Battle for World Number One : Sherbini and Gohar

Next week in Chicago, not only is there the 2020-21 PSA World Championships presented by the Walter Family crown up for grabs, but in both the women’s and the men’s rankings, there could be a change at World No.1.

Although right now there is quite a big gap between Nour El Sherbini and Nouran Gohar at the top of the rankings, with the four-time World Champion currently on an average of 2,043.333, while ‘the Terminator’ sits on 1,751.667.

Despite that gap of almost 300 points, that could all change come the start of August, and following the PSA World Championships at the University Club of Chicago, which takes place from July 14-22.

So, who needs what to secure the World No.1 spot? Currently, El Sherbini has a hold of it, and if she were to claim a fifth World Championship title in two weeks’ time, it would be an emphatic way to keep hold of top spot in the World Rankings. Here is what both women need to reach, or stay, at the summit.

For Nouran Gohar to become World No.1

  • Gohar matches or betters El Sherbini’s result in Chicago
  • Gohar loses in the quarter-finals, with El Sherbini losing in the semi-finals
  • El Sherbini loses in the quarter-finals or earlier

For Nour El Sherbini to remain World No.1

  • El Sherbini wins World Championships
  • El Sherbini makes final, Gohar does not
  • El Sherbini loses in the semis, Gohar loses before the quarter-finals

El Sherbini, who claimed her fourth World title at the Pyramids in November 2019, will lose the 3,175 points that she earned from that event after participating in this season’s World Championships, which will have a big effect on her average points total. That brings Gohar, who only reached the semi-finals on that occasion, right into play for the World No.1 position.

Since those World Championships, which took place 20 months ago now, El Sherbini has been her usual dominant self, claiming four different major titles. The ‘Warrior Princess’ lifted the Windy City Open presented by the Walter Family in February, 2020 before claiming the CIB Egyptian Open title in front of the Pyramids again in October, 2020 where she beat Gohar in the final.

The current World No.1 then secured back-to-back titles on tour in the early part of 2021, winning the CIB PSA Black Ball Squash Open, before winning in El Gouna as well, where she defeated Gohar in the final once more.

In the same time period, Gohar has won twice, at the Bronze level Carol Weymuller Open in February 2020, and at the CIB PSA World Tour Finals in Cairo last month, where she also took the maximum 1600 bonus points for winning all her group matches. She has also had runner-up finishes at the El Gouna International Squash Open and the CIB Egyptian Open recently.

In terms of route through the tournament, Nour El Sherbini will begin her campaign against USA’s Haley Mendez, before facing either Finland’s Emilia Soini or compatriot Mariam Metwally in the second round. If all goes to seeding, the ‘Warrior Princess’ would then do battle with Belgium’s World No.17 Tinne Gilis.

El Sherbini could then come across England’s World No.6 Sarah-Jane Perry or India’s World No.11 Joshna Chinappa in the quarter-finals, before then meeting either compatriot Hania El Hammamy or US No.1 Amanda Sobhy in the semi-finals.

Gohar’s run through the bottom of the draw begins with a clash against Scotland’s Lisa Aitken, before meeting either fellow Egyptian Hana Moataz or Canadian No.1 Hollie Naughton in the last 32. She could then face Welsh World No.10 Tesni Evans in the third round in Chicago.

If all goes to seeding, New Zealand’s Joelle King would be ‘the Terminator’s’ quarter-final opponent, before meeting either Frenchwoman Camille Serme or compatriot Salma Hany in the last four. Of course, if everything does go to plan, Gohar and El Sherbini will do battle in the final on Thursday 22 July.

It will be all to play for in Chicago, and of course, there is also the small matter of the World Championship title at stake as well! 
The action gets underway from the University Club of Chicago on Wednesday, July 14, with 128 of the world’s best players in action.