Husband and wife Ali Farag and Nour El Tayeb both reach world finals
By SEAN REUTHE in Chicago
A thrilling night of action at Chicago’s Union Station saw World No.3 Tarek Momen end the run of reigning champion Mohamed ElShorbagy to reach the final of the 2018-2019 PSA World Championships presented by the Walter Family – while married couple Ali Farag and Nour El Tayeb will also feature in the title deciders of the men’s and women’s events, respectively.
Momen had suffered nine straight defeats to World No.2 ElShorbagy coming into tonight’s match and hadn’t beaten his fellow Egyptian since 2013. ElShorbagy, who beat younger brother Marwan to win his maiden World Championship crown in December 2017, had the better of the early stages to go 2-1 up in Union Station’s Great Hall.
But Momen, who dispatched Marwan earlier on in this tournament, dug into his mental reserves and showed some sublime touches at the front of the court to level the scores. The 31-year-old crept ahead in the deciding fifth game and held off his opponent to book his place in the final of the sport’s biggest event for the first time. His victory, with a scoreline of 8-11, 11-6, 8-11, 11-4, 11-8, took 97 minutes to complete on a night of phenomenal squash in all four semi-finals.
Momen’s win came less than two hours after wife and reigning women’s champion Raneem El Welily saw her hopes of retaining her title extinguished by World No.3 El Tayeb.
“I’m so happy to be in the final, this is my first ever [World Championship] final, but it’s not over,” said Momen.
“I’m really looking forward to tomorrow, whoever I play. It is going to be the first time for both of us. I’m going to fight for it and give it my all, how can it get any better than if I win the World Championships? It cannot get any better.
“I’ve been inspired by her [El Welily’s] win since last year. I was heartbroken for myself for not making it past the last 16, but seeing her win the title brought so much joy, watching her win that last point and get the trophy and all I could think of is that one day I wanted to be there. I would have loved to have done it together, but she’s had it, and if I can have it then the two of us can tell our future kids and grandkids that we won that title.”
There will be a new name etched into the men’s trophy after Momen’s fellow Egyptian Ali Farag got his reign at World No.1 under way with an 11-2, 11-9, 11-4 triumph against Germany’s Simon Rösner to reach his first World Championship final.
“It was such an emotional, long day, with Nour [El Tayeb] playing and winning an epic one and then going back to the hotel and watching the other semi-final of the men’s … so it was quite an emotional one,” said Farag.
“I woke up really happy to be the new World No.1 and then I had to get it out of my system because if I had have been dragged away with that then I wouldn’t have played my best today, and I can’t play Simon at 99%, I have to be at 100 per cent all the time. I’m really glad that I did that, and I hope tomorrow can be a special day for us.”
The finals of the World Championships will feature a married couple for the first time in history, as Farag and El Tayeb look to replicate their incredible joint U.S. Open wins from October 2017.
That triumph saw them become the first married couple in sporting history to win the same major sports title on the same day and they will now appear in the finals of squash’s pinnacle tournament, where the lion’s share of the $1 million prize fund – the highest in the sport’s history – is up for grabs.
“All through the match I was just trying to hang in there with Raneem,” said El Tayeb, who won the Windy City Open in Chicago last year.
“She’s the best in the world for a reason and she makes every rally hard and I can’t believe it. I’m in the final of the World Championships – wow. I knew I hadn’t had a big win over the top two since Chicago last year and that gives me massive confidence going into the final tomorrow… I have proved to myself that I can fight through a really hard match.”
Meanwhile, two-time winner Nour El Sherbini will appear in her fourth successive World Championship final, and her fifth overall, at the age of just 23 after she held off a spirited comeback from French World No.5 Camille Serme.
El Sherbini became the sport’s youngest ever World Champion in 2016 at the age of 20 before retaining her title the following year. The Egyptian then fell to El Welily in the final of the previous edition in Manchester in 2017.
And she will have the chance to become the fifth woman to win three World Championships after an 11-8, 11-6, 6-11, 5-11, 11-6 victory over Serme. Her match will be a repeat of the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions semi-finals, where El Sherbini triumphed en route to winning the title.
The finals of the PSA World Championships will feature an all-Egyptian contingent for the third year in a row in both the men’s and women’s draws.
“For me, it’s the fifth final of the World Championships and playing Nour is going to be difficult” El Sherbini said.
“We just played at the ToC and it’s hard to play every tournament against each other. We haven’t played in a final since ToC last year, so I’m really looking forward to tomorrow’s match.”
Live action from the finals begins at 19:00 (GMT-6) on Saturday March 2. Matches will be shown live on SQUASHTV (Rest of World), Eurosport Player (Europe only) and mainstream broadcast channels such as BT Sport, Astro, Fox Sports Australia and more.
2018-2019 PSA World Championships presented by the Walter Family, Union Station, Chicago, Illinois USA.
 Tarek Momen (EGY) bt  Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) 3-2: 8-11, 11-6, 8-11, 11-4, 11-8 (97m)
 Ali Farag (EGY) bt  Simon Rösner (GER) 3-0: 11-2, 11-9, 11-4 (46m)
 Tarek Momen (EGY) v  Ali Farag (EGY)
 Nour El Tayeb (EGY) bt  Raneem El Welily (EGY) 3-2: 6-11, 11-6, 11-8, 7-11, 12-10 (64m)
 Nour El Sherbini (EGY) bt  Camille Serme (FRA) 3-2: 11-8, 11-6, 6-11, 5-11, 11-6 (59m)
 Nour El Tayeb (EGY) v  Nour El Sherbini (EGY)
Pictures courtesy of PSA