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Ali Farag (left) takes on Mohamed ElShorbagy (right) during the 2019 Allam British Open

From the Hunted to the Hunter: Can ElShorbagy Reclaim Top Spot?

Since first topping the PSA World Rankings in November 2014, Mohamed ElShorbagy has established himself as the man to beat on the PSA Tour, sitting at World No.1 for 40 of the past 58 months.

He has only relinquished that position three times in that period, twice to Frenchman Gregory Gaultier, and most recently in March of this year to fellow Egyptian Ali Farag.

ElShorbagy and Farag’s burgeoning rivalry exploded into life during the 2018/19 season as the pair met five times, with Farag claiming three wins to ElShorbagy’s two.

The most significant of those matches came in the final of the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions, where Farag came back from two games down inside New York’s Grand Central Terminal to overtake his compatriot at the summit of the World Rankings.

ElShorbagy begins the new season as the hunter rather than the hunted and – with the battle for top spot set to intensify this coming season – we asked our panel of experts whether they thought ‘The Beast’ would reclaim his place atop the World Rankings.

Nicol David – Former World No.1 & Eight-Time World Champion

“It’s close between those two, so I think it would be a combination of Mohamed ElShorbagy firing away and not feeling the pressure to want that No.1 spot and Ali Farag not being phased with the pressure and keep his place solid.

“Whoever is not too busy with trying to be No.1 and is working towards their consistency in winning matches, they’ll make that spot happen.”

Joey Barrington – SQUASHTV Lead Commentator

“It’s going to be fascinating with Mohamed ElShorbagy, I feel he’s going to change a few things, possibly again in his coaching corner and have one last go.

“I think this will be his one last push to try and get that World No.1 spot back, so it looks set to be a very exciting 2019/20 season at the very top end.

“I feel that with the pressure that is on Farag to defend all those points from his tournament wins, it’s going to be a big test of character for him. ElShorbagy has been there, he’s done it, he’s looking to be World No.1 for the fourth time, and if he’s still got his physical power he’s going to be outrageously tough and he could achieve it.

“But then Ali Farag is getting more and more experienced and is fresher mentally and physically then ElShorbagy because Farag started his PSA career a lot later than ElShorbagy.

“So there is a freshness to Farag, and he surprised me a little bit when he hit the World No.1 spot. What surprised me wasn’t that he had got to World No.1, it was the way he dealt with being World No.1, he dealt with it very well and he will continue to deal with it well.

“It’s going to be fascinating to see that, but I feel that this season is ElShorbagy’s last chance to get the World No.1 spot back, it’s his last season to have that push to become World No.1 again.”

Sarah Fitz-Gerald – Former World No.1 and Five-Time World Champion

“It sure will be an interesting battle and rivalry to watch over the next year.

“I will guess the No.1 spot and results between these two might flip back and forth for this season.”

Lee Drew – SQUASHTV Commentator and PSA Referee and Refereeing Director

“I think it is really difficult to split these two giants of the game.

“My personal view is that they are going to share most of the major titles between them, with the No.1 spot very much up for grabs.

“There is no doubt that Mohamed ElShorbagy can rip the top spot from Ali Farag, but if I had to guess, I think Farag may hold on to top spot by the skin of his teeth.”

Laura Massaro – Former World No.1 and World Champion

“One thing you know with Mo is that he will have worked harder than ever this summer. He will have thought about getting that No.1 spot back in every session, I'm sure.

“I won't be someone to bet against a winner like Mo! He's a champion and he'll be doing what he can to get that top spot back.”

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Further Read
Rest of World v Egypt: Will Egyptian Squash Rule the Roost Again?

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