An emotional Mohamed El Shorbagy saved his best for last as he won his first event of 2017 and his maiden PSA World Series Final with a fine 3-0 whitewash of England’s James Willstrop.
The 26-year-old Egyptian has endured a mixed year in 2017 during which he suffered a drastic slump in form – including defeats in the British Open final to Nick Matthew in March as well as exiting the Tournament of Champions to Gregory Gaultier in January at the semi-final stage.
That poor form had left him lacking the desire to compete, but he revealed he rediscovered his motivation just a few weeks ago, and he has since returned to something approaching his best form.
“To win this tournament is a dream. The way I was playing, I didn’t expect to play the whole way,” said El Shorbagy, who overcame 33-year-old Willstrop 12-10, 11-9, 11-8.
“It’s been quite an interesting season for me. I felt at one stage like I wanted to quit but then a few weeks ago I got my motivation back.
“Something clicked, I wanted to play. I felt like I wanted to win and be who I was again.
“I have let a lot of people down this season, my team, my mother, and this win is for her. We’ve been through a lot and she means a lot to me. This is the title that means the most to me in my career.”
There was a lot of support for the Alexandria native throughout the week at Dubai Opera, and there was plenty of noise and a few Egyptian flags flying in the audience as El Shorbagy lifted his trophy.
“I want to thank everyone who’s supported me here throughout the whole tournament, I’ve had some great support,” said the world number three, who also heaped praise on his opponent, who he said had inspired him since childhood.
“James, the way he came back from his injury, back into the top 10, and the final of this tournament. He’s been an inspiration for me from when I was growing up.
“And now, my first World Series Finals win is against him, and it’s such an honour. He’s one of the greats of the sport.”
Runner-up Willstrop, who felt he was returning to top form having beaten Karim Gawad in Friday’s semi-final, said: “To be in the final in this company is a great pleasure. I thought I could win and I gave it everything I could. If you’d have said I’d be in a final a week ago, I’d have been very happy with that. I loved every minute, apart from losing.”
World Champion Karim Abdel Gawad moved past compatriot Marwan El Shorbagy to earn his place in the semi-finals of the PSA Dubai World Series Finals.
The 25-year-old was in stunning form throughout the contest, and despite being three game balls down in the second, El Shorbagy looked to be suffering with illness as Gawad fought back to claim the win.
“I didn’t have the best start to the tournament,” said Gawad. “I just wanted to be on court as much as I could. I didn’t expect to get to the semi-finals, especially at the top of the group.”
Elsewhere, France’s Camille Serme survived a tense winner-takes-all encounter with last year’s runner-up Raneem El Welily to top Group A.
Despite taking two wins from her first two matches, Serme had to beat El Welily to progress to the semi-finals, with the Egyptian now out of the event.
Which sports star does Gohar admire most away from squash? Who would she like to play her in a movie?
The 19-year-old reveals this and more in our video above.