Tuesday, May 28, 2024

World Squash 2023: Nour El Sherbini and Ali Farag retain Chicago titles

Egyptian Nour El Sherbini is one title away from matching the great Nicol David’s feat of eight women’s world titles after claiming the 2023 World Championship, while compatriot Ali Farag became the second Egyptian after Amr Shabana to claim four world crowns. Both players retained their titles after straight-game wins in the $1m event in Chicago.

In a repeat of last month’s British Open final, Sherbini won her seventh title following a stunning 11-6, 11-4, 12-10 victory in just 38 minutes over World No.2 Nouran Gohar in the women’s final at Union Station.

It was the third time in a row that El Sherbini and Gohar were contesting the biggest final in squash. El Sherbini also won their previous two title bouts, while Gohar would have reclaimed the World No.1 spot she lost to her final rival earlier this week had she won.

For El Sherbini, still only 27, her streak of five World Championship titles in a row is matched only by David in the women’s game.

“I’m over the moon to win my seventh World Championship,” El Sherbini said. 

“It’s huge and special for me and I can’t believe I did it, I’m so happy. Of course, I’m happy that I’m closer to Nicol’s [David] record. She’s a legend and what she did was amazing and unbelievable. 

“I’ve always been looking up to her, so to put my name beside her is something special and huge for me.”

Meanwhile, the men’s final saw Farag join Shabana on four titles after he overcame unseeded Karim Abdel Gawad by a 12-10, 11-6, 11-6 scoreline.

Gawad, in a wheelchair only seven months ago, had beaten World No.1 Diego Elias and World No.2 Mohamed ElShorbagy en route to a second World Championship final following his title win in 2016. Farag has also had his injury struggles this season, spending four months on the sidelines because of a knee problem.

Ali farag

Gawad started brilliantly but was unable to convert a 9-5 lead in the opening game as Farag came back to take the opener. By this point, Farag was in full stride and errors began to flow from Gawad’s racket as Farag came through to take the win in straight games.

Farag – like El Sherbini before him – has now won all three World Championships held in Chicago. Farag and El Sherbini were also the winners the first time Union Station hosted this tournament back in 2019.

“The emotions are so raw, it’s so hard to put it into words,” said Farag.

“It’s so special. No matter how many times you go through it, it’s even more special than the time before. Especially against a champion like Karim, I’m super relieved and super happy.

“Two months ago we played a practice match and we were limping and the standard wouldn’t have even earned us a place in the World Championship, let alone the final. To come all the way through to reach the final is a very proud achievement for the two of us.”

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