Egypt’s Youssef Soliman is gearing up for an assault on the latter stages of the prestigious PSA Platinum tournaments when the PSA World Tour returns to action following the suspension of the tour due to the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Soliman’s final two tournaments before the suspension of the tour saw him achieve career-best finishes at both the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions and Windy City Open presented by the Walter Family as he reached the last 16.
The latter in particular saw him come close to achieving a first quarter-final berth as he scalped World No.19 Mostafa Asal and two-time finalist Marwan ElShorbagy to reach round three, where he locked horns with Spanish veteran Borja Golan. But after taking the opening game, the 23-year-old was ultimately outmanoeuvred by the more experienced player.
“Certainly, they were two great tournaments for me,” Soliman said.
“I played my best squash of the season. Chicago was more special as I managed to go through the first two tough rounds which were mentally and physically demanding.
“I enjoyed competing in most of the platinum events this season. The last 16 is my best result so far, but I’m looking for more. I had a good chance to make it through to the quarters in Chicago, although I didn’t capitalise on the opportunity against Borja Golan, who played superbly well.”
Those results saw Soliman rise to No.33 in the world – three shy of his career-best – and the Egyptian has now firmly established himself as a top 40 player.
However, Soliman says that the success of his compatriots helps motivate him for greater success, and he admits that holding a ranking in the 30s-40s just doesn’t cut it for him.
“I come from Egypt, the competition is so high there and all of us want to be the best,” he said.
“It’s hard to be satisfied with maintaining my position in the top 40. However, I’m more focused on my individual performance, in which I had a significant improvement that I’m proud of and I’m hungry for more.
“My rating for the season will be seven out of 10 because I didn’t start the season very well. I had high expectations which had a massive impact on my performance in the first couple of tournaments. I started finding my game back again starting from Channel Vas later in November, then I carried on with good performances until Chicago [the Windy City Open].”
Away from the court, Soliman enjoys playing other sports with his friends but that hobby – much like the professional squash season – is on hold for the time being due to the social-distancing measures in place across many of the world’s countries.
Soliman said: “The current situation forced us to freeze all the tournaments, which was disappointing for me as I had some good momentum, however hopefully everything will be fine soon.
“I normally have a few hobbies, I love to play soccer which usually happens in the offseason, I like listening to music and reading is my new recent hobby, I’m not sure how long it will last but I’m enjoying it at the moment.
“To be honest, there is not much I can do [during the pandemic], so I am taking some time off from squash. I will try my best not to gain weight, maintain my form and get some work done in my studies.”