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Nouran Gohar & Nour El Sherbini

Season Review: Outstanding Performers - Part 1

Another incredible season on the PSA World Tour drew to a close last month with Nour El Sherbini and Mostafa Asal capturing the CIB PSA World Tour Finals titles in Cairo.

We’ll be looking back at all the major events of the 2021/22 season including highlighting the Outstanding Performers from the season.

This is part one of the Outstanding Performers run down as we look at the four players who finished the season in the top two spots in the world rankings.

Ali Farag with the World Championship trophy

World Ranking: #1
2021-22 Honours:
CIB Egyptian Open, Oracle NetSuite Open, Houston Open, Optasia Championships, J.P Morgan Tournament of Championships, CIB PSA World Championships Cairo 2022
Played: 55
Won: 48
Lost: 7
Win Percentage: 87.7%

Ali Farag started the 2021/22 season in terrific form as he captured the opening two events on the World Tour calendar, winning the CIB Egyptian Open in terrific style, coming from two games down to defeat the No.1 seed Mohamed ElShorbagy. He then backed this up with a victory in San Francisco at the Oracle NetSuite Open, beating New Zealand’s Paul Coll in a four-game final.

The Egyptian reclaimed his World No.1 status on September 1st but would go the next three events without winning an event as he lost out in the US Open quarter finals to Joel Makin followed by two final losses to Paul Coll at the Canary Wharf Classic and the CIB Squash Open Black Ball.

Farag opened the new year still as World No.1 and took the Houston Open title in confident style beating compatriot Mazen Hesham in the final. After a disappointing exit in the Windy City Open quarter finals, Farag reached the final of his next four events, winning three of them, including defending his World Championships title. He overcame 2017 World Champion Mohamed ElShorbagy in Cairo to claim his third World title.

Farag reached the semi-finals of his final two events of the season, losing out both times to ‘The Raging Bull’ Mostafa Asal at the El Gouna International and CIB PSA World Tour Finals, Asal went on to win both titles. Despite these defeats, Farag still finished the 2021/22 season as the World No.1.

Nouran Gohar

Nouran Gohar with her J.P Morgan Tournament of Champions trophy

World Ranking: #1
2021-22 Honours: CIB Egyptian Open, US Open, DAC Pro Squash Classic, Cincinnati Gaynor Cup, Windy City Open, CIB Black Ball Open, J.P Morgan Tournament of Champions
Played: 57
Won: 51
Lost: 6
Win Percentage: 89.5%

The ‘Terminator’ Nouran Gohar produced the best season of her career in the 2021/22 season, reaching 11 World Tour finals and winning seven events, making her the joint highest title winner of the season.

Gohar captured the opening Platinum event of the new season in impressive fashion, beating World Champion and World No.1 Nour El Sherbini 12-10 in the fifth game to win the title. She would then capture the second Platinum event of the season in Philadelphia at the US Open. The 24-year-old only dropped one game throughout the entire tournament, in the final to Hania El Hammamy.

Gohar’s 2022 saw her impressively reach the final in every event that she played. She couldn’t have had a better start to the new year and went on a 17-match unbeaten streak picking up the Cincinnati Gaynor Cup, Windy City Open and the CIB Black Ball Open in the process and only dropped three games across all three events.

The unbeaten run came to an end in the Allam British Open final where she lost out to compatriot Hania El Hammamy in four games. It was only the second time that El Hammamy had beaten Gohar in ten attempts and despite the loss, Gohar still became the World No.1 in the April rankings.

After taking the J.P Morgan Tournament of Champions title in strong style, the new World No.1 wouldn’t win another title in the season. She lost out to Nour El Sherbini in both the CIB PSA World Championships final and the CIB PSA World Tour Finals final as well as Hania El Hammamy in the El Gouna International final who scored a second successive win over Gohar.

Paul Coll

Paul Coll in action

World Ranking: #2
2021-22 Honours:
Canary Wharf Classic 2021, CIB Squash Open Black Ball, Windy City Open, Allam British Open
Played: 59
Won: 49
Lost: 10
Win Percentage: 83%

New Zealand’s Paul Coll came into the new season full of confidence after picking up his first British Open title in August, he started the season with two losses to Ali Farag in the semi-final of the CIB Egyptian Open and the final of the Oracle NetSuite Open.

After quarter final and runner-up finishes at the US Open and Qatar Classic, Coll claimed his first event win of the season at the Canary Wharf Classic, beating World No.1 Ali Farag in the final 3-1. He then made it back-to-back titles with a win at the CIB Squash Open Black Ball 2021, becoming the first non-Egyptian player to win a World Tour event in Egypt since Gregory Gaultier in 2017.

The New Zealand No.1 started 2022 with a semi-final loss to Diego Elias at the Motor City Open but bounced back in impressive style at the Windy City Open, claiming his first Platinum event of the season. Coll beat fellow top 10 players Joel Makin and Tarek Momen en route to the final where he recovered from a two-game deficit to beat in-form Youssef Ibrahim.

The biggest moment of Coll’s career to date came in March 2022 as the Kiwi moved ahead of Ali Farag to become the new World No.1 and after a disappointing match against Victor Crouin in the GillenMarkets Canary Wharf Classic, Coll moved onto Hull and successfully retained his British Open title without dropping a single game, beating Mostafa Asal and Ali Farag in the semi-finals and final.

The biggest tournament of the season was next on the calendar for the new World No.1 as he descended to Cairo for the CIB PSA World Championships as the No.1 seed. Coll overcame a brutal two-hour match in the quarter finals against Tarek Momen but fell to Mohamed ElShorbagy in the last four 3-2.

Coll would eventually finish the long season as World No.2 as he lost out in two more finals in June, both to Mostafa Asal at the El Gouna International and the CIB PSA World Tour Finals.

Nour El Sherbini

Nour El Sherbini

World Ranking: #2
2021-22 Honours: CIB Squash Open Black Ball 2021, Squash on Fire Open 2022, CIB PSA World Championships Cairo 2022, CIB World Tour Finals 2021/22
Played: 41
Won: 36
Lost: 5
Win Percentage: 87%

In a season plagued by injury, five-time World Champion Nour El Sherbini still managed to claim four World Tour titles throughout the season. Her first title would have to wait until December as she took the CIB Squash Open Black Ball 2021 beating Nour El Tayeb, Georgina Kennedy and Hania El Hammamy to lift the trophy.

El Sherbini’s next win would come in her following event, the Squash on Fire Open 2022 in Washington. The still World No.1 was not at her best throughout the event and struggled to find top form, but managed to produce a spirited performance to defeat New Zealand’s Joelle King in a four-game battle.

The 26-year-old was still struggling with her form and looked to be managing an injury in her next two events, the Windy City Open and the CIB Black Ball Open 2022. However, the ‘Warrior Princess’ still managed to reach the semi-final and final respectively.

With injury woes seemingly behind her, Nour El Sherbini closed the season out in top form. She produced amazing squash to claim her sixth World Championship title in Cairo, beating in-form World No.1 Nouran Gohar in the final and then repeated that win in the final of the CIB PSA World Tour Finals but in a more convincing way, winning 3-0.

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