Egypt is the undisputed powerhouse nation in squash at present, with four of the top 10 spots in the PSA Women’s World Rankings and five of the top 10 places in the PSA Men’s World Rankings comprising of players from the country.
Add to that the fact that both World Champions and World No.1s are Egyptian and all but one of the PSA Platinum titles ended ip in Egyptian hands last season, everything points to another season of Egyptian dominance on the PSA Tour.
Despite this, there are a clutch of players from Europe and beyond making waves at the top of the World Rankings.
The likes of Germany’s Simon Rösner, Peru’s Diego Elias, Kiwi duo Paul Coll and Joelle King, France’s Camille Serme and England’s Sarah-Jane Perry are all poised to challenge for the sport’s top honours, and all claimed landmark wins against Egyptian opposition during the 2018/19 campaign.
We spoke to a panel of experts to find out if the rest of the world can battle back against their Egyptian counterparts next season.
Nicol David – Former World No.1 & Eight-Time World Champion
“The Egyptians are kind of outnumbering the tour in both the men’s and women’s game so even if there are some different names coming through and movement in the top, the percentage of an Egyptian taking the top spot is a higher probability.
However, we can never know what is in store from the ‘non-Egyptian’ pack fighting for that top spot too if they produce wins with consistency throughout the season.”
Joey Barrington – SQUASHTV Lead Commentator
“I do see the international players outside of Egypt battling back. I feel there was a bit of momentum that was made in the women's game by Camille Serme and Sarah-Jane Perry, who was getting fitter and fitter with every event.
“She [Perry] obviously had a fantastic win over El Sherbini in the British Open, so I do feel that there's going to be a lot more to come from her.
“Can she threaten at the very top tournaments on a consistent basis? That would be the question for me.
“Camille Serme has shown that she can be in the top four and in the mix as well, and I do feel that outside of that Egyptian crop, those two in particular will be dangerous.
“In the men, I do feel that there are a huge amount of Egyptians as we know, but there are the likes of Paul Coll, who is developing all the time, he's changed a few things around and he has a new coach in the form of Robert Owen, which is going to be a massive plus for the development of his game.
“He [Owen] is also the coach of Joel Makin, who is going to be one of my picks to take the game to the very top Egyptians. Diego Elias has all the talent in the world, he's knuckling down a lot more, and he has the potential to go all the way to the top as well.
“I do feel that they are the main three in terms of the dangers to the Egyptians. You've got Rodriguez and a few other players, but the big three for me in the men's game are Coll, Makin and Elias.
“I'd also add Rösner in there, he's currently sitting at five in the world. It's going to be a bit of a challenge for Rösner to get past [Ali] Farag and [Mohamed] ElShorbagy, but there's no doubt that he's still able to take out Gawad, Momen and people like that.
“ElShorbagy and Farag would have to have quite a big off day I feel [for Rösner to beat them] whereas for Joel Makin, Paul Coll and Diego, I feel that they're able to take out those top two at some point.
“Likewise for the women, Joelle King, who has proven that she can win majors like in Hong Kong in the early part of the 2018/19 season. She's definitely still a big danger.
“There is a similar balance between the women and the men. I do feel like the men might have a little bit more of a chance, but it's a similar balance between those names that I mentioned.”
Sarah Fitz-Gerald – Former World No.1 and Five-Time World Champion
“Absolutely, they [the rest of world] have to [battle back] and they will.
“We are seeing glimpses from other countries all the time. Just look at the results from the recent World Junior. You’ve got Malaysia and England battling away to reach the semis of the individual events.”
Lee Drew – SQUASHTV Commentator & PSA Referee and Refereeing Director
“I think the main domination will continue to come from Egypt this season. They have so much class and quality at the top of the game, backed up by a lot of depth. The most exciting thing for the PSA Tour though is that the chasing pack of non-Egyptians features very hungry giant-killers.
“In the women’s game, I see Serme back to her best and a contender to win titles, King as a proven force who can also win titles, Perry and Evans can beat anyone on their day and Sobhy can blast her way through any field with her attacking style.
“In the men’s, I see challenges to the Egyptian dominance from the slick moving and enigmatic Elias, the consistent and powerful Rösner ,who is proven as a major winner, and the sheer physicality and improving range of racket craft of Coll and Makin are all sure to ignite the tour.”
Laura Massaro – Former World No.1 and World Champion
“It's great to watch the Egyptians play at their best and push the boundaries of the game. However, I do see some push back from the rest of the world players.
“The game needs it to keep things interesting, and I believe there are too many players out there who want it too much to just roll over and settle for the mid to back end of the top 10 ranking spots. I hope the summer has provided a good chance for players to analyse and work hard to come up with a plan to attack the events in the first half of the season.
“Sometimes things don't happen as soon as you'd like them to, but as the season progresses and the Christmas period approaches. I hope to see players coming good and
working out what works for them as individuals.
“That way the competition continues to progress and we get challenges to the top players in the world.”
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