Nour El Sherbini is something of a World Championship specialist, with only the legendary duo of Nicol David and Jahangir Khan winning the sport’s premier event more times than ‘The Warrior Princess’.
El Sherbini has six World Championship titles to her name at the age of just 27, with two of those triumphs coming in Chicago.
Here’s what the Egyptian had to say when we spoke to her ahead of this year’s tournament.
Q: Nour, you beat the current World No.1 Nouran Gohar in last season’s final on home soil in Egypt. Can you take us through your memories of that tournament?
Nour: “The last World Champs was amazing for me. It’s always the tournament that I wait all year for and the one where I want to play my best squash.
“Nouran and I have been battling for a long time, so it’s good to be in this rivalry with her. It’s tough for the both of us but I like this challenge. I don’t think that we’re the only two challenging, there are many players that are really good and we have many tough matches from the first round.
“Winning the World Championships in Egypt, at one of the best venues we’ve ever had [the Egyptian National Museum of Civilization], was amazing.
Q: How does it feel to be the defending champion for the sixth time?
Nour: “It means a lot. It’s every players dream to win the World Champs. Winning three of them in Egypt is a pleasure for me, it makes it extra special.
“Having six World Championships is huge. I always wanted to win the World Championships, but I never thought I would win six. They are the best memories I’m ever going to have in my life.
“I’m going to look back on them and be very proud. I’m now going into another one, I hope I’m going to be ready and will be preparing the same way I do at other tournaments. I don’t do anything different for the World Champs, I just go out as if it’s a regular Platinum event.”
Q: Nicol David holds the women’s record with eight World Championship titles – is breaking her record one of your goals?
Nour: “It’s in my mind but I don’t think about it too much. I don’t know how I’ll be performing in the next few years.
“I take every year and every tournament step-by-step, I don’t look that far into the future, I’m going to focus on the one we have this year. I hope that I can reach the record of Nicol, it’s another dream, but for me it’s not the next step, I want to focus on the seventh first.
“I don’t know if I will win it or not, I will try and do my best, but I’m not looking ahead to the eighth, ninth or 10th. It’s more comfortable for me to go step-by-step, there is no pressure or stress on me, I just try to relax a little bit.”
Q: You always seem to peak when it comes around to the World Championships – why is that?
Nour: “I don’t change things in training because it’s normally the middle of the season, you don’t have a month or two specifically training for the World Champs. At the beginning of the season I look at when the World Champs is and I try to peak at this time.
“My body is okay, there is nothing wrong, my training is going well and there is nothing in my mind. I try to be mentally ready and clear-minded.”
Q: You’ve already won two World Championship titles in Chicago, what is it about The Windy City that seems to bring out the best of you?
Nour: “I lost a lot of finals [at the Windy City Open] before winning the first! I think they were all against Raneem [El Welily].
“I failed a lot in Chicago, so I think it’s time to rise now! I’m happy that I’ve won twice in Chicago, and I think I’m playing well now. I like the venue, and the vibe of the people here is amazing.”
Q: Last year you were struggling with injuries and you had to pull out of the British Open before the World Championships – how are you feeling physically and mentally this time around?
Nour: “I feel a huge difference compared to last season. I wasn’t happy with my results last season as I only won the World Championships.
“I’m feeling really good and I’ve reached almost every final this season. I’m happy with my performance and I want to push hard in the last three tournaments. My body is good and I feel mentally and physically in a good place.”
The PSA World Championships presented by the Walter Family will take place May 3-11 with play split between Union Station and the University Club of Chicago. Live action from round one will be shown on the tournament website while RD2 onwards will be shown live on SQUASHTV.
Tickets for the event are available to purchase here.