Defending champions Mohamed ElShorbagy and Laura Massaro out to retain titles in Dubai

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The world’s best squash players swapped their rackets for clubs as they gathered at Emirates Golf Club ahead of the PSA World Series Finals, which gets underway on Tuesday.

Both the male and female players are competing in the final tournament of the season for a prize fund of AED587,680, the highest in the history of the competition.

Defending men’s champion Mohamed ElShorbagy is the overwhelming favourite heading into the season finale after four wins from seven tournaments this season.

The 27-year-old has clinched victories in Hong Kong, Chicago and El Gouna as well as finishing runner-up at the US Open and British Open.

In what will be his third appearance in Dubai, the Egyptian is confident of retaining his title after another dazzling campaign.

“Last year I wasn’t in great shape and I had a lot of things going on off the court which affected my performance. This year I’ve made it to most of the finals and I feel I’m playing well,” said ElShorbagy..

“In Dubai you have to beat the best players in the world every day, you can’t win this tournament with luck, so you need to be focused.

“Last year I won despite not being on form, whereas this year I am playing well so I have a good chance.

“The competition is very high here though so really anyone who is on their game has a chance of victory.”

The Beast from Alexandria is currently fasting during the holy month of Ramadan but says a change to his regular routine won’t affect his overall performance.

“Luckily I’m playing late so I’ll sleep at 4am, wake up around 3pm, eat a snack at 7pm, play my match and have a meal after, it won’t be an issue,” he said.

Another player looking to retain her crown is ladies champion Laura Massaro. The 34-year-old may not have enjoyed a glittering season by her standards, but five semi-finals in seven tournament is still a formidable return.

The world No6 said: “There’s always pressure being the defending champion and my season hasn’t quite been as good as last year but at the same time this is an end-of-season event we’ve all qualified for, so you can’t let the pressure overshadow the enjoyment of being part of such an event.”

The Preston native had sealed her second British Open title last campaign and reached the final of the Tournament of Champions, but has failed to qualify beyond the last four of a tournament since June 10, 2017.

“I could go through every woman in the finals and tell you why they’d be really hard to play so it’s hard to pick out a particular individual,” she said.

“It’s unique in the way that I didn’t even look at the groups because I knew it would be a tough tournament anyway, no matter who I’m playing.”

Four matches will be played in each afternoon session during the group stage from June 5-9. The group stage matches will begin from 3:00pm.

Tickets for the World Series Finals at Emirates Golf Course are available at www.platinumlist.net.

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Nour El Sherbini leads the eight stars to grace the TCO PSA World Series Finals

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World No. 1 Nour El Sherbini is the poster girl for women’s squash and continues to capture the imagination of the millions of fans who follow the sport worldwide.

With another season set to draw to a close in Dubai this week, can the Egyptian continue her tremendous rise or will her dominance be curtailed in the UAE?

Here, we profile the eight players taking part in the TCO PSA World Series Finals which gets underway at Emirates Golf Club on June 5.

NOUR EL SHERBINI (Egypt)
The 22-year-old has looked unstoppable over the past two years, holding the top ranking for 26 consecutive months. Her notable achievements this season include wins at the Hong Kong Open, Saudi PSA Women’s Masters, Tournament of Champions and British Open. Beaten in last season’s decider in Dubai, the Warrior Princess will be bidding to finish her season on a high.

RANEEM EL WELILY (Egypt)
The reigning world champion has been an effervescent presence among the game’s elite and, alongside El Sherbini, is considered one of the most popular figures on the tour. At 29, the world number two is one of the key favourites and will be aiming for a first win in Dubai after losing the 2016 final to Massaro. Has reached four finals this season as well as winning in El Gouna.

NOUR EL TAYEB (Egypt)
The Windy City Open and US Open champion has enjoyed a stunning season, which also includes reaching the Tournament of Champions final as well as semi-final places in El Gouna and Riyadh. The world number three has the skills and game to topple one of her in-form compatriots.

JOELLE KING (New Zealand)
After claiming gold medals in both the singles and doubles at the Commonwealth Games last month, the world number four will be hoping to continue her career best form this week. The composed Kiwi has the armoury to topple the big guns.

CAMILLE SERME (France)
The Frenchwomen returned to the top five for the first time since February after reaching the semi-final at the British Open last month. A former world No2, Serme has the world-class ability to better her semi-final display in 2017.

NOURAN GOHAR (Egypt)
Egyptian prodigy Gohar is one of the most talented players on the circuit and currently holds the world number six spot. A win earlier this year in Maccau will bolster her confidence as he she attempts to reach the semi-finals for a second successive time in the UAE.

LAURA MASSARO (England)
One of the sport’s key figures, world number seven Massaro has won the last two titles in Dubai and shows no signs of slowing down yet. The 33-year-old has buckets of consistency and class, reaching six semi-finals in her last eight tournaments.

SARAH-JANE PERRY (England)
The Birmingham native reached four quarter-finals and one semi-finals during a consistent campaign to date. In her second appearance in Dubai, the 28-year-old will need to be at her immaculate best if she is to overcome El Welily, Massaro or Serme.

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Mohamed ElShorbagy leads the eight stars set to light up the TCO PSA World Series Finals

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World No. 1 Mohamed Elshorbagy is the poster boy for men’s squash and continues to capture the imagination of the millions of fans who follow the sport worldwide.

With another season set to draw to a close in Dubai this week, can the Egyptian continue his tremendous rise or will his dominance be curtailed in the UAE?

Here, we profile the eight players taking part in the TCO PSA World Series Finals which gets underway at Emirates Golf Club on June 5.

MOHAMED ELSHORBAGY (Egypt)
The world champion is the best player in the game at the moment and his general fitness levels, strong game plan and overall shot selection this season should breed further confidence as he seeks back-to-back titles in the UAE.

ALI FARAG (Egypt)
Farag’s supreme intelligence on the court remains an integral factor if he is to claim a third win of the season. Ranked an all-time high at number two, the Harvard graduate is unstoppable when he gets in control. Expect him to challenge Elshorbagy at the latter stages.

NICK MATTHEW (England)
The retiring three-time world champion will make the final appearance of his glittering career after being name as a late addition for the injured world number three Marwan Elshorbagy. At 37, the Sheffield man will bow out as one of the greatest of all time.

MIGUEL ANGEL RODRIGUEZ (Colombia)
The 32-year-old moved up eight places in the rankings to sixth after a thrilling win over world No1 Mohamed Elshorbagy to win the British Open last month. The Bogota native continued his strong form to win in Guatemala two weeks later.

TAREK MOMEN (Egypt)
Regarded as another threat to Elshorbagy’s dominance, world number four Momen will need to stay fit and make better use of his shot selection under pressure if he is to topple his rival. Showed his class to reach the finals of the Canary Wharf Classic and Tournament of Champions this year.

KARIM ABDEL GAWAD (Egypt)
It’s hard to believe the Alexandria man was ranked number one this time last year, but the 26-year-old has struggled with injuries this campaign and has only reached one semi-final since last September. The 2016 world champion will have plenty to prove in Dubai.

GREGORY GAULTIER (France)
The former world number one is still proving his mettle at the age of 35, reaching four semi-finals this season. Although he may have dropped serious form compared to his six tournament wins last year, the Frenchman is sure to be a force in Dubai where he won in 2016.

SIMON RÖSNER (Germany)
The Tournament of Champions winner is enjoying the best season of his career and is the first German player in history to reach the world’s top five. The 30-year-old also reached the final of the Swedish Open where he lost to the in-form Farag.

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