The 2015/16 season will go down in history as one of the most exciting and enthralling seasons in the history of the PSA World Tour, with a series of stunning tournaments and thrilling matches lighting up courts around the globe.
For the next few weeks, our Throwback Thursday pieces are going to look at some of the finest matches of the season as the world’s best players went toe-to-toe in some spectacular, action-packed encounters.
The PSA Men’s World Championship in November of last year embodied the unpredictable and high-octane action that has become par for the course on the PSA World Tour – and few matches came as close to displaying those traits as accurately as the third round fixture between former World No.1 James Willstrop and the current incumbent of that distinction, Mohamed ElShorbagy.
Coming into the tournament, all eyes were on Egypt’s ElShorbagy to see if he could improve on his 2012 and 2014 runner-up finishes at the sport’s biggest tournament, while Willstrop, who the month before had fallen out of the world’s top 20 for the first time in nearly 12 years, was merely happy to be competing after struggling with an almost career-ending hip injury for over a year.
Willstrop, the current England No.2, opened up his tournament with a comfortable win over compatriot Ben Coleman, before showing plenty of flair to dispatch training partner and close friend Saurav Ghosal in the second round.
Meanwhile, ElShorbagy, who won the Qatar Classic at the start of the month, looked to be in imperious form and eased by Mexico’s Alfredo Avila and England’s Tom Richards without breaking a sweat to set up a third round clash with Willstrop, against whom he hadn’t lost to in almost two years.
But on the biggest stage of all, the Englishman rolled back the years to show why he has garnered the nickname ‘The Marksman’ over his illustrious career as he produced a virtuoso performance to dominate ElShorbagy from the off.
Playing with pinpoint accuracy and unparalleled control, the 32-year-old commanded the court, dropping and driving with precision to nullify his opponent’s ferocious power and pace to take the opening two games.
A nervy third game saw ElShorbagy come back in a nail-biting tie-break to leave many in the crowd and watching at home on SQUASHTV feeling that Willstrop may be running out of steam. However, the Yorkshireman maintained his immaculate play to halt any notion of an ElShorbagy comeback, and saw the fourth game out to clinch what will go down as one of the biggest shocks in World Championship history.
Watch the highlights of the duo’s epic clash below
Next week, we’ll be looking at another stunner from the past nine months. If you can’t wait that long, head over to SQUASHTV where you can watch more of the best matches from the 2015/16 season – including the World Championship quarter-final meeting between Gregory Gaultier and Ali Farag.