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Raneem El Welily

2018-19 Season Review: Outstanding Performers - Part One

Another incredible season on the PSA World Tour drew to a close at the weekend as Karim Abdel Gawad and Raneem El Welily took the honours at the season-ending CIB PSA World Tour Finals.

We’ll be reviewing all of the major talking points from the past 10 months of world class squash action over the next few weeks, starting with some of the season’s most outstanding performers.

This part of our season review sees us look at the players who showcased their exceptional ability over the last 10 months.

Ali Farag

World Ranking: #1
2018-19 Honours:
Oracle NetSuite Open
Qatar Classic
J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions
2018-2019 PSA World Championships presented by the Walter Family
DPD Open
El Gouna International Squash Open
Played: 57
Won: 50
Lost: 7
Win Percentage: 87.7%

World No.1 Ali Farag had his best season on the PSA World Tour, as he became the World Champion and took the No.1 spot in the rankings over the course of 2018-2019.

The Egyptian sealed six PSA World Tour titles, including four Platinum events, and only failed to reach the final of two events – the U.S. Open and the Grasshopper Cup.

The 27-year-old kicked off his season with a victory at the Oracle NetSuite Open in San Francisco, as he defeated reigning Champion Mohamed ElShorbagy in the final.

However, he was unable to follow that form up at the U.S. Open, as he lost out to Simon Rösner in the semi finals. A week later, and he missed out on the Channel VAS Championships title, with Tarek Momen taking the victory in a final that lasted nearly 90 minutes.

Farag then went on to make the final of his next five events, starting with a victory at the Qatar Classic in November. The Egyptian defeated Rösner in the final to win his first Platinum title of the season.

Before the end of the year, Farag then made it to the final of both the Hong Kong Open and Black Ball Open, but missed out after losses to Mohamed ElShorbagy and Karim Abdel Gawad, respectively.

2019 started brilliantly for the Egyptian, as he came through a tricky draw to win the Tournament of Champions, beating James Willstrop, Daryl Selby, Paul Coll and Tarek Momen, before eventually defeating ElShorbagy in the final.

He then became World No.1 on March 1st, before winning his maiden World Championship crown a day later. He defeated Tarek Momen in a 79-minute thriller to lift the biggest title in the sport.

However, that major high was followed by a low at the Grasshopper Cup, as he lost in the quarter finals to compatriot Mohamed Abouleghar, his first defeat as World No.1.

Farag then took the title at the inaugural DPD Open in the Netherlands, before winning the El Gouna International, his fourth Platinum title of the season.

He made it through to the final of the British Open, but was unable to claim his first title in Hull, as Mohamed ElShorbagy defeated him in the final for his third crown. Farag then lost in the group stage of the World Tour Finals with Mohamed Abouelghar and Karim Abdel Gawad both qualifying to the semi-finals.

Raneem El Welily

World Ranking: #1
2018-19 Honours:
J.P. Morgan China Squash Open
FS Investments U.S. Open Squash Championships
CIB Black Ball Squash Open
DPD Open
El Gouna International Squash Open
CIB PSA World Tour Finals
Played: 49
Won: 44
Lost: 5
Win Percentage: 89.8%

Like Farag, Raneem El Welily had a wonderful season, as she became World No.1 for the second time in her career, along with winning several titles.

‘The Enigma’ lifted five trophies over the course of the 2018-2019 campaign, with two of those being Platinum events, whilst only failing to reach the final of two tournaments.

Welily started the season in the perfect manner, as she defeated France’s Camille Serme to win the China Open. She followed that up with another strong performance in San Francisco, but lost out to reigning champ Sarah-Jane Perry in the final.

Her first Platinum title came in October, when she defeated then-World No.1 Nour El Sherbini to win the U.S. Open in Philadelphia. That was followed by another final appearance in Hong Kong.

Although the Egyptian lost out to Joelle King in the final, Welily had done enough to reclaim the World No.1 spot for the December 2018 rankings, a position she has kept hold of.

She started 2019 strongly, reaching the final of the Tournament of Champions, but Nour El Sherbini was too strong in the final. A month later, Welily missed out on the final of the World Championships, after losing to Nour El Tayeb in the last four.

However, the now-World No.1 took no prisoners for the next two months, as she won her next three tournaments, starting with victory over Nour El Sherbini in the final of the Black Ball Open.

