sublime performance from start to finish saw Egypt’s World No.2 Ali
Farag defeat 2017 tournament champion and World No.1 Mohamed ElShorbagy
in the final of the 2018 Oracle NetSuite Open to claim his first major
title in nine months on an evening of play that also saw England’s
Sarah-Jane Perry stun World Champion Raneem El Welily to successfully
retain the title she won here twelve months ago.
Farag, who lost four of five meetings with ElShorbagy during the 2017/18
campaign, underlined his intention to challenge his compatriot for the
coveted World No.1 ranking spot this season with a clinical display that
saw him nullify ElShorbagy’s power and pace to prevail an 11-9, 13-11,
4-11, 11-9 winner.
There was little to separate the pair as they battled it out for 64
minutes of spell binding action on San Francisco’s Embarcadero, trading
points tit-for-tat during a series of physically punishing rallies to
the delight of the crowd. But it was Farag who settled quicker, using
his relaxed attacking style to edge a tight opening game, before
doubling the lead courtesy of a dramatic second-game tie-break.
ElShorbagy replied in style to dominate the third game before Farag once
again enjoyed the better of the exchanges in the fourth to come through
and win his first tournament since February’s Swedish Open.
feeling great right now, I’m very, very happy to have won this title,”
“When I first saw the entry list I thought I would withdraw from playing
because the draw was so strong. But my mentor Karim Darwish told me that
I should play the event and show people that they should be scared when
seeing my name in the draw - that is the kind of mentality that I need
to have if I hope to be World No.1 some day.
“I wasn’t at my best last night (against Gaultier) but I was optimistic
that I would play at a higher level tonight because sometimes you need
matches like that to help get you into the rhythm.
“Tonight against Mohamed I had to be on my mettle throughout. He’s a
great champion and such a determined fighter - which he showed even when
I was ahead in the fourth game, so I’m very glad I managed to get this
last few points.
“Last season I got off to a strong start but I couldn’t carry it through
until the end of the season. I was maybe mentally tired towards the end
of the year so I’m trying to learn from that experience and be more
consistent this season and now I’m really looking forward to going to
the U.S Open to defend that title next week.
“Winning there with Nour last year has been the highlight of my career
so hopefully we can do it again this time.”
Speaking afterwards ElShorbagy said: “He played great tonight - he’s
been the best player here all week. But it’s a long season so hopefully
I can get back at him at an event coming up.”
After storming through the women’s draw to book a place in the final
without dropping a game El Welily, the 29-year-old World No.2, picked up
where she left off during the opening exchanges of the women’s final as
she raced into an early 6-1 lead to set up what looked certain to be a
comfortable opening first game.
World No.8 Perry responded to the challenge, finding her own lethal
streak mid-way through to swing the game on its head and take the opener
11-9 against the run of play. Buoyed by her comeback in the first, Perry
continued to enjoy a purple patch as she dominated the second to double
her advantage - leaving El Welily searching for a way to stop the
The Egyptian though responded in kind, lifting her level once again to
engage Perry in rally after rally of physically testing and tactically
probing squash. With the finishing line in sight at 9-7 though a series
of errors from the racket of Perry gifted El Welily a reprieve, and she
took full advantage to gain a lifeline on the scoreboard before taking
the fourth in just eight minutes to level the scores.
The crucial fifth and final game began with a series of cat-and-mouse
exchanges with little to separate them but from 4-4 Perry turned the
screw to set up match ball at 10-4. A series of sumptuous winners saw El
Welily threaten to extend the match into a tie-break but Perry finally
sealed the match, and her second Oracle NetSuite Open title, 11-9, 11-7,
9-11, 7-11, 11-7.
“I’m speechless,” said Perry afterwards. “She was making me work so hard
and any time there was even a slight chance she was punishing me.
“I had to play as clever as I have ever done before and I was absolutely
knackered in that fifth game but I just forced myself to keep pushing. I
knew I was playing well and that I didn’t have to chance much
tactically, I just had to execute.
“But even at 10-4 up she was coming back and she hit some fantastic
shots to get it back to 10-7 so there was a lot of relief at the end
alongside the elation.
“I dedicated the win here last year to my Nan (who passed away shortly
before the event). My mum said she’s be looking down watching over me
tonight as well so this one is defiantly for her again.”
After the match El Welily said: “Obviously I’m disappointed to lose
tonight but Sarah-Jane played very well and deserved the win.”
