As has been the case for several years, it was an all-Egyptian final for both men and women. To defend their titles, both champions had no choice but to beat their compatriots Nouran Gohar and Karim Abdel-Gawad at Chicago’s spectacular Union Station.
According to the Professional Squash Association (PSA), the World Championships is the most prestigious tournament in squash, with $1 million in total player reward split equally between the male and female athletes.
The 27-year-old Al-Sherbini proved again she is the queen of the sport, winning an amazing seven World Championship titles. And to win this year’s title, she amazingly beat world No 2 Gohar 11-6, 11-4, 12-10 in the final.
It was the third time in a row that Al-Sherbini and Gohar had competed against each other in the biggest final in professional squash, with Al-Sherbini winning their previous two title bouts. Had Gohar won, she could have reclaimed the world No 1 spot.
The PSA web has described the 27-year-old Al-Sherbini as being in superb form in the game in Chicago to win her third World Championship in ‘The Windy City’, while she is now just one World Championship title off the current women’s record of eight held by Malaysian legend Nicol David. Her streak of five World Championship titles in a row is matched only by David in the women’s game.
“I’m over the moon to win my seventh World Championship,” Al-Sherbini told PSA following the game. “It’s huge and special for me and I can’t believe I did it, I’m so happy. Of course, I’m happy that I’m closer to Nicol’s [David] record. She’s a legend and what she did was amazing and unbelievable. I’ve always been looking up to her, so to put my name beside her is something special and huge for me.”
In the men’s final, world No 4 Farag managed to become only the second Egyptian after Amr Shabana to lift four World Championship trophies after he overcame his fellow countryman world No 17 Abdel-Gawad in three straight sets (12-10, 11-6, 11-6).
The 31-year-old Abdel-Gawad’s run to the final came just seven months from a heel injury which he spent in a wheelchair. He had beaten world No 1 Diego Elias and world No 2 Mohamed Al-Shorbagi en route to a second World Championship final following his title win in 2016. Farag has also had his injury struggles this season, spending four months on the sidelines because of a knee problem.
Farag and Al-Sherbini share winning all three World Championships held in Chicago. They were also the winners the first time Union Station hosted the tournament back in 2019.
Celebrating his precious victory, Abdel-Gawad shared his feelings with the PSA website. “The emotions are so raw, it’s so hard to put it into words, it’s so special. No matter how many times you go through it, it’s even more special than the time before. Especially against such a champion like Karim. I’m super relieved and super happy.
“Two months ago, we played a practice match and we were limping and the standard wouldn’t have even earned us a place in the World Championship, let alone the final. To come all the way through to reach the final is a very proud achievement for the two of us.”
* A version of this article appears in print in the 18 May, 2023 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly