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Egypt’s Farag & El Sherbini lift 2018-2019 World Championship Titles

Egyptian duo Ali Farag and Nour El Sherbini have been crowned World Champions after they got the better of compatriots Tarek Momen and Nour El Tayeb at Chicago’s Union Station to win the 2018-2019 PSA World Championships presented by the Walter Family.

The 2018-2019 PSA World Championships was the sport’s first $1 million tournament, with $500,000 split equally between the male and female athletes. Union Station’s Great Hall played host to two finals befitting squash’s richest tournament, with over two hours of world-class squash on show.

Just 24 hours after dethroning fellow Egyptian Mohamed ElShorbagy to take the World No.1 spot, Farag lifted the sport’s most iconic title after prevailing by an 11-5, 11-13, 13-11, 11-3 scoreline after 79 gripping minutes of action.

Both of the men’s finalists were appearing in the World Championships title decider for the first time, with Momen defeating both of the 2017 finalists – brothers Mohamed and Marwan ElShorbagy – en route. Farag, meanwhile, had toppled Germany’s World No.5 Simon Rösner in the semi-finals to book his final berth.

Fourth seed Momen fought back after going a game down to Farag, the No.2 seed. A crucial third game went the way of Farag on the tie-break and that proved pivotal as the 26-year-old powered to victory in the fifth game to write his name into the history books.

“As I stand here today, I can’t help but think about the road I’ve taken to be here,” said Harvard-graduate Farag following the biggest win of his career.

“If, five years back, you had told me that I would be standing here holding the World Championship trophy, then no chance would I have believed you. As a senior at college, I never thought about going pro and the main driving force behind it is Nour. It sounds like a cliché, but find someone who lifts you up day in and day out, I’m deeply blessed to have her in my life, and she is the one who pushed me to go pro.

“Winning the World Championships is one thing, but winning it in front of this crowd is something else. Thanks to the Walter Family, it’s the biggest prize purse that’s ever been on offer in squash and it’s a huge honour.”

Farag’s win came shortly after wife El Tayeb fell in the women’s final as World No.2 El Sherbini captured her third World Championship crown at the age of just 23.

Appearing in her fourth successive World Championship final – and fifth overall – El Sherbini dominated the opening stages against a nervy-looking El Tayeb to go two games up in just 18 minutes.

El Tayeb and Farag became the first married couple in sporting history to lift the same major sports title on the same day when they won the 2017 U.S. Open, and El Tayeb kept hopes of bettering that achievement alive when she battled back with a vengeance to halve the deficit, recovering from championship ball down in the process.

But El Sherbini edged a tense tie-break in the fourth to finally end El Tayeb’s resistance, and she becomes the fifth woman to lift three World Championship titles after Malaysia’s Nicol David, New Zealand’s Susan Devoy and Australian duo Sarah Fitz-Gerald and Michelle Martin.

“I think I’m out of words,” said El Sherbini.

“The last two games were really close and she was coming back. I think she likes it like that, she was a little bit tense in the first two games and then she started to relax. I was trying to focus point after point and I’m really happy of course.

“It was a really tough tournament for me, and a lot of things happened before I came here and behind the scenes. But I’m really glad that I came because one of the options was that I wouldn’t be able to come. I was improving match after match, and I had a lot of tough matches in the earlier rounds, but I’m really glad that I managed to get everything together this week.”

Farag and El Sherbini will each take home over $70,000 in prize money, which is the largest amount of prize winnings in the history of professional squash.

Men’s Final: 
[2] Ali Farag (EGY) 3-1 [4] Tarek Momen (EGY)  11-5, 11-13, 13-11, 11-3 (79m)

Women’s Final: 
[2] Nour El Sherbini (EGY) 3-1 [3] Nour El Tayeb (EGY)  11-6, 11-5, 10-12, 15-13 (57m)

SEMI-FINALS:
Momen shocks ElShorbagy as married couple Farag and El Tayeb reach finals in Cicao

A thrilling night of action at Chicago’s Union Station saw World No.3 Tarek Momen end the run of reigning champion Mohamed ElShorbagy to reach the final of the 2018-2019 PSA World Championships presented by the Walter Family – while married couple Ali Farag and Nour El Tayeb will also feature in the title deciders of the men’s and women’s events, respectively.

Momen had suffered nine straight defeats to World No.2 ElShorbagy coming into tonight’s match and hadn’t beaten his fellow Egyptian since 2013. ElShorbagy, who beat younger brother Marwan to win his maiden World Championship crown in December 2017, had the better of the early stages to go 2-1 up in Union Station’s Great Hall.

But Momen – who dispatched Marwan earlier on in this tournament – dug into his mental reserves and showed some sublime touches at the front of the court to level the scores. The 31-year-old crept ahead in the deciding fifth game and held off his opponent to book his place in the final of the sport’s biggest event for the first time.

