Welcome to ‘Talking Points’ where we relive the biggest moments on the PSA World Tour over the past month.
April hosted the biggest event on the Women’s Tour – the Orascom Development PSA Women’s World Championship – which was held alongside the Men’s El Gouna International Squash Open on the banks of Egypt’s Red Sea.
El Sherbini Becomes Double World Champion on Home Soil
Nour El Sherbini with the World Championship trophy
World No.1 Nour El Sherbini lifted her second World Championship crown at the age of just 21 years to send the home fans into raptures after she prevailed in an all-Egyptian final with World No.2 Raneem El Welily.
Just 12 months after becoming the first female Egyptian ever to win the iconic tournament – overtaking the legendary Susan Devoy as the youngest victor of all time – El Sherbini played with ruthless determination throughout the event to claim her first major title since her maiden World Championship triumph.
Wins over Samantha Cornett, Tesni Evans, Sarah-Jane Perry and World Junior Champion Nouran Gohar saw El Sherbini pitted against El Welily in the final, with El Welily squandering four match balls against eight-time winner Nicol David the last time the World Championship was held in Egypt in 2014.
El Sherbini hit her targets well and refused to allow El Welily to gain a foothold in the match, taking it in straight games to earn her place in the squash annals.
Gawad Tops World Rankings for First Time
Karim Abdel Gawad
Karim Abdel Gawad ensured that Egypt would hold both the Men’s and Women’s World Championship titles and the World No.1 spot across both genders after he became the fifth Egyptian of all time to top the Men’s World Rankings.
Gawad, 25, capitalised on a strong start to his season that saw him win the PSA Men’s World Championship, Qatar Classic and the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions before the end of January, in addition to capturing the Al Ahram Open crown in front of the stunning Great Pyramid of Giza.
A runner-up finish at February’s Swedish Open brought his run to an end and he missed out on chances to take top spot at both the Windy City Open and British Open after disappointing defeats to Borja Golan and Mohamed Abouelghar, respectively.
But the ‘Baby-Faced Assassin’ battled through to the final of the El Gouna International and, despite losing out to a rampant Gregory Gaultier, his runner-up finish was enough to see him overtake the Frenchman at the top of the World Rankings to claim the World No.1 spot for the first time in his career.
French General Gaultier Makes it Four in a Row
Gregory Gaultier with the 2017 El Gouna International trophy
Gaultier may have lost his World No.1 ranking to Gawad, but he blew the Egyptian away in the final as he romped to a fourth successive PSA World Tour title.
The 34-year-old, who last month became the oldest World No.1 of all time, looks to be getting better and better despite his increasing years and his unbeaten run now stretches to 19 matches – the longest streak of his career.
Consecutive title wins at the Swedish Open, Windy City Open, British Open and El Gouna International have left his challengers trailing in his wake as the ‘French General’ – alongside 36-year-old British Open finalist Nick Matthew – continues to tear up the rulebook.
Gaultier’s sole defeat in 2017 came at the hands of Gawad in the final of January’s Tournament of Champions and he will look to continue his superb form at the Grasshopper Cup, which sees him begin his tournament against England’s Daryl Selby today (May 4).
World Series Finals Line-Ups Confirmed
The PSA Road to Dubai Standings
El Sherbini, El Welily, Gawad and Gaultier have all sealed their places in the lucrative season-ending PSA Dubai World Series Finals, which will feature the top eight players on both the Men’s and Women’s PSA Road to Dubai Standings.
El Sherbini and El Welily finished second and fourth, respectively, on the Women’s Standings, with France’s Camille Serme finishing top and British Open winner Laura Massaro coming in third.
Hong Kong Open champion Nouran Gohar, eight-time World Champion Nicol David, British Open runner-up Sarah-Jane Perry and United States No.1 Amanda Sobhy completed the top eight.
However, a ruptured achilles for Sobhy – sustained during March’s Ciudad de Floridablanca – will see her miss out on the showpiece tournament, with ninth place Alison Waters taking her place in Dubai.
Gawad finished narrowly ahead of Gaultier to sit at the top of the Men’s Standings, with the ElShorbagy brothers, Mohamed and Marwan, finishing in third and fourth.
36-year-old Nick Matthew, who reached the British Open final in May, finished in fifth, with former World No.1 James Willstrop, German No.1 Simon Rösner and the enigmatic Ramy Ashour finalising the top eight.
ElSherbini’s Make PSA Player of the Month Award a Family Affair
Mohamed El Sherbini
While Nour El Sherbini’s World Championship victory saw her named the PSA Women’s Player of the Month for April, her cousin, World No.130 Mohamed, kept the Men’s award in the family after a stunning month in which he picked up three Tour titles on the bounce.
Despite making his Tour debut back in 2013, Mohamed had only ever appeared in the main draw on one occasion but, on his second ever main draw appearance, he fought all the way to the final of the Assore & Balwin Parkview Open, ultimately beating Indian qualifier Velavan Senthilkumar in the final to lift his maiden Tour title.
Senthilkumar was also his final opponent in the West Rand Open a week later, with the Egyptian prevailing once more to double his title tally, despite beginning the tournament in the qualification stages.
The Keith Granger Memorial UCT Open Squash Championships saw El Sherbini begin the event as a qualifier again, but he upset the seedings with a series of impressive displays, resulting in a final victory over third seed Tristan Eysele to capture his third Tour title in succession.
PSA SQUASHTV Reaches 50 Million Views on YouTube
PSA SQUASHTV, the official online television channel of the Professional Squash Association (PSA), passed the 50 million views mark on YouTube during April – representing a 100 per cent increase over the past 24 months.
The channel – created on July 18, 2011 – showcases professional squash at its highest level and offers fans the opportunity to enjoy match highlights, event previews, event roundups and interviews with the stars of the PSA World Tour.
The channel averages 1.3M views per month and has over 65,000 subscribers. The growth of the PSA's YouTube presence – part of a 65% increase year-on-year across the PSA’s social media channels – has played a significant role in exposing squash to new audiences around the world and looks set for further growth throughout 2017.
Fans can subscribe to the PSA SQUASHTV YouTube channel here for unparalleled access to the world’s top players.
Check out the latest edition of SquashXtra
SQUASHTV lead commentator Joey Barrington takes us through the all the biggest news and action from April on the PSA World Tour – and the winner of our Road 2 Dubai competition is announced.
- The PSA World Tour's biggest-ever season is showing more than 450 live games on SQUASHTV.
FIND OUT MORE