Welcome to ‘Talking Points’ where we take a look back at the biggest moments on the PSA World Tour over the past month.
January got the second half of the 2015/16 season off to a stunning start where the world’s leading players headed to New York’s iconic Grand Central Terminal for the fourth PSA World Series event of the season, the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions. Staged under the chandeliers inside the breathtaking Vanderbilt Hall, the Tournament of Champions brought about some climactic showdowns, nail-biting encounters and history-making achievements.
El Shorbagy Completes World Series Hat-Trick
World No.1 Mohamed Elshorbagy reaffirmed his status at the summit of the Men’s world rankings by capturing a third successive PSA World Series crown in New York to defend the title he won last year – a feat that he also managed in November’s Qatar Classic and last month’s Cathay Pacific Sun Hung Kai Financial.
The Egyptian, who celebrated his 25th birthday mid-way through the tournament, was in irrepressible form throughout the early stages in New York and steamrollered his way past England’s Adrian Waller, Cameron Pilley, Omar Mosaad and Mathieu Castagnet to reach the final.
There he met 2012 winner Nick Matthew in a repeat of the previous year’s final and, after a gruelling five-game battle, the man from Alexandria finally came out top to strengthen his lead atop the PSA Road to Dubai Standings.
However, a trip to the Motor City Open the week after didn’t yield such good results for the 18-time PSA World Tour title winner who fell to young compatriot Ali Farag in a shock 3-2 defeat.
El Sherbini Becomes Youngest Ever ToC Winner
Women’s World No.5 Nour El Sherbini signalled her intention to be a major contender in the latter stages of the 2015/16 season with a thrilling victory in New York – earning her the distinction of being the youngest ever winner to capture the coveted Tournament of Champions title.
She was devastating in her early encounters with both Samantha Teran and Mariam Metwally before coming through a brutal 3-2 victory against World No.4 Camille Serme to book a place in the last four.
Malaysian superstar Nicol David was the next to fall to the 20-year-old with El Sherbini exhibiting an impressive display of dominance over the eight-time World Champion, the likes of which has seldom been seen before, before she downed home favourite Amanda Sobhy in a dramatic final to lift her maiden PSA World Series title.
Super Sobhy Surges into World Series Reckoning After Stunning New York Show
United States No.1 Amanda Sobhy broke new ground in the sport for her country after she became the first ever American-born woman to reach the final of the Tournament of Champions.
Roared on by a crescendo of noise from a partizan home crowd, the charismatic 22-year-old downed World No.2 Raneem El Welily in arguably the greatest win of her career to date en-route to an appearance in her first ever PSA World Series final.
Despite succumbing to a 3-1 defeat to El Sherbini, Sobhy’s performances in New York have catapulted her up to 5th in the PSA Road to Dubai Standings – above luminaries such as Camille Serme and the aforementioned El Welily.
Fantastic Farag on Form in Detroit
Egypt’s Ali Farag began January by losing to an opponent ranked 233 places below him in the world rankings to bow out of the Tournament of Champions at the first qualifying stage – but he ended the month by walking off with the biggest title of his career to date after a series of virtuoso displays in the Motor City Open.
After his shock defeat to India’s Ramit Tandon in New York, Farag fought back in style to defeat compatriot Elshorbagy in a superb quarter-final victory.
He wasn’t done there though and, after scything past Mathieu Castagnet in the last four, moved on to face three-time World Champion Nick Matthew in a nail-biting climax. After an even start to the encounter, Farag eventually pulled away to wound ‘The Wolf’ and take the victory, and the PSA M70 title, in four games.
Matthew Showing Signs of Being Back to His Best
World No.3 Matthew is currently in the midst of his longest PSA World Tour title drought for three years with his last piece of silverware coming back at the Canary Wharf Classic in March 2013.
The 35-year-old’s performances in January however indicated that there are signs that the Yorkshireman is rapidly closing in on some of his best form as he reached two consecutive finals at the Tournament of Champions and Motor City Open.
Despite his defeats to Elshorbagy and Farag in New York and Detroit, respectively, Matthew is hitting his stride as the 2015/16 campaign hits the business end of the season. With three more PSA World Series titles to fight for and the season-ending Dubai PSA World Series Finals crown up for grabs, don’t be surprised to see Matthew lifting a 34th PSA World Tour title before the season is done and dusted.