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Marwan ElShorbagy

Season Review: Marwan ElShorbagy Proud of Strong Campaign

Egypt’s World No.7 Marwan ElShorbagy is riding high after his greatest season to date on the PSA World Tour – a campaign that saw him reach the world’s top five in addition to claiming arguably the most important win of his career.

The 24-year-old, who now resides in Bristol alongside older brother and former World No.1 Mohamed, had threatened to be a contender at the sport’s major tournaments over the past few seasons and he finally earned his place amongst the world’s elite after a number of standout performances last season.

A narrow defeat to compatriot Ramy Ashour in round two of the Hong Kong Open in August was followed by two semi-final finishes at the Macau Open and NetSuite Open, however his form tailed off towards the end of the year.

But he came into his own in 2017, with his displays at the Windy City Open in Chicago serving as a particular highlight as he claimed his first ever win over Mohamed in one of the most emotional moments of last season.

In their seven previous meetings, Marwan had never been able to take more than a game off his brother – who by the time of their meeting in Chicago was ranked at World No.1 – and the form book was even further weighted in his Mohamed’s favour after he had claimed comfortable 3-0 wins at their fixtures at the U.S. Open and Tournament of Champions earlier on in the season.

“My brother has given me so much,” said Marwan.

“He advised me a lot through my career, whether it was in my junior career or the senior one. We are always there for each other and as I always keep saying, I’m so grateful to the sport as it made my relationship with my brother like this as we share the same life, we have the same dreams and goals.”

And the respect between the two meant that there was an emotional climax to the encounter after Marwan played some of his best squash to recover from 2-1 down to get the better of his older brother.

Despite that win for Marwan proving to be one of the defeats that ultimately cost Mohamed his World No.1 spot, a beaming Mohamed enveloped his brother with a hug and offered words of encouragement as a sobbing Marwan took in the enormity of his victory – although he recalls it was a bittersweet triumph.

“Every time I go on court with my brother it’s always very tough for both of us,” Marwan admits.

“Beating him in Chicago was very tough for me as I knew this win could affect his ranking and I know how much it means to him to stay World No.1. I had a great week in Chicago and I think I was playing some of my best squash there.”

Buoyed on by his landmark success over Mohamed, Marwan moved on to dispatch fellow Egyptian Ali Farag in the last four to reach his maiden World Series Final, with the man who took the World No.1 spot away from Mohamed, Gregory Gaultier, standing in his way.

Marwan showed no signs of nerves as he blew Gaultier away in the opening game but the Frenchman’s years of experience eventually told as he outlasted his opponent to take it in four games, denying Marwan his first ever World Series title.

Despite the defeat, Marwan – who moved into the world’s top five for the first time the following month – was full of pride after reaching the title-decider, saying: “It was amazing to be in the final, I enjoyed every second of it and I was very proud with how the week went.

“It showed me that I can play at that level and it gave me a lot of confidence.”

That final appearance in Chicago – in addition to a last four finish at the El Gouna International where he claimed a second successive win over Mohamed en route – saw him qualify for the season-ending PSA Dubai World Series Finals for the first time after he finished fourth on the PSA Road to Dubai Standings

Marwan was heavily involved in the promotional activity for the tournament – flying out to Dubai to take part in a photo-shoot – and he made a perfect start to the showpiece event in Dubai Opera after beating three-time World Champion Nick Matthew and Germany’s Simon Rösner to make it two wins from two.

However, a defeat to World Champion Karim Abdel Gawad in his final group fixture, coupled with Rösner’s 2-0 win over Matthew, saw Marwan fail to qualify for the knockout semi-finals.

But the man from Alexandria says that he was ultimately pleased with his consistency throughout the season and has vowed to continue his fine form into his next campaign.

“I think I was very consistent in the World Series tournaments this season. I finished the season being number 4 in the World Series rankings. Going to Dubai and participating in the World Series Finals has always been a dream for me and to play in Dubai Opera made the whole experience even better. 

“I will keep enjoying my journey next season.”

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