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Another great from Egypt
Published in Al-Ahram Weekly on 05 - 11 - 2014

Egyptian squash champion Mohamed El-Shorbagy, 23, climbed to world No 1, overtaking 31-year-old Frenchman Gregory Gaultier who dropped to world No 2, according to the PSA World Rankings of November 2014.
El-Shorbagy is but the latest world squash champion from Egypt which has the best four players in the top 10: El-Shorbagy, Amr Shabana at No 4, Rami Ashour No 5 and Tarek Mo'men world No 9. Inside the top 20 are Omar Mosaad at No 12, Marwan El-Shorbagy No 14 and Karim Abdel-Gawad No 17.
Shabana and Ashour were previously at the top.
“Egypt is a big country in squash. It's good to see so many Egyptians at the top. It's the most successful sport in Egypt but I always feel it doesn't get the proper support that it should get,” El-Shorbagy said.
El-Shorbagy claimed the US Open title after beating his compatriot Shabana 3-1 (8-11, 11-9, 11-3, 11-3) in 46 minutes at the final of the Delaware Investments US Open in Philadelphia's Drexel University from 11 to18 October. With the win, El-Shorbagy claimed his 199th match victory on the PSA World Tour.
In the women's competition, Malaysian superstar Nicol David won the title after beating Egyptian Nour Al-Sherbini,18, 8-11, 11-9, 11 3, 11-3 in the final.
In the quarter-final, El-Shorbagy defeated England's Adrian Waller 3-0 (18-16, 11-8, 11-9). In round two, he beat Australian Cameron Pilley 3-0 (15-13, 11-9, 11-6). In the first round, he beat Scotland's Greg Lobban 3-0 (11-2, 11-7, 11-7).
“It takes a lot of work and a lot of sacrifice but I am glad I got to that spot now and it's now time to work even harder than before to protect that spot,” said El-Shorbagy.
In the semi-final, El-Shorbagy beat Gaultier 3-0 (11-6, 11-9, 11-4) in 48 minutes. Shabana defeated England's world number two Nick Matthew 3-1 (11-5, 11-9, 10-12, 11-7) in 63 minutes.
“It's such an exciting feeling to know you are the number one player in the world but at the same time you wouldn't want that to fool you as there are a lot of great players behind me who will be chasing me to take that ranking away from me.”
El-Shorbagy is one of the youngest players ever to be world squash number one. He is behind Pakistani legends Jahangir Khan and Jansher Khan. Both topped the world ranking at the age of 18. Ashour became No 1 at 22.
El-Shorbagy comes from Alexandria. He started playing squash when he was eight at Smouha Club. He was offered a scholarship by Millfield School in the United Kingdom at the age of 15. After graduation, he was offered another scholarship at West of England University in Bristol where he studied business. He is currently studying for a masters in finance.
Jonah Barrington has been El-Shorbagy's British coach for the past eight years. Barrington was considered one of the best squash players of all time -- world champion for six years and won the British Open six times in the 1960s and 70s. El-Shorbagy told Al-Ahram Weekly, “Barrington has had a big influence on my career. He understood me more than anyone else and knew how to prepare me very well before every tournament. He has so much experience and I call myself lucky to be coached by him.”
What comes next after leading the world rankings? El-Shorbagy's plan is to do more effort and work even harder than before. “I don't want to just protect my ranking. I want to stretch it more than the rest of the players. I have to keep working hard on a daily basis to do this. Getting to world number one is a big goal but for me this is just the first step of the ladder. I am going to try to stay as long as I can in this spot.”
El-Shorbagy will compete in the 2014 World Squash Championship in Doha, Qatar, from 14-21 in November. It is the men's individual world championship for squash players with total money prize worth $325,000. “Obviously this is the biggest tournament of the year. I have trained very hard for it. I have been playing well and I am confident I can get the result I am aiming for if I play well.”
All over the court
In 2014, Al-Shorbagi won the Delaware Investments US Open in Philadelphia, Abierto Mexicano des Raquetas in Mexico, Cathay Pacific Sun Hung Kai Financial Hong Kong Open in China, CIMB Malaysian Open in Malaysia, Allam British Open in England, Al-Gouna International Championship in Egypt and the Motor city Open in Detroit.
Al-Shorbagi met Gaultier five times this year. He beat the Frenchman 3-1 in the semi-final of the Al-Gouna International Championship in Egypt and 3-0 in the Delaware Open. He also defeated Gaultier 3-2 in the final of the Cathay Pacific Sun Hung Kai Financial Hong Kong Open in China.
Gaultier beat Al-Shorbagi 3-1 both in the semi-final of the JP Morgan Tournament of Champions in New York and the Metro Squash Windy City Open in Chicago.
In 2013, he made it to the semi-finals of the Kuwait PSA Cup, a World Series Platinum event. He also won both titles of the Banque Misr Sky Open in Egypt and the Qatar Classic Open in Doha. He beat Nick Mathew 11-5, 5-11, 11-6, 6-11, 11-4 in Qatar, his first PSA World Series title.
In 2012, he was runner up at the 2012 Qatar Classic Open. He was a finalist at the 2012 World Championship beating James Willstrop in a five game semi-final. The Egyptian team of Al-Shorbagi, Rami Ashour, Karim Darwish, Omar Mosaad and Tarek Momen won the 2011 Men's World Team Squash Championships in Paderborn, Germany.
Al-Shorbagi was the World Junior squash champion in 2008 and 2009 and became only the second man after Ashour to win the title twice. In 2007, he became the first player to win his first PSA World Tour title.
His favourite squash player is Amr Shabana.
“Shabana has been such a role model for me. He is a great ambassador for our sport and I have learnt so much from him over the years.”


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