Momen’s win came less than two hours after wife and reigning women’s champion Raneem El Welily saw her hopes of retaining her title extinguished by World No.3 El Tayeb.

“I’m so happy to be in the final, this is my first ever world final, but it’s not over,” said Momen.

“I’m really looking forward to tomorrow, whoever I play, it is going to be the first time for both of us. I’m going to fight for it and give it my all, how can it get any better than if I win the World Championships? It cannot get any better.

“I’ve been inspired by Raneems win since last year. I was heartbroken for myself for not making it past the last 16, but seeing her win the title brought so much joy, watching her win that last point and get the trophy and all I could think of is that one day I wanted to be there. I would have loved to have done it together, but she’s had it, and if I can have it then the two of us can tell our future kids and grandkids that we won that title.”

There will be a new name etched into the men’s trophy after Momen’s fellow Egyptian Farag got his reign at World No.1 under way with an 11-2, 11-9, 11-4 triumph against Germany’s Simon Rösner to reach his first World Championship final.

“It was such an emotional, long day, with Nour playing and winning an epic one and then going back to the hotel and watching the other semi-final of the men’s… so it was quite an emotional one,” said Farag.

“I woke up really happy to be the new World No.1 and then I had to get it out of my system because if I had have been dragged away with that then I wouldn’t have played my best today, and I can’t play Simon at 99%, I have to be at 100 per cent all the time. I’m really glad that I did that, and I hope tomorrow can be a special day for us.”

The finals of the World Championships will feature a married couple for the first time in history, as Farag and El Tayeb look to replicate their incredible joint U.S. Open wins from October 2017.

That triumph saw them become the first married couple in sporting history to win the same major sports title on the same day and they will now appear in the finals of squash’s pinnacle tournament, where the lion’s share of the $1 million prize fund – the highest in the sport’s history – is up for grabs.

 

“All through the match I was just trying to hang in there with Raneem,” said El Tayeb, who won the Windy City Open in Chicago last year.

“She’s the best in the world for a reason and she makes every rally hard and I can’t believe it. I’m in the final of the World Championships – wow. I knew I hadn’t had a big win over the top two since Chicago last year and that gives me massive confidence going into the final tomorrow… I have proved to myself that I can fight through a really hard match.”

Meanwhile, two-time winner Nour El Sherbini will appear in her fourth successive World Championship final – and her fifth overall – at the age of just 23 after she held off a spirited comeback from French World No.5 Camille Serme.

El Sherbini became the sport’s youngest ever World Champion in 2016 at the age of 20 before retaining her title the following year. The Egyptian then fell to El Welily in the final of the previous edition in Manchester in 2017.

And she will have the chance to become the fifth woman to win three World Championships after an 11-8, 11-6, 6-11, 5-11, 11-6 victory over Serme. Her match will be a repeat of the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions semi-finals, where El Sherbini triumphed en route to winning the title.

The finals of the PSA World Championships will feature an all-Egyptian contingent for the third year in a row in both the men’s and women’s draws.

“For me, it’s the fifth final of the World Championships and playing Nour is going to be difficult” El Sherbini said.

“We just played at the ToC and it’s hard to play every tournament against each other. We haven’t played in a final since ToC last year, so I’m really looking forward to tomorrow’s match.”

Men’s Semi-Finals: 
[4] Tarek Momen (EGY) 3-2 [1] Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY)  8-11, 11-6, 8-11, 11-4, 11-8 (97m)
[2] Ali Farag (EGY) 3-0 [3] Simon Rösner (GER)  11-2, 11-9, 11-4 (46m)

Women’s Semi-Finals: 
[3] Nour El Tayeb (EGY) 3-2 [1] Raneem El Welily (EGY)  6-11, 11-6, 11-8, 7-11, 12-10 (64m)
[2] Nour El Sherbini (EGY) 3-2 [5] Camille Serme (FRA)  11-8, 11-6, 6-11, 5-11, 11-6 (59m)

Rösner becomes first German to reach World Championships semis

World No.4 Simon Rösner has become the first German player ever to reach a World Championship semi-final after he overcame India’s Saurav Ghosal in Chicago’s Union Station on day six of the 2018-2019 PSA World Championships presented by the Walter Family.

Rösner – who is the highest ranked German of all time and the only player from that nation to win a major PSA title – rose to an 11-8, 11-6, 11-7 victory against World No.11 Ghosal to ensure that he will go head-to-head with World No.2 Ali Farag for a place in the final of squash’s first $1 million tournament.

“It’s big, I’ve never reached the quarters before, and now I’ve made it to the semis,” said Rösner.

