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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 23 June 2018

Nour El Sherbini aims to cap 'pretty good' season with PSA Dubai World Series Finals title

Egyptian world No 1 has racked up four PSA World Series titles and was crowned the PSA Women’s Player of the Year at the PSA Awards 2017/2018 in Dubai on Sunday

Nour El Sherbini of Egypt reacts after she scored a point against Joelle King of New Zealand during the Dubai World Series Finals squash tournament in Dubai. Kamran Jebreili / AP Photo
Nour El Sherbini of Egypt reacts after she scored a point against Joelle King of New Zealand during the Dubai World Series Finals squash tournament in Dubai. Kamran Jebreili / AP Photo

Nour El Sherbini says she wants to bring down the curtain on a trophy-laden season by adding the PSA Dubai World Series Finals to her cabinet.

The Egyptian world No 1 has racked up four PSA World Series titles and was crowned the PSA Women’s Player of the Year at the PSA Awards at the Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi Beach Resort and Marina on Sunday.

Success at the Dubai World Series, which got under way on Tuesday at Emirates Golf Club, would cap a fitting finale for El Sherbini following her victories at the Hong Kong Open, the inaugural Saudi Arabian PSA Women’s Squash Masters, Tournament of Champions and British Open.

El Sherbini, 22, is one of only two female players, alongside compatriot Nour El Tayeb, to collect multiple World Series title this season.

In Dubai, the Alexandria resident is hoping to be third time lucky in the US$160,000 (Dh587,000) World Tour event.

El Sherbini reached the semi-finals when the Finals were first staged here in 2016 and was runner-up to Laura Massaro in last year.

She has already extracted a measure of revenge on Massaro with four victories over the Briton this season and is the top seed and favourite in Dubai. World No 7 Massaro began her title defence on Tuesday with an 8-11, 11-9, 11-8 victory over Egyptian world No 2 Raneen El Welily in 39 minutes.

“Right now my focus is on the next game I play,” El Sherbini said after her opening victory over Joelle King of New Zealand on Tuesday.

“But, having said that, a meeting with Laura is always tough. All our meetings have been very close and that’s not going to change if I have to meet her in this competition at some point.”

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El Sherbini said she was first drawn to squash by her elder brother Omar, who now acts as a mentor.

“I was around six when I followed my brother to the squash courts,” she said. “He played in the local tournaments for a long time, and still does, not as much as he used to play.

“He was my inspiration, my role model and now travels with me all over the world. He takes care of everything related to my squash.”

El Sherbini first started playing in competitions age eight and stunned the squash world in 2009 in winning the U19 British Open in 2009 at age 13 to become the game's youngest world champion.

“That was the turning point for me,” she added. “I started to train more professionally.

“I was always dreaming to be on top of my game when I was young and now achieving almost everything in the game I want to remain at the summit for as long as possible.

“I have been waiting all my life for these achievements. I’m here in Dubai as one of the top eight players in the world. This season has been pretty good for me, I have won four PSA World Series events and maintained the No 1 ranking.

“It has been a long and hard season but I’m still looking forward to round off the season with another success.”

Egypt are a powerhouse on the world circuit, with squash the second most popular sport in the North African country behind football. Compatriot Mohamed El Shorbagy is the No 1-ranked men's player and El Sherbini credits strong competition at local level for Egypt's dominance on the world stage.

“We have some very good players and that works well for us as we have to raise the bar all the time,” said El Sherbini, who became the world No 1 in May 2016 for the first time.

“I want to stay at the top as long as I can which means a lot of hard work ahead to keep improving my game.”

Indeed, at 22, El Sherbini seems destined to remain at the top for a while.

PSA DUBAI WORLD SERIES FINALS LINE-UP

Men’s: 
Mohamed El Shorbagy (EGY)
Ali Farag (EGY)
Simon Rosner (GER)
Tarek Momen (EGY)
Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL)
Gregory Gaultier (FRA)
Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY)
Nick Matthew (ENG)

Women's: 
Nour El Sherbini (EGY)
Raneem El Welily (EGY)
Nour El Tayeb (EGY)
Laura Massaro (ENG)
Joelle King (NZE)
Camille Serme (FRA)
Nouran Gohar (EGY)
Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG)