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‘Wild shark’ El Sherbini out to make history in Detroit against top seed Diego Elias

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Motor City Open finalists Diego Elias (left) and unseeded Mohamed ElSherbini

‘I’m ready to peak in final’ says ElSherbini
By MATT SCHOCH – Squash Mad Correspondent

Bloomfield Hills, Michigan – In his sixth trip to the Birmingham Athletic Club, Diego Elias is one win away from his first title at the Motor City Open presented by Sturbridge Capital.

Only unseeded Mohmaed ElSherbini stands in the top-seeded Peruvian’s way.

ElSherbini will try to be the eighth Egyptian to win the Motor City Open in the past 11 years – and the third unseeded player to ever win the 21st annual event when he meets Elias at 5:30 p.m. Sunday.

“If he’s the Peruvian Puma, I’m the wild shark,” said ElSherbini, with a wink. “I want to prove myself that I am one of the top players, and it’s just a matter of time until I make it to the top 10. (Diego) hasn’t been tested in the tournament at all. Nobody’s played good attacking squash on him. So he’s been very comfortable until the final. (Sunday) is going to be a real test, so let’s see what happens.”

World #6 Elias quickly dispatched 70th-ranked Frenchman Benjamin Aubert in Saturday’s first semi-final.

After Aubert won a 100-minute quarter-final match against Qatar’s Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi, the 22-year old lasted just 34 minutes against 23-year-old Elias who rolled, 11-4, 11-6, 11-3.

“He’s a good player and good mover,” Elias said. “He’s coming to the top really strong, and I think he’s going to keep doing well.”

The 6ft 2in tall Elias never trailed in any of the three games. Meanwhile Aubert’s hands went to his knees between points, hunching over on his fourth straight match day.

After Aubert’s final shot found the tin, Elias was off to the finals for the second straight year. Egypt’s Mohamed Abouelghar defeated him last year in five games.

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In Saturday’s second semi, ElSherbini took out seventh-seeded Leo Au of Hong Kong 11-9, 11-8, 11-9 in 49 minutes.

Down 9-6 in the third game, ElSherbini turned the tide by winning five straight points to close the match.

ElSherbini, a 27-year-old who stands out in pink shorts, gave the crowd a wink and salute as he exited the court. He quickly found local Egyptian-American businessman Magdy Talaat and his wife, Azza, after the match to accept congratulations. He gave thanks to the ex-Egyptian squash player for the hospitality Talaat gives his countrymen.

Sunday’s finals will be the first career meeting between Elias and ElSherbini. “I will give my best performance of the tournament,” the confident ElSherbini said. “I think my curve is going up and slowly I’m peaking into my best performance.”

ElSherbini, ranked No. 47 in the world, won last April in Pakistan and said a win could help catapult his career to a new level.

“I’ve made a lot of sacrifices that I’m not used to,” said ElSherbini, who has lived in Boston for three years. “I hope it pays off. I’m just doing my best, putting in the effort and the work and the results are going to happen regardless.”

While three former MCO champions went down earlier this week at the MCO, Elias is trying to join his coach, ex-World #1 Jonathon Power of Canada, as an event champion. Power took the title in 2003 and 2005.

“I’m feeling great, and hopefully I can play the same (Sunday),” Elias said. “I’ve always wanted to win this tournament. I think this is a good opportunity, and hopefully I can play my best squash.”

History will be on the line for ElSherbini, who is trying to join Peter Marshall in 1999 and Ong Beng Hee in 2012 as unseeded champions at the MCO.

“I really like it, it’s such a good tournament with a lot of history,” ElSherbini said. “I’m so glad to be part of it. I hope I can make history.”

PSA World Tour Silver $76,000 Men’s Motor City Open 2020 presented by Sturbridge Capital, Birmingham Athletic Club, Bloomfield Hills, Detroit, USA.

[1] Diego Elias (PER) beat Benjamin Aubert (FRA) 11-4, 11-6, 11-3 (34m)
[9/16] Mohamed Elsherbini (EGY) beat [7] Leo Au (HKG) 11-9, 11-8, 11-9 (49m)

[1] Diego Elias (PER) v [9/16] Mohamed Elsherbini (EGY)

Pictures by HENRY PAYNE courtesy of MCO 


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