Welcome to ‘Talking Points’ where we take a look back at the biggest moments on the PSA World Tour over the past month.
November saw the 2015 PSA Men’s World Championship take place with some stunning upsets, heroic performances and the return of a former World No.1 to the world’s biggest stage all encapsulated in a stunning week of action. With the second PSA World Series event of the season, the Qatar Classic, also playing out, November was certainly a month to remember.
Gaultier Ends World Championship Heartbreak
Frenchman Gregory Gaultier ended years of World Championship final heartbreak by finally lifting the sport’s most prestigious title at the fifth time of asking – resulting in emotional scenes in Bellevue, Washington.
Gaultier had previously been 2-0 up and held five match balls in the World Championship final in 2006 but ended up losing to Australia’s David Palmer – a defeat that resonated for a long time as he went on to miss out in three further finals.
There was to be no repeat this time though as, in the first World Championship to be held in the United States, he displayed great consistency throughout the event, moving through to the quarter-final without even dropping a game.
After seeing off Ali Farag in a hard-fought five-game-thriller, he moved on to dispatch James Willstrop in three before repeating the feat against Egypt’s Omar Mosaad in the final – a victory that also saw the 32-year-old usurp Mohamed Elshorbagy to take top spot in the World Rankings for the fourth time.
Willstrop Proves that Form is Temporary, Class is Permanent
After an injury-stricken two years on the PSA World Tour which saw him drop out of the world’s top 20 for the first time since 2003, few would have expected former World No.1 James Willstrop to cause one of the biggest upsets in World Championship history.
However, ‘The Marksman’ turned back the clock superbly – eliciting memories of when he spent 11 months at the summit of the World Rankings in 2012 – to dump out then-World No.1 Mohamed Elshorbagy in the pair’s third round encounter in a display that typified the unparalleled precision and stunning court craft that has embodied the Yorkshireman’s sparkling career.
After seeing off Miguel Angel Rodriguez in the next round, Willstrop’s tournament eventually ended at the hands of eventual winner Gaultier at the semi-final stage but it did nothing to diminish the feeling that Willstrop was back on the biggest stage.
Ramy Sidelined by Injury Again
Defending Champion Ramy Ashour’s tournament however didn’t end the way he would have liked after the hamstring injuries that have dogged his career reared their head yet again.
‘The Artist’, who limped out of his last tournament at the Delaware Investments US Open, a month previously, looked to be a good bet to retain his title after soaring past compatriots Mazen Hesham, Mohamed Abouelghar and Karim Abdel Gawad to reach the last eight.
A gruelling encounter with the hard-hitting Omar Mosaad took its toll on the Egyptian through who, despite battling on bravely to the end, lost his ability to move effectively due to another hamstring problem, a problem which saw him ruled out of the ongoing Cathay Pacific Sun Hung Kai Financial Hong Kong Open.
Massaro Eyes PSA World Series Hat-Trick
Laura Massaro’s stunning start to the 2015/16 season continued with her success at the Qatar Classic propelling her up to 2nd in the Women’s World Rankings – with only a narrow gap separating her and World No.1 Raneem El Welily.
The Englishwoman made it back-to-back PSA World Series triumphs after her US Open win the previous month by storming to the final where she met Nour El Sherbini, the Egyptian who beat Nicol David the day before.
After a tough five-game battle, Massaro eventually took the victory, resulting in her now familiar fist pump. The 32-year-old is eyeing up a third successive PSA World Series title in Hong Kong.
El Welily Struggles as David Improves
Raneem El Welily’s attempts to recover from an early exit at the US Open went awry after she bowed out in a shock first round defeat to Joshna Chinappa at the Qatar Classic.
The Egyptian was out-of-sorts throughout the match and her poor form has seen her position at the summit of the Women’s World Rankings come under attack from Massaro.
Nicol David may have dropped down to third in the World Rankings but she showed a return to form at the Qatar Classic as she narrowly missed out on a place in the final.
The Malaysian superstar eased into the last four without losing a game but was defeated by a dogged Nour El Sherbini to stop her from reaching the showpiece event. Her semi-final finish brings an end to a run which saw her lose to successive quarter-finals and she will targeting an incredible 10th consecutive Hong Kong Open crown.
Mixed Month for Mo
The month of November for Mohamed Elshorbagy was certainly a mixed bag. After retaining his Qatar Classic title with a defeat of Gregory Gaultier in the final, he suffered a shock loss to James Willstrop in round three – the first time he has been unable to make it past that stage since 2011.
His surprise exit, coupled with Gaultier’s World Championship triumph, meant that the Egyptian fell to World No.2 for the first time in over a year.
Elshorbagy is currently taking part in the Hong Kong Open as he bids to return to the top of the World Rankings.
Duncalf Ends Title Drought in Monte Carlo
England’s Jenny Duncalf ended a five-year wait for a 10th PSA World Tour title after beating compatriot Sarah-Jane Perry to the Monte Carlo Classic crown.
Dutch-born Duncalf had dropped out of the world’s top 20 in the November World Rankings but looked to be back to some of her best form as she defeated top seed Perry in the final.