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El Shorbagy Shines In Reunion

Egypt’s Mohamed El Shorbagy survived the longest match of his career to win the Squash Pro Internationaux de la Reunion at Eventsport 61 in Saint Pierre on Reunion Island – and deny Reunion-born Thierry Lincou the successful defence of his title in the PSA World Tour International 25 squash event.

Top-seeded Frenchman Lincou, the 35-year-old world No8, took the opening game in this battle against an opponent 15 years his junior, and ranked just one place lower.

But second seed El Shorbagy, who beat his illustrious opponent in their first meeting in the 2008 World Open, battled back to take the next two games.

Despite suffering a frustrating knee injury earlier in the year, Lincou dug deep to survive a fourth game tie-break game to draw level.

The decider had the packed crowd on the edges of their seats – and favourite Lincou reached match-ball on four occasions.

But it was the younger player who ultimately prevailed as El Shorbagy closed out the match 5-11, 11-5, 11-4, 10-12, 15-13 after 112 minutes to win the third PSA Tour title of his career.

“What can I say after this marathon,” El Shorbagy told www.sitesquash.com afterwards. “I have never in my whole life seen someone at that age playing like this!

“After I won the second and the third, I heard him telling Julien (Balbo) that he is really dead – and look at how he pushed and pushed and pushed all the way in the fourth and the fifth! He is such a great example not only for the French players, but to all of us. He just never gives up

“I just wish one day when I am at his age can play like this. There were two players on court killing themselves every point in these hot conditions – and I was just the lucky one at the end.

“I saved four match balls by hitting the nick almost every time from the return of the serve. How lucky I am!

“This is for sure the hardest and longest match I have played in my career. And playing him is such a great honour for me. He is a true legend!”

After recovering from his longest match since 2002, Tour veteran Lincou added: “It was a good match for a return, especially compared to yesterday, where I was very tense against Julien.

“Today, I reacted well I thought, and was able to raise my game. I know it mustn’t have been easy for Mohamed to play here, but the match was high quality.

“It was so hot on there today, I thought at some point I was going physically to die. We were both really out of breath, dead, and it would take us up to 30, 40 seconds to recover between points. And I could see some points I was actually fresher than he was, but he’s got such fantastic hands, in two shots, he puts you in the red again!

“Yes, of course, a bit disappointed to have lost a match with a few match points, but I can’t complain, can I! I won so many matches like this, saving match balls.

“It’s very positive, especially when I think of the state I was in two months ago, so depressed as my knee wouldn’t get better, and losing in Baillargues, a small tournament, in the semis.”

[2] Mohamed El Shorbagy (EGY) bt [1] Thierry Lincou (FRA) 5-11, 11-5, 11-4, 10-12, 15-13 (112m)

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