Welcome to ‘Talking Points’ where we take a look back at the biggest moments on the PSA World Tour over the past month.
April brought with it a wealth of world-class PSA World Tour action with the Naza PSA Women’s World Championship lighting up Malaysia, the El Gouna International captivating crowds in Egypt and the Grasshopper Cup returning to Switzerland in a bumper month of superb squash.
El Sherbini Becomes Youngest Ever World Champion and Tops World Rankings
Egypt’s Nour El Sherbini achieved the two greatest distinctions in the sport at the age of just 20 as she continued her emergence as the world’s best female player by becoming the youngest Women’s World Champion of all time after defeating England’s Laura Massaro in the final – a win that also sees her overtake Massaro as the new World No.1.
Coming just a month after she became the first female Egyptian to win the prestigious Allam British Open, a feat she also repeated in Malaysia, El Sherbini was once again in frightening form, defeating home hero and eight-time World Champion Nicol David in the last eight before beating British Open finalist Nouran Gohar to set up a final clash with Massaro – a repeat of the 2013 final which she lost to the Englishwoman.
After falling two games behind, it looked as if El Sherbini would have to settle for a second runner-up finish but she came storming back to take three games without reply and become the new World Champion in a nail-biting finish to a superb tournament – overtaking the great Susan Devoy as the youngest ever World Champion.
El Sherbini will now look ahead to the Dubai PSA World Series Finals as a tournament in which she can further rubber stamp her credentials as world’s best female player. She has already won the two biggest titles the female’s sport has to offer, in addition to claiming a place at the summit of the World Rankings. Can she reign in Dubai too?
Mohamed Elshorbagy Claims SIXTH Successive World Series Crown
Men’s World No.1 Mohamed Elshorbagy continued his domination of the Men’s Tour by capturing a sixth consecutive PSA World Series title after defeating World Champion Gregory Gaultier to win the El Gouna International on home soil for the first time.
Elshorbagy, who has now gone 19 professional matches without defeat, has emerged victorious from six of his last seven PSA World Tour events and was in stunning form in El Gouna, beating Mazen Hesham, Chris Simpson, Simon Rösner and Miguel Angel Rodriguez to reach the final.
Up next came his match against Gaultier where, like El Sherbini, he quickly went 2-0 down. But, buoyed on by a partizan home crowd on Egypt’s Red Sea, Elshorbagy came back and overturned a 4-0 deficit in the deciding fifth game to take the title – a victory that led to the Egyptian breaking his own record for the highest ever ranking points average in the May World Rankings.
Elshorbagy’s El Gouna win was the 22nd PSA World Tour title of his career and his 15th since 2014, leaving him as the heavy favourite heading into the World Series Finals.
Ashours Drops Out of World’s Top 10
Three-time World Champion Ramy Ashour’s two-year long injury nightmare shows no signs of abating as he was forced to limp off court during his first round match with Marwan Elshorbagy – ensuring the former World No.1 has fallen out of the world’s top 10 for the first time since 2006 and will miss out on a place in the World Series Finals.
‘The Artist’ is one of the most enigmatic, charismatic and popular players on the PSA World Tour, but has been besieged by a litany of injuries over the past two years, with hamstring and knee meniscus problems limiting him to only a handful of competitive appearances over the past couple of seasons.
Appearing in just his fifth event of this campaign, Ashour looked to have built up some match fitness after coming through the previous month’s British Open unscathed, but he was forced to concede the match to Elshorbagy just 20 minutes in after a reoccurrence of his stubborn hamstring injury.
Shortly afterwards, Ashour took to social media to open up about his hamstring problems.
Marwan Elshorbagy Wins Biggest Ever Title in Switzerland
Marwan Elshorbagy, the younger brother of World No.1 Mohamed, lifted the biggest title of his growing career with an excellent win over Gregory Gaultier in the final of the Grasshopper Cup – the first time Elshorbagy has claimed a PSA M70 crown.
Elshorbagy had never even taken a game off Gaultier up until that point, but put in a mature and tactically astute performance to fight back from a game down to take the win in five.
The 22-year-old then made it to the quarter-final of the El Gouna International but, after going two games up against compatriot Fares Dessouki, relinquished control and ended up losing 3-2 to end his campaign on home soil.
Dubai PSA World Series Finals Spots Finalised
The top eight players that will compete in the World Series Finals were confirmed after the culmination of the El Gouna International, with Miguel Angel Rodriguez, Mathieu Castagnet, Simon Rösner and Cameron Pilley joining Mohamed Elshorbagy, Gregory Gaultier, Nick Matthew and Omar Mosaad in the Men’s half of the event which will be held in front of the Burj Khalifa – the world’s tallest building.
The tournament will take place from 24 – 28 May in a state-of-the-art squash court and innovative spectator venue to be constructed in Burj Park, Downtown Dubai.
The Women’s event saw the top eight confirmed after last month’s British Open, with Massaro, El Sherbini, Nicol David, Raneem El Welily, Nouran Gohar, Omneya Abdel Kawy, Camille Serme and Amanda Sobhy all set to descend on Dubai.
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