Egyptian top seed feels relaxed, confident and raring to go in Cairo
By SEAN REUTHE
World No.1 Mohamed ElShorbagy says he is ready to make amends for his shock third round exit in the 2015 PSA Men’s World Championship and will give everything to claim the title when the 2016 iteration of squash’s most significant tournament gets underway at Cairo’s Wadi Degla Club this Thursday (October 27).
The 25-year-old has won nearly every other major title in the sport, including an impressive six consecutive World Series tournaments during the 2015-16 season, but the World Championship crown has so far remained elusive, with last year’s third round defeat to James Willstrop coming as a particularly disappointing result.
But with over 100 players from around the world coming together to contest the crown it is ElShorbagy, who has ranked as World No.1 for 24 of the past 25 months, who will be hoping to finally live up to his top ranked status and lift the iconic trophy to make amends for his defeats in two previous finals.
“Last season was the best season of my life – winning six World Series titles – and I think I had just one bad day during the whole season,” said ElShorbagy.
“Unluckily for me that day was at the World Championship. But one tough day like that gives you a test of character to see how you deal with situations like these, and I am proud of how I came back stronger after that loss and with how my season went after that.
“And knowing that the World Championship is the only major title left for me to win in my career when I am still 25 makes me smile and be proud of what I have achieved so far.”
After a stuttering start to the 2016-17 season saw him lose out in the second round of the Hong Kong Open and semi-finals of the Al Ahram Open, the Bristol-based Egyptian returned to timely form last week when he clinched the 2016 Delaware Investments U.S. Open title – the only World Series title he failed to collect during the 2015-16 campaign.
“The U.S. Open was very important for my confidence especially just before the Worlds,” said the man who lost out to compatriot Ramy Ashour in both the 2012 and 2014 World Championship finals.
“For a period, because of the amount of matches I played last two season, I felt that I had been fighting my body on court before dealing with who I have to play.
“In Philadelphia, that was the first time I felt free on court this season. I now feel fresh and like I am moving well and I feel I am playing better each tournament. Hopefully that means I’m peaking going into this week.
“Winning it would mean so much – but I only feel peace when I know I did my best on court whether I win or lose.
“And I want to finish it this year knowing I gave it everything.”
Picture by STEVE LINE (www.squashpics.com)