The 2021/2022 season was a challenging one for Egypt's Nour El Sherbini. Despite the lows of a campaign troubled by injury and the loss of the World No.1 ranking, 'the Warrior Princess' found form to prove any doubters wrong and claim her sixth World Championship title as well as the season-ending World Tour Finals.
We caught up with El Sherbini to hear her thoughts on the 2021/22 season and her aspirations for the upcoming campaign.
Well, I'm definitely I'm not very happy with the last half of the season. I think we've been playing with two merged seasons in two years.
The first season after COVID, I think it was better for me. I won almost all of the Platinum events and starting from the end of August, or after the British open, I think things got not very good for me.
I wasn't very happy with the way I was playing, or with my performance, with my results. So yeah, but I'm still so grateful that I could end the season winning the World Championship, which is the most important event for me, and I wait for it every season. This is the main goal for me starting a new season, just to stay on the World No.1 spot and win the World Championship, so I did half of the job!
I try to learn and reset for the next season. But I look at the results, like all of the women in any Platinum event, so I'm not happy. Maybe I had some injuries but I tried to cope with it and try to be ready and play. I played all the events, I only skipped the British Open. Not winning a Platinum event for six months is something I have to put it in consideration and see what's wrong and what was happening.
So, that's why I'm saying that I wasn't happy with ending the season like this.
You always have your ups and downs. And, you know, I think this phase makes you learn and try to improve and try to see what's wrong and to be motivated and to see or to solve the problem with what was happening.
I think, maybe because we've been playing for too long now, almost two seasons, that was one of the reasons that at the end, I wasn't performing the way I want to perform.
[I'm pleased to] have this summer break; getting back to normality and to get back to doing the routine you used to have. It's sometimes good to have a stop and see. Just to look back to what was happening and to try to train to have time to train and change some things.
So yeah, I think I need this break, I need this stop and, and just to finish and draw a line and get over the last season and try to think and work for the next season.
Nour El Sherbini celebrates her World Tour Finals win
I want to play and I'm hungry, I want to be more motivated. I want to win. I don't want to lose any tournament. That's why I am playing. So, if one day I don't have this feeling, I think I'm not going to be playing squash anymore.
I still want to play and I want to achieve more. I want to win more tournaments. I want to see what's going to happen in the next few years. I still want to keep going.
I definitely have targets, but now everyone who sees me talks about Nicol David's record and 'I'm already at six World Championships and there are only the two left,' but it's never that easy and I'm never gonna look at it like this. I definitely wish I could do this. And I wish I can keep playing to win two more World Championships or even more if I can, but everyone's talking about me like 'okay, they only have two left,' but it's not like this. It's not easy and every year and every tournament is different than the one before.
I don't know next year what's going to happen, or how I'm going to be playing. So I always say that I take it step by step and I just wait for the tournament and see what's going to happen. I don't want to put a lot of things on my mind. I just want to play squash and enjoy it and just to be relaxed.
I try to put in my mind that I want to win the tournament, not to reach the seventh or the eighth World Championship, I just want to win this tournament.
Definitely, before any season, I try to set my goals and see what I want to do. I've never won the U.S. Open, so that's one of the goals I always set every year, so hopefully this season it's going to happen.
I have more targets than the World Championships. Now, I want to get back to the World No.1 and to get back the Platinum events I lost.
So, there's a lot more targets I want to reach. The World Championship is definitely the most important, but I have more goals besides the World Championships.
It's good that the challenge is harder now. Throughout the season, all the top 10 has changed their game. They improved a lot, they worked a lot and you can see the improvement in their games. Joelle [King] and Amanda [Sobhy], they aren't the same as they were two seasons ago. Also, Nouran [Gohar] and Hania [ElHammamy], if you watch the matches back, I think all of us changed a lot and I think we've been working more on watching the game and trying to change things.
It's really challenging and it's hard to see the matches getting harder. It's not easy and you never have an easy first round now.
I think, especially the top five, they changed a lot and it's good for the game and it's good to see different players, different styles, different plans, and I tried to do the same as well.
It's really exciting. For me, it gives me motivation to keep wanting to improve or wanting to change. I'm not a person that like a lot of changes. I love to stick to a routine and be very systematic. So that gives me motivation to want to see what I want to change, what was wrong, what I can improve, what I want to learn from this tournament, this match, so it motivates me, actually.
It's a nice challenge. It's not a challenge that I'm scared of. I like this challenge and trying to change yourself is something good.