Mohamed ElShorbagy and France’s Camille Serme lifted the 2020 J.P.
Morgan Tournament of Champions titles as they overcame World
Champions Tarek Momen and Nour El Sherbini, respectively, earlier
today in New York’s iconic Grand Central Terminal to win the first
PSA World Tour Platinum event of the New Year.
ElShorbagy will overtake compatriot Ali Farag as the men’s World
No.1 in the PSA World Rankings for February after he came back from
a game down to overcome World No.3 Momen, winning 9-11, 11-7, 11-7,
11-5 to capture his third Tournament of Champions trophy after wins
in 2015 and 2016.
The 29-year-old was a runner-up in Grand Central 12 months ago as he
lost the final - and his World No.1 spot - to Farag. However,
ElShorbagy cut a determined figure on court although he struggled at
times with his right knee and needed treatment from the physio when
8-5 up in the fourth game.
However, he fought through the pain barrier to close out the win and
collect his 40th PSA Tour title, a tally which puts him joint fifth
on the all-time men’s PSA World Tour title winners list, level with
fellow Egyptian Ramy Ashour and former World No.1 Gregory Gaultier.
win the trophy for the third time is an honour," said ElShorbagy.
“To have your name beside all the great champions that have won the
event, it’s the kind of moment that I live for. I said before the
season started that my main goal was to get back to World No.1 and
to achieve this on the same court that I lost the World No.1 last
year is a great feeling.
"There is no better venue than here that I would have wanted it to
happen and I’m really proud."
In the women’s final, World No.5 Serme got her hands on her second
Tournament of Champions title after a breathtaking performance from
the 30-year-old saw her end a four-match losing streak to El
Serme played some of the best squash of her career in New York this
week as she defeated World No.1 Raneem El Welily and World No.3
Nouran Gohar en route to the final, before completing the set with
an 11-8, 11-6, 11-7 win over World No.2 El Sherbini.
El Sherbini was appearing in just her second PSA event of the season
after her fourth World Championship triumph in November and sported
knee strapping throughout the match. She never quite found her range
as Serme played accurate, composed squash, and the French player
closed out the win in 40 minutes to capture her first major title
since her 2017 Tournament of Champions win.
the titles are special and different, but this one is special
because the last tournament I lost in the quarter final of the World
Championship against a very strong Hania El Hammamy and that was a
tough one," said Serme after winning her 15th PSA title.
“I know Nour was not 100%, I think everyone could see it. She was
not moving very well on court but it’s not easy to play someone you
know is not 100%. I was just trying to not think about it, but it’s
not easy and all credit to her.
“If I could have all of my team at every tournament then I would do
it. It’s so nice and so important to me to have them with me. To
prepare all those matches, to analyse every match, usually we
analyse when I lose but this week we have been analysing when I have
won, so it was very interesting. I wish they could come every time.”
ElShorbagy and Serme take home over $25,000 each in prize money and
also qualify for the season-ending PSA World Tour Finals. The PSA
World Tour Finals take place in June and feature all seven PSA World
Tour Platinum title winners and reigning World Champions, with the
other spots being made up of the highest-ranked players on the Road
to Egypt Standings.
Mohamed ElShorbagy will reclaim the World No.1 spot from current
incumbent Ali Farag if he can overcome World Champion Tarek Momen
tomorrow at New York’s Grand Central Terminal when they go
head-to-head in the final of the prestigious J.P. Morgan Tournament
The 29-year-old saw his 12-month reign as World No.1 come to an end
when he surrendered a two-game lead to Farag in a final defeat at
the 2019 edition of the Tournament of Champions.
But he now has the opportunity to claim top spot for the fourth time
after he overcame World No.4 Karim Abdel Gawad, while Farag fell to
Momen in all-Egyptian semi-finals in the men’s event.
ElShorbagy was on the losing side in his two previous matches
against 2017 champion Gawad, but he put in a peerless display to
claim an 11-9, 11-8, 11-8 victory which will see him compete for a
third Tournament of Champions title.
“This was the match that I was most nervous for so far in this
event," said ElShorbagy afterwards.
"He was going for it in the first two games and created such a high
pace, and I was a bit nervous as well with Ali [Farag] losing the
match before me and giving me the possibility of maybe going to
World No.1 if I win tomorrow. I had all these things going through
“I had to use all of my experience and I’m really happy to be back
here in another final. This is my sixth tournament this season, and
I’ve made five finals. It’s not easy to back it up every season, but
there’s nothing else I would want to be doing than playing finals
Momen, playing his first PSA tournament since capturing the World
Championship trophy in November, stormed into a two-game lead
against Farag, who looked to be feeling the effects of a 62-minute
battle against World No.5 Paul Coll in the quarter-finals.
