World number one raring to go again after dominating last season
By SEAN REUTHE
World No.1 Mohamed ElShorbagy will play his first tournament of the season at the Oracle NetSuite Open as he aims to defend the title he won with style last year at San Francisco’s Embarcadero Plaza.
ElShorbagy’s debut appearance at this tournament 12 months ago culminated in a final victory over fellow Egyptian Karim Abdel Gawad, which laid the foundations for a dominant season for the 27-year-old from Alexandria.
In imperious, sustained form of the highest quality, he went on to claim seven further PSA Tour titles – including a maiden PSA World Championship crown – and returned to the summit of the PSA World Rankings.
Speaking ahead of the PSA World Tour Gold event, which runs from September 27 to October 2, ElShorbagy outlined how much he enjoyed the tournament last year and says he is raring to go after the summer break which saw him link up once again with coach and two-time World Champion David Palmer, one of the key figures behind the Egyptians resurgence during the last campaign.
“I absolutely loved my time last year in San Fran,” said ElShorbagy. “I really did enjoy the tournament, and it’s not a surprise knowing (Tournament Promoter) John Nimick over the years. He has always known how to make the tournaments he has done very enjoyable, professional and very comfortable for the players to just focus on their game during his events.
“My summer training has been going well with mixing it between training in Bristol and now at Cornell [University] with [David] Palmer before the season starts. Of course, before I start my summer training I start to analyse myself first on what kind of weaknesses in my game I need to improve and work on, and I have been working on a few things this summer that will hopefully improve my game for next season.”
ElShorbagy’s dominant 2017-18 campaign came off the back of a disappointing 2016-17 season, which saw him lose his grip on the World No.1 spot and pick up just one major title.
However, the Bristol-based powerhouse says that the experience gained in suffering that slump in form has helped him scale new heights over the past 12 months and he envisages becoming an even better player during the upcoming season than the one who dominated the PSA Tour over the previous campaign.
“I have already proved a lot of things last season with my comeback to the top,” he said.
“But I have been to the top before and lost it and I know how it made me feel, and this time if I lose it I want to lose it because someone else raised the bar over me, because someone else played better than me, not because I lost hunger or motivation.
“I think that’s always the advantage I will have, that I went through a lot of phases in my career at such a young age and that I have gained a lot of experiences, and now getting back to the top with that kind of experience, it will definitely make it harder for someone to get me out of it this time.
“Hopefully I am going to be better next season. All I want is to be better than the player I was last season, that’s my main competition right now.”
ElShorbagy will headline a star-studded line-up in San Francisco alongside the likes of U.S. Open champion Ali Farag, Tournament of Champions winner Simon Rösner and British Open champion Miguel Angel Rodriguez.
A women’s PSA World Tour Silver event will also be held, with top seed and World Champion Raneem El Welily, Commonwealth Games gold medalist Joelle King and eight-time World Champion Nicol David just some of the big names that will compete to dethrone defending champion Sarah-Jane Perry, who also features.
A record prize fund of $206K is split between the men’s and women’s tournaments, both of which will feature a 24-player draw after the new PSA tour structure came into effect on August 1.
First and second round action will be split between the Bay Club Redwood Shores, Squash Zone, Bay Club San Francisco, the Olympic Club and the University Club, while the quarter-finals onwards will be held at the all-glass Oracle NetSuite SuiteSuccess court erected on Embarcadero Plaza from September 29 – October 2.
Fixtures shown on the glass court will be broadcast live on SQUASHTV (Rest of World) and Eurosport Player (Europe only).
Squash fans can follow the tournament on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Tickets start from $20 and can be purchased via the tournament website.
2018 Men’s Oracle NetSuite Open, San Francisco, USA.
Men’s First Round Draw:
 Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) (bye)
Joel Makin (WAL) v [9/16] Gregoire Marche (FRA)
[9/16] Mazen Hesham (EGY) v [WC] Charlie Johnson (ENG)
 Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL) (bye)
 Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) (bye)
Omar Abdel Meguid (EGY) v [9/16] Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi (QAT)
[9/16] Saurav Ghosal (IND) v Campbell Grayson (NZL)
 Tarek Momen (EGY) (bye)
 Simon Rösner (GER) (bye)
Karim Ali Fathi (EGY) v [9/16] Cesar Salazar (MEX)
[9/16] Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) v Nathan Lake (ENG)
 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) (bye)
 Diego Elias (PER) (bye)
Lucas Serme (FRA) v  Mathieu Castagnet (FRA)
[9/16] James Willstrop (ENG) v Alan Clyne (SCO)
 Ali Farag (EGY) (bye)
Women’s First Round Draw:
 Raneem El Welily (EGY) (bye)
Hollie Naughton (CAN) v [9/16] Yathreb Adel (EGY)
[9/16] Olivia Blatchford (USA) v Coline Aumard (FRA)
 Alison Waters (ENG) (bye)
 Nicol David (MAS) (bye)
Danielle Letourneau (CAN) v [9/16] Fiona Moverley (ENG)
[9/16] Donna Lobban (AUS) v Amanda Landers-Murphy (NZL)
 Laura Massaro (ENG) (bye)
 Camille Serme (FRA) (bye)
Rachael Grinham (AUS) v [9/16] Amanda Sobhy (USA)
[9/16] Millie Tomlinson (ENG) v Milou van der Heijden (NED)
 Annie Au (HKG) (bye)
 Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) (bye)
Rowan Elaraby (EGY) v [9/16] Salma Hany (EGY)
[9/16] Dipika Pallikal Karthik (IND) v Nadine Shahin (EGY)
 Joelle King (NZL) (bye)
Article by SEAN REUTHE (PSA PR and Media Manager). Edited by ALAN THATCHER.
Pictures courtesy of PSA and Mohamed ElShorbagy via social media