World No.1 Mohamed ElShorbagy put his name on the Delaware Investments U.S. Open trophy for the second time in his career – adding the 2016 title to his 2014 triumph – after injury once again brought a potentially epic encounter with Nick Matthew to a premature end as the 36-year-old Englishman was forced to retire in the fifth game of their title decider inside Philadelphia’s Drexel University.
It marked the third time that Matthew has been forced to retire during major encounters with ElShorbagy inside the past 18 months – with injury also thwarting the Yorkshireman during the 2015 El Gouna International and 2016 Windy City Open – bringing to an end what, for 50 minutes, was shaping up to be one of the best matches of the season.
After coming through a gruelling five-game semi-final it was Matthew who started brighter and managed to control the play to open up a 2-0 lead after two punishing games but a hamstring injury suffered during a lengthy exchange in the first game came back to bite as the Wolf began to break down, resulting with a handshake midway through the fifth game.
“I have great memories here, two years when I won it got me to the top of the rankings and whenever I’m back I just feel really happy to be here,” said ElShorbagy.
“It gives me a lot of confidence and I’m really happy that I’ve found my best squash this week. It’s been a while since I played the way I love to play and I’m really happy I’ve got it back again.
“I grew up watching Nick playing and he comes from a golden generation. For me, he’s the greatest out of all of them. He’s raised the bar for everyone and I’ve watched that and learned from that, and every time I was coming close to that bar, he would push it even further.
“He’s the greatest champion I’ve ever seen in my life, the greatest athlete I’ve ever seen in my life and the amount I have learned from him is unbelievable.”
After the match Matthew said: “This week was about more than squash for me.
“I haven’t won the tournament but I’ve won my squash back – on and off court I’ve found a method to enjoy the game again and play with a smile on my face.
“Ultimately my body just let me down at the end. My mind was in the game and I was enjoying it. I love being on this stage and I was a winner this week regardless of tonight.”