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Egypt make squash history

Mohamed El Shorbagy and Nour El Sherbini helped Egypt make three remarkable pieces of history as they became British Open champions in very contrasting finals.

Egypt make squash history

Mohamed El Shorbagy and Nour El Sherbini helped Egypt make three remarkable pieces of history as they became British Open champions in very contrasting finals.

The fourth-seeded Sherbini became the first Egyptian woman to win the 94-year-old title.

Shorbagy then made it the first time Egypt had won both titles, and it was also the first time that the sport's leading nation had provided all four finalists.

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Top-seeded Shorbagy's victory, completing a successful title defence, happened far more comfortably than expected, by 11-3, 11-5, 11-9 against a Ramy Ashour who was physically diminished after four very hard battles following four months away from competition.

Sherbini won a very tight battle by 11-7, 9-11, 7-11, 11-6, 11-8 against 18-year-old Nouran Gohar, who narrowly failed to become the youngest ever women's winner.

It was evident almost immediately that Ashour was not moving easily and quickly he was a long way down. When he went five points down in the second game as well, it seemed as though a rout was possible.

After 15 minutes however Ashour's body began to loosen and allow him more flexible movements, which both improved the quality of the rallies and gave the scoreboard a more respectable appearance.

Shorbagy drove hard, scurried energetically and made few mistakes. Even when Ashour began working him in the third game, taking leads of 4-2 and 5-4, Shorbagy soon showed he possessed another gear

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The match ended with a little drama when Ashour dived full length to make a remarkable retrieve, leapt up and almost earned a let even though Shorbagy had driven the ball fiercely to a winning length.

But an appeal to the video review showed that Ashour had not quite done enough to retrive the ball again.

'It's been a crazy season for me,' said Shorbagy. 'I was telling my mother and my brother that I didn't know how I was going to keep up with what I did last season but I've won five titles already so this is a dream for me. I have been able to back things up mentally and I am proud of that.

'But I want to say that Ramy is a great person and a great player. He has achieved so much for our sport, both on and off the court. I really hope that he can be healthy because our matches are just something different and we have such a great rivalry.'

That may yet come about in future, though this is in fact the first time that Shorbagy has beaten Ashour in a best of five games match on the PSA World Tour.

Ashour did not, as he might have, make an excuse of his limited physical abilities, caused by contesting 19 games in his previous four matches.

'I should have prepared mentally better than I did today,' he claimed.

'On this tour you always play extremely tough matches from start to finish.'

The women's final by contrast, was full of action and uncertainty.

In the deciding game Sherbini was warned for a collision early on, and then frustrated by a controversial 'no let' decision which helped Gohar to reduce a three-point deficit to one at 6-7.

It was still one point, at 7-8, when Sherbini pointed out that for the second time in the tournament Gohar's badly cut knee had started bleeding again.

She was obliged to leave the court to have it bandaged, bringing a nine-minute delay.

On resumption Sherbini produced a brilliant forehand counter-hit and then two more heavy, accurate forehand drives to close out the match.

'I am very sad,' Gohar said, just managing to hold back the tears while still on court. 'I was so close. It was my first final and I didn't quite have the experience to win it.'

'It's really weird to hear that I am champion,' said Sherbini, who played in the 2012 final but is still only 20.

'I'm very proud be the first Egyptian (woman) to win. It's a huge thing and hopefully other Egyptians will make us proud.'


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