That was followed up with another win over the ‘Warrior Princess’ in the final of the DPD Open, before she downed Nouran Gohar to win the El Gouna International, an event where she had to beat Nicol David, Joelle King and a resurgent Amanda Sobhy just to reach the final.

The British Open was a low point in her season, as Welily could only manage a quarter final appearance in Hull, losing out to the eventual champion, Nouran Gohar.

However, she finished the 2018-2019 camping on a high, taking victory at the World Tour Finals in Cairo, ending the season as she started, defeating Camille Serme in the final.

Mohamed ElShorbagy

World Ranking: #2
2018-19 Honours:
FS Investments U.S. Open Squash Championships
Everbright Sun Hung Kai Hong Kong Squash Open
Grasshopper Cup
Allam British Open
Played: 54
Won: 44
Lost: 10
Win Percentage: 81.5%

Although he was unable to live up to the incredible standards of 2017-2018, Mohamed ElShorbagy still had a very good campaign this time round. ‘The Beast’ won four titles, including three Platinum events.

He started his season in San Francisco, but lost out in the final to Ali Farag. He quickly forgot about that, though, taking victory at the U.S. Open, defeating Germany’s Simon Rösner in the finale.

He only made one more final before the turn of the year, suffering premature exits at the Channel VAS Championships, Qatar Classic and Black Ball Open. His success came in Hong Kong, where he defeated Farag in the final.

2019 started slowly, as he only made the final in one of his first three events. He lost out to Farag, once more, in the final of the Tournament of Champions, before falling in the last four of both the World Championships and Canary Wharf Classic.

ElShorbagy returned to winning form in Switzerland, as he got revenge on the man who had knocked him out of the last two events, compatriot Tarek Momen, beating the World No.3 in the final to win the Grasshopper Cup.

‘The Beast’ rounded out the season with victory at the British Open, as he claimed his third crown in Hull, before missing out on a third successive World Tour Finals title, losing out to Karim Abdel Gawad in the semi finals.

Nour El Sherbini

World Ranking: #2
2018-19 Honours:
J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions
2018-2019 PSA World Championships presented by the Walter Family
Played: 39
Won: 30
Lost: 9
Win Percentage: 76.9%

Nour El Sherbini’s 2018-2019 season did not live up to her 2017-2018 campaign, but the ‘Warrior Princess’ still won the biggest title on the calendar.

The then-World No.1 took a while to get warmed up, as she was unable to win a tournament before the turn of the year. She made the final of the U.S. Open, but was beaten to the title by Raneem El Welily.

The start of 2019 could not have been better for the Egyptian, as she won the first event of the year, the Tournament of Champions. She avenged her defeat to Welily, by beating her 3-0 to claim the title in New York.

Sherbini then became the youngest player to ever win three World Championship crowns, when she won the biggest event of them all in Chicago in March after beating Nour El Tayeb 3-1 in the final.

However, she wasn't quite able to keep that winning run going, as she lost out in the final of her next two events to Welily, in epic five game battles at both the Black Ball Open and DPD Open.

Sherbini could then only manage a last eight finish in both the El Gouna International and British Open, as she struggled to find form towards the end of the campaign.

Tarek Momen

World Ranking: #3
2018-19 Honours:
Channel VAS Championships at St George’s Hill
CCI International
Played: 51
Won: 39
Lost: 12
Win Percentage: 76.5%

Tarek Momen put together another decent season over the course of the 2018-2019 campaign, as he consolidated his place as one of the world’s best, moving up to No.3 in the rankings.

His season started slowly, as he was unable to make it past the quarter finals of his first two tournaments, the Oracle NetSuite Open and the U.S. Open.

However, he fought back to win the Channel VAS Championships, defeating compatriot Ali Farag in a classic final to claim his first title in four years. From there, Momen put together one of the best runs of his career as he reached semi-finals or better at every tournament until the end of the season

The last four was where he ended up in his next three events, losing out to Farag, Mohamed ElShorbagy and Karim Abdel Gawad at the Qatar Classic, Hong Kong Open and Black Ball Open, respectively.

Momen started 2019 with a bang, winning the CCI International in Kolkata, beating Egyptian counterpart Fares Dessouky in a five-game final that lasted 80 minutes.

He made the final of three straight events in 2019, but lost out in the World Championships, Canary Wharf Classic and Grasshopper Cup to Farag, Paul Coll and ElShorbagy, respectively.

Momen’s season ended with a semi final finish at the World Tour Finals, where he lost out to compatriot Mohamed Abouelghar in Cairo.

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