Welcome to ‘Talking Points’ where we take a look back at the biggest moments on the PSA World Tour over the past month.
May saw the stunning PSA Dubai World Series Finals bring the 2015/16 season to an exciting end, as the top eight qualifiers across both the Men’s and Women’s events battled it out for a share of the lucrative $160,000 prize purse – which was equal for the first time in history – while a number of big names were in attendance at the Houston Open, PSA Sporta and HKFC International tournaments.
Gaultier Makes it Three World Series Finals Crowns
World Champion Gregory Gaultier capped his season off in style by lifting the Men’s World Series Finals title in style in the shadow of the iconic Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building.
The ‘French General’, who spent two months on the sidelines after picking up an ankle injury during January’s J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions, was in imperious form in Dubai, and finished top of his group after a trio of wins over Australian No.1 Cameron Pilley, World Championship runner-up Omar Mosaad and Germany’s Simon Rösner.
A devastating display against ‘Colombian Cannonball’ Miguel Angel Rodriguez in the semis then put Gaultier up against Pilley again in the climactic final, as he looked to avenge his Hong Kong Open defeat to the World No.13 five months ago.
The fantastic spectacle saw the charismatic Gaultier take it 3-1 to win his first tournament since his World Championship triumph and he will head into next season as the biggest threat to Mohamed ElShorbagy’s World No.1 berth.
Magnificent Massaro Becomes Women’s World Series Finals Champ
The Women’s event saw World No.2 Laura Massaro become only the second woman ever to win the prestigious World Series Finals after she prevailed in a thrilling five-game final with Egyptian shot-making sensation Raneem El Welily.
Massaro had been a beaten finalist last time the Women’s tournament was played in 2013, but looked in dominant form as she stormed past Malaysia’s Nicol David, who at that point was the only female winner, United States No.1 Amanda Sobhy and Egypt’s Nouran Gohar to maintain a 100 per cent win record heading into the semi-final.
Up next for the Englishwoman was World Champion Nour El Sherbini, who had beaten Massaro to win that title just a month previously. A blistering performance from Massaro saw her down her opponent 2-0 though in the best-of-three semi-final to set up an encounter with El Welily, who had ended David’s title hopes in the last four.
Massaro can now reflect on a season that has seen her establish herself as arguably one of the greatest English players of all time, with two World Series titles and four months as the World No.1 lighting up a successful season for the 32-year-old.
Pilley Powers to Final on Debut World Series Finals Appearance
Cameron Pilley takes on Mohamed ElShorbagy in the semi-final
Pilley may have been a losing finalist, but the rangy 33-year-old played some of his best squash in Dubai – beating World No.1 ElShorbagy en route to the final.
Despite his group stage defeat to Gaultier, Pilley progressed thanks to wins over Mosaad and Rösner and he came up against ElShorbagy in the last four, with the Egyptian establishing himself as the dominant force on the PSA World Tour throughout the season after he won six of seven available World Series titles.
However, Pilley, who only just qualified for the event after finishing eighth on the PSA Road to Dubai Standings, played with a relaxed and calm manner to defeat the in-form Egyptian in one of the biggest upsets in World Series Finals history.
Pilley played exceptionally well in the final, and forced Gaultier to four games, but was ultimately powerless to prevent the sublime Frenchman from taking the crown.
ElShorbagy Brothers Take Top Honours As Egyptians Dominate PSA Awards
Marwan (left) stares down sibling Mohamed (right)
A group consisting of selected influential former players, members of the media, tournament promoters and PSA Board representatives selected Mohamed ElShorbagy as the PSA Men’s Player of the Year award, while his younger brother Marwan picked up the PSA Men’s Young Player of the Year award after a breakthrough season that saw him break into the top ten for the first time and win the Grasshopper Cup and Houston Open.
El Sherbini was named as the PSA Women’s Player of the Year after her triumphs at the Naza PSA Women’s World Championship and Allam British Open, while her fellow Egyptian, Gohar, received the PSA Women’s Young Player of the Year after she reached the final of the British Open.
The winners of all categories are as follows:
Player Of The Year – Men
Winner – Mohamed ElShorbagy
Runner-up – Omar Mosaad
Player Of The Year – Women
Winner – Nour El Sherbini
Runner-up – Laura Massaro
Young Player Of The Year – Male
Winner – Marwan ElShorbagy
Runner-up – Mohamed Abouelghar
Young Player Of The Year – Female
Winner – Nouran Gohar
Runner-up – Amanda Sobhy
Fan’s Player Of The Season – Male
Winner – Ali Farag
Runner-up – Mohamed ElShorbagy
Fan’s Player Of The Season – Female
Winner – Nour El Sherbini
Runner-up – Nouran Gohar
Match Of The Season
Winner – James Willstrop v Mohamed ElShorbagy – 2015 World Champs
Spirit of Squash – Men
Winner – Ali Farag
Runner-up – Ramy Ashour
Spirit of Squash – Female
Winner – Nicol David
Runner-up – Raneem El Welily
Shot of Season
Winner – Ramy Ashour
Runner-up – Cameron Pilley
Golan Claims Maiden PSA M50 Crown in Guatemala
Spain’s greatest ever player Borja Golan lifted his first ever PSA M50 title after battling to victory in the Sporta IX Torneo Internacional PSA Sporta earlier this month in Guatemala.
The World No.14 was seeded second for the tournament, but nearly bowed out in the opening round after flirting with elimination against Mexican qualifier Arturo Salazar. He eventually came through in five games though, and the former World No.5 followed that win up with victories over Egyptian duo Omar Abdel Meguid and Mazen Hesham.
He met Cesar Salazar in the final, who was looking to avenge his brother Arturo’s defeat to Golan. However, the Spaniard was in fine fettle, and completed the win in straight games to lift his biggest and 31st PSA World Tour crown.
Marwan Wraps Up Houston Open Title
Coming less than a month after he claimed his greatest PSA World Tour title at the Grasshopper Cup, Marwan ElShorbagy was once again in the spotlight as he defeated fellow Egyptian Mohamed Abouelghar to lift silverware at the Houston Open.
The 22-year-old eased by experienced Finnish campaigner Olli Tuominen in round one, before overcoming South Africa’s Stephen Coppinger to set up a semi-final clash with compatriot Hesham.
What followed was a dramatic five-game epic that saw both players push each other to the edge physically in a 60-minute clash. ElShorbagy came out on top 11-9 in the fifth to move through to the final, where he would beat Abouelghar to capture the crown.
Adnan and King Triumph in Hong Kong
Malaysia’s Nafiizwan Adnan and New Zealand’s Joelle King lifted their first PSA World Tour titles of 2016 after winning the Men’s and Women’s events, respectively, at the HKFC International.
Adnan went head-to-head with World No.37 Paul Coll in the Men’s final, and put in a sensational performance to stunt Coll’s typically all-action displays as he emerged victorious to end an 11-month title drought.
Meanwhile, King lined up against Indian No.1 Joshna Chinappa and prevailed in an exciting four-game contest.