A loss of concentration and an increase in performance level from
Farag saw him draw level at two games apiece, but Momen had just
enough in the tank to see the win over the line, and he will compete
in a second Tournament of Champions final after falling to Germany’s
Simon Rösner in the 2018 title decider.
credit to Ali, the way he’s come back after the tough times he has
had is just unbelievable and it shows what kind of a fighter he is
and it really shows why he is the World No.1 at the moment," Momen
“I knew I had to fight for every point. I was in the situation last
April in El Gouna when I was 2-0 up and he managed to come back and
win it 12-10 in the fifth. I really didn’t want that to happen again
and I had a few chances in the third to close the gap or get a lead
and I lost it and in the fourth I thought I was very close and then
he ran away with it. I came into the fifth and I wanted to impose
some character, I didn’t want to succumb to defeat."
women’s final will feature France’s Camille Serme and Egypt’s Nour
El Sherbini after they claimed semi-final wins over World No.3
Nouran Gohar and World No.6 Joelle King.
World No.5 Serme, who beat England’s Laura Massaro to win the 2017
Tournament of Champions, overturned five match balls against Gohar
to follow up her quarter-final upset of World No.1 Raneem El Welily.
The Frenchwoman initially struggled with the intensity of Gohar’s
hitting, but played some immaculate squash to send the match to a
fifth game after twice falling a game behind. She then showcased her
resilient side to withstand Gohar’s efforts to close out the match,
and finally claimed victory on the third of her match balls in the
“I’m speechless,” said Serme afterwards.
“Nouran is always such a fighter and her nickname ‘The Terminator’
is such a good nickname because she just hits the ball so hard all
the time. It’s funny because I don’t usually see her tired, but
today I could see some signs and I thought maybe I could see a
chance. So many things happened in my head during the match, I can’t
believe I won, I was 10-7 down in the fifth, but I believed."
Serme has now beaten four Egyptian players en route to the final -
with three of those matches going to five games - and she will take
on yet another player from that nation when she looks to end a
four-match losing streak to El Sherbini.
Sherbini is aiming to become the first woman to win four Tournament
of Champions titles and she booked her final berth after axing King
by an 11-6, 11-9, 6-11, 11-3 margin.
The J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions finals begin at 19:00
(GMT-5) and will be shown live on SQUASHTV (rest of world),
Eurosport Player (Europe only) and the official Facebook page of the
PSA World Tour, in addition to mainstream broadcasters such as BT
Sport and Sky Sport NZ.
Champion Nour El Sherbini put on a masterclass of attacking squash
earlier today at New York’s Grand Central Terminal to end a
three-match losing streak against England’s Sarah-Jane Perry and
book her place in the semi-finals of the 2020 J.P. Morgan Tournament
El Sherbini is appearing at just her second PSA event of the 2019/20
season after a knee injury, with her previous event seeing her
capture a fourth World Championship triumph. The 24-year-old is also
on the hunt for a fourth Tournament of Champions title, and she is
now just one win away from a third successive ‘ToC’ final after
beating Perry 11-7, 11-3, 11-8 in just 33 minutes.
The World No.2 has struggled against Perry in the past, with the
English player winning four of the previous five matches, but it was
all about El Sherbini at Grand Central today as the Egyptian
attacked with gusto and dragged Perry into all four corners of the
court to set up a semi-final fixture against New Zealand’s Joelle
“Losing once against any player is always hard, but losing three
times is harder,” said El Sherbini.
“Last season I wasn’t happy with the way I was playing and I played
her three times and I lost three times. This time I was prepared
well and I just wanted to come on and play good, enjoy more and I
think I did a good plan with my coaches. I’m really glad it worked
and happy that I won in three.
“SJ is very skilful and you can see that she can kill any shot from
anywhere on the court. I was trying to take a step forward and be
prepared for any shot she played and I’m happy that I’m playing
loads better than yesterday and that gives me a huge push for
King was in similarly impressive form as she overcame Egypt’s World
No.14 Salma Hany, with the 31-year-old winning 11-6, 11-6, 11-8 to
reach her second successive Tournament of Champions semi-final.
Hany caused one of the biggest upsets of the tournament so far when
she overcame World No.4 Nour El Tayeb in round three, but King
executed her game plan to perfection as she nullified Hany’s
attacking intent to secure her last four berth.
just feels really good to be on court and playing close to back to
my best," King said.
"I just want to keep playing and what better way than to keep
playing here in Grand Central, it’s one of the most amazing events
in the whole world.”
Men’s World No.2 Mohamed ElShorbagy continued his 100 per cent
record at this year’s tournament, with an 11-6, 11-6, 11-6 victory
over World No.12 Joel Makin meaning he stays in with a chance of
reclaiming the World No.1 spot, a year on from surrendering it to
current incumbent Ali Farag.
If Farag loses in tomorrow’s semi-finals and ElShorbagy wins the
tournament, ElShorbagy will claim top spot in the February PSA Men’s
World Rankings and he moved to one win of a fourth Tournament of
Champions final after a powerhouse performance against his Welsh
for me, is the most improved player every year," ElShorbagy said.