“It’s very satisfying, especially with the way I played. After the tough match I had two days ago, I felt much better today and played some aggressive and much more controlling squash, and that put Saurav under a lot of pressure.

“I knew playing Saurav that I would have to be at a 100% because he’s really playing well these days, so I had to be at my best and I’m happy to be through. I think you see the finishing line maybe a bit too early and you’re trying to hang in there. The ball was dead in the third game and Saurav can really chop it in, so I was pleased that I could convert the tactics that I had before the match.”

Farag will dethrone fellow Egyptian Mohamed ElShorbagy to become the new World No.1 tomorrow (March 1) and he will get his reign at the summit of the PSA World Rankings under way against the German after beating New Zealand’s Paul Coll 3-1.

The Harvard-graduate and World No.6 Paul Coll were meeting for the third tournament in a row, while Farag boasted a five-match win streak over the Kiwi coming into the match. Despite dropping the third game to a resurgent Coll, Farag managed the match well to complete an 11-8, 11-7, 4-11, 11-1 triumph in 57 minutes.

“I’ve been very excited about becoming World No.1, I would have loved it to have been in a different circumstance and not had a match to focus on, but I’m very excited,” said Farag, who will appear in the semi-finals for the second time.

“He gets smarter and fitter, and I think today was very tactical. It was going to go to whoever got the middle of the court, he used the height and angles very well and he never gave me anything easy.

“He was standing in front of me for a big chunk of that match, which is all credit to him, but my length fell short a little bit, so I had to be aggressive from the fourth. I think I did that well, and that big long rally at the start of the fourth was crucial.”

Farag’s win means that there will be two married couples in the semi-finals of the World Championships for the first time after wife Nour El Tayeb, and fellow Egyptians Raneem El Welily and Tarek Momen claimed victories in their quarter-final fixtures yesterday.

It is also the first time since the 2014 edition that the top four seeds in the men’s draw have all reached the semi-finals.

France’s Camille Serme is through to the semi-finals for the fourth time in her career after the World No.5 put in a masterclass to end the run of New Zealand’s Joelle King, winning 11-7, 11-8, 11-4 in just 37 minutes.

King got the better of Serme when they met in the quarter-finals of the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions in January, but the woman from France executed her game plan to perfection inside Union Station’s Great Hall to move to within one win of a maiden World Championship final appearance.

“When I lost to Joelle in New York, she played really well, but it was a tough loss for me,” said Serme afterwards.

“We always say you learn more from a loss than a win, so I worked hard on that match, and I was really focused on what to do on court and not about the World Championships or rankings. I just wanted it so badly, I stayed focused the whole way, and I’m very happy with that.”

Two-time World Champion Nour El Sherbini stands between Serme and a coveted place in the title decider, with the World No.2 seeing off the challenge of Welsh No.1 Tesni Evans.

Sherbini, who won both the 2015 and 2016 World Championships, eliminated United States No.1 Amanda Sobhy in the previous round after a gripping five-game battle, but the 23-year-old required just three games to get the better of Evans.

“She has been playing very good from the start of the season and improving,” El Sherbini said.

“She’s in the top ten now, and even though it was 3-0, it wasn’t easy. I’m happy with the way I played. I had a tough last round against Amanda, but I had a day off yesterday and recovered well to come back again today refreshed.”

Men’s Quarter-Finals (Bottom Half): 
[3] Simon Rösner (GER) 3-0 [11] Saurav Ghosal (IND) 11-8, 11-6, 11-7 (50m)
[2] Ali Farag (EGY) b3-1[7] Paul Coll (NZL)  11-8, 11-7, 4-11, 11-1 (57m)

Women’s Quarter-Finals (Bottom Half): 
[5] Camille Serme (FRA) 3-0 [4] Joelle King (NZL) 11-7, 11-8, 11-4 (37m)
[2] Nour El Sherbini (EGY) 309 [10] Tesni Evans (WAL) 11-7, 11-5, 11-7 (31m)

Men’s Semi-Finals:
[1] Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) v [4] Tarek Momen (EGY)
[3] Simon Rösner (GER) v [2] Ali Farag (EGY)
Women’s Semi-Finals:
[1] Raneem El Welily (EGY) v [3] Nour El Tayeb (EGY)
[5] Camille Serme (FRA) v [2] Nour El Sherbini (EGY)

Egyptian Quartet prevail in top half quarter-finals of PSA World Championships

A quartet of Egyptians – containing reigning champions Mohamed ElShorbagy and Raneem El Welily – claimed victories on the opening day of quarter-final action at the 2018-2019 PSA World Championships in Chicago to ensure that there is guaranteed to be an Egyptian finalist in squash’s first $1 million tournament.

