Mohamed ElShorbagy happy with new ASB glass court court floor in Cairo
By ALAN THATCHER (Squash Mad Editor)
World No.6 Tarek Momen ended a run of seven consecutive defeats to World No.2 Paul Coll as the 2021-22 CIB PSA World Tour Finals got under way at Cairo’s Mall of Arabia.
The CIB PSA World Tour Finals features the top eight male and female players on the CIB Road to Egypt Standings, with points for the standings on offer at all PSA World Tour events throughout the 2021-22 season. The group stage uses a round robin, best-of-three games format as players bid to qualify for the knockout stages.
Coll finished second on the men’s standings but tonight surrendered a one-game lead to Momen, who fought back to claim a 9-11, 12-10, 11-8 victory, putting him in the driving seat in Group B of the men’s event. It marks Momen’s first win over Coll since the 2020 Canada Cup.
“It was a match of two halves, like two Tareks on court,” said Momen. “In the first game and a half, I don’t think I’ve ever hit that many tins and I was just thinking that I want to be out of here.
“I had a very tough season. I think I played well for the most part but was unlucky in a few tournaments and it just got to me, and I was very frustrated when I started hitting those tins.
“I don’t know what happened, but at 9-6 down I just thought I had to give it one last try because it was unfair to the people who have come to watch me. It’s ridiculous to hit so many tins and then all of a sudden they stopped coming and I was playing a completely different game. It was still very close and either one of us could have won it.”
Momen sits in front of defending champion Mostafa Asal in Group B, with Asal overcoming Welshman Joel Makin 11-7, 3-11, 11-7 in the final match of the evening.
Two-time champion Mohamed ElShorbagy competed in Egypt for the first time since switching allegiance to England two weeks ago and the World No.3 received a warm reception from the spectators as they watched him overcome No.8 seed Mazen Hesham in three games in their Group A clash.
ElShorbagy is fresh from winning his maiden British Nationals title last week and reached the final of the Mauritius Open the week before that. He ended day one at the summit of Group A, with World No.1 Ali Farag and Mauritius Open champion Diego Elias yet to play.
Speaking about the new ASB glass floor, which is being used at this tournament for the first time, ElShorbagy said: “I really like the glass floor. I think that was the first test today. I think it’s great for the sport that we’re trying something different, something that can clearly work and is a good use of technology in our sport.
“It’s a step forward, I’m a big supporter of it and I’m looking forward to being back on it in two days’ time.”
In the women’s event, 2017-18 champion Nour El Sherbini got her tournament off to the perfect start as she dispatched World No.6 Sarah-Jane Perry by a 2-0 scoreline, seeing her take the maximum four points on offer so far.
It was a commanding victory for the six-time World Champion, who sits top of Group A, a point ahead of World No.3 Hania El Hammamy, who required three games to see off No.7 seed Rowan Elaraby.
“For me, SJ is always tough and challenging, and I’m never comfortable playing her,” El Sherbini said.
“It’s the first match as well, so there were a few obstacles, but I’m glad I got the 2-0 win, so that’s a plus for me. I have a different mindset [for a best-of-three games scoring format], I have to be ready from the first point because if I lose a game I’m in trouble, so I prepare a little differently than in a best-of-five match.”
El Hammamy had a testing match against Elaraby but held her nerve to come through a nailbiting match by an 11-8, 8-11, 11-9 scoreline to put her in second place in Group B.
“We’re team-mates, we play league together, and we spend a lot of time together,” said El Hammamy.
“Since the juniors, we haven’t played many times on the professional tour. We’ve played so many times over the years though [in the juniors and away from the tour], so we know each other really well on court. I’m really glad I managed to get through.”
In the other women’s match, New Zealand’s Joelle King earned a 2-1 win over World Tour Finals debutant Georgina Kennedy, coming back from 7-2 down in the third game to avoid defeat.
The CIB PSA World Tour Finals continues tomorrow (June 22) – with the likes of top seeds Ali Farag and Nouran Gohar in action – and play starts at the Mall of Arabia at 19:00 (GMT+2). The action will be shown live on SQUASHTV.
2021-22 CIB PSA World Tour Finals, Mall Of Arabia, Cairo.
First Round: Men’s Group A:
 Mohamed ElShorbagy (ENG) bt  Mazen Hesham (EGY) 2-1: 11-4, 9-11, 11-5 (36m)
First Round, Men’s Group B:
 Tarek Momen (EGY) bt  Paul Coll (NZL) 2-1: 9-11, 12-10, 11-8 (58m)
 Mostafa Asal (EGY) bt  Joel Makin (WAL) 2-1: 11-7, 3-11, 11-7 (53m)
Men’s Group A First Round (June 22):
 Ali Farag (EGY) v  Diego Elias (PER)
Men’s Group B Second Round (June 22):
 Paul Coll (NZL) v  Joel Makin (WAL)
 Mostafa Asal (EGY) v  Tarek Momen (EGY)
Women’s Group A, First Round:
 Joelle King (NZL) bt  Georgina Kennedy (ENG) 2-1: 7-11, 11-5, 14-12 (44m)
Women’s Group B, First Round:
 Nour El Sherbini (EGY) bt  Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) 2-0: 11-6, 11-8 (18m)
 Hania El Hammamy (EGY) bt  Rowan Elaraby (EGY) 2-1: 11-8, 8-11, 11-9 (43m)
Women’s Group A First Round (June 22):
 Nouran Gohar (EGY) v  Amanda Sobhy (USA)
Women’s Group B Second Round (June 22):
 Nour El Sherbini (EGY) v  Rowan Elaraby (EGY)
 Hania El Hammamy (EGY) v  Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG)
Pictures courtesy of PSA World Tour