Allam British Open, 20-year-old Al-Sherbini moved up to No 2 in the world rankings for the first time in her career on 1 April and duly lived up to her reputation as the in-form player on the Women’s Tour as she stormed to glory at the PSA Women’s World Championship to become the first Egyptian winner in the history of the iconic tournament – becoming the youngster ever winner in the process and becoming world No 1.

Al-Sherbini went into the tournament as title-favourite and earned easy wins over Donna Urquhart and Annie Au to set up a mouth-watering quarter-final against Nicol David. Competing inside the Nicol David area the Egyptian took an edgy first-game tie-break before then dismissing Nouran Gohar 3-0 in the semi-finals to set up a shootout for the title and the world No 1 ranking against then incumbent Laura Massaro.

After slumping to a 2-0 deficit in the final Al-Sherbini mounted an incredible fight back to force a decisive fifth game during which she displayed maturity beyond her years to see out the match and claim an historic title.

Earlier in April Al-Shorbagi, younger brother of squah pro Mohamed, enjoyed the biggest win of his career to date as he triumphed at the Grasshopper Cup, PSA M70 tournament in Zurich.

Seeded fifth for the tournament Al-Shorbagi saw off Alan Clyne in the first round before dominating the court against an under-par Cameron Pilley, coming through 3-0 to set up a semi-final clash with Germany’s Simon Rösner.

The 22-year-old again prevailed in straight-games to reach the final where defending champion, former world champion and world No 2 Gregory Gaultier lay in waiting – with the Frenchman fancied to retain his crown.

But it was Al-Shorbagi who produced some sublime squash to come from a game behind against the 33-year-old ‘General’ before holding off a late charge to take the fifth game 11-6 and win the biggest title of his career to date.

After one of the most dramatic and competitive seasons in the history of the PSA World Tour the line-up for the season-ending PSA Dubai World Series Finals has been confirmed and will see 16 of the world’s best squash players descend on Dubai from 24-28 May to compete for one of the sport’s most lucrative titles, in front of the world’s tallest building – the Burj Khalifa, six of which are Egyptians.

With an equal prize purse of $160,000 on offer in both the Men’s and Women’s tournaments the five day event will bring together the cream of squash talent, including five PSA World Championship winners and seven world No 1s, in two groups of four – with players playing a round-robin best-of-three series for place in the knockout semi-finals and beyond.

After a nail-biting week of competition at the final World Series tournament of the year, last week’s El-Gouna International, it was Australian Cameron Pilley who sealed the final qualification spot in the men’s rankings to secure his maiden appearance at the tournament – with fellow debutants Miguel Angel Rodriguez and Mathieu Castagnet also confirming their qualifications with impressive runs in El-Gouna.

Al-Shorbagi tops the standings with a commanding lead and will face Rodriguez, Castagnet and England’s three-time world champion Nick Matthew in the group stages – to be played from 24-26 May.

Gaultier, who finished the season in second place behind Al-Shorbagi, will face Pilley, Germany’s Simon Rösner and Egyptian Omar Mosaad, the man he beat to clinch the World Championship in November, in the second men’s group.

In the women’s standings PSA Women’s World Championship runner-up Laura Massaro tops the standings, just in front of Al-Sherbini who will challenge compatriots Raneem Welili and Onneya Abdel-Qawi in the group stage with Frenchwoman Camille Serme completing the group while Massaro will challenge eight-time world champion David, British Open runner-up Nouran Gohar and Amanda Sobhi — who will be the first US born player ever to compete in the World Series Finals.

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