World number one Mohamed El-Shorbagy will be aiming to do one better this year as he eyes his first World Championship title.
He reached the final twice in 2012 and 2014, losing to countryman Ramy Ashour on both occasions. In an interview with Ahram Hebdo, Ahram's French-language publication, El-Shorbagy speaks about his hopes for the anticipated tournament in Egypt and his future plans.
What are your expectations for the World Championship?
This tournament is of utmost importance to me because winning the world title is my dream.
I'm the current world number one but that doesn’t mean that I'm the only contender for the title. At the Ahram Open three weeks ago, I lost in the semis and the two players who reached the final were not really tipped to go that far.
However, I prepared well for the World Championship. After Ahram Open's loss, I won the US Open title after producing fine displays. I hope to keep up such performances at the World Championship in Egypt.
Will it be an advantage to play the World Championship at home or will it put you under pressure to deliver?
I trained very hard throughout the last year to keep my place at the top of the world list and I will intensify my efforts to make Egyptians proud.
I definitely look to win the tournament but in sports, we have to accept any outcome, even a defeat because a triumph can never be guaranteed.
Frankly, playing the tournament at home is a heavy responsibility because I want to make all Egyptians happy.
How do you rate your opponents at the World Championship?
The names of my opponents are not important. The most important thing is to focus on my run in the tournament.
In the last edition, I spent a lot of time watching my opponents and that had affected my concentration during the tournament and I was eliminated at the quarter finals.
This time, I will only focus on my run and I will do my best not to waste my power in the early stages to be fresh for the final phases.
You usually struggle to cope with the playing style of the new generation.
It is true. I have to change my style to suit that of the players of the new generation.
The players of the new generation have improved and they made it to the top ten of the world ranking.
Theoretically, I'm part of this new generation but I'm used to playing with the old style similar to that of Frenchman Gregory Gaultier for instance. I'm exerting lots of efforts to change my playing style.
You said winning the world title is a dream, but is it also your priority this year?
I will need to do well over the course of the year, not only in the World Championship, to keep my place as the world number one. I was eliminated from the quarters of this tournament last year but I still moved top of the ranking because I won several other tournaments.
Winning the World title is my dream but keeping my place at the top is my main goal. After the World Championship, I will play at the Qatar and New York Open; these tournaments are among the most important in the world.
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