Egyptian pair Nour El Sherbini and Nour El Tayeb will go head-to-head in tonight’s battle for the title of ‘World Champion’ as they get set to compete in the final of the 2018-2019 PSA World Championships presented by the Walter Family, held inside Chicago’s Union Station.
Both players endured five-game thrillers last night to make it through to tonight’s final – at the sport’s first ever $1 million event split equally between the men’s and women’s draw – with El Sherbini fighting off a comeback from France’s World No.4 Camille Serme, while El Tayeb took out defending champion and current World No.1 Raneem El Welily.
For El Sherbini tonight marks her fifth World Championship final at just the age of 23-years-old and the Egyptian is ready to score her hat-trick of titles, having got her hands on the trophy twice before already.
“It’s the biggest tournament and everyone dreams to win it,” said El Sherbini.
“It’s always a dream for me to win a World Championships, so I always try to train hard for it and peak for this week. Being in a fifth final really means a lot to me and I don’t want it to go away from me this time. I would love to win again.”
Meanwhile, this is El Tayeb’s first time in the final of the sport’s biggest event, but she insisted she was not fazed by the prospect.
“It’s been an amazing week,” said El Tayeb. “I have been playing really well and I thought I played even better against Raneem. I’m very happy to be in the final.
“I think I’m relaxed about being in the final, it could be a once in a lifetime opportunity. I’m sure I’m going to have fun, enjoy it and leave it all out there.”
For El Tayeb, she will also have the extra nerves of watching husband Ali Farag take on Tarek Momen in the men’s final, and she admitted it would be a dream come true for the married couple to become World Champions on the same night.
“It obviously means a lot to both of us,” said 25-year-old El Tayeb. “We can’t get too carried away with it. It’s always been our dream to win the World Championships on the same night and what better way to do it than today.
“He knows everything about me, I’ve spoken to him a million times at home about how I’m feeling and now he’s the World No.1 he knows more than anyone else, so I have a lot of trust and faith in him.”
The two Egyptians have faced each other 15 times on Tour previously, with El Sherbini claiming 10 of those, including both times they have faced each other in finals.
“It’s her first World Championships final,” said El Sherbini. “For me I’m just going to try and think of it as another match and just try to play it, relax and focus on the game plan and try to enjoy it more.”
El Tayeb, who knocked out defending champion El Welily last night, believes that that win will give her a lot of confidence going into tonight’s final and how fitting it is to be playing against the player she came up against the World Junior final ten years ago.
“Nour [El Sherbini] and Raneem are at another level to all of us to be honest,” said El Tayeb. “So to get a win over one of them last night gives me massive confidence going into the final.
“Nour’s got the better of me in most of our matches, but I’ve watched our match in ToC like a million times now, so I think I’m ready.
“Nour and I played in the World Junior Final in 2009 and now, ten years later, we’re playing in the women’s World Final. It’s my first and her fifth, so I’m sure it’s going to be an interesting one.”
This year’s World Championships is the first ever to host a $1 million total prize purse, with the total split evenly between the men’s and women’s draws – and both players believe this is a huge step forward for the sport.
“I think it’s really important to raise the bar for our sport and put it in another level,” said former World No.1 El Sherbini.
“We need to let people watch squash and know about it. This tournament shows how the good the sport is and how it deserves to be in this position.”
El Tayeb added: “It’s amazing that squash is getting some better recognition and prize money. Obviously, it’s thanks to the Walter Family for being the first to do it. Whether in a Platinum event or a World Championship one, they have been the first to do it.”
El Sherbini narrowly missed out on her third World Championship title last season, when she lost in the final to compatriot El Welily and she is determined to get her hands back on the title.
“It is really important to me,” said Alexandria-born El Sherbini. “Last World Championships I lost in the final, but I’m again in the final and I hope that I can do it today and do as much as I can to win another World Championships final.”
El Tayeb, meanwhile, is hoping to put her name on the prestigious title for the first time and believes if she were to win it would be a huge step for her.
“It’s means that I’ve done it,” said El Tayeb. “I’ve always had potential, but I’ve never fulfilled it and this title would mean I’m getting close to fulfilling it.”