9:47 pm
20 May 2024

El Shorbagy Outshines Lincou In Major World Championship Upset

14 Oct 2008

A new world squash star was born in Manchester today when Egyptian teenager Mohamed El Shorbagy defeated France's world number eight Thierry Lincou in the second round of the Hi-Tec World Open Squash Championships at Sportcity in Manchester.

The world's leading players from more than 30 countries are competing in the Hi-Tec World Squash Championships - Manchester 2008, the first ever joint staging of the Men's World Open and Women's World Open in the UK.

The 17-year-old qualifier from Alexandria, who beat experienced Frenchman Renan Lavigne in the first round, shocked the crowd when he took the first two games against sixth seed Lincou, a former world champion and world number one.

But the seasoned Frenchman came back to take the third game and led 4-1 in the fourth. El Shorbagy, a pupil at Millfield School in the UK and coached by the British legend Jonah Barrington, defied his youth by fighting back to serve at match ball at 10-9.

However, Lincou again had to call upon his vast experience to keep the world junior champion at bay - forcing the match into a decider.

But still El Shorbagy battled on - and, after failing to convert two further match-balls, clinched his fourth of the match to record his stunning 12-10, 11-6, 7-11, 10-12, 13-11 victory in 81 minutes.

"He was playing really aggressively. I was always behind, chasing the ball - and this made me tired," said a disconsolate Lincou afterwards. "He showed that, at his age, he's able to produce a good pace - and he maintained it without making too many mistakes. He's potentially a top ten player."

El Shorbagy admitted that his first thought was to telephone his mother in Egypt: "I had promised her I would get into the last sixteen. She was crying on the phone!

"That was the best win of my career, for sure. I was playing to win each point - I didn't concentrate on the score at all. In fact the only time I heard the score was when I was 10-9 in the fourth.

"I had to make it tough for him. I had no pressure on me today - nobody expected me to win. I had to play more than my best to win - and I did.

"My aim is to be world number one, one day," added the young Egyptian star.

Later, fellow countryman Amr Shabana - the current world number one - eased into the last sixteen after beating Spanish number one Borja Golan 12-10, 11-7, 11-4 in 43 minutes.

The title-holder was full of praise for his teenage compatriot: "He had no pressure on him, and he's young and excited, and also has lots of confidence. I have played him before, and he's tremendous - really fast. I'm really happy for him."

While a new era in squash beckoned in the afternoon, an old one came to an end in the evening when former world number John White announced his retirement. The 35-year-old Australian-born Scot - who lives in the USA - extended James Willstrop for four games before the England number one prevailed to win 11-2, 3-11, 12-10, 11-9 in 49 minutes.

"It was as I shook James's hand at the end of the match that I decided, this is it," admitted the Tour favourite afterwards. "I've had a great career, but now have a full-time job as a coach in the US and a family of four.

"James and I have had some great matches - many of which have been finals and many on this court - and I feel it's time for it all to come to a halt here.

"Being number one in the world is something they will never take away from you - and I'll always be proud of that."

In an outstanding day for Egypt, El Shorbagy and Shabana's wins were followed by victories by Wael El Hindi, Karim Darwish and Cairo brothers Ramy and Hisham Mohd Ashour. Fourth seed Ramy Ashour punished Australian Cameron Pilley 11-5, 11-4, 11-3 in just 28 minutes, while his unseeded older sibling Hisham upset Malaysian Ong Beng Hee, the tenth seed, 10-12, 11-7, 11-9, 11-9 to earn an unexpected place in the last sixteen.

Main draw action in the women's World Open got underway today with world number one Nicol David confidently beginning her bid to reclaim the title she lost last year by crushing compatriot Sharon Wee 11-6, 11-3, 11-2 in just 19 minutes. David now goes on to face Asian rival Rebecca Chiu, the 13th seed from Hong Kong who recovered from two games down to beat England's Lauren Briggs 8-11, 6-11, 11-5, 11-6, 11-6.

Australia's defending champion Rachael Grinham also had an untroubled passage through to the last sixteen, beating New Zealander Louise Crome 11-7, 11-6, 11-2.

But there were two significant first round upsets which deprived Mexican number one Samantha Teran and former world champion Vanessa Atkinson of second round places. Teran, the 16th seed crashed out to rising star Annie Au, a 19-year-old qualifier from Hong Kong who took 36 minutes to earn her 11-5, 11-4, 3-11, 11-5 upset.

New Zealander Jaclyn Hawkes caused Atkinson's downfall, resisting a fight back by the 10th seed from the Netherlands to win 11-9, 11-7, 8-11, 10-12, 11-5 in 56 minutes.