"Every match he plays there is something new that he brings to his
game and for me he is a top five player. He is one of the most
hungry players that I have come across in my career. He’s actually
the first training partner I’ve had, beside my brother, in my
career. We get on really well and he has had a fantastic
The men’s semi-finals will be an all-Egyptian affair for a second
year in a row, with Gawad joining ElShorbagy, defending champion
Farag and World Champion Tarek Momen in a last four in which every
player has had their hands on the prestigious World Championship
Gawad and ElShorbagy will go head-to-head for a place in the title
decider, with Gawad overcoming 2018 winner Simon Rösner in a scrappy
really happy to be through,” said Gawad, the 2017 ‘ToC’ champion.
“Simon played really great squash today. He hit amazing winners from
all corners today, I was under pressure for the whole match, and I
really wanted to push and win today to reach the semi-finals. I’m
glad I did and I’m glad I’m in the semi-finals and get to play in
front of such a great crowd."
World No.5 Camille Serme ended a seven-match losing streak against
World No.1 Raneem El Welily earlier today at New York’s Grand
Central Terminal to book her place in the semi-finals of the J.P.
Morgan Tournament of Champions, PSA World Tour Platinum event.
Serme hadn’t beaten El Welily over a best-of-five games format since
January 2013 and had only prevailed in three of their previous 20
encounters, surrendering a two-game lead the last time they met in
the title decider of June’s CIB PSA World Tour Finals.
But, under the chandeliers of Grand Central’s stunning Vanderbilt
Hall, the 30-year-old put in a composed, resilient performance to
withstand El Welily’s shot-making efforts as Serme came back from
2-1 down to win 13-15, 11-4, 7-11, 11-5, 11-6.
“It’s funny because today I was the challenger and she had the
pressure,” said an emotional Serme afterwards.
“It’s kind of easier to play your best squash because you think you
have nothing to lose. You play free and I proved to myself that I
can play those shots as well as they can do.
“It’s the kind of match you want to enjoy, I’m playing the World
No.1 here in Grand Central, it’s going to be a great match. Raneem
is the fairest player on tour so you know it’s going to be a clean
and good match. I just enjoyed it so much and it’s not that often I
beat Raneem, I think it’s only the fourth time in my career.”
2017 Tournament of Champions winner Serme will line up against
another Egyptian, World No.3 Nouran Gohar, in the semi-finals after
Gohar overcame England’s Alison Waters in straight games.
2018 runner-up Nour El Tayeb saw her tournament come to an end after
a surprise defeat to World No.14 Salma Hany in their third round
El Tayeb had won all four of their previous meetings but looked out
of sorts despite winning the opening game as Hany executed her game
plan to perfection, The 23-year-old hit good lines and dominated the
’T’ to take away attacking opportunities from the World No.4 and she
was rewarded with an 8-11, 11-9, 11-7, 11-9 victory to claim her
first win over a player ranked inside the world’s top five.
“Nour is an amazing player and obviously she has been chopping me
the last few times,” said Hany afterwards.
“Everyone knows that Nour can hit any shot from anywhere on the
court, so I was just trying to minimise her options as much as I
could. I didn’t feel like I did much wrong in the first, maybe I
levelled up my accuracy a little and I stuck to the plan. She is
such a fighter and kept coming back stronger and stronger in the
fourth, but I’m glad I managed to get the win."
Hany will clash with New Zealand’s Joelle King in the last eight,
with King coming through to win in four games against India’s Joshna
US hopes were extinguished in the women’s event as US No.2 Olivia
Blatchford Clyne went down to defending champion Nour El Sherbini,
while Sabrina Sobhy saw her run come to an end against England’s
Sarah-Jane Perry. El Sherbini and Perry will clash in the
quarter-finals, with Perry aiming to extend a three-match winning
run over the World No.2.
of the men’s quarter-final fixtures took place today, with World
No.1 Ali Farag and reigning World Champion Tarek Momen overcoming
World Championship runner-up Paul Coll and World Junior Champion
Mostafa Asal, respectively.
Farag extended his unbeaten run over Coll to 11 matches after
completing an 11-5, 11-8, 6-11, 5-11, 11-6 victory after 62 minutes
to ensure he will take on Momen in a repeat of the 2018-19 PSA World
Defending champion Farag was firing on all cylinders in the opening
two games as Coll looked off the pace, but the Kiwi came out a
different player in the third and fourth and dominated to level the
scores. However, at 6-4 up in the decider, Coll’s attacking shots
began to find the tin and Farag rattled off seven points in a row to
complete the win.
“I started off really well,” said Farag.
“The ball was quite bouncy, so I couldn’t really going for those
killing shots I just had to move it around and try to dominate the
‘T’ area which I think I did well for the first game and part of the
second game. In the third he came out more aggressive and hitting
shots with the racket, getting in front of me for most of the time
and what I didn’t like at the end of the third and for the fourth
was my body language.
"I don’t mind losing at all but I mind losing without a fight. I
wasn’t really putting on a good fight, so Karim [Darwish] told me if
you are to lose just have good body language and push – if it
doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen but then at least you will have no
Momen, who lost that World Championship final before going one
better against Coll in Qatar in the final of the 2019-20 World
Championship eight months later, put in a masterclass of attacking
squash to beat Asal 11-8, 11-2, 11-5. The World No.3 will now look
to avenge his 3-0 defeat to Farag in last year’s Tournament of
definitely happy to get through in three games,” said Momen.