ElShorbagy, the current World No.1, booked his place in the last four courtesy of a 3-1 win over Colombian World No.7 Miguel Rodriguez inside the Great Hall of Chicago’s Union Station.

The pair met in the final of the sport’s longest-running tournament – the British Open – last May, with Rodriguez taking the win on that occasion. The South American took the opening game, but ElShorbagy stayed strong mentally and battled back to take the next three games without reply, winning 5-11, 11-7, 11-6, 11-6 to book his place in the semis.

“I actually think this is one of the best times he has played against me,” ElShorbagy said.

“From the first point I could see his focus, and I knew that I was one for a battle tonight. I could see that if I needed to win a point then he wasn’t going to give it easy to me today. I had to win the point myself and I had to extend the rallies as much as possible. It was very tough playing him tonight and every point we played, physically and mentally, I had to get my tactics right after I lost that first game, and I’m really glad I pulled through in the end.

“[Coach David] Palmer and me worked out a plan after that first game, and we needed to look at what was happening and that’s what you had to do. You go on with a game plan and, if it’s not working, then you have to get the next one on and tonight, I had to do that.”

Compatriot and World No.3 Tarek Momen awaits ElShorbagy in the semi-finals after he defeated the defending champion’s brother, Marwan, in straight games.

Marwan narrowly lost out to Mohamed in a historic World Championship final in Manchester back in December 2017, but was outplayed by Momen, who displayed some superb attacking touches during an 11-5, 11-4, 11-6 triumph to reach the semi-finals of this tournament for the first time since 2015.

“This result is more than I could ever have dreamed of because I had a very tough five-game match with Abouelghar and to keep my hopes alive in this tournament, I needed an easier match today,” said Momen.

“I’m also happy to be back in the semi-finals of the World Championship, the last time was 2015, also in the US, so I’m happy to be back.”

Momen’s wife, World No.1 El Welily, will join her husband in the semi-finals after she saw off the challenge of World No.8 Nouran Gohar.

30-year-old El Welily lost out to her younger compatriot in the semi-finals of the Egyptian Nationals earlier this month, but she overcame her opponent by an 11-4, 6-11, 11-4, 11-2 margin, which extends her winning run over Gohar on the PSA Tour to four matches.

“I was a bit nervous to be honest,” said El Welily, a three-time World Championship finalist.

“Nouran and I have played many times this season, with the last being 10 days ago at the Nationals and she beat me, so I was a bit edgy at the start. But I managed to push myself through the pressure to handle the situation that I was put in, and I’m pleased with that.”

She will face World No.4 Nour El Tayeb in the next round after she ended the run of Hong Kong’s Annie Au, winning 11-5, 11-7, 11-6 in just 25 minutes.

Au had beaten former World Champion Laura Massaro in the previous round to become the first player from Hong Kong ever to reach the quarter-finals of the sport’s biggest tournament, but she was unable to get into the match against a ruthless El Tayeb.

El Tayeb’s husband – World No.2 Ali Farag – will contest his quarter-final fixture tomorrow against New Zealand’s World No.6 Paul Coll, and a win for the 26-year-old Harvard-graduate will mean that the World Championship semi-finals will feature two married couples for the first time ever.

“For me, anyone who beats Laura, I worry,” said the 25-year-old Egyptian.

“Last time I played Laura was a few months ago and I lost in three, so anyone who beats Laura scares me, but I was ready for it. I tried to take away all the time for her because she hits so many lobs. I hope I can become more relaxed now that I have made it to my second semi-final in a row, and I’m excited for whoever I play next.”

Quarter-final action continues on Thursday February 28, with play starting at 17:00 (GMT-6).

Men’s Quarter-Finals (Top Half): 
[1] Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) 3-1 [6] Miguel Rodriguez (COL)  5-11, 11-7, 11-6, 11-6 (61m)
[4] Tarek Momen (EGY) 3-0 [8] Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY)  11-5, 11-4, 11-6 (33m)

Men’s Quarter-Finals (Bottom Half): To Be Played February 28th
[3] Simon Rösner (GER) v [11] Saurav Ghosal (IND)
[7] Paul Coll (NZL) v [2] Ali Farag (EGY)

Women’s Quarter-Finals (Top Half): 
[1] Raneem El Welily (EGY) 3-1 [8] Nouran Gohar (EGY)  11-4, 6-11, 11-4, 11-2 (37m)
[3] Nour El Tayeb (EGY) 3-0 [12] Annie Au (HKG)  11-5, 11-7, 11-6 (25m)

Women’s Quarter-Finals (Bottom Half): To Be Played February 28th
[4] Joelle King (NZL) v [5] Camille Serme (FRA)
[10] Tesni Evans (WAL) v [2] Nour El Sherbini (EGY)

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