No.2 Ali Farag escaped the clutches of defeat by saving two match balls
to defeat in-form Frenchman Gregory Gaultier in a thrilling 77 minute
five-game battle and set up a championship showdown against World No.1
Mohamed ElShorbagy in the final off the 2018 Oracle NetSuite Open - the
PSA World Tour Gold event taking place in San Francisco.
Under the shadow of the city’s iconic Ferry Building 26-year-old Farag
twice came from a game-down to take the match to a decisive fifth-game,
which went all the way to a nail-biting tie-break that saw both men
squander match balls before the Egyptian finally secured his place in
the final courtesy of an 2-11, 11-6, 9-11, 11-5, 13-11 win.
The match began with 35-year-old Gaultier totally outclassing Farag,
storming out of the gates to take an early 6-0 lead and secure the
opening game. Farag duly responded in the second, slowing the pace to
swing momentum in his favour and level the scoreboards before etc duo
traded points back and forth en route to the tense climax that saw Farag
book a berth in the 24th final of his career.
“I’m over the moon to come through with a win, he outplayed me for most
of that match,” said Farag.
“But sometimes it isn’t the better player who wins. Sometimes you just
have to find a way out and that’s what I did today - I tried to focus on
hitting the back corners and playing basic and it worked.
“I was very tense at the start and struggled to find my short game. I
had to accept there were going to be times when he would be in control
but I just tried to make it as hard as possible and make the rallies a
long as possible - I was absorbing a lot but it paid off in the end.
“I’m very excited to face Mohamed in the final tomorrow. He brings the
best out of me every time we play. I have trained very hard over the
summer and worked on some specific things which I hope I can apply
Farag will now go up against ElShorbagy after the 27-year-old prevailed
in a compelling four-game encounter with compatriot Karim Abdel Gawad
that saw him bounce back from losing the opening game to come through an
7-11, 11-7, 11-9, 11-8 winner.
match, a repeat of the 2017 tournament final, saw Gawad, who largely
disappointed during the 2017/18 season, hitting clean, crips lines and
moving with languid freedom reminiscent of the form that saw him clinch
the World title in 2016.
But ElShorbagy proved equal to the task, responding to the challenge by
increasing the pace and using his ferocious hitting power to counter
Gawad’s guile and come through a riveting match that saw the duo duel
through a series of captivating exchanges, trading points back and forth
to the delight of the crown on the Embarcadero.
“I’m really happy to be back in the final once again,” said ElShorbagy.
“I came here for the first time last year and it was a great experience
so I’m looking forward to having the chance to defend the title
“We were playing a lot of very tough rallies out there - it was a high
quality match - and I think that third game was crucial. He’s such a
smooth player that you have to accept that there will be times when he
will make you look like a fool. But you just have to accept that and
come through it and find a way to win.
“Last season he wasn’t at his best. Sometimes you have those periods but
it’s great to see him back and hungry again but I’m very happy I managed
to get the win against him today.”
women’s final will see World Champion Raneem El Welily, who booked her
place in the decider with a comprehensive 3-0 defeat of Laura Massaro
yesterday, go up against defending champion Sarah-Jane Perry after the
Englishwoman swept aside the challenge of Hong Kong’s Annie Au with a
ruthless 3-0 win.
Perry, who beat eight-time World Champion Nicol David in the
title-decider twelve months ago in what was the biggest win of her
career, was in complete control from the outset as she picked Au apart
from the off set, taking the opening game for the loss of just four
points and continued to enjoy complete control as she wrapped up the
match in just 25 minutes.
“I’ve got fantastic memories here from last year.
“Tomorrow against Raneem I have no expectations. I just have to go out
and do the best I can. I watched the match yesterday between Raneem and
Laura so I know how well she’s playing at the moment but I’ll give it my
best tomorrow to try and defend the title.”
Egyptian World No.2 Ali Farag and World No.7 Gregory Gaultier of France
are set to meet in a mouth-watering semi-final encounter at the 2018
Oracle NetSuite Open, PSA World Tour Gold event taking place in San
Francisco, after the pair dominated their quarter-final encounters
against Diego Elias and Simon Rösner, respectively.
Playing with laser-like accuracy and moving with a speed and guile that
belies his 36-years, Gaultier, three-time tournament champion, was
simply rampant as he put Rösner, World No.5, to the sword 11-3, 11-5,
11-8 on the stunning all-glass court situated at the foot of the city’s
iconic Ferry Building.
