Defending champion and world’s no.1 squash player Mohamed Elshorbagy played a dominant game against England’s Nick Matthew in the final of 2016 JP Morgan Tournament of Champions and emerged triumphant at New York’s iconic Grand Central Terminal. Joining Elshorbagy on women’s side was another Egyptian world no.5 Nour El Sherbini, who broke many an American hearts by beating home favorite Amanda Sobhy and collected part of the biggest prize fund in tournament’s history. The US event had offered the prize money parity in men and women’s events for the first time in tournament’s history. Elshorbagy had entered the final after beating Frenchman Mathieu Castagnet while the 20-year old Sherbini outplayed former world no.1 Nicol David of Malaysia in women’s semifinal to set up the final clash with Sobhy.
Mohamed Elshorbagy was in his elements in the semifinal against French veteran Mathieu Castagnet despite the late challenge by Castagnet. The world no.1 showed poise and superb control after Castagnet came back to win the third game regardless of the 0-2 deficit. Elshorbagy resumed his control on the match and defeated Castagnet 11-9, 11-6, 3-11, 11-7 to book the final berth in the showpiece event. Against Nick Matthews, it was no cakewalk for Elshorbagy. The two of them have had the most intense rivalries on PSA Circuit over the years and their matches have been widely viewed. The 35-year old Englishman knew what he needed to do against the much younger Elshorbagy, who has held PSA’s no.1 rank since November 1, 2014. The final on Friday was the repeat of last year’s summit clash between squash’s most talked about stars. Matthews had fought hard in 2015 and stretched Elshorbagy before losing 11-5, 9-11, 8-11, 10-12. This year, it was no different, when the two superstars took to the court. In a 93-minute nail-biting super spectacle, Elshorbagy managed to repeat his last year’s heroics against Matthews in the 8-11, 11-6, 11-8, 6-11, 11-6 triumph. But Matthews began by taking the first game from the Egyptian and carried the fight further. However, Elshorbagy came back strongly in the second and third games before Matthews bounced back yet again in the fourth. After taking the final to the deciding fifth game, Matthews looked a little rusted and that allowed Elshorbagy to finish the proceedings. The world no.1 has been in great form since winning the Qatar Classic and Cathay Pacific Sun Hung Kai Financial Hong Kong Open recently. Beginning the New Year with a win over Matthews should bolster Elshorbagy’s confidence as he is regarded as a strong favorite for the third consecutive PSA World Series title at Dubai.
Another Egyptian, El Sherbini matched the feat of her male compatriot in women’s draw. Earlier, Sherbini had shocked former world no.1 Nicol David of Malaysia with a 26-minute straight games’ 11-8, 11-5, 11-6 victory in the semifinal but in Amanda Sobhy, Sherbini didn’t have it all that easy. Besides matching the young Egyptian, Sobhy also had the entire Grand Central crowd on her side. After taking the first game at 11-4, Sherbini lost the second 9-11 as the American raised her game. The 20-year old Sherbini got off with a fabulous 5-0 lead in the third game before Sobhy found her touch yet again. The American had her chances with a game-point but Sherbini’s tenacity was marvelous as she took the third game 12-10 to lead 2-1 on games. The disappointed American allowed her game to be affected by the loss in the third game and couldn’t keep pace with Sherbini as the Egyptian broke free and won the title by taking the fourth game and the match in 46 minutes. Shebini’s 11-4, 9-11, 12-10, 11-8 victory gave her the first title in the Tournament of Champions and a morale boost in times to come. The Egyptian nation had its moment of pride with two of its youthful natives splashed squash headlines on Friday.
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