“I’ve known Mostafa probably since he was born. I think I finished
my junior career when he was just four or five years old, and to be
honest I never thought I’d be competing against him, I always
thought I’d have retired before he even joined the PSA. Kudos to
him, he has done impressively well to improve and reach that level
where he is actually competing on a big stage like this."
No.12 Joel Makin has become the first Welsh player since David Evans
in 2002 to reach the quarter-finals of the prestigious J.P. Morgan
Tournament of Champions after he overcame 2010 winner James
Willstrop 3-1 earlier today in New York’s Grand Central Terminal.
Makin claimed a statement win over the higher-ranked Diego Elias in
a five-game battle in round two, and the 25-year-old combined
accuracy and athleticism to claim an 11-7, 11-9, 10-12, 12-10
victory over the experienced Englishman to set up a mouthwatering
last eight clash with two-time winner Mohamed ElShorbagy.
Makin had the better of the opening two games, but Willstrop’s class
eventually came through as he won the third game to halve the
deficit, before going 10-6 up in the fourth. However, a tenacious
fightback from Makin saw him rattle off six points in a row to
finally book his place in the last eight.
“It’s obvious to try and go fast and upset the rhythm of James
because you get too worried about exchanging up and down the walls
with him,” Makin said afterwards.
“But I think if you try to move the ball too quickly then he’s far
too good for that. I know I had to really try and straighten up
across the backend and try to play squash how I wanted to and take
the middle away from him.
“It’s massive [to be in the quarter finals], the win against Diego
[Elias] was huge for me and I knew that was going to be hard today.
James has been in great form, he beat [Karim Abdel] Gawad in the
last tournament and he was coming into this fresh, so I was well
aware that it was going to be tough even though I’m higher than him
ranking-wise. I take that as a really good win.”
No.2 ElShorbagy booked his place in the quarter-finals for a second
successive year after a convincing 11-1, 11-9, 11-9 triumph against
Frenchman Gregoire Marche.
The ‘Beast of Alexandria’ celebrated his 29th birthday yesterday,
and looked like a man in his prime as he played at an intense pace
to vanquish Marche, who has been hospitalised twice this week due to
illness and faced a gruelling five-game battle with Egypt’s Zahed
Salem in the last round.
“Any of the top guys are coming here to try and win this title, I’m
just one of them who are trying to have a shot at it," ElShorbagy
"It’s not going to be easy, but I’m going to give it my best here
every day and see what happens. I love coming back here every year,
I’ve played some great matches in front of the crowd here over the
years. I will try to give my best here because that’s what this
Former champions Karim Abdel Gawad and Simon Rösner also booked
their quarter-final spots as the third round of the men’s event came
to an end. 2017 champion Gawad came back from a game down to beat
England’s Declan James, while Rösner, the 2018 winner, got the
better of India’s Saurav Ghosal.
three of the women’s event began today as World No.1 Raneem El
Welily and World No.5 Camille Serme completed respective wins over
Hong Kong’s Annie Au and Egypt’s Yathreb Adel.
2015 winner El Welily played with confidence and dealt well with
Au’s patented drop and lob game to complete an 11-9, 11-6, 11-5
“Just like Annie, Camille and me go way back and have had many
matches together," El Welily said.
"Most of them were very close, she is playing very good squash and
having to play her in the quarters shows just how good the depth of
the game is for the women. It will be a tough match, but hopefully I
will be up for the challenge.”
2017 Tournament of Champions winner Serme will look to end a
seven-match winless run against El Welily when they line up at Grand
Central Terminal tomorrow. They have played 20 times on the PSA Tour
- with Serme claiming three wins - but it will be their first battle
in New York.
been tested by all of the Egyptians these past few months and every
match is a battle, I’m ready for it, but it’s tough," said Serme
after her 11-7, 13-11, 6-11, 11-9 win over Adel.
“It feels like the density of the girls is a lot higher. I feel like
every round is really hard, it’s good for the sport and good for
squash. I’m sure the crowd enjoy those kind of matches more than an
There were also wins for World No.3 Nouran Gohar and World No.13
Alison Waters, who will go head-to-head in the quarter-finals after
beating Hania El Hammamy and Emily Whitlock, respectively.
Egyptian Mostafa Asal is into his first ever PSA World Tour Platinum
quarter-final after he overcame former World No.1 and World Champion
Gregory Gaultier in a breathtaking five-game encounter earlier today
at the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions held at New York’s famous
Grand Central Terminal.
World No.21 Asal upset World No.9 Mohamed Abouelghar in the previous
round, while 37-year-old Gaultier made a sensational return from 15
months out injured as he defeated former World No.3 Omar Mosaad 3-2
in a repeat of the 2015 World Championship final.
