“I’ll Never Surpass Jansher and Jahangir” – Farag on Breaking Records and Motivation

Despite holding an incredible dominance over the World Championships in recent years, World No.1 Ali Farag remains as modest as ever as he turns his attentions to a potential fifth title at the tour’s flagship event. 

Over the coming fortnight, Farag will have the opportunity to move third in the all-time list of men’s winners at the World Championships, and in turn, sit behind just eight-time winner Jansher and six-time champion Jahangir Khan. 

And it would certainly take a brave person to bet against the 32-year-old Egyptian, considering his recent record at the event. 

Dating back to 2017 and his semi-final defeat to Marwan ElShorbagy in Manchester, Farag has won an astounding 24 matches in a row – a run that has seen him snap up three titles in Chicago and one further success in Cairo. 

As he looked ahead to the 2023-2024 CIB PSA World Championships, Farag said:

“It would mean so much to win a fifth World Championship. But honestly, would I be a happier person if I finished my career with five instead of four? I’m not sure, to be honest. Already, to be named in the same sentence as these great names is a huge step up.

“I’ll never surpass Jansher [Khan] and Jahangir [Khan], but let’s say hypothetically I surpass these two, would I be a happier person? I don’t think so. I don’t think I’ll finish my career as the greatest of all time, it’s not something that crosses my mind. 

“As much as I love winning every tournament I play, whether it be a Gold or Platinum event, nothing compares to the World Championships. It’s the one tournament you want to win and compete for. 

“It’s the pinnacle of the season. You want to finish and be saying ‘I’ve won the World Championships’. It’s the only thing you dream of as a youngster. 

“I’ve achieved it, but it doesn’t get any less exciting.”

Farag will begin his 2023-2024 title defence on Thursday 9th May, with his first-round match against USA’s Todd Harrity available to watch live on SQUASHTV. The top seed’s potential route to the title could include a Round 3 match against Colombia’s Miguel Rodriguez, before potential quarter and semi-final bouts against Egypt’s Tarek Momen and Peru’s Diego Elias. 

If he were to go all of the way, Farag would be seeded to face the only man to have beaten him on multiple occasions this season, World No.2 Paul Coll, in the final. 

Farag, who has claimed two of the pair’s five meetings this season, drew particular attention to their 91-minute epic Optasia Championships final when praising the New Zealander – a match that saw Coll come from two games behind and save match ball en route to winning 11-9 in the fifth. 

On his respect and admiration for Coll’s game, Farag said:

“If I were to talk on Paul separately, he is a champion in the true sense of the word. His evolution, I have never seen anything like it in any sport. He made himself the fittest on the court, then he made himself one of the hardest to play in the back corners by using different heights and variations. 

“And then we figure that out, and he hits his weapons in the front corners and then weapons in the middle of the court where he can take the space with a variety of shots. 

“He’s evolved into an absolutely complete squash player. Maybe he’s not the flashiest, but for squash purists, he does everything to perfection, and I admire that. 

“And put that aside, his character on the day, like the match at Optasia. Every time he was down and out, he would come back somewhere and just keep on pushing, keep on believing. He never folded, he never walked away. To win from there, that’s the testament of a true champion.”

The 2023-2024 season has been another to remember for Farag, with the Cairo-born player having already captured six titles, five of which have come at Platinum events. What is more, the World No.1 has only failed to reach the final in one of his last 16 events on the PSA World Tour.

Despite this recent wealth of success, Farag revealed that it was just last season – prior to sustaining a knee injury at the US Open – that he actually considered stepping away from the sport. 

“I would be lying to you if I said I was always motivated,” he said. “There were times when I was very demotivated and there were other times when I felt like, this is it for me, this is going to be the last season. 

“Last season was bad. Until I got injured, I was doing really well, I think I had won multiple events, but I wasn’t enjoying it anymore. I was adamant that it was going to be my last season until I got injured. 

“When I got injured, I really missed it, and I really felt that this was something that I was really passionate about. The sport, the people in the sport, the challenge of this sport, everything about the training, the routine, I really love it. 

“So it kind of reignited my hunger and motivation. I’m in a very good place now. I’m enjoying my squash, I’m enjoying my life, and I’m enjoying the squash tour.”