Egyptian ace sets up base camp in Qatar for an assault on world title
By NATHAN CLARKE – Squash Mad PSA Correspondent
World No.1 Mohamed Elshorbagy says he is relishing the prospect of beginning his 2014 Qatar PSA World Championship campaign and has sent a warning to all his championship competitors – ‘You haven’t seen the best of me yet’.
The 23-year-old Bristol-based Egyptian, originally from Alexandria, has stormed the PSA World Tour so far this season winning four consecutive tournaments, including the prestigious Hong Kong Open and US Open PSA World Series events, but he says there is more to come.
“I am really looking forward to the World Championship and especially so as I’m going into the competition as the world No.1,” said Elshorbagy.
“I have been training all summer for this tournament and I am confident that my performances there will be higher than they have been so far this season. Even though I have won my last four tournaments, I know I can still perform better.
“I am in great form at the moment but that’s not fooling me. The World Championship for me is more important than all the other events I have won and I am going there with my eye on one thing – winning the title.”
After moving to England aged 15 to train under the guidance of legendary squash icon Jonah Barrington, Elshorbagy has soared through the world rankings and claimed the coveted No.1 spot for the first time in his career this November, knocking Frenchman Gregory Gaultier off top spot in the process.
The physical powerhouse has recorded back-to-back victories over the 31-year-old four-time World Championship runner-up and having toppled defending world champion Nick Matthew during the final of the 2013 Qatar Classic in Doha, he’s confident about his chances against the other tournament favourites.
“Nick has recently said that there is no pressure on him going into the competition but when he steps on court, he always wants to win,” said Elshorbagy, whose younger brother Marwan will also be competing in the championship.
“That’s the type of personality he is – he always wants to win – but I know that even if he plays his best he will not play as well as he used to play when he was at his peak.
“I beat him in the final here in 2013 and I know that I haven’t reached my peak yet and that I can perform even better than I am doing now.
“Of course there is added pressure on me now because I am the No.1 and the guy the other players are aiming for, but I didn’t get there for no reason. I love playing under pressure and I think I perform my best in that situation.”
Having won in Doha in 2013 and having reached the final of the last World Championship to be staged in the Middle Eastern state, in 2012, Elshorbagy also says Qatar feels like a second home to him.
And despite the tournament installing a brand new court for the 2014 World Championship, he is determined to make the most of ‘home’ advantage.
“I love being in Qatar and I feel at ease here,” he said. “The court here feels like home to me and I’m not going to let anyone take that away from me.
“I know Nick said recently that the new court could change how I play here but I have been training on this court for the past two weeks so I’m going into the competition ready and better prepared than anyone else.”
The 2014 Qatar PSA World Championship takes place at the Khalifa Tennis and Squash Complex, Doha, Qatar from Friday November 14 – Friday November 21 with entry to all matches free of charge.
Pictures from PSA and social media