It was a match which saw youth come up against experience in an
extremely high-quality affair, with both players taking two games
apiece as three tie-breaks delighted spectators inside Grand
Central’s picturesque Vanderbilt Hall.
It was all about the teenager in the fifth game as he raced into the
lead, before a contentious call with regards to a possible double
bounce was called good in Asal’s favour. The 8-4 advantage was too
much of a gap for the war-weary Gaultier, who picked up just one
more point as Asal closed out a 5-11, 13-11, 12-10, 10-12, 11-5
victory in 75 minutes to mark the biggest PSA Tour win of his
“Gaultier is such a legend, and I can’t describe the feeling of
sharing a court with him,” said Asal afterwards.
“I remember when I was 13 years old, I went on court to practice
with him, every single day after his matches in El Gouna, so I want
to thank him for the opportunity to play with him. He really is a
legend and I can’t describe my feelings to him.
"I was a child and I texted him to ask if I could play with him in
El Gouna and he said yes. I know if he hadn’t have been injured then
he would have finished me in about five minutes. It’s unbelievable
to play here, it’s my second home, and it’s the best tournament that
I have ever played on the PSA.”
Asal will clash with World Champion Tarek Momen for a place in the
semi-finals, with Momen dispatching Malaysia’s Eain Yow Ng by a 3-1
defending champion Ali Farag is through to the quarter-finals where
he will take on World Championship runner-up Paul Coll in a
mouthwatering fixture after they beat Egypt’s Youssef Soliman and
England’s Tom Richards, respectively.
Farag, the World No.1, completed an 11-9, 11-9, 11-7 victory over
Soliman and will now look to extend his 10-match winning run over
the Kiwi, with Coll’s only victory over him coming here in New York
back in 2017.
“He didn’t make it easy for me,” Farag said.
“I was listening during the pre-match introductions and Youssef has
had an amazing year, he’s been beating a lot of top players and he
has shown on this court that he has been playing really solidly, so
I had to be on my metal from the beginning. He didn’t make it easy
but I think a bit of experience at the end of the games made the
second round of the women’s event continued today as two American
players - Olivia Blatchford Clyne and Sabrina Sobhy - booked their
round three berths courtesy of wins over World No.9 Tesni Evans and
World No.15 Victoria Lust.
Blatchford Clyne’s clash with Evans was cut short after the Welsh
player rolled her ankle early on in the opening game, and the US
No.2 will now take on reigning champion Nour El Sherbini after the
Egyptian defeated Dutch player Milou van der Heijden in straight
games to kickstart only her second tournament of the season.
“It’s awful, I’m very blessed that I’ve never had that happen to
me,” Blatchford Clyne said.
“I’m sure she’s heartbroken and I’m heartbroken for her. I’m also
gutted I didn’t get to do it, but I just hope that she’s able to
recover as quickly as possible. She’s a really tough, entertaining
cookie and I’m sure she will be back soon."
World No.39 Sobhy continued her fine tournament so far as she
followed up an opening day win over Hong Kong’s Joey Chan to beat
the higher-ranked Lust to become the only member of the Sobhy family
to reach the last 16 after older sister Amanda bowed out in a shock
loss to World No.27 Emily Whitlock yesterday.
“She made it incredibly challenging for me,” said Sobhy.
“I needed to focus point by point and on my game and not let the
crowd or my emotions get involved. It’s big to be able to see my
family and friends supporting me here and makes these matches more
memorable. My goal was actually just to get past the first round, so
it’s going to be really cool playing on the glass."
Sobhy will play England’s Sarah-Jane Perry for a place in the last
eight, with Perry beating Belgium’s Nele Gilis in a match which saw
a 16-14 win for Perry in a nail-biting first game prove crucial.
Meanwhile Australia’s Donna Lobban donated $1 from every point won
in her clash with Egypt’s Nour El Tayeb to go towards the aid in
Australia helping to stop the devastating bushfires that are
affecting the country at the moment. The World No.47 tested El Tayeb,
but the World No.4 pulled through to book her last 16 spot against
Egypt’s Salma Hany.
New Zealand’s Joelle King and India’s Joshna Chinappa also claimed
wins and will contest the other third round fixture on the bottom
half of the women’s draw.
No.27 Emily Whitlock claimed one of the biggest wins of her career
to date as she completed a stunning comeback from two games down at
New York’s Grand Central Terminal to beat US No.1 Amanda Sobhy on
day three of the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions.
2016 Tournament of Champions finalist Sobhy was dominant in the
opening two games to storm into a commanding lead inside 20 minutes.
However, it took just as long for Whitlock to get back on level
terms as the 25-year-old varied the pace and hit the American with a
number of lobs.
A shellshocked Sobhy, the World No.7, wasn’t able to read Whitlock’s
game in the fifth either as the Colwyn-bay resident completed a
5-11, 1-11, 11-4, 11-8, 11-7 triumph to reach the third round of
this tournament for the first time.
“The last three games were a symbol of how I’ve been playing towards
the end of last year,” said Whitlock, a former World No.12.
