Exclusive interview by RJ Mitchell.
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Fares Dessouky has admitted that his return to the top 20 in the PSA World Rankings and recognition as PSA Player of the month for April have provided the confirmation that he has put his injury nightmare behind him.
The 24 year-old had to undergo two surgeries for a torn ACL in his right knee at the end of 2017 and feared he may never regain his status as top ten star and one of the most exciting emerging talents in squash.
But a wildcard into the El Gouna International last month allowed the Egyptian ace to claim a first ever victory over former World No.1 Mohamed El Shorbagy as he reprised his 2016 and 2017 semi-final runs in his home country.
Now fearless Dessouky has also revealed his 'PSA Player of the Month' accolade came as a huge surprise.
“I am delighted to have been awarded the PSA Player of the Month award for April and it has been a very pleasant surprise as I was sure Ali [Farag] would get it,” admitted Dessouky.
“Actually I was in the gym working out when I saw the post and I just thought wow! Obviously I had a really good run at the El Gouna to make the semis but like I say I just thought Ali would get it, as he won the El Gouna and is World No.1, so it was just real sweet and a great boost going forward for the remainder of the season.
“You know it has been a long way back from my knee injury and when you have had to fight your way back like I have from two surgeries, awards like the PSA Player of the Month plus also getting back in the top 20 of the PSA rankings, that all takes on an extra meaning. But now I must focus on the remainder of the campaign and finishing as strongly as I can.”
Ultimately the former World No.8's hopes of completing his fairytale return to the big time were ended by a 3-1 defeat at the hands of World No.4 Karim Abdel Gawad but now a fired-up Dessouky says El Gouna is just the start of his march back to the top of the rankings.
“Making the semis of the El Gouna International was really big for me as I have had maybe my best results in that tournament.
“Back in 2016 I made the semis and lost to [Gregory] Gaultier and in 2017 I lost in five sets at the same stage to Karim [Abdel Gawad] so it was nice to be back in the mix again, especially as I was a wildcard for the tournament.
“Obviously to get to the semis I had to beat Mohamed [ElShorbagy] and with that being the first time I had beaten him it was a special win. For sure, he is such a tough guy to get the better of and the fact that we both come from Alexandria always gives our games an extra edge.
“Was beating 'The Beast' my best win on the PSA Tour? Well it was right up there but like I say El Gouna is gone and now I am back in the top 20, my next focus is to return to the top 10.”
Next up for Dessouky is the PSA World Tour Bronze Tournament Wimbledon Club Squash Squared Open which carries its largest ever prize fund of $50,000.
There the Egyptian ace will face Pakistan's Asim Khan with a potential meeting in the last 16 against top seed Marwan ElShorbagy.
“There is definitely more to come from me. I know I can and will get better. A big part of that is getting more matches under my belt and getting sharper on court to back up the work I am doing away from it.
“I take a lot of confidence from beating Miguel Rodriguez and Mohamed at El Gouna and I am really looking forward to the Wimbledon Squared, it is a very important tournament for me to build on El Gouna.
“Asim Khan will not be easy as he has made a big climb in the World Rankings of over 40 places this season to get to 82. Also he is a young, hungry guy and he has the confidence behind him of winning tournaments this season and will provide a test I need.
“A match against Marwan in the last-16 is something I'd love so I have so much motivation. There is no doubt that confidence is built by winning and the better I can do at Wimbledon the more I will be ready for the British Open.”