Monday,23 October, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1363, (5 - 11 October 2017)
Monday,23 October, 2017
Issue 1363, (5 - 11 October 2017)

Ahram Weekly

Al-Shorbagi back in shape

Al-Shorbagi (r) beats Abdel-Gawwad
Al-Shorbagi (r) beats Abdel-Gawwad
Al-Ahram Weekly

EGYPT’S world No 3 Mohamed Al-Shorbagi and England’s world No 6 Sarah-Jane Perry are the 2017 Oracle NetSuite Open champions after they claimed respective wins over world champion Karim Abdel-Gawwad and legendary Malaysian Nicol David on finals day in San Francisco.

Al-Shorbagi had a difficult 2016/17 season by his own high standards – losing his world No 1 ranking and struggling for form throughout – but has begun the new campaign in style, backing up a thrilling five-game victory over last year’s runner-up James Willstrop with a sublime display against Egypt’s Abdel-Gawwad who struggled to back up after a brutal 90-minute semi-final with Peru’s Diego Elias.

Al-Shorbagi hadn’t beaten Abdel-Gawwad in over a year, losing to his compatriot twice in the meantime, but he outclassed the world No 2 this time around, reading his shots well and playing with stunning attacking force to record an 11-9, 11-6, 11-3 triumph – lifting his 26th tour title and taking the lion’s share of the $100k prize fund.

“I’m really happy. It’s only my first tournament of the season and I think it’s the first time in my life that I have won the first tournament,” said Al-Shorbagi.

“When I was world No 1 for 28 months, all of the players studied me every single day but, coming into this season, I’m studying everyone. I’m coming in really hungry and I really want to do well this season.

“I’ve put in a lot of work this summer and there is nothing in my mind apart from getting back to world No 1 this season. I’m going to do everything I can to get back to where I feel I should be.”

In the women’s $50k event, 2015 runner-up Perry – who dispatched top seed and defending champion Laura Massaro in the semi-finals – had won the last three meetings between her and David but was up against it as her opponent, an eight-time world champion, surged into a two-game lead courtesy of some precise attacking at the front of the court.

The 27-year-old Perry fought back in the third to halve the deficit before squandering two game balls in the fourth to hand David a championship ball.

But a fortuitous nick off a Perry cross court handed the initiative back to the player from England, and she converted her next game ball before holding her nerve in the decider to seal an 8-11, 8-11, 11-7, 14-12, 11-7 victory that sees her pick up the ninth tour title of her career and her first since 2015.

 “This is my biggest title and I reached my first World Series final last season, so I’m looking to set my marker down early,” Perry said. “Winning this one has kick started my season and hopefully it’s a sign of things to come for the rest of the year.”

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