“I’ve really been working on everything, no injuries and being
mentally and physically strong. I was so lost out there and seeing
it a bit late in those first two games and she was just so dominant.
I think I maybe saw the ball a bit quicker, hit the ball a bit
cleaner on the racket and it just seemed to go my way.
“My coach said to me when I won yesterday: ‘You’re playing Saturday
night, prime time, under the chandeliers in Grand Central Terminal
in front of one of the best crowd on the tour’. Even if I’m the away
player, I could hear people shouting my name, it just couldn’t have
been a better time to win."
Whitlock will look to replicate her performance against Sobhy when
she takes on World No.13 Alison Waters, with 2015 runner-up Waters
beating Egypt’s Nadine Shahin 3-0. Waters has won six of seven
matches against Whitlock, but the latter did claim a memorable
victory at the 2017 British Open to reach her first major
2017 winner Camille Serme had to dig into her mental reserves as she
came through an entertaining five-game battle with two-time World
Junior Champion Rowan Elaraby, winning 11-8, 3-11, 11-6, 9-11, 11-7
in 59 minutes.
19-year-old Elaraby combined talent with spirit as she twice came
back from a game down to level, with Serme needing to fight hard to
finally get the win over the line in the deciding game. The World
No.5 will go up against another Egyptian, Yathreb Adel, in the last
“It was tough, and I knew I had everything to lose and she had
nothing to lose,” said Serme afterwards.
“We prepared this match very well with all of my staff, I think
today it was about being more precise than her and not giving her
any angles, because every time she had an angle – she’s Egyptian so
she hits very good shots."
2015 winner Raneem El Welily got her title challenge under way with
a comfortable 3-0 win over Serme’s compatriot Coline Aumard, while
World No.3 Nouran Gohar dispatched South Africa’s Alexandra Fuller
in straight games.
Hania El Hammamy and Annie Au were the other women's victors on day
the men’s tournament, another seeded player saw his campaign come to
an end as Peru’s World No.6 Diego Elias fell to Welshman Joel Makin
after five entertaining games.
A day after No.8 seed Mohamed Abouelghar bowed out to young Egyptian
Mostafa Asal, Makin sent another seed crashing to an early defeat as
the World No.12 outlasted Elias after 78 minutes of action, coming
back from 2-1 down to win 6-11, 11-7, 9-11, 11-6, 11-7.
“If you’re outside the top eight then you can get these draws at any
time,” said Makin.
“I’ve had two of those in a row now but if I want to get up to the
top eight then I have to start beating those guys and do it anyway,
I’m glad I did that and hopefully the draw has opened up a little
bit. It’s still tough against James [Willstrop] being a quality
player and he won this tournament ten years ago."
Former World No.1 James Willstrop stands in Makin’s way after he
beat Scotland’s Greg Lobban, while two-time winner Mohamed
ElShorbagy began his tournament with a 3-0 victory over Australia’s
New York-based Cuskelly, playing his final PSA tournament, beat
ElShorbagy on this court two years ago, but the Egyptian was firing
on all-cylinders as he closed out an 11-5, 11-6, 11-5 win to set up
a third round meeting with France’s Gregoire Marche, who fought
through illness to beat Egypt’s Zahed Salem 3-2.
has been one of the most hard working athletes that I have come
across,” said ElShorbagy following his win.
“He got to two Platinum event semi-finals and the way he got up to
World No.12 was unbelievable because the way he worked was something
for all juniors to look up to and I hope he really enjoys retirement
and time with his family now. I remember two years ago that he has
beaten me on this court. I had to switch off from that and think
about what I needed to do."
2017 winner Karim Abdel Gawad came back from a game down to defeat
Spain’s Iker Pajares Bernabeu, and he will play England’s Declan
James in the last 16. Germany’s Simon Rösner and India’s Saurav
Ghosal were the other winners and they will go head-to-head for a
place in the quarter-finals.
World No.1 and World Champion Gregory Gaultier made a sensational
return to the PSA World Tour after 15 months out of action with a
knee injury as the 37-year-old overcame Egypt’s Omar Mosaad by a 3-2
scoreline earlier today to reach round three of the J.P. Morgan
Tournament of Champions held inside New York’s iconic Grand Central
Since joining the PSA World Tour in 2000, Gaultier has carved out a
reputation as one of the most popular and charismatic players of the
modern era, but a career-threatening knee injury sustained in late
2018 required two surgeries to fix, leaving Gaultier fighting to
save his career.
He made a successful return to action during last month’s WSF Men’s
World Team Squash Championship and followed that up in New York with
a sublime victory over former World No.3 Mosaad to mirror his World
Championship final triumph over the Egyptian back in 2015. He came
back from 2-1 down and held his nerve in a tense decider to close
out an emphatic win, with celebrations to match.
With three final appearances in Grand Central - including a title
victory in 2009 - Gaultier is one of the most prolific players to
grace the Tournament of Champions, and he will continue his campaign
against 18-year-old Mostafa Asal in the next round.
“It’s a dream, I’m like a kid again!” said Gaultier, who has fallen
to No.543 in the rankings.
