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CIB PSA WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS CAIRO FINALS: PLAYER REACTION

After nine thrilling days of squash, the last players standing will put it all on the line as they contest the finals of the 2021-22 CIB PSA World Championships Cairo at the National Museum of Egyptian Civilisation.

The evening’s play begins with women’s World No.1 Nouran Gohar taking on defending champion Nour El Sherbini, while World No.1 Mohamed ElShorbagy goes up against defending champion Ali Farag in the men’s final.

We’ll be bringing all the reaction right here, with SQUASHTV and the channels of our broadcast partners the places to watch the action.

Play gets under way at 20:00 (GMT+2). If you’re unable to watch live, you can keep up with the live scores from the finals here.

Here’s the Order of Play for tonight
(All times are local GMT+2)

Nour El Sherbini

Sixth World Championship title for spectacular El Sherbini

Defending Champion Nour El Sherbini claimed a remarkable sixth World Championship title after coming from behind to beat Egyptian compatriot and World No.1 Nouran Gohar 3-1 in 56 minutes.

Ahead of the match, it was the World No.2 who held the superior head-to-head record, with the 26-year-old enjoying a 14-6 record against Gohar, including an impressive 3-1 win in the final of last year’s World Championship.

In the first of two Cairo-Alexandria derbies, it was Cairo native Gohar who made the stronger start to the match, before El Sherbini reeled her in as she found her length. A late-game Gohar barrage, though, soon delivered her the opening game 11-7, with the 24-year-old picking up a number of winners from the middle of the court.

El Sherbini made an unnervingly accurate start to the second game to take a quick 4-0 lead, before six unanswered Gohar points flipped the game’s momentum. El Sherbini in turn responded, playing some beautiful shots as she levelled the scores with an 11-7 win of her own.

In an attritional third game, both players had scoring runs as the ball became livelier and the rallies grew longer. It was the Alexandrian who was able to better adjust to these conditions, as she took a crucial lead with an 11-8 win.

Gohar had looked like she was improving at the end of game three. However, even after requesting a new ball for game four, it was her opponent El Sherbini who had the better of the opening stages of the fourth game. As both players battled hard, El Sherbini grew more and more comfortable, playing a number of tremendous winners to take her sixth World Championship title with another 11-7.

“It’s always a dream for me to win this tournament and I wait for it every year,” El Sherbini said afterwards.

“I’m a bit emotional right now and it’s of course an unbelievable feeling. It’s been very hard, the last couple of months, I can’t believe I’m standing here right now, the tournament is over, everything is over. All the thinking, the mental stuff is over. I can’t describe how I’m feeling right now.

“Nouran is the best player right now. She’s on-form No.1, she deserves this spot. I think her results this season show why she’s in this place and she’s improved a lot. I’ve huge respect for her and how she’s changed and learnt and tried to get better.

“Every match is a challenge, she challenges me more and it’s hard playing her and it’s getting tougher. As you said, last time [when El Sherbini withdrew hurt partway through the CIB Black Ball Open final earlier this year], it wasn’t the best match between us. I didn’t finish the match. I didn’t want this match to end like this, so it was a bit challenging for me to come and play her again in the final of the World Champs after pulling out of the Black Ball Open. She’s the one I’m challenging right now and she’s the one I’m looking up to now. Both of us are challenging each other for the No.1 spot. She took it from me and now I’m looking to get it back.

“Thank you so much for coming. It’s always nice and special having you. Without you, the tournaments would never happen. I’m really happy to play in Egypt and to meet each and every one of you. Your support means a lot to me and I play squash just to be in front of you. Thank you so much for coming, I hope you enjoyed the match!”

Gohar added: “Obviously I’m not going to say I’m super happy. It’s not the happiest day of my life. I’m just very proud of myself and the way I did things this year. I can see I’ve really improved, not only as a squash player, but as a person as well.

“I do accept these days and know what to take out of them, that’s why I became World No.1. Being World No.1 is not only about one or two tournaments, it’s about the whole year. I’m just proud of myself, my team and my sponsors, and everyone who believed in me and supported me from day one. I can assure you I won’t stop before having this title in my hands one day.”

