Round-1 match recap from Squash Emcee Andy Taylor, Voice of the Qatar Classic.
Since 2017, Andy Taylor has been the voice of the Qatar Classic Squash Championship. With his individual style and delivery, Andy writes and narrates each player’s introduction; highlighting career accomplishments, providing context for fans before each match. As tournament emcee, Andy also interviews the winners and hosts the trophy ceremony at the conclusion of the championship.
A voice acting veteran, Andy is best known as the Voice of the US Open in New York. There, he has spent the last 20-years shaping the sound of the tennis season’s final Grand Slam; enhancing the fan experience. Informing. Entertaining. Celebrating sport and its colorful cast of characters.
Second meeting. Gordon nearly comes back. Elsherbini takes the decider
These two talents clashed for the first time 3-months-ago in Chicago, during Round-1 of the PSA World Championship. Mohamed Elsherbini won that match in 3-games, in just over 30-minutes. Clearly, today was a completely different narrative over on Court-1.
Gordon came back in games three and four; but Elsherbini persevered, winning the decider 11-3. Mohamed is back in Doha on the heels of 5-game clash with Adrian Waller in the Final of the Cleveland Skating Club Open.
Mohamed Elsherbini -23- (EGY) | Round-1 Emcee Introduction