“When you are broken for 15 months and you’ve got people telling you
that you will never come back and you will never do any sport again
in your life, I was like: ‘I think you’re talking to the wrong
“I kept working hard and believing that I could make it. At some
point I had to say: ‘let’s do it, let’s play’. I was training
through the pain and then suddenly the pain started to settle down,
it’s not quite there yet but I managed to play at a kind of decent
level. I’m not at where I was two years ago but I think there’s a
chance and I still have potential to come back and do some good
things for squash."
Asal will look to follow up a sensational display against World No.9
Mohamed Abouelghar which saw him come back from a game down to reach
the last 16 in New York for the first time.
No.21 Asal chose not to defend his crown at the prestigious Dunlop
British Junior Open earlier this week in favour of playing this
tournament. That decision looks to have paid immediate dividends as
he put on a shot-making masterclass against his fellow Egyptian,
hitting nicks from all angles as he closed out an 4-11, 11-8, 11-8,
11-7 win in 48 minutes.
"I want to thank the crowd, it was really amazing today,” said Asal
“It’s really tough to beat Abou, I didn’t expect that from the
start. I’m happy that I made it, this is a dream court and I love to
play here. I’m looking forward to my next match. The last two months
I have hit a lot of nicks in my practice. I can’t believe that I won
today and I want to thank everyone who supported me today.”
World No.1 and defending champion Ali Farag was tested by World
No.17 Mazen Hesham as he overturned a 2-1 deficit to keep his title
Farag’s triumph over Mohamed ElShorbagy 12 months ago saw him go to
World No.1, but he was all at sea as Hesham showcased his attacking
arsenal to put himself one game away from a shock victory. However,
the experienced Farag held firm to level the scores, and Hesham lost
his focus mentally and ran out of energy in the fifth as Farag swept
home to avoid a scare.
“I know Mazen well, he was No.13 in the world at the age of 21,”
“On the day he was the better squash player, and so I had to make it
physical, but with physical [matches] you don’t want to turn into a
machine. At the end of the third and the beginning of the fourth, I
was forcing it rather than thinking it. I’m really glad I’m through
because I could have been the loser today for sure.”
World Championship finalists Tarek Momen and Paul Coll are also
through after respective wins over Marwan ElShorbagy and Abdulla
Mohd Al Tamimi. Reigning World Champion Momen came from behind to
beat ElShorbagy in four, while Coll also required four games to beat
Elsewhere, the women’s tournament got under way today, with 16
matches split across the Princeton Club of New York, the Harvard
Club of New York and and the New York Athletic Club.
There were five US players in action, with New York-born Olivia
Blatchford Clyne and Sea Cliff-based Sabrina Sobhy claiming wins at
the Princeton Club.
Blatchford Clyne ousted England’s Jasmine Hutton in straight games
to set up a last 32 clash with World No.9 Tesni Evans, while World
No.39 Sobhy dispatched Hong Kong’s Joey Chan in four games to join
older sister Amanda in the next round.
feel pretty overwhelmed right now," Sobhy said.
"I’m so proud of what I’ve been able to accomplish thanks to the
support of my friends and family. Playing in front of them makes a
win like this even more memorable. I’ve never really had a day off
in a major tournament before. I have plans to go to the Metropolitan
Museum of Art and I look forward to enjoying a change of pace."
New York-based Olivia Fiechter went down to Belgium’s Nele Gilis in
four games, while wildcard Marina Stefanoni and Brooklyn’s Haley
Mendez lost out to Millie Tomlinson and Tinne Gilis, respectively.
Round two action continues tomorrow, with play beginning at 12:00.
Matches from Grand Central will be shown live on SQUASHTV (rest of
world), Eurosport Player (Europe only) and the
official Facebook page of the PSA World Tour.
The 2020 edition of the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions, PSA
World Tour Platinum event got under way in New York today with two
of the three US players in action falling to narrow 3-2 defeats
under the chandeliers of Grand Central Terminal’s stunning
US No.1 Todd Harrity and local man Chris Hanson were backed to the
hilt by home support, but both men ultimately fell in five games to
Hong Kong’s Leo Au and Mexico’s Cesar Salazar, respectively, to
narrowly miss out on a spot in round two of the first PSA World Tour
event of 2020.
Harrity, the current World No.59, twice clawed back a one-game
deficit against World No.22 Au, but fell to an 11-8 defeat in the
deciding fifth game to send him out of the event at the first
hurdle, with Au booking a last 32 spot against England’s Tom
“Todd is obviously a top player,” said Au after his 200th PSA World
“He always hangs in there and never gives up. He gave me a lot of
pressure and I’m glad that I could get through it in the end.”
New York’s Hanson put himself on the verge of a surprise victory
against World No.23 Salazar, leading 2-1 after some well-constructed
rallies and consistent line hitting saw the World No.67 impress in
front of his home fans.
But 32-year-old Salazar held firm to take a crucial fourth game,
before dropping just a handful of points in the fifth to seal his
last 32 berth, where he will play India’s Saurav Ghosal.