From the outset the Frenchman was in complete control, denying Rösner
any opportunity to use his height and power to good use. An awkward
lunge mid-way through the second game, which looked to have jarred
Gaultier’s knee, threatened to derail the charge but Gaultier gamely
pressed on and, after taking the second, continued to go from
strength-to-strength to book his place in the semi-finals.
had a day off yesterday after the second round match so I took full
advantage of that to rest my body and be as sharp as possible tonight,”
“I have been training well over the summer and feel like I am on the way
back towards my peak once again. I’m doing the best I can to compete
against all the young players on Tour and show that even at my age I can
get back to my best and challenge.
“I had a great year last year, but then had a bad run of getting
injuries but fingers crossed this year I can play injury free because I
have more goals that I want to achieve.”
Gaultier’s opponent, 26-year-old Farag, was equally sublime as he made
light work of World No.11 Diego Elias, recording an emphatic 33-minute
straight game victory through which he rarely looked troubled.
of our matches have gone to the wire in the past,” said Farag
“He’s such a sound player but I did my homework this morning and knew
what I had to do. It never felt convincing on there but thankfully I
managed to do it well and play attacking squash.
“I’m very glad that I’ve put in a few good performances this week so
far. I’ve never made it past the fist round here before so I’m really
glad to be in the semis and hopefully there’s two more matches to come
In the women’s draw World Champion and tournament top seed Raneem El
Welily dispatched England’s Laura Massaro, the World No.6 and former
World No.1, in just 28 minutes, playing with free-flowing attacking
accuracy to come through an 11-8, 11-9, 11-8 winner and book her place
in the final on her first ever appearance at the event.
really happy to be through to the final,” said El Welily. “Playing Laura
is always very tough. She’s mentally so strong.
“I’m trying to do my best every point, and in every rally and see where
that takes me. I’m playing here for the first time and it’s a beautiful
location - even more impressive in real than I thought it would be from
pictures - so I want to make the most of it.”
display of impressive resolve and patience saw Hong Kong’s Annie Au, the
World No.11, twice come from behind to score a surprise defeat of World
No.5 Camille Serme of France in the quarter-finals of the 2018 Oracle
NetSuite Open on a day that also saw World No.4 Joelle King exit the PSA
World Tour event taking place in San Francisco, USA.
The diminutive 29-year-old Au, a Gold Medal winner at the Asian Games
this summer, hadn’t beaten Serme since 2011 but continued to display the
type of relaxed and composed squash that has propelled her to victories
over the likes of World No.1 Nour ElSherbini during the past month as
she countered Serme’s physicality with intelligent attacking play and
After coming from behind in the fourth game to force the match into a
decider, Au profited mid-way through the fifth when the pressure and
expectation of winning looked to play on Serme’s mind, leading to a
series of error’s from the racket of the Frenchwoman that gifted Au the
“I’m feeling really happy - its been long time since I beat her,” said
Au. “She’s been playing very well over the last few years so I’m very
happy with my performance today.
“We had the Asian Games this summer, which is a very important event for
Hong Kong, and I think that has helped me start the season in good form.
I knew today I had to patient and that there would be a lot of long
rallies. But I tried to relax and just go for my shots when there was an
“There was no pressure on me and I could see she was tense so I tried to
make the most of it. I’m very excited now to have the chance to play on
the glass court here. It’s an amazing location so I’m looking forward to
will go up against 2017 tournament champion Sarah-Jane Perry in the
semi-finals - in a match that will be played in an all-glass court set
up in the shadow of the San Francisco Ferry Building - after the
Englishwoman came from a game down to overthrow second seeded Joelle
King and keep the defence of her title - the biggest of her career to
date - alive.
New Zealand’s World No.4 King was on fire during the opener, leaving
Perry searching for a way to counter the momentum, and looked to be en
route to doubling her lead before Perry mounted a huge comeback late in
the second game, saving multiple game balls to overturn the momentum to
level the scores.
As the third game progressed King’s movement began to falter and Perry
made the most of the opportunity to power through and complete a 3-1
“I was being very predictable in the first game,” said Perry.
“I’ve never beaten her before but I tried to put that out of my mind
before the match. I really enjoy playing here in San Francisco. I’ve
done amazingly well here and the title last year was the biggest of my
“I haven’t looked past this match in the draw, it was a huge match
against Joelle. I’d love to do really well again but it’s one match at a
time for now and I’m excited for another semi-final now.”
