World No.1 fights back from 2-0 down
By NATHAN CLARKE
Egypt’s Mohamed Elshorbagy continued his recent domination of the PSA World Tour by defeating World Champion Gregory Gaultier 3-2 in the final of the 2016 El Gouna International to claim a sixth consecutive PSA World Series title and avenge his runner-up finishes in the the tournament in 2014 and 2015.
The 25-year-old from Alexandria has been undefeated in PSA World Series competition since losing the semi-final of the 2015 U.S. Open, to Gaultier, in October, and has won his last 19 consecutive matches at the top level of the professional game to become the first man since Ramy Ashour, the man who beat him in both the 2014 and 2015 final, in 2012 to win six World Series tournaments in one season.
Competing in front of a passionate and partizan home crowd Elshorbagy delighted the onlookers in the Red Sea resort as he produced a remarkable comeback, fighting back from 2-0 down to see off Gaultier in an enthralling 90-minute battle to take the crown.
“It feels great to win this title after losing the last two years – I’m just so happy to win and get the title in front of my home crowd, it’s an amazing feeling,” said Elshorbagy.
“Today was a very tough battle at the end of a very tough season. I think I have played more matches than any other player and it has been difficult to push myself mentally at each tournament – to compete, rest and re-focus each time takes so much out of you.
“I started the season losing the first round in Shanghai and then the semi-final of the U.S. Open. To turn the season around and win six World Series tournaments in a row is just a dream for me – I cannot believe that I have just done that.
“I had a big test today and I was very nervous – Greg and I always have such great battles, he’s such a tough competitor and I really had to work hard to get back from two games down. I’m really happy I came through that test.”
The French World No.2 put in a virtuoso performance in the opening two games, playing precise and powerful squash to dominate the court but Elshorbagy fought back with impressive tenacity to force a decider.
In the fifth Gaultier opened up a quick 4-0 lead but the man coached by then legendary Jonah Barrington, who today celebrated his 75th birthday, roared back once again to take a ferocious rally and move 6-5 up – the first time he led throughout the entire match – before eventually profiting from a simple error off the strings of Gaultier’s racket that handed him the trophy at the third time of asking.
“At 2-0 down I just kept fighting – it might be what I’m best at,” added Elshorbagy.
“Beating him from 2-0 down is not easy and in the fifth I was 4-0 down, then 6-2 down, but I just kept fighting. It paid off in the end and he made a few errors that helped me in the closing stages.
“This is by far the best tournament I play in all year and I really want to thank everyone this week for all the support and for putting on such a great event.”
After the match Gaultier said: “It’s hard for me to lose but I will keep a smile on my face. Thanks to the sponsors and tournament for their support – they continue to raise the level here every year.”
PSA M150 El Gouna International Open 2016, New Marina, El Gouna, Egypt.
 Mohamed Elshorbagy (EGY) bt  Gregory Gaultier (FRA) 3-2: 7-11, 9-11, 11-3, 11-9, 11-8 (90m)
Picture by SquashSite courtesy of PSA