“It’s always hard when you play against a local player,” said
“Chris has improved a lot in the last few months and years. I tried
to start very focused on my game and my strategy. I know a lot of
the crowd was with him, but I tried to be very focused, but he won
the first game and that was important for the confidence, but after
that I tried to come back and I started to play better with my
movement and shots."
other American in action was another New Yorker - World No.91
Christopher Gordon - who went down to Australia’s Ryan Cuskelly by
an 11-7, 11-8, 11-4 margin.
One of the day’s standout matches featured Qatar’s Abdulla Mohd Al
Tamimi against France’s Lucas Serme, with the former coming back
from two games behind to claim his first ever win at the historic
Al Tamimi squandered two game balls in the second game, but overcame
that disappointment to seal a 4-11, 11-13, 11-4, 11-9, 11-7 victory
to ensure he will play World Championship runner-up Paul Coll for a
place in the last 16.
really started slow and I wasn’t playing with a high pace,” said Al
“Rodney [Martin] was on my side today and kept pushing me to play my
style of game which is fast and try to volley a bit more. Put
pressure on the back of the court, I play that up and down and I’m
really glad that I finished that fourth game and I knew that if I
could keep that pace in the fifth then it would be good for me."
There were also wins for Egyptian teenager Mostafa Asal, Mathieu
Castagnet, Campbell Grayson and Youssef Soliman at Grand Central,
while at the Harvard Club of New York, French World No.42 Baptiste
Masotti upset England’s Adrian Waller, the World No.19, winning
11-13, 11-7, 11-8, 11-4 to set up a second round fixture with
The New York Athletic Club also hosted a selection of first round
fixtures, with Spain’s Iker Pajares Bernabeu beating Malaysia’s Ivan
Yuen 3-1 in 69 minutes.
Round two of the men’s tournament begins tomorrow. Former World No.1
Gregory Gaultier will make his highly-anticipated return to PSA
action after 15 months out due to a knee injury, while the women’s
event gets under way, with five US players in action.
Action begins at 12:00 (GMT-5) and play from Grand Central Terminal
will be broadcast on SQUASHTV (rest of world), Eurosport Player
(Europe only) and the official Facebook page of the PSA World Tour.
Frenchman Gregory Gaultier will end a 15-month absence from the PSA
World Tour when the former World No.1 lines up at the J.P. Morgan
Tournament of Champions, which takes place in New York’s famous
Grand Central Terminal for a 23rd year between January 9-17, 2020.
Gaultier hasn’t been seen on the PSA Tour since limping off court in
the quarter-finals of the U.S. Open in October 2018 due to a broken
bone in his knee, but after a gruelling period of rehabilitation,
the 36-year-old will finally make his highly-anticipated return as
he competes under the chandeliers of Grand Central Terminal’s
picturesque Vanderbilt Hall.
Known on tour as the ‘French General’, Gaultier has reached the
Tournament of Champions final on four occasions and lifted the title
in 2009. His 2017 semi-final fixture with long-term rival Mohamed
ElShorbagy has gone down as one of the greatest matches ever seen at
Two-time winner ElShorbagy will also return, as will 2019 men’s
champion Ali Farag, who beat ElShorbagy to take the World No.1
ranking off his compatriot. Former champions Karim Abdel Gawad,
Simon Rösner and James Willstrop will also feature.
Meanwhile, 2018 runner-up Tarek Momen will make his first PSA
appearance since being crowned World Champion in November, and he
will be joined in the draw by the man he beat to lift the iconic
trophy, New Zealand’s Paul Coll.
There will be three former champions involved in the women’s draw,
with reigning champion Nour El Sherbini, 2017 winner Camille Serme
and World No.1 Raneem El Welily all looking to add to their title
tallies in New York.
El Sherbini downed El Welily last January to become the first woman
ever to win the Tournament of Champions title on three occasions and
she will compete amongst a top-class draw that also features United
States No.1 and 2016 runner-up Amanda Sobhy, British Open champion
Nouran Gohar, 2018 runner-up Nour El Tayeb, New Zealand’s Joelle
King and England’s Sarah-Jane Perry.
Darien-based 17-year-old Marina Stefanoni has been named the women’s
wildcard, while New York’s Chris Hanson will be the men’s wildcard.
The other wildcard spot in the men’s tournament will be decided by a
playoff on January 6-7.
A prize fund of $390,000 will be split equally between the men’s and
women’s events, while the winners will qualify for June’s PSA World
Tour Finals. The PSA World Tour Finals brings together the world’s
top eight male and female players and features the reigning World
Champions as well as all PSA Platinum title winners.
The other places will be allocated to the highest ranked players on
the Road to Egypt Standings, with points on offer at all PSA World
Tour events throughout the 2019/20 season.
In 1995, the Tournament of Champions was one of the first
events to be staged in Vanderbilt Hall when the venue was
made available for public use. The 83-year-old tournament
celebrates its 20th anniversary in Grand Central in 2017.