Egypt’s World No.3 Mohamed ElShorbagy upset New Zealand’s World No.1 Paul Coll in a dramatic and thrilling five-game encounter in the semi-finals, held at the Egyptian National Museum of Civilization.
2017 World Champion ElShorbagy, who in December 2021 dropped to his lowest ranking in four years following a string of disappointing results, rekindled the form that saw him dominate the sport to reach his fifth World Championship final, where he will go up against compatriot Ali Farag in a repeat of the 2020-21 final.
Speaking after his encounter with Coll, which he won 11-4, 8-11, 10-12, 11-8, 11-7 in 109 minutes, ElShorbagy said: “I’ve been in this situation so many times in my career. I think we have a habit as human beings to have a short memory, so I needed to remind everyone who I am.
“I went to Gregory [Gaultier] two months ago and told him I want to come back to who I am again and we put together a plan. We haven’t played for such a long time and I’ve been waiting for a long time to get on court with him [Coll]. I’ve been World No.1 and seeded No.1 at a World Champs. It’s so tough, there’s so much pressure on you when you’re seeded No.1 in a World Champs.”
Farag, meanwhile, secured his place in a third PSA World Championship final in four years, after an intense 8-11, 11-8, 11-8, 6-11, 11-9 victory over 21-year-old Mostafa Asal, who was featuring in his first semi-final at the event.
If Farag, who is a two-time champion, was to win the tournament showpiece tomorrow against ElShorbagy, it would mean he retakes the World No.1 spot in June’s men’s World Rankings following Coll’s semi-final exit.
“It was not enjoyable to watch, to be fair, it was too much out of rhythm and it was tough to concentrate,” admitted Farag. “That’s why I felt edgy at the end, I couldn’t get into momentum and all credit to him, at 8-2 he never gave up. He got me edgy and I’m very relieved to see that one go into the tin.
“Mohamed’s never gone anywhere, I was watching and learning how he was playing. It was a masterclass of tactics. I told him that after his match and I told him he was a bit annoying in the middle of the match as well.
“To be fair, for tomorrow, I don’t care too much about the No.1 for now. It’s the final of the World Championships. I think Mohamed and I said last year that we owe it to each other to play in the final of the World Championships and now two, to make it even better.”
The women’s final will also be a repeat of the 2021 final in Chicago between World No.1 Nouran Gohar and World No.2 Nour El Sherbini after they defeated the USA’s Amanda Sobhy and Egypt’s Nour El Tayeb, respectively.
El Sherbini will be competing in her eighth World Championship final, matching the record of Malaysian icon Nicol David, where victory over Gohar tomorrow would see her clinch a sixth crown.
“Seeing Nour play yesterday, it was unbelievable squash,” said five-time World Champion El Sherbini. “She showed everyone what a fighter she is. I’ve known her for a long time and I knew how her life had changed and what a struggle and challenge it is. Seeing her play like this is unbelievable. Every time I see her on court, I’m really proud to see her playing like this.
“I know what this tournament means to each of us. It means a lot to me and it definitely means a lot to her [Gohar], so I’m sure it’s definitely going to get the best out of us tomorrow.”
Gohar, the World No.1, booked her place in a second consecutive final after a high-quality match with World No.4 Sobhy as she aims to get her hands on the World Championship trophy for the first time in her career.
The American had failed to take a game off Gohar in their last six matches, but she started with aplomb today as she stormed out of the blocks to catch the Egyptian by surprise to take the first. Gohar worked her way back into the match, however, to close out the next three, including a tight decider to win 5-11, 11-3, 11-6, 15-13.
“It wasn’t easy for sure. I’ve played Amanda at every tournament, it has been a habit,” said Gohar. “I think she kept her best to the last and most important tournament. It was a very tough match, but it’s good to have a match like this, just before tomorrow, to get some nerves out.
“It’s the biggest occasion you can play in, it comes with a bit of pressure, but I’m just glad about the way I dealt with it.”
The finals of the CIB PSA World Championships Cairo take place tomorrow (May 22) and play from the Egyptian National Museum of Civilization will start at 20:00 (GMT+2) and will be broadcast live on SQUASHTV and multiple broadcasters around the world.