The second semi-final will see current World Champion Raneem El Welily,
who dispatched England’s Alison Waters in straight-games, take on 2013
World Champion Laura Massaro after the World No.7 prevailed in a highly
competitive four-game match with eight-time World Champion Nicol David
in what was the duo’s 33rd meeting on the PSA World Tour.
Malaysian David enjoyed a comprehensive 3-0 victory when the pair last
met at the China Open earlier this month but Massaro gained revenge
courtesy of a feisty display that saw her go from one-game down to see
out a 9-11, 11-9, 11-9, 11-7 win.
“The second game in particular was huge today,” said Massaro. “The first
three games were all very tight and could have gone either way because
the rallies were long and hard and well contested.
“She played so well in China - especially in comparison to how she
played last season - and I underestimated her in that match I think.
Today I was fully prepared for the physicality she would bring to the
match and I’m really pleased with how I stayed focused and came through
the men’s draw defending champion and World No.1 Mohamed ElShorbagy
produced a masterclass to beat World No.6 Miguel Angel Rodriguez of
Colombia, the man he lost to in the final of the British Open in May,
and underline his position as the man to beat this week.
ElShorbagy began his defence with a comfortable defeat of Frenchman
Gregoire Marche yesterday and he continued to go from
strength-to-strength against the dynamic and dangerous Rodriguez,
playing with guile, patience and deadly attacking intent when necessary
to come away with an 11-7, 11-7, 11-8 victory.
“Miguel obviously beat me in the final of British Open and completely
deserved it,” said ElShorbagy. “I know just how hard he works and his
success as recovering from a drop in form to get back to number six in
the world shows his strength of character.
“As much as I was disappointed to lose the British, it was great for the
sport to have a South American win the event, but today I was happy that
it was me who won our first battle of the season
“Every-time you go on court the conditions are different. I’ve got the
experience to know that and I’m really happy to be back on court and
playing here in San Francisco and I’m looking forward to the semi-finals
ElShorbagy will go up against compatriot Karim Abdel Gawad in the last
four after he prevailed in a difficult encounter with World No.4 Tarek
Gawad, the 2016 World Champion, had no answer to Momen’s attacking
weapons in the first game but he switched the match on its head in the
second before storming home an 7-11, 11-6, 11-6, 13-11 winner.
2017 Oracle NetSuite Open champions Sarah-Jane Perry and Mohamed
ElShorbagy began the defences of their respective titles with victories
over Egyptian Salma Hany and Frenchman Gregoire Marche on a busy second
day of action at the PSA World Tour event taking place in San Francisco.
here twelve months ago set the foundations for ElShorbagy to dominate
during the 2017/18 season, with the Egyptian going on to claim the World
Championship crown and regain the World No.1 ranking, and his bid to
begin the 2018/19 campaign in a similar vein began in style with a
comfortable 3-1 defeat of the dangerous.
After the pair traded the opening two games, ElShorbagy injected his
ferocious trademark pace and power into the play to send Marche into all
four corners of the court and make each and every rally difficult for
the Frenchman. While Marche gamely stuck with him, ElShorbagy ultimately
had to much quality at the critical moments and prevailed 11-3, 10-12,
11-3, 13-11 after just over an hour of play.
“I knew the danger of playing against him in first game of season, I had
to be sharp and I had to play well to beat him today,” said ElShorbagy,
who will now face Colombian Miguel Angel Rodriguez in the last eight.
“I started well here last year and proved a lot of things to myself
during the season. But I have more to prove and I want to get better
every day. I know what it feels to lose the number one spot and I want
to make sure that I only lose it again when someone raises the bar over
me, not because of me losing hunger or motivation like before.”
Rodriguez secured his place to face ElShorbagy with a 3-1 win over the
maverick Mazen Hesham, while World No.4 Tarek Momen prevailed in the
match of the day, coming through a thrilling 71-minute clash, full of
outlandish winners, pulsating rallies and unbelievable court coverage,
against Indian Saurav Ghosal by a narrow 9-11, 11-6, 2-11, 11-5, 11-7
“We play a very similar game,” said Momen. “He’s a very tough opponent
so I’m just very pleased to get through today
“It was my first match of the season and it’s sometimes hard to get into
the zone so I’m really happy that I was able to regroup mentally at the
“Last year was the best season I’ve had on Tour. A couple of wins at the
beginning gave me some confidence and I was consistent throughout. I’m
hoping to building on that momentum this season and hopefully go further
and winning some titles.”
