Three months after they claimed men and women’s championship in 2016 JP Morgan Tournament of Champions at New York’s Grand Central Terminal, the Egyptian duo of Mohamed Elshorbagy and Nour El Sherbini also won the 2016 Allam British Open, PSA World Series Tournament at London on Sunday. The final matches were but the culmination of Egypt’s complete dominance on the game of squash as all the four finalists were Egyptian men and women. With an all-Egyptian cast, both titles would have gone to Egypt anyway. There was just one difference between the champions; while Elshorbagy successfully defended his 2015 title, it was the first time that El Sherbini has won the British Open. Since no Egyptian woman has ever won the British Open, El Sherbini also stole the honor of the first-ever Egyptian woman to do so.
World no.1 Mohamed Elshorbagy’s progress through the tournament stages was quite smooth. He lost just one second-round game against England’s James Willstrop but thereafter, he didn’t have to break sweat against any of his rivals in the quarterfinal, semifinal or final. He came through to the final after easily beating another compatriot Karim Abdel Gawad while the other finalist, Ramy Ashour had to fight tooth and nail with world no.2 Frenchman Gregory Gaultier before winning at 11-6, 12-10, 8-11, 9-11, 11-7 and setting up a clash with the defending champion.
Ashour carried the strains of his grueling semifinal with the French world champion Gaultier and allowed Elshorbagy to dominate from the very start. As the crowd watched the match in Hull’s Airco Arena, Elshorbagy won the first game for the loss of just two points even as Ashour struggled to adjust his pace against the world no.1. Elshorbagy continued relentlessly and with Ashour’s movements being heavily restricted, took the next two games with consummate ease. In the end, Elshorbagy wound up the proceeding with an 11-2, 11-5, 11-9 victory in just 28 minutes. The world no.1 thus, not only retained his 2015 but scored his fifth consecutive PSA World Series victory. In addition, the celebrated Egyptian also ended his four-match losing streak against Ashour, who won the British Open in 2013.
In the women’s final, world no.4 Nour El Sherbini finished her British Open campaign in some style and became the only Egyptian woman ever to win the prestigious event. Sherbini had earlier defeated long-time former world no.1 Nicol David of Malaysia in a four-game semifinal before setting up a clash with compatriot and world champion Nouran Gohar. The world no.8 Gohar had made it to the final after a hard-fought 5-game semifinal win over France’s world no.5 Camille Serme. Both Egyptian women were determined to clinch the championship and it showed in the manner with which they took on one another. After Sherbini took the first game11-7, the 18-year old Gohar bounced back with some ferocious play and took a 2-1 lead in the match by taking the next two games from the world no.4. However, Sherbini recovered in time and by winning the fourth game, forced the decider. The two women looked equally matched for most part, before Sherbini produced her best effort in closing stages to win the 75-minute duel at 11-7, 9-11, 7-11, 11-6, 11-8.
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