Egypt's dazzling squash player Nour El Sherbini had the best possible birthday celebration on Friday, with her persistence paying off handsomely as she retained the World Championship title in style.
Having just turned 24, El Sherbini beat her compatriot and world number 1 Raneem El Welily 3-1 in the final, played in front of the Great Pyramids of Giza.
It was a fitting reward to her ability to put her injury problems behind her and return to her best, taking her tally to four World Championship accolades, just four short of record winner Nicol David of Malaysia.
It was El Sherbini's first appearance of the season as she suffered from a knee injury.
"I had a problem in my right knee. I needed to undergo an urgent surgery but I postponed everything until I finished playing in the World Championship," she told Ahram Online in an interview.
"I was so keen to participate in it. I will travel again after the championship to Germany to see what doctors are going to decide."
With the injury forcing her to take some time off lately to fully recover, she dropped to fourth in the world ranking.
"This is a normal thing. Ranking dropped because I did not play," she commented.
"The most important thing now is to feel better before going back to my normal activities. Then, I will begin focusing on different tournaments to improve my ranking."
En route to the final, El Sherbini also had to deal with back problems, saying she needed an injection to play through the pain barrier and continue the tournament.
On Friday, she produced a typical lively display to win 11-4, 9-11, 11-5, 11-6 in 41 minutes, overcoming El Welily who had hoped to win the title for a second time following her maiden triumph in 2017 when she beat El Sherbini in Manchester.
"Raneem is the top ranked squash athlete. She is the best in PSA tour tournament and she is very experienced," El Sherbini said.
"I am so happy; I played well. I tried to maintain my same level until the end. The final was a very tough match."
El Sherbini will feature in her next tournament in January 2020.
"It's a good period to return to my peak. I will prepare myself well for the second part of the season," she said.
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