Momen will face 2016 World Champion Karim Abdel Gawad in the
quarter-finals, which will also see Simon Rösner of Germany and French
former World No.1 Gregory Gaultier face-off with Peru’s Diego Elias
taking on World No.2 Ali Farag.
In the women’s draw 28-year-old Perry, who claimed the biggest title-win
of her career here last year, began her title-defence with a
comprehensive straight-games win over Egyptian Salma Hany to set up a
last eight clash with second seed Joelle King of New Zealand.
Champion Raneem El Welily will face Alison Waters of England after both
secured comfortable wins while one of the longest running rivalries on
the women’s tour will be reignited when eight-time World Champion Nicol
David and 2013 World Champion Laura Massaro of England go head-to-head.
The pair met at the China Open earlier this month, when David secured a
3-0 win, and Massaro will be hoping to gain revenge for that after
overcoming an early one-game deficit against Australian Donna Lobban to
book her last eight berth.
is a very dangerous player who mixes it up a lot so you have to be
focused against her,” said Massaro.
“I found my range better the more the match went on. She played well in
the first game and I had to adjust and mix things up tactically and it
paid off in the end.
“I’m just pleased to have come through and get the win and be into the
Speaking after her victory over Fiona Moverley, David said: “I was very
pleased with how I played today and the performance I put in.
“I took some time off at the end of last season and really felt that
hunger come back. I’ve had a good few months so far with the Asian Games
and other events so I’m excited to keep building on that through this
week and the season.”
Hong Kong’s Annie Au will go up against Camille Serme of France in the
There were mixed fortunes for America’s two top ranked female squash
players Amanda Sobhy and Olivia Blatchford in the first round of the
2018 Oracle NetSuite Open as the PSA World Tour event got underway today
in San Francisco.
Sobhy, the highest ranked American-born female player of all-time, was
in scintillating form as she romped to a straight-games victory over
Australia’s former World No.1 Rachael Grinham.
25-year-old, who missed most of the 2017-18 season after rupturing her
achilles tendon, played with aggression from the outset and utilised her
full attacking arsenal to secure an 11-5, 11-4, 11-4 win after just 22
minutes of play.
“I’ve worked really hard this summer and had a good training block to
work on the issues that developed after the injury and on any imbalances
in my movement,” said Sobhy, who will now face number three seed Camille
Serme of France in the second round.
“Rachael in incredibly tricky to play and hits some incredible shots, so
I’m just happy to get a decent performance in and get that first win.
I’ve played a few team events in the last month but its a completely
different vibe at a major event so I’m happy to get that first one out
of the way.
“I’m exited to play Camille tomorrow. I’m the underdog now and have no
pressure on me but I want to go out there and prove that I belong on
this stage. I want to get my ranking back to where it was before the
injury and I’ll have the home crowd, and some friends, behind me so
there’s even more incentive to win.”
Blatchford, who, following injury to Sobhy, has overtaken her as the US
No.1, however fell to a 3-1 defeat to Frenchwoman Aumard on a day that
also saw Milou van der Heijden, Donna Lobban, Fiona Moverley, Salma Hany,
Hollie Naughton and Nadine Shahin book their places in the second round.
the men’s event the opening round featured a compelling all-French
battle between Mathieu Castagnet and Lucas Serme which went the way of
Castagnet after 63-minutes of compelling, attritional squash.
The opening game alone lasted 20 minutes as the pair probed for openings
before the more experienced Castagnet struck the first blow as he
sneaked the opening game. The 31-year-old then doubled his lead courtesy
of an equally tight second game and while Serme struck back to take a
comfortable third, Castagnet regrouped to take control in the fourth
game and complete the win.
“I’ve had a lot of injuries over the past few years so I’m just enjoying
being on court and I’m trying to have fun out there as much as
possible,” said Castagnet.
“We are friends but we both train very hard every day to win matches so
we have to go on there and do a job. It’s a nightmare to play someone
you know very well, but I’m just happy to have won and be in the next
round, which I’m excited about.”
Egyptian Karim Ali Fathi prevailed in arguably the match of the day as
he outlasted Mexican Cesar Salazar in a 68-minute five-game thriller,
coming back from 6-3 down in the decisive fifth to clinch a second round
berth where he will take on Germany’s Simon Rösner.
