The prestigious Allam British Open PSA World Series Tournament concluded on May 17, 2015. Before the Squash world championship was introduced in 1970, the British Open was regarded as the unofficial world championship in this sport and affectionately called as the Wimbledon of Squash. British Open is also the oldest tournament in squash that first took place in 1922 for women and in 1929 for men. The reputation attached to the tournament bring squash stars from around the world to England every year. The most legendary figure at the British Open has been Australia’s Heather McKay (born Blundell), who claimed women’s title 16 times in a row from 1962 to 1979 in her 16 final appearances. Pakistan’s Jahangir Khan has won the men’s tournament 10 times, followed by Australian Geoff Hunt 8 times and Ireland’s Jonah Barrington 6 times. In recent past, newsmakers at British Open have been modern-day champions; Nicol David of Malaysia; Nick Matthew of England, Ramy Ashour of Egypt and Gregory Gaultier of France. Frenchman Gaultier, who won the tournament in 2014, finished runners-up to the talented Egyptian Mohamed Elshorbagy in 2015 edition that concluded on May 17, 2015. The women’s title was taken by France’s Camille Serme, who defeated the 2013 champion Laura Massaro of England.
Fast-rising squash star and current world no.1 Mohamed Elshorbagy of Egypt fought hard with reigning champion and world no.3 Gregory Gaultier of France. Elshorbagy needed to play all 5 games against the celebrated Frenchman before he could lay claim to his first Allam British Open. It was the first time that the 24-year old Egyptian had entered the final of the British Open but he came through with flying colors. Before Elshorbagy reached the final, he had to play 3-time champion Nick Matthew in the semifinal but the Egyptian powered his way through with a 3-1 triumph over the Englishman. The first game of the final against Gaultier was as close as it could go. While Elshorbagy kept his composure under check, Gaultier kept questioning umpiring decisions and grew increasingly frustrated. Elshorbagy took advantage of Gaultier’s emotions and finished the game 11-9. In the second game Gaultier got back his rhythm and looked composed. This allowed Gaultier to pack more power in his shots and dictate terms to Elshorbagy. After taking the second game at 11-6, Gaultier played even more powerfully in the third and won at 11-5.
By this time, Gaultier had nearly exhausted himself and it was Elshorbagy, who controlled the fourth and fifth games. The Egyptian checked on his unforced-error count and managed to win the fourth set 11-8. In the decider, Elshorbagy took an early lead by playing powerfully and earned six championship points. After two long rallies, Elshorbagy smashed solidly into the nick and walked away as 2015 British Open champion with a 11-9, 6-11, 5-11, 11-8, 11-5 in 93 minutes.
Camille Serme became the first woman from France to win the British Open after she overcame the challenge by England’s Laura Massaro. Serme had earlier accounted for qualifier Delia Arnold 3-0 in the semifinal. Massaro had an extremely nerve-draining semifinal against world no.1 Nicole David. The Englishwoman had slipped to a 0-2 deficit but she summoned all her energy to come back and scored a 5-game thriller against the famous Malaysian. In the final, Serme began strongly with an unrelenting barrage of perfectly executed drop-volleys. Massaro couldn’t repeat her semifinal show against David and lost the first game 3-11. In the second, Serme continued in the same vein and won at 11-5. After losing two games, Massaro composed herself and rallied heavily in the third game. Her unforced errors dropped and she prevented Serme from hitting like she did in the first two games. Though Serme tried to fight she lost at 8-11. Having done against Nicole David just a day earlier, Massaro was seen as repeating her semifinal feat and the home crowd egged her on. But the Frenchwoman didn’t want to yield the advantage she held over Massaro. Serme started slowly and despite conceding an early lead, began scoring expertly. She played the range of her delicate drop shots and angled volleys to finish the match 11-3, 11-5, 8-11, 11-8 to make history as the first Frenchwoman to become the British Open champion.