‘I told my team I would win and I’m proud of how I’ve handled things this week’
By ALAN THATCHER – Squash Mad Editor
Marwan ElShorbagy told his support team he would win the CIB Black Ball Open after beating New Zealand’s Paul Coll in a 96-minute epic battle in the quarter-finals. He duly delivered on that promise by downing Fares Dessouky in the final – and then set his sights on becoming world number one.
ElShorbagy had spent more than an hour and a half longer on court than Dessouky in the lead up to the final after backing up that brutal battle against Coll with a 69-minute victory over Welshman Joel Makin in the semi-finals.
Despite strapping on his right leg, ElShorbagy showed few signs of being under any physical strain as he made a blistering start to take a two-game lead against his opponent, who was appearing in his first Platinum final.
Dessouky, who beat World No.1 Ali Farag in December’s Black Ball Open back when it was a Gold event, dug in and, buoyed by the support of the Black Ball Sporting Club crowd, was able to claw the third game back.
The defending champion held a game ball in the fourth but made a huge error as he hit the ball back at himself. And ElShorbagy made no mistake in the tie-break as he closed out an 11-7, 11-9, 7-11, 14-12 victory to win his first Platinum title since the 2018 El Gouna International. He celebrated by hurling his racket high over the back wall.
The 27-year-old missed out on December’s Black Ball Open due to a suspension, but was in superb form throughout this week in Cairo and has been rewarded with the 11th PSA title of his career, as well as over $22,000 in prize money. ElShorbagy also qualifies for June’s CIB PSA World Tour Finals, which features all Platinum title winners as well as the highest ranked players on the CIB Road to Egypt Standings.
“I have won a couple of majors before, but this is the most special one of them all,” said ElShorbagy.
“I went through a lot before this event. To be able to back up the quarter-final match against Paul and to be able to win the semis and the final, it means a lot to me. It wasn’t just about playing a great match against Paul, it was all about backing it up.
“The next day I told my team that I was going to win this event and I’m so proud of how I’ve handled things this week.
“I think me and Fares could be World No.1 and World No.2 one day. The way we’ve been playing is different and we’ve both been playing really well. The way he is playing is quite inspiring, he could be changing the game.”
The next PSA World Tour event will be the Manchester Open. The PSA Silver tournament will take place between April 19-25 at Manchester’s National Squash Centre.
Men’s 2021 CIB PSA Black Ball Squash Open, Black Ball Sporting Club, Cairo, Egypt.
 Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) bt  Fares Dessouky (EGY) 3-1: 11-7, 11-9, 7-11, 14-12 (72m)
Pictures courtesy of PSA