Serme, who was also the first Frenchwoman ever to win the historic British Open back in 2014, wrote her name into the squash history books once again at the 2016 Delaware Investments U.S. Open.
Serme bowed out of her last tournament, September’s Al Ahram Open, with a whimper in the first round as she struggled for form but has turned her season around, producing a series of spellbinding performances to defeat World No. 2 Laura Massaro, World No. 6 Amanda Sobhy and World Champion El Sherbini to secure the win – in what was only her third ever PSA World Series tournament final.
After sharing the opening two games it was Serme who came through a crucial third game, coming from 0-4 down to take it in a tense tie-break courtesy of some sublime dropshot winners, and she continued to play with pinpoint precision and accuracy to come through in four games and seal an unexpected triumph.
“I cannot believe it,” said Serme. “Two weeks ago I lost in the first round of the Al Ahram Open and was so far away from this. If someone had told me then I’d win the US Open I’d have laughed – so to now be the champion is crazy. I’m so, so happy!
“Yesterday was a tough match but today was a completely different test. She’s not No.1 for nothing, it’s crazy because I felt like I was behind all the time. I just kept pushing and telling myself that I can do it.
“I had to trust in myself and be attacking. I knew I had the right tactics so i just had to keep believing. It’s one of the biggest victories of my career without a doubt.”
World No. 1 Elshorbagy, who added the 2016 title to his 2014 triumph, was crowned champion after the 36-year-old Englishman was forced to retire in the fifth game of their title decider inside Philadelphia’s Drexel University.
It marked the third time that Matthew has been forced to retire during major encounters with ElShorbagy inside the past 18 months – with injury also thwarting the Yorkshireman during the 2015 El Gouna International and 2016 Windy City Open – bringing to an end what, for 50 minutes, was shaping up to be one of the best matches of the season.
After coming through a gruelling five-game semi-final it was Matthew who started brighter and managed to control the play to open up a 2-0 lead after two punishing games but a hamstring injury suffered during a lengthy exchange in the first game came back to bite as the Wolf began to break down, resulting with a handshake midway through the fifth game.
“I have great memories here, two years when I won it got me to the top of the rankings and whenever I’m back I just feel really happy to be here,” said ElShorbagy.
“It gives me a lot of confidence and I’m really happy that I’ve found my best squash this week. It’s been a while since I played the way I love to play and I’m really happy I’ve got it back again.
“I grew up watching Nick playing and he comes from a golden generation. For me, he’s the greatest out of all of them. He’s raised the bar for everyone and I’ve watched that and learned from that, and every time I was coming close to that bar, he would push it even further.
“He’s the greatest champion I’ve ever seen in my life, the greatest athlete I’ve ever seen in my life and the amount I have learned from him is unbelievable.”
After the match Matthew said: “This week was about more than squash for me.
“I haven’t won the tournament but I’ve won my squash back – on and off court I’ve found a method to enjoy the game again and play with a smile on my face.
“Ultimately my body just let me down at the end. My mind was in the game and I was enjoying it. I love being on this stage and I was a winner this week regardless of tonight.”
England’s three-time world champion Nick Matthew and World No.1 Mohamed Elshorbagy will renew their rivalry in the final of the 2016 Delaware Investments U.S. Open after securing their place in the title-decider courtesy of two outstanding performances during semi-finals night at Philadelphia’s Drexel University.
After producing the performance of the tournament so far to outclass World No.6 Ali Farag in the quarters Matthew, the 36-year-old from Sheffield, displayed the type of tenacious never-say-die attitude that has epitomised his career as he came through a nail-biting five-game battle with Karim Abdel Gawad – the World No.4 who won the Al Ahram Open last month.
In a highly competitive battle that went all the way to a fifth game tie-break it was Matthew who came through 11-4, 7-11, 16-14, 3-11, 12-10 to set up a 19th meeting, and a 7th title-decider, with ElShorbagy.
“I’ve lost here in the semis the last few years so I was really motivated to try and make the final – I don’t know how many more times I’ll be able to play at the US Open so I wanted to do my best and leave it all on there,” said Matthew.
“I was digging in and on the back foot a lot. He nullified a lot of my strengths – I’m proud of how I managed to problem solve and come through. I tried to start the fifth as well as possible and that put me in a good position.
Really happy with my performance last night against James Willstrop to beat him 3/0. Will be up… https://t.co/wYT5QyFmSc— Mohamed Elshorbagy (@MoElshorbagy) October 15, 2016