Nour El Sherbini earned her fourth career PSA Women’s World Championship title on her twenty-fourth birthday at one of the sport’s most iconic locations–Egypt’s Pyramids of Giza–Friday November 1.
The $430,000 CIB PSA Women’s World Championship was El Sherbini’s first appearance of the season, having withdrawn from multiple events due to an ongoing knee injury, which saw the Alexandria-native fall from world No. 2 to world No. 4 in the world rankings.
El Sherbini showed no signs of the lingering injury, putting in five dominant 3-0 victories on her way to the final as the draw’s two seed, including a quarterfinal against six seed Joelle King and a semifinal against world junior champion Hania El Hamammy. El Sherbini set up her third career World Championship final match up against reigning champion and world No. 1 Raneem El Welily, who dropped just one game on her way to the final.
It was El Sherbini who came out on top in what was their twenty-third career match up on the PSA World Tour. In a streaky match, El Sherbini prevailed 11-4, 9-11, 11-5, 11-6 in forty-one minutes.
El Sherbini’s knee injury caused withdrawals from the Oracle NetSuite Open and FS Investments U.S. Open over the past two months.
“The last couple of months for me have been really hard,” said El Sherbini after the 20th PSA Tour title of her career. “I didn’t know what I was going to do, but I took the risk and took the decision that I wanted to play this tournament badly, and I wanted to come and try and see how it goes. I was getting better every match and I’m very grateful and happy to be standing here right now.”
El Sherbini became the first Egyptian’s women’s world champion with her first in 2015, and now becomes the youngest women ever to collect four world titles having reached the past five world championship finals. El Welily’s sole world championship came against El Sherbini in 2017.
“I missed playing with all the top players and especially Raneem. She is closest to my heart and it’s very hard to play her mentally and emotionally, but we try to leave the emotions and focus on squash once we get inside the court. I think because today is my birthday, I was making sure not to be sad. I was very relaxed and it took a lot of pressure off thinking about the messages, so it helped me a lot. We are very happy to have this tournament back and playing in front of the Pyramids was always a dream of mine. I would really like to thank I-Events, Amr Mansi and his team, and especially CIB for hosting and helping the women’s game get bigger and for giving the women the chance to have a prize money bigger than the men’s. It is a big risk and hopefully we deserved that and played matches that were worthy of that. All of the players are very grateful.”
El Sherbini joins an elite group of four-time women’s world champions alongside Malaysia’s eight-time champion Nicol David, Australia’s five-time champion Sarah Fitz-Gerald and New Zealand’s four-time champion Susan Devoy.
The men’s CIB Egyptian Squash Open–a PSA platinum event–was held alongside the women’s world championship. In a repeat of the 2016 Al Ahram Open final by the Pyramids, world No.4 Karim Abdel Gawad upset compatriot and world No. 1 Ali Farag. Gawad became the first man in a decade to win a trophy in front of the Pyramids when he beat Farag in straight games three years ago, and he matched that 3-0 scoreline to continue his 100 per cent record at the iconic landmark.
Playing Ali is always very tough for me, he is the World No.1,” Gawad said. “He’s always been my competitor since we were seven years old until now. I know how hard it is, we played in the final [in front of the Pyramids] in 2016 and now we’re playing again in the final here. He’s dealing with a lot of hard moments and he is just a champion to be on court with and he fights until the end with this amazing spirit, best of luck to him and his family. I talked a lot with my coaches, Omar Abdel Aziz, Mahmoud Abdel Kader and Ahmed Faragallah. We talked a lot and put together different plans, with the World No.1 it’s very difficult, so you have to have different plans and more than a plan to just win. Winning in three today means a lot to me in such an amazing venue for me and for everyone.”
The PSA Men’s World Championship now takes center stage at the Khalifa International Tennis & Squash Complex in Doha, Qatar, November 8-15.