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Susan Devoy in action

Devoy on El Sherbini’s CIB PSA World Tour Finals Hopes

By RJ Mitchell

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Susan Devoy believes that there will be no danger of Nour El Sherbini becoming complacent ahead of next week’s CIB World Tour Finals.

The World No.1 has been in scintillating form of late and has won the previous two tournaments, the CIB Black Ball Open and El Gouna International Open in emphatic fashion.

El Sherbini, a four-time World Champion, is bidding to win the World Tour Finals for the first time since 2017-18 and was beaten at the semi-final stage last year by compatriot Nour El Tayeb.

Dame Devoy, who herself was a four-time World Champion between 1985 and 1992, says there is no danger of ‘The Warrior Princess’ taking anything for granted as she prepares to claim the title at the Mall of Arabia next week.

“I think the opposite applies,” Devoy said.

“Champions look to be the best player they can be and never stop trying to improve, and I am sure that will be the way Nour views it.

“We know there is no such thing as perfection but that becomes the goal irrespective of the tournament or who you are playing. That was always my approach.”

Susan Devoy with the 1992 World Championship trophy

El Sherbini has been drawn in Group A of the women’s event where she is joined by World No.2 Nouran Gohar in a repeat of last month’s El Gouna International final, which El Sherbini won.

Group A is completed by World No.4 Camille Serme and World No.9 Salma Hany and Devoy believes that the biggest danger facing El Sherbini will be expectancy and the pressure she places on herself to triumph.

The eight-time British Open champion said: “I went into every event as if it was my first title. The pressure of expectation is undoubtedly the hardest to deal with and that could be Nour’s biggest challenge.

“At this level it’s all about attention to every small detail. It is vital that you know when you step in that court you’ve have done everything humanely possible to win and if that’s the case then barring injury or illness you will win.

“The other aspect here is that the depth of talent in the women’s game is so strong now that for one player to win everything would be a big ask.” 

On the eve of El Sherbini’s bid to win a second CIB PSA World Tour Finals trophy, the Kiwi legend had a vital piece of wisdom for the Egyptian ace, who became World No.1 for the first time in May 2016, 28 years after Dame Susan last topped the women’s rankings.

The New Zealander said: “What I would say is just to focus on your game and what you need to do to maximise your true potential. 

“I think there are a number of great players in the women’s game right now and they all have an element of threat for Nour, which is fantastic for the game and that’s why it’s vital she focuses totally on her game and what she is in control of.”

Devoy with the 1992 British Open trophy

Devoy stands fourth on the all-time women’s PSA title winners list behind only Nicol David, Sarah Fitz-Gerald and Michelle Martin and, after amassing four World Championship and eight British Open crowns during her career, Devoy is looking forward to seeing both of those events play a major role in the closing stages of the 2020-21 season.

“I think having the majors at end of season is good for both players and the game. It is the ultimate to end the season with the big events and it will really focus the players.

“After such a trying period with the pandemic it is great for squash to have our two major titles back and being competed for.”  

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