Nick Matthew and Amanda Sobhy runners-up in a phenomenal week in New York
By SEAN REUTHE and ALAN THATCHER
Mohamed Elshorbagy and Nour El Sherbini made it an Egyptian double as they beat England’s Nick Matthew and home heroine Amanda Sobhy in the finals of the 2016 Men’s J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions in the stunning setting of New York’s Grand Central Terminal.
World No.1 Elshorbagy weathered a phenomenal performance from Matthew to retain his ToC crown.
The pair have one of the most intense rivalries on the PSA World Tour and went head-to-head in a nailbiting 93-minute spectacle that saw Elshorbagy repeat his heroics against the Englishman, who he defeated in last year’s final, with an 8-11, 11-6, 11-8, 6-11, 11-6 triumph.
Matthew came into the final after being on court for just 14 minutes during his semi-final clash with World Champion Gregory Gaultier, which was cut short due to the Frenchman picking up an injury, and his fresher legs seemed to give him a slight advantage after a number of lengthy, high quality rallies went in the Yorkshireman’s favour as he struck up a 1-0 lead.
Elshorbagy, who defeated Mathieu Castagnet to book his place in the showpiece event, lit up the second game with some fantastic shots into the front left corner allowing him to outmanoeuvre the three-time World Champion and draw level.
The duo have one of the most intense rivalries on the PSA World Tour and both players showed their frustrations at each other’s movements during a third game that was punctuated by a series of lets and strokes. However, Elshorbagy upped the pace towards the end of the game and some errors from Matthew resulted in the 25-year-old claiming the lead for the first time in the match.
Points ebbed and flowed in the fourth with Matthew coming out on top in the pair’s many battles in the front of the court and ‘The Wolf’ levelled things up to send the match into a dramatic fifth-game showdown.
A plethora of high-octane rallies enraptured the packed crowd in the majestic Vanderbilt Hall with Elshorbagy eventually pulling away mid-game to earn an extremely hard-fought victory after an hour and a half of brutal combat, a fitting finale to an outstanding week of competition in New York.
Elshorbagy has been in superb form after capturing both the Qatar Classic and the Cathay Pacific Sun Hung Kai Financial Hong Kong Open in recent months and his latest victory sees him strengthen his lead on the PSA Road to Dubai Standings with a third consecutive PSA World Series title.
“It’s a great start for me to 2016 and I’m glad,” said Elshorbagy. “Nick and myself always have such great battles. I told him after the match that it’s always an honour to play him in a World Series final and I was really happy to get my second title here. I really enjoyed the match today and I look forward to having more great battles with him in the future.
“I think that’s the best I’ve seen him [Matthew] play so far this season and I’m really glad to see him back at his best again because the game needs him and he is very important for the game. I want to congratulate him for his great performance. He had already beaten my brother [Marwan] and I didn’t want him to beat both of us in the same tournament.”
Meanwhile, the Women’s event saw Egyptian No.2 El Sherbini scoop the most lucrative title of her career to date after overcoming home favourite Sobhy, the number ten seed. In doing so she claimed the champion’s share of the biggest prize fund in the tournament’s history after 2016 saw the prestigious event offer parity in prize money for the first time ever.
El Sherbini was in the form of her life after defeating 2014 winner Nicol David in the semi-finals and the 20-year-old played with a maturity beyond her years as she rose to claim an 11-4, 9-11, 12-10, 11-8 victory and capture her first ever PSA World Series crown.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling, I can’t express it,” said El Sherbini. “Words can’t describe how I’m feeling now. This one is really special and to win it is something that I’m never going to forget. I’m really glad that I won this year, I’m really happy.”
New Yorker Sobhy can reflect on an amazing week in which she enhanced her own professional credentials and made a major impact as the poster girl for squash in America. Canada had Jonathan Power. The US has Amanda Sobhy.
J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions, Vanderbilt Hall, Grand Central Terminal, New York, USA.
 Mohamed Elshorbagy (EGY) bt  Nick Matthew (ENG) 3-2: 8-11, 11-6, 11-8, 6-11, 11-6 (93m)
 Nour El Sherbini (EGY) bt  Amanda Sobhy (USA) 3-1: 11-4, 9-11, 12-10, 11-8 (46m)
Pictures by STEVE LINE (www.squashpics.com) courtesy of PSA