Friday, December 8, 2023

Mohamed ElShorbagy and Joelle King stay on winning trail by lifting Singapore Open titles

By ALAN THATCHER (Squash Mad Editor) and MATT COLES (PSA) in Singapore

Mohamed ElShorbagy and Joelle King continued their winning ways by lifting the Marigold Singapore Open titles one week after triumphing in New Zealand.

Both Bristol-based players are in fine form and won their finals against Diego Elias and Nour El Tayeb in straight games at the OCBC Arena in Singapore.

For world No.3 ElShorbagy, it was his fourth PSA title of the season after switching nationality to England and teaming up with Gregory Gaultier as his coach.

He produced a superb performance to beat Peru’s Elias to win this PSA World Tour Gold crown in front of a packed audience of fans who warmly welcomed the return of top-class squash to Singapore just as the crowds did in King’s homeland of New Zealand the previous week.

Back in June, Elias beat ElShorbagy in the final of the Necker Mauritius Open and followed that up last month with another win in the semi-finals of the US Open. However, ElShorbagy continued the superb form which has already seen him win the Qatar Classic, Oracle NetSuite Open and New Zealand Open this season to claim an 11-6, 11-6, 11-8 victory in 45 minutes.

ElShorbagy lived up to his nickname as ‘The Beast’ as he overpowered and outmanoeuvred Elias, playing at an incredible pace which left his opponent struggling to keep up. The win marks ElShorbagy’s 48th PSA title, and the first time he has won back-to-back titles since 2020.

Mohamed ElShorbagy (right) in dominant form against Diego Elias in the final of the Marigold Singapore Open

Including his wins at the Carrus Nations Cup for England, ElShorbagy is now on a run of 12 matches unbeaten, winning three titles in that time, including his first victory for his new nation.

He said: “I’m feeling very happy to have this tournament for the first time in so many years and to put my name on that prestigious trophy which has the names of a lot of greats from the past, it’s such an honour for me.

“I’m very happy to win this title, to back it up after last week in New Zealand, and I’m very happy that this is my fourth title this season out of my first six events. I remember last season there were many people that were saying that I could not play four tough matches in a row, but here I am winning my fourth tournament of the season. I’m far from done.

“Lots of people thought that they understood me, they knew who I am, that they knew ‘The Beast’. They don’t know who I am and what I can do when I’m angry. I’m really happy to come back and win events again and I’m very happy to play in front of such a great crowd.

“He [Elias] beat me at the U.S. Open last month, he killed me 3-0 actually. He controlled the whole match, so I think it was my turn to learn something. Next time he will probably learn something from today, and that’s how you improve as rivals.

“Before this match, I had to speak to my team, to Greg [Gaultier] and my brother as well. He just played Diego a couple of weeks ago, so I made a point of calling him last night to understand what he did against him in Switzerland. Luckily, I have a brother [Marwan ElShorbagy] who is playing at the top of the rankings and we can think together sometimes against opponents.

“He’s taught me so much about what I could do today. I think I did everything that he told me last night, and he’s going to be a proud brother, definitely.”

Joelle King in action against Nour El Tayeb

New Zealand’s Joelle King also made it back-to-back wins, as she put in an impressive performance, nullifying world No.6 Nour El Tayeb’s attacking skills to record an 11-6, 12-10, 11-4 victory in 40 minutes.

The Kiwi came through a five-game thriller against unseeded American Sabrina Sobhy in the semi-finals, but she showed no signs of fatigue in the early stages, finding her rhythm quickly on the glass court at the OCBC Arena.

El Tayeb struggled early, with her attempts at finding the back corners seeing the ball spray out into the middle, giving King multiple opportunities to put the ball away.

King won the first game 11-6, but El Tayeb showed her fighting qualities in the second. She moved 10-8 up and had a chance to level the contest, but King produced four perfect rallies, showing supreme composure and confidence, to come back and win the game 12-10.

That broke El Tayeb’s resistance, with the Kiwi storming to her 16th PSA title and her biggest victory since the 2018 Hong Kong Open.

“First of all, we have to talk about Nour,” said King. “She’s had a baby and she’s been terrorising all of the draws. She’s been unseeded and beating player after player. It was such a tough match. I know it was 3-0, but the intensity was high and there was so much skill and athleticism on display here.

“That’s what you get when you play Nour. Congratulations to her on a great tournament, and I’m very pleased to win today. I was game ball down [in the second game] and I thought that I just needed to fight. I tried to get a bit of rhythm for the next game and get in front and volley, and that seemed to work.

“That was the turning point, I think, and I came out strong in the third and just tried to protect the lead, so I’m very happy with this win today.

“It’s the first time we’ve brought world-class squash to Singapore for a long time, and I hope to see all the fans again here next year.”

The PSA World Tour continues in just a couple of days time, as the Malaysian Open Squash Championships begin in Kuala Lumpur.

The PSA World Tour Bronze event will take place from November 22-26, and all the action will be streamed live on SQUASHTV.

MARIGOLD Singapore Squash Open, OCBC Arena, Singapore.

Men’s Final:
[4] Mohamed ElShorbagy (ENG) bt [3] Diego Elias (PER) 3-0: 11-6, 11-6, 11-8 (45m)

Women’s Final:
[2] Joelle King (NZL) bt [3] Nour El Tayeb (EGY) 3-0: 11-6, 12-10, 11-4 (40m)

Pictures courtesy of PSA World Tour 


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