World No. 1 Mohamed Elshorbagy is the poster boy for squash and continues to capture the imagination of the millions of fans who follow the sport worldwide.
With 21 PSA titles to his name, the 25-year-old’s incredible rise has already seen him compared to legends such as Amr Shabana and eight-time world champion Jansher Khan.
With another season under way, can the Egyptian continue his tremendous rise and win an elusive PSA World Series title or will his dominance finally be curtailed on the Road to Dubai?
Here, Sport360 looks at three players who have the chance to take Elshorbagy’s world No. 1 spot.
GREG GAULTIER (France) – WORLD NO.2
The reigning world champion is still proving his mettle at the age of 33, winning the PSA World Tour Finals in Dubai in May and reaching the final of the China Open last month.
A former world No.1, the Frenchman has been an effervescent presence among the game’s elite and, alongside Elshorbagy, is considered one of the most popular figures on the tour.
Regarded as the main threat to the Egyptian, Gaultier will need to stay fit and make better use of his shot selection under pressure if he is to topple his rival.
In their past seven meetings, Gaultier has only won twice, with three of the defeats going to five sets. The last time they faced off, in August’s China Open final, Elshorbagy won emphatically in straight sets.
NICK MATTHEW (England) – WORLD NO. 4
Another former world No. 1, Matthew has won the two most prestigious titles in squash – the World Open and the British Open – twice apiece.
At 36, time may not be on the Englishman’s side as he tries to claw his way back to the top but his dedication remains unwavering and he still has much to offer.
Against Elshorbagy in the Tournament of Champions in January, he showed real determination to trouble the Egyptian and pushed the match to five sets before losing 11-6 in the decider.
In six of their last eight matches, Matthew has lost, but he did beat Elshorbagy in straight sets at the Windy City Open final in 2015.
RAMY ASHOUR (Egypt) – WORLD NO. 5
Ashour and Elshorbagy’s rivalry is one of the most fiercest on the PSA Tour, with three-time world champion Ashour beating his compatriot in the El Gouna final last year.
Ashour, 28, overcame the No. 1 in five sets, though in their most recent encounter, Elshorbagy defeated Ashour in straight sets to win his second consecutive British Open.
Hampered by a hamstring injury in the first half of 2016, Ashour is starting to look back to full fitness. Last month, he clinched the Hong Kong title after beating fellow Egyptian Karim Abdel Gawad, and although the opposition in the semi-finals and final were not top five players, his fitness levels, strong game plan and overall shot selection should breed confidence.
Ashour’s supreme intelligence on the court remains an integral factor in his battle to gain an upper-hand on Elshorbagy; when the elder Egyptian gets going, he can be unstoppable.
Know more about Sport360 Application