“I lost in my first tournament of the season in Pakistan before I came
here so I was a bit nervous at the beginning,” said Fathi.
“I was trying to give it everything I’ve got. I was chasing everything
and that got to his head, and I think that’s how I won. Sometimes you
just have to throw tactics out the window and fight for everything. We
were both tired and breathing hard at the end but I guess it went my way
England’s former World No.1 James Willstrop was amongst the other
winners on the opening day as he beat Scoland’s Alan Clyne 3-0 with
Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi, Saurav Ghosal, Ryan Cuskelly, Gregoire Marche
and Mazen Hesham also triumphing.
World No.8 Sarah-Jane Perry will appear at the Oracle NetSuite Open, PSA
World Tour Silver event in San Francisco later this week, 12 months
after taking the biggest title of her career there in emotional scenes.
Perry, a runner-up in 2015, overcame compatriot Laura Massaro for the
first time ever in the semi-finals of the 2017 edition, before launching
an astonishing comeback from two games down against Malaysia’s
eight-time World Champion Nicol David in the final to claim her most
significant title to date.
What followed was an outpouring of emotion from Perry, who revealed that
the death of her grandmother shortly before the tournament gave her
extra determination to fight for the trophy.
"Last year was very special to me" said Birmingham-born Perry.
"It was my biggest PSA title so far and I had to fight so hard in the
semis and the final.
"I was so emotional at the end because my nan passed away just before
and I wanted to win so badly for her. She was one of my favourite people
and she was always very proud of me, so I was determined to fight until
In addition to her Oracle NetSuite Open triumph, Perry enjoyed a
fruitful 2016/17 season which saw her reach a career-high World No.6
ranking in addition to securing a place at the ATCO PSA Dubai World
Series Finals for a second successive season.
The 28-year-old is targeting a top four spot by the end of the new
campaign and, after a quarter-final finish at the J.P. Morgan China
Squash Open earlier this month, is aiming to find her best form in San
"History says I do well here and, whilst the draw is even stronger this
year, I'm confident I can perform well and hopefully that will win me
some matches," she said.
"My goals this season are to consolidate my top eight spot and get some
results against the girls above me, I would love to be top four by the
end of the season. The World Championships in Chicago is obviously the
main event to aim for.
"Summer training went really well, I didn't manage to put everything
into practice in China, but hopefully I can here. Consistency is
something I've been working hard to improve, without losing my own style
Perry will begin her 2017/18 campaign in San Francisco against either
World Junior Champion Rowan Elaraby or World No.15 Salma Hany in the
second round after after the number five seed received a bye into the
Also appearing in the women’s draw are the likes of World Champion
Raneem El Welily, Commonwealth Games gold medalist Joelle King and
former champions Massaro and Amanda Sobhy, while World No.1 Mohamed
ElShorbagy headlines the men’s tournament.
The tournament’s largest ever prize fund of $206K is split between the
men’s and women’s tournaments - both of which will feature a 24-player
draw after the new PSA tour structure came into effect on August 1,
while the tournament will take place on San Francisco's Embarcadero
Plaza between September 27 - October 2.
First and second round action will be played at the Bay Club Redwood
Shores, Squash Zone, Bay Club San Francisco, the Olympic Club and the
University Club, while the quarter-finals onwards will be held at the
all-glass Oracle NetSuite SuiteSuccess court erected on Embarcadero
Plaza from September 29 – October 2.
Fixtures shown on the glass court will be broadcast live on SQUASHTV
(Rest of World) and Eurosport Player (Europe only).
No.1 Mohamed ElShorbagy will play his first tournament of the season at
the Oracle NetSuite Open between September 27 - October 2 as he aims to
defend the title he won with style last year at San Francisco’s
ElShorbagy’s debut appearance at this tournament 12 months ago
culminated in a final victory over fellow Egyptian Karim Abdel Gawad,
which laid the foundations for a dominant season for the 27-year-old
from Alexandria, who went on to claim seven further PSA Tour titles -
including a maiden PSA World Championship crown - and returned to the
summit of the PSA World Rankings.
Speaking ahead of the PSA World Tour Gold event, ElShorbagy outlined how
much he enjoyed the tournament last year and says he is raring to go
after the summer break which saw him link up once again with coach and
two-time World Champion David Palmer, one of the key figures behind the
Egyptians resurgence during the last campaign.
