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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 15 December 2018

Mohamed El Shorbagy 'ready' to complete career-best year with PSA Dubai World Series Finals title defence

Egypt's world No 1 has been in fine form this season and top the seedings for the eight-player tournament taking place at Emirates Golf Club this week

Mohamed El Shorbagy, right, and Laura Massaro, left, will be aiming to retain the PSA Dubai World Series Finals titles they won last year. Chris Whiteoak / The National
Mohamed El Shorbagy, right, and Laura Massaro, left, will be aiming to retain the PSA Dubai World Series Finals titles they won last year. Chris Whiteoak / The National

Mohamed El Shorbagy is aiming to go full circle this week by completing his impressive season with a successful defence of his PSA Dubai World Series Finals title, but Egypt’s world No 1 is aware of the challenge that awaits.

El Shorbagy, 27, tops the men’s seedings for the end-of-season tournament that will see the top-eight male and female squash players compete at Emirates Golf Club. Both events will be battling it out for $160,000 (Dh588,000) in prize money

El Shorbagy arrives in Dubai as the defending champion following his final victory over England’s James Willstrop last year, a victory that kick-started a hugely successful 12 months and a return to the top of the world rankings. In the 12 PSA tournaments since last year’s triumph, he has won seven titles and reached another three finals.

However, despite his form heading in to the June 5-9 tournament, El Shorbagy is prepared for a tough battle from his seven rivals.

“Every match will be like a final, not only for me but for everyone in this competition,” El Shorbagy said at the event launch at Emirates Golf Club on Monday.

“I’m ready for it and would expect the same from my opponents as well. If you win it, you earn it, because you have to play the world’s best every day.”

“I wasn’t in good form when I came to Dubai last year and this time I’m coming in the best form of my career,” he added.

“However, that doesn’t mean I’m going to win here again because someone can look like a million-dollar during the whole tournament but not win.”

El Shorbagy may be entering the World Series Finals in career-best form, but the Egyptian will not be resting on his laurels and will use the pain of losing the No 1 ranking as motivation going forward.

“I want to be consistent like I have been this whole season and want to do it year after year,” he said. “I lost the world No 1 ranking last season after 28 months. It took so much out of me during that period. I won six of the seven world series which was so hard to deal with mentally.

“I lost all the energy I had that season when I lost the world ranking. I went through a lot of emotions.

“Now I have learned how to deal with the pressure. I think I’m more mature to handle the pressure now. I know how to enjoy my game while being consistent and hungry to win.

“The toughest part in any sport is to win the world No 1 spot again after losing it. The first thing you need to realise when you lose the world ranking is that your game is not acceptable anymore because someone else has taken that to a new level. I realised that and went back to spend the whole summer working hard to improve on my game.

“If I get tired in any of these matches make an excuse. The only thing I’ll say is that I haven’t trained hard enough for this competition. That’s my attitude for the rest of my career.”

Laura Massaro shared the same sentiment of El Shorbagy on her title defence of the women’s title.

“The Finals give a different spin than the world ranking events and it’s going to be tough no matter how well you are prepared,” England’s World No 7 said.

Group B matches will take place at 3pm, 3.45pm, 4.30pm and 5.15pm, with Group A matches scheduled for 8pm, 8.45pm, 9.30pm and 10.15pm between June 5-7. The semi-finals are due to take place from 8pm on June 8. The finals will commence at 8pm on June 9.