8:31 pm
26 Mar 2019

Farag & El Sherbini Win World Championship Titles

3 Mar 2019

Egyptian duo Ali Farag and Nour El Sherbini have been crowned World Champions after prevailing over compatriots Tarek Momen and Nour El Tayeb, respectively, in the finals of the 2018/2019 PSA World Championships presented by the Walter Family at Union Station in Chicago.

The 2018/2019 PSA World Championships was the sport's first $1 million tournament, with $500,000 split equally between the male and female athletes. Union Station's Great Hall played host to two finals befitting squash's richest tournament, with over two hours of world-class squash on show.

Just 24 hours after dethroning fellow Egyptian Mohamed Elshorbagy to take the world No.1 spot for the first time, Farag lifted the sport's most iconic title - also for the first time - after prevailing by an 11-5, 11-13, 13-11, 11-3 scoreline following 79 minutes of gripping action.

Both men's finalists were appearing in the event's climax for the first time, with Momen defeating the two 2017 finalists - the Elshorbagy brothers Mohamed and Marwan - en-route. Farag, married to women's runner-up Nour El Tayeb, had toppled Germany's world No.5 Simon Rösner in the semi-finals to book his final berth.

Fourth seed Momen fought back after going a game down to Farag, the No.2 seed. A crucial third game went the way of Farag on the tie-break and that proved pivotal as the 26-year-old powered to victory in the fourth to write his name into the history books.

"As I stand here today, I can't help but think about the road I've taken to be here," said Harvard graduate Farag following the biggest win of his career.

"If, five years back, you had told me that I would be standing here holding the World Championship trophy, then no chance would I have believed you. As a senior at college, I never thought about going pro and the main driving force behind it is Nour. It sounds like a cliché, but to find someone who lifts you up day in and day out, I'm deeply blessed to have her in my life, and she is the one who pushed me to go pro.

"Winning the World Championships is one thing, but winning it in front of this crowd is something else. Thanks to the Walter Family, it's the biggest prize purse that's ever been on offer in squash and it's a huge honour."

Farag's win came shortly after El Tayeb fell in the women's final - world No.2 El Sherbini capturing her third World Championship crown at the age of just 23.

Appearing in her fourth successive World Championship final - and fifth overall - El Sherbini dominated the opening stages against a nervy-looking El Tayeb, making her final debut, to go two games up in just 18 minutes.

El Tayeb and Farag became the first married couple in sporting history to lift the same major sports title on the same day when they won the 2017 US Open, and El Tayeb kept alive hopes of bettering that achievement when she battled back with a vengeance to halve the deficit, recovering from championship ball down in the process.

But El Sherbini edged a tense tie-break in the fourth to finally end El Tayeb's resistance. The Alexandrian becomes the fifth woman to win the world title three times, after Malaysia's Nicol David, New Zealand's Susan Devoy and Australian duo Sarah Fitz-Gerald and Michelle Martin.

"I think I'm out of words," said El Sherbini.

"The last two games were really close and she was coming back. I think she likes it like that, she was a little bit tense in the first two games and then she started to relax. I was trying to focus point after point and I'm really happy of course.

"It was a really tough tournament for me, and a lot of things happened before I came here and behind the scenes. But I'm really glad that I came because one of the options was that I wouldn't be able to come. I was improving match after match, and I had a lot of tough matches in the earlier rounds, but I'm really glad that I managed to get everything together this week."

Farag and El Sherbini will each take home over $70,000 in prize money - the largest winner's prize in the history of professional squash.