"I absolutely loved my time last year in San Fran," said ElShorbagy.
"I really did enjoy the tournament, and it’s not a surprise knowing
[Tournament Promoter] John Nimick over the years. He has always known
how to make the tournaments he has done very enjoyable, professional and
very comfortable for the players to just focus on their game during his
"My summer training has been going well with mixing it between training
in Bristol and now at Cornell [University] with [David] Palmer before
the season starts. Of course, before I start my summer training I start
to analyse myself first on what kind of weaknesses in my game I need to
improve and work on, and I have been working on a few things this summer
that will hopefully improve my game for next season."
ElShorbagy’s dominant 2017/18 campaign came off the back of a
disappointing 2016/17 season, which saw him lose his grip on the World
No.1 spot and pick up just one major title.
However, the Bristol-based powerhouse says that the experience gained in
suffering that slump in form has helped him scale new heights over the
past 12 months and he envisages becoming an even better player during
the upcoming season than the one who dominated the PSA Tour over the
"I have already proved a lot of things last season with my comeback to
the top," he said.
"But I have been to the top before and lost it and I know how it made me
feel, and this time if I lose it I want to lose it because someone else
raised the bar over me, because someone else played better than me, not
because I lost hunger or motivation.
"I think that’s always the advantage I will have, that I went through a
lot of phases in my career at such a young age and that I have gained a
lot of experiences, and now getting back to the top with that kind of
experience, it will definitely make it harder for someone to get me out
of it this time.
"Hopefully I am going to be better next season. All I want is to be
better than the player I was last season, that’s my main competition
ElShorbagy will headline a star-studded line-up in San Francisco
alongside the likes of U.S. Open champion Ali Farag, Tournament of
Champions winner Simon Rösner and British Open champion Miguel Angel
A women’s PSA World Tour Silver event will also be held, with top seed
and World Champion Raneem El Welily, Commonwealth Games gold medalist
Joelle King and eight-time World Champion Nicol David just some of the
big names that will compete to dethrone defending champion Sarah-Jane
Perry, who also features.
A record prize fund of $206K is split between the men’s and women’s
tournaments, both of which will feature a 24-player draw after the new
PSA tour structure came into effect on August 1.
First and second round action will be split between the Bay Club Redwood
Shores, Squash Zone, Bay Club San Francisco, the Olympic Club and the
University Club, while the quarter-finals onwards will be held at the
all-glass Oracle NetSuite SuiteSuccess court erected on Embarcadero
Plaza from September 29 - October 2.
Fixtures shown on the glass court will be broadcast live on SQUASHTV
(Rest of World) and Eurosport Player (Europe only).
The player entry list for the 2018 Oracle NetSuite Open has been
confirmed with Egyptian reigning world champions Mohamed ElShorbagy and
Raneem El Welily headlining the men’s and women’s events, respectively,
and the strongest field in tournament history set to descend on San
Francisco, September 27-October 2.
The Oracle NetSuite Open boasts one of the most unique and eye-catching
venues in squash and this year celebrates its seventh year held on
Embarcadero Plaza, which is located on the spectacular San Francisco
waterfront in front of the famous Ferry Building.
Defending champion ElShorbagy will appear alongside world No. 2 Ali
Farag in the men’s draw, which boasts eight of the world’s top 10,
including British Open champion Miguel Angel Rodriguez, Tournament of
Champions winner Simon Roesner, and past Oracle NetSuite Open champions
Gregory Gaultier and Ramy Ashour, who will join the battle for honors at
the PSA World Tour Gold tournament.
In the women’s tournament, El Welily makes her first ever appearance at
the event and competes in a draw full to the brim with world-class
players, including 2016 winner Laura Massaro, defending champion
Sarah-Jane Perry and the player she beat in the final, Nicol David.
Perry’s title-winning displays last October made up for a runner-up
finish at the 2015 installment, where she lost to United States favorite
Amanda Sobhy. Sobhy missed last year’s tournament due to an achilles
injury but she makes her return this year to join compatriot Olivia
Blatchford in the draw of the PSA World Tour Silver women’s event.
The Oracle NetSuite Open is one of the most highly-anticipated
tournaments on the PSA World Tour and offers in excess of $200,000 worth
of prize money across both draws.
The prestige of the tournament and the lucrative prize purse has helped
draw in stars from across the world, with seventeen different
nationalities represented across both the men’s and women’s events.