ElShorbagy praises Farag after brutal final in Hong Kong
By SEAN REUTHE
Men’s World No.3 Mohamed ElShorbagy and Women’s World No.1 Nour El Sherbini kept the Cathay Pacific Sun Hung Kai Financial Hong Kong Open titles in Egyptian hands after they beat compatriots Ali Farag and Raneem El Welily, respectively, to triumph in the final of the 2017 edition of the PSA World Series event.
ElShorbagy captured his third successive PSA World Tour title – and the 29th of his career – after an 11-6, 5-11, 11-4, 7-11, 11-3 victory over Farag in 64 minutes at the Hong Kong Park Sports Centre saw him pick up his third Hong Kong Open title after also winning the tournament in 2014 and 2015.
There were some brutal rallies in the first four games until, at two games apiece, ElShorbagy overpowered his fellow Egyptian to continue his incredible start to the season, completing a third win in a row over the World No.4 and making it four titles from five tournaments this season.
“We’ve played so many battles in the last few weeks and I want to congratulate him and all of his team,” said ElShorbagy, who overtakes World Champion Karim Abdel Gawad to move back up to No.2 in the World Rankings.
“He’s played unbelievable squash at the last few tournaments and I’m looking forward to having many more battles with him in the future.
“I’m happy I’m playing well again this year, I’ve done a lot of work this summer and I’m really proud with the way I’ve started this season, but there is still a long season ahead. I’m going to enjoy this trophy for a day or two and then I will look forward to my next event.”
In the women’s final, World Champion Nour El Sherbini ended a 20-month wait for a World Series title after she claimed a comfortable victory over World No.2 Raneem El Welily.
The 22-year-old El Sherbini’s last World Series crown came back in March 2016 when she felled World No.5 Nouran Gohar to win the prestigious British Open, and she overcame Egyptian opposition once again in Hong Kong to win this tournament for the first time.
The match was a repeat of April’s PSA Women’s World Championship final, in which El Sherbini prevailed, and the 22-year-old from Alexandria rediscovered that form against a tired El Welily, who had come through five-game encounters against Nour El Tayeb, Joelle King and Camille Serme in the build-up to the final, with an 11-5, 11-8, 11-5 victory seeing her capture the 13th title of her career.
“It’s my first World Series title in almost two years, so it’s special,” said El Sherbini. “This title was really important for me so I could get my confidence back and to feel that I’m playing well before the World Championships. This tournament has given me a huge push and I’m really happy to win the Hong Kong Open.
“It’s my second time here and I played well, so I can’t wait to come back next year.”
ElShorbagy’s victory sees him strengthen his lead atop the PSA World Series Standings to 75 points over second-placed Farag after three World Series tournaments played, with El Sherbini moving up to second behind El Welily.
Points are on offer at all eight World Series tournaments throughout the 2017-18 season and, after adding the Hong Kong Open title to his Qatar Classic crown from earlier this month, the Bristol-based Egyptian is odds on to qualify for a top-eight berth, which would guarantee him a place in June’s season-ending PSA World Series Finals.
El Welily overtakes Nour El Tayeb to lead the way on the women’s standings after also reaching the U.S. Open final, but holds just a slender five-point advantage over El Sherbini.
Cathay Pacific Sun Hung Kai Financial Hong Kong Open 2017, Hong Kong Park Sports Centre, Hong Kong China
 Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) bt  Ali Farag (EGY) 3-2: 11-6, 5-11, 11-4, 7-11, 11-3 (64m)
 Nour El Sherbini (EGY) bt  Raneem El Welily (EGY) 11-5, 11-8, 11-5 (28m)
Pictures courtesy of PSA