Epic battle as top seed stops Gaultier making it a French double
By NATHAN CLARKE in Hull
Top seed Mohamed Elshorbagy capped what has been a remarkable 12-months for the Bristol-based Egyptian by lifting the prestigious 2015 Allam British Open title courtesy of a 3-2 win over defending champion Gregory Gaultier in a breathtaking finale at Hull’s Airco Arena today (May 17).
In a bruising 94-minute battle that ebbed and flowed throughout, it was Elshorbagy, who has held the number one spot unopposed since November 2014, who fought back from 2-1 down against the formidable Frenchman to triumph in the ‘Wimbledon of Squash’ for the first time in his career.
In a tense and heated final, the pair went blow for blow in the opener before Elshorbagy crept ahead from 9-9 to take the first game.
Gaultier then looked like favourite to retain the title he won in 2014 after his precise play saw him dominate the Egyptian in the following two games.
However, after pulling himself together, Elshorbagy started hitting harder, forcing the Frenchman into errors to claim his first British Open title.
It was a special moment for the man who has reached the final in all of the last seven PSA World Series tournaments as it sees him write his name in the history books alongside his mentor and coach Jonah Barrington, the legendary star who won the British Open title six times from 1967 – 1973 during an iconic career.
The 24-year-old World No.1 Elshorbagy said: “Greg was playing so well today. He was absolutely killing me in that second and third game and I didn’t know what to do.
“I just started hitting everything hard and just told myself not to give up and to fight until the last point. I wanted to make him work as hard as I could and I was maybe a little lucky in the end.
“So many prestigious names have won this trophy and to win this title in front of Jahangir Khan (10-time British Open winner) is such an honour and my own coach, Jonah Barrington, won this title six times so to be able to put my name on the same trophy is great.
“I called him after the match and he told me that I just have to win it five more times now! But I am really happy. It means a lot to be able to put my name on this famous trophy and end the season in such a great way.”
Both Elshorbagy and Camille Serme won the British Junior Open in 2008. Now they are both celebrating their first British Open senior titles.
Elshorbagy later told his fans on Facebook:
Not sure from where to start but this picture shows how much it meant to me to win this prestigious title….being in tears after winning the last point says it all!!
I was 2/1 down and was playing against someone who was playing the best squash of his life today and at times I was running out of options…I just kept fighting and fighting!!!
It’s been a long season and I played all the big 7 finals this season and won 4 of them and was so important to end my season on a high!!!
I am going to keep doing what I do best on court which is being a squash warrior!!
Here’s what Mohamed had to say to PSA Squash TV after the final:
PSA World Series, Allam British Open, Hull, England. Men’s Final:
(1) Mohamed Elshorbagy (Egypt) beat (2) Gregory Gaultier (France) 11-9, 6-11, 5-11, 11-8, 11-5 (93 minutes)
Pictures by STEVE LINE www.squashpics.com