Result
[2] Nour El Sherbini (EGY) bt [1] Nouran Gohar (EGY) 3-1: 7-11, 11-7, 11-8, 11-7 (56m)

Farag comes from behind to take title and World No.1 ranking in five-game El Shorbagy shootout

Ali Farag

Ali Farag defended his World Championship crown and reclaimed the World No.1 ranking as he came from behind to defeat 2017 champion Mohamed ElShorbagy.

In a free-flowing first game, ElShorbagy came tearing out of the blocks, opening up a 6-1 lead as the Alexandrian dominated the front of the court.

The defending champion began to pick up points as the game wore on, but was unable to overturn the deficit, as ElShorbagy took the first game 11-9 in 18 minutes.

El Shorbagy took up residence on the T for the opening phases of the second game, before Farag finally managed to move up the court and take a run of points. Despite a cheeky flick from ‘the Beast temporarily breaking Farag’s momentum, the World No.2 took the second game 11-8 to chalk off ElShorbagy’s lead.

Farag appeared to drop off at the beginning of the third game, as ElShorbagy once again stormed into a strong lead, taking the game’s first six points before Farag was finally able to register a reply. After weathering a mini revival from Farag, ElShorbagy – whose touch was exquisite all night – pulled ahead once more with an 11-7 win.

Both players made a number of errors in game four, with Farag too loose and ElShorbagy tinning when when placed at the front. After Farag opened up a lead, ElShorbagy was able to level the scores at 9-9. Farag had game ball at 10-9 and converted at the first attempt to take the match into a fifth game, though not before he was made to wait by a video review appeal from ElShorbagy.

A thrilling blitz from Farag put ElShorgaby on the back foot right from the off in the decider, as the 30-year-old covered every inch of court. Shellshocked, ElShorbagy had no answer to Farag’s burst, and the World No.2 was able to defend his title and reclaim the World No.1 ranking from New Zealand’s Paul Coll with an 11-2 win.

Afterwards, Farag said: “I was just telling Nour, I don’t know how I feel. Mixed emotions of joy and relief. I’m really happy to be done with the tournament; the pressure we live through every day. I didn’t come into this week with that pressure, but then the week started and I felt the pressure. I’m super proud of my week, I had to go through a very tough draw.

“I had to go through a lot of tough players to reach the final and today, as I say it over and over and over again, I’m playing against the greatest of our generation.

“He’s the one who pushes us every single day in training, I have a lot of people around me who, if I’m being honest, wrote Mohamed off after the past few months and I told them there’s no chance Mohamed’s going to go away without a fight. He’s going to come back smarter and harder and he did. It’s inspiring how every time he faces a challenge he comes back stronger, we saw it yesterday and here today. I’m extremely blessed to come out as the winner today.

“There are so many people that I want to thank. My brother, we just had this conversation a few days back, it started at midnight, he was supposed to leave as he was in my home and we started talking about squash and it went on until six in the morning, which was not ideal for my sleep preparation! But something clicked in my head and I’m super blessed to have him in my life and I can’t thank him enough for everything he’s done.

“My parents, their blood pressure is not in a good state because of me and what I put them through throughout my career, but their support is unreal and I cannot thank them enough. They’re the reason I am who I am today, so I’m super thankful.

“My beautiful wife, do I need to talk much about her? We see her on court, how inspiring she is, how supportive she is.

“Karim Darwish, I’ve had tough times in the last couple of months, even when I was doing well results-wise. You go through those bouts of doubting yourself, but he never stops believing in me. When someone you look up to that much believes in you, it helps you keep pushing yourself every day, even if you’re faking it. Because he believes in you. I told him after the match, thank you for being in my life.”

ElShorbagy added: “I’m very, very proud of my week. Two months ago, I was in a very, very bad place; at the British Open I lost first round. Nobody knows, but I was actually thinking about retiring, or thinking about walking away from the game.

“I was in a very bad place mentally and that’s when I decided to give a call to Gregory Gaultier and as for help. I didn’t know what was coming. I didn’t know what was happening to me and he told me to come to Prague and we put a plan. If you told me two months ago that I would be in the world champ final this week, I would have laughed and told you you’re lying to me!”

Result
[2] Ali Farag (EGY) bt [3] Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) 3-2: 9-11, 11-8, 7-11, 11-9, 11-2 (74m)

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