EGYPTIAN world No 1 Ali Farag and Nour Al-Sherbini have lifted the 2020-21 Professional Squash Association (PSA) World Championship titles after beating compatriots Mohamed Al-Shorbagi and Nouran Gohar, respectively, at University Club of Chicago’s Cathedral Hall.
Farag lifted the men’s World Championship title for the second time – becoming the third Egyptian to do so – following a 7-11, 12-10, 11-9, 11-4 victory over Al-Shorbagi, which saw him come back from a game down and 7-0 behind in the second.
Despite the win, 29-year-old Farag – who has taken three titles in a row in Chicago after also winning the 2018-19 PSA World Championship crown and last year’s Windy City Open – will be overtaken as world No1 by Al-Shorbagi in the August PSA World Rankings, with Al-Shorbagi just needing to reach the final in Chicago to reclaim the top ranking.
Farag’s title win is the 22nd of his career and his third of the 2020-21 PSA World Tour season after previous successes at the CIB Egyptian Open and Qatar Classic.
“Mohamed, when I share a court with him, every time it’s an honour,” Farag said, referring to Al-Shorbagi. “We are here, our generation, because of him. He paved the way for us and we have to keep raising our game. I’m in awe of what he does and he is the reason that we are here today.”
Like Farag, Al-Sherbini also captured the 2018-19 PSA World Championship title when it was held at Chicago’s Union Station and she has become only the third woman to win five World Championship titles courtesy of an 11-5, 11-8, 8-11, 11-9 victory against world No 2 Gohar.
In addition to the most prestigious title in squash, the world No 1 spot was also up for grabs, but Al-Sherbini – playing in her seventh World Championship final – held Gohar at bay to hold onto the ranking and capture the World Championship crown for a third season running.
“I’m really thrilled. If anyone told me before that I was going to win five World Championships then I wouldn’t have believed them,” said 25-year-old Al-Sherbini.
“It’s really hard to believe that I have just won my fifth World Championship. It was very tough until the end. Nouran kept pushing me. She keeps fighting and never gave up. That’s why she’s here and she’s playing her first World Championship final. I know how big it is and how she’s feeling.”
This season’s PSA World Championships is the sport’s second $1 million tournament – following the 2018-19 edition – and Al-Sherbini and Farag take the most lucrative winner’s prize money in squash, which amounts to over $64,000.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 29 July, 2021 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.