Tuesday,21 May, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1428, (31 January - 6 February 2019)
Tuesday,21 May, 2019
Issue 1428, (31 January - 6 February 2019)

Ahram Weekly

From Egypt, as usual

Ali Farag is the new squash world champion — and as has become the norm, he is Egyptian, reports Abeer Anwar


Farag and Al-Sherbini
Farag and Al-Sherbini

Egyptians Ali Farag and Nour Al-Sherbini were named the 2019 J P Morgan Tournament of Champions winners. Both won after thrashing top seeded Egyptians Mohamed Al-Shorbagi and Raneem Al-Welili, world No 1, in New York’s Grand Central Terminal.

The 10-12, 6-11, 11-6, 11-3, 11-8 victory will push Farag to world No 1 in March for the first time in his career after he crushed Al-Shorbagi in a dramatic final.

Al-Shorbagi, 28, prevailed in the first two sets and started the third winning 6-2 before Farag took the third and fourth to draw 2-2 in Grand Central’s Vanderbilt Hall.

Afterwards it was Farag’s golden chance as Al-Shorbagi suffered from a calf problem that forced him to take an injury break before the fifth set. The 28-year-old tried valiantly to overcome the pain in the fifth set but ultimately surrendered to Farag who lifted his first Tournament of Champions trophy and the 14th PSA title of his career.

“It’s been a dream of mine since a very young age to reach that No 1 spot,” Farag said afterwards. “To do it in such a fashion in front of so many greats of the game, in front of the love of my life [wife Nour Al-Tayeb], and my parents watching at home, it couldn’t get any better really… it was very emotional,” Farag was quoted as saying after the match.

Al-Shorbagi’s ranking points for the 2018 Windy City Open – where he took the maximum on offer after winning the tournament – will expire at the end of February. This means Farag will boast a superior points average going into March, which will elevate him to world No 1. Al-Shorbagi will stay at the top of the PSA world rankings in February.

In the women’s final, Nour Al-Sherbini wrote history, becoming the first woman to win the Tournament of Champions three times after beating teammate world No 1 Raneem Al-Welili 11-9, 11-8, 11-8 to retain her title.

It was the first time for both Al-Welili and Al-Sherbini to meet since the latter had ended the former’s 31-month reign at world No 1 last month. Al-Welili – the 2015 Tournament of Champions winner – came into the match with a narrow 10-9 lead in their head-to-head record.
But things went Al-Sherbini’s way this time around as the 23-year-old attacked from the start to lift her 18th career PSA title, and her first of the season.

“This is my lucky place. This tournament was my first ever Platinum win and now it’s the first one I’ve won three times,” commented Al-Sherbini, who won the ToC in 2016 and 2018. “It’s really big to put my name on this trophy and to win this tournament, but to win it three times is something that I will never forget in my life.

“We’ve been battling against each other for so long, the head-to-head is 10-10, so that shows how tough it’s been. We’ve been battling in a lot of finals. Sometimes it goes my way, sometimes it goes her way. At the end of the day, the better player is going to win, and I think I was better than her today.”
Both players take home $23,000 in prize money, while Al-Sherbini joins Farag in qualifying for June’s PSA World Tour Finals.

J P Morgan Tournament of Champions Finals:
Nour Al-Sherbini (Egy) 3-0 [1] Raneem Al-Welili (Egy) 11-9, 11-8, 11-8 (38m)
Ali Farag (Egy) 3-2 [1] Mohamed Al-Shorbagi (Egy) 10-12, 6-11, 11-6, 11-3, 11-8 (84m)

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