Greg Gaultier says that Nour El Sherbini’s priority for the second-half of the season will be to claim a fourth British Open squash title.
In 2022 the World Champion was unable to defend the title she had won for the third time the previous year due to a hip injury. Now, having made a strong start to 2023 after capturing the ToC in New York last month following a 10-day training camp at Gaultier’s Prague base, he is in no doubt that The Warrior Princess is in the type of shape to recapture the game’s most historic title. It was a title she first first won in 2016 after a five-game epic with rival Nouran Gohar.
Gaultier joined the World No.2’s team last August, making an immediate impact and now he is confident that his coaching collaboration with Sherbini’s long term chief of staff Ahmed Shohayeb has provided the perfect basis for a renewed assault on the game’s major titles.
Gaultier said: “I could see at the end of the spell that she was ready. The last five days were very positive and I think it was just a good experience overall that she came away to train outside Egypt.
“It allowed her to be totally focussed and in a different environment, she was on a mission it was squash, squash, squash, and she could only focus on that.
“When she came here it allowed her to have different sparring with the boys from our Academy and that gave her something fresh and obviously I was on court with her every day and I really enjoyed working with such a good player.
“It was a little change and a different experience off court as well. Nour took time to see around Prague and I went with her on one occasion and she really enjoyed the experience as it is a lovely city and there is no surprise that she wants to come back!”
Reflecting on how the dynamic between himself and Sherbini’s loyal coaching mainstay Shohayeb works the great Frenchman explained: “We exchange all our ideas and try to put things in place to allow Nour to have the best possible preparation.
“When Nour does her sessions back in Egypt I try to follow as much as possible and Ahmed and I always speak to each other and also every day of course with Nour and it works very well.
“It is a case of balancing the work load to make sure there is no negative impact on any part of her body but she seemed very good with it all and it didn’t bother her too much. Nour is just very dedicated and does everything in her power to be fit.”
Although the final at ToC ultimately ended in anti-climax with Gohar withdrawing after one game due to illness, Gaultier has no doubt that the women’s big three of El Sherbini, World No.1 Gohar and British Open Champion Hania El Hammamy are taking the game in its female form to towering new heights.
The 2015 world champion said: “I could see from day one in New York that Nour was really in her element and she didn’t waste any time on court. From the first match she was very determined.
“The matches against Hania and Nouran are always tough and she also had a good hard match with Amanda (Sobhy) who managed to take the third game and that was good as it meant Nour was really tested before she got Hania in the semis.
“Hania is a tough fighter and even if you are ahead you must battle for every point and that is what Nour did and they both delivered an excellent match.
“It’s always a tough 3-1 or 3-2 and it’s unbelievable quality and I think they take the women’s squash to a higher level.”
Since re-locating himself to Prague, the former World No.1 has built up a burgeoning stable of promising professional talent while also overseeing Mohamed El Shorbagy’s resurgence.
Asked about the prestige surrounding the British Open, the Frenchman added: “I won it three times and if I could have won more of this prestigious title I would have taken it 100%. It is a title everyone wants their hands on as it has so much history attached to it.”