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20 Jun 2024

El Sherbini & Farag Win Inaugural Paris Squash 2023 Titles

3 Sep 2023

Nour El Sherbini and Ali Farag have won the inaugural Paris Squash 2023 Platinum-level titles at the Palais de Tokyo, with the former also securing a return to No.1 in the PSA Women's World Rankings.

El Sherbini came from one game down to see off the current world No.1 and fellow Egyptian Nouran Gohar 3/1, resulting in the seven-time World Champion returning to the World Rankings summit next week.

In 27 meetings between the two compatriots, El Sherbini has the upper-hand with 19 victories but it was Gohar who drew first blood. 'The Terminator' trailed 6-1 to the 'Warrior Princess', but Gohar soared back to 9-7 to put herself in the driving seat and emphatically converted game ball at the first attempt.

The tables turned in the second as Gohar took a 3-0 lead, but El Sherbini clicked into gear and went on a rampaging eight-point run before levelling the match with an 11-4 win.

Having trailed 4-1, Gohar pulled herself back to 5-4 with patches of points from both players following in a closely-fought battle. However, it was El Sherbini who held her nerve when it mattered most to nudge in front for the first time.

With El Sherbini in her groove going into a crucial fourth game for both players, a valuable five-point cushion at 9-4 made it a tough mountain for Gohar to climb as El Sherbini closed it out to seal the title and her return to the top of the Women's World Rankings.

"I lost focus and I only won one point from 6-1 and lost the game 11-7," said El Sherbini afterwards.

"I was frustrated after the first game and I was 3-0 down in the second and I just wanted to focus, keep playing point after point and regroup.

"It's very obvious now that I love to play a drop shot! Every player knows now I'm going to play a drop shot so I try to have a lot of variety with my shots.

"Not only drop, but I sometimes need to think of different shots and I tried to change them whenever I had the opportunity."

In the Men's final, Farag also had to overturn a one game deficit to claim a 3/1 victory against Diego Elias as he strengthened his grip on his World No.1 crown.

Farag, who got the better of Paul Coll in a titanic 96-minute semi-final battle, didn't make the ideal start to the opening game as Elias came flying out of the blocks to take a comfortable 9-2 lead, before clinching the first 11-2.

Falling behind gave Farag the much-needed spark to get a foothold back in the match, looking lively in the opening exchanges, but Elias looked as though he may edge it to give himself a two-game lead. However Farag got back in control with game ball, only to be saved by Elias. The Egyptian had another saved but he made it third time lucky to restore parity.

Farag was starting to find his feet, and that showed in the third with a quick fire 5-0 lead before he had a staggering ten game balls. One was saved, but Farag was in control to close the game out 11-1.

Elias needed to keep himself within touching distance of Farag, as he opened up a 5-2 lead in the fourth game only for the world No.1 to peg it back to five-all. Fatigue didn't appear to be an issue for Farag despite a lengthy battle 24 hours earlier, as he had three match balls to clinch the title. Two found the tin, but he converted at the third time of asking to seal the victory.

"Diego played well more than me being sluggish [in the first game]," said Farag. "My timing was completely off and I tried to go for the volley too soon and my length wasn't accurate enough to hunt the next ball.

"My timing was off and Karim [Darwish] told me to take a step back but to go back in again. I usually like to play at a higher pace than that against Diego, but because of that I had to slow it down a little bit.

"He likes to play at a controlled pace as well and then at 9-6 I was drawing inspiration from Karim and if I was on my own the sluggishness wouldn't have run away like it did in the second.

"I'm proud of the way I backed up yesterday and kudos to those who take care of my body and my mental state because I couldn't have done it on my own."

The PSA World Tour heads to Doha, Qatar next for the QTerminals Qatar Classic 2023, which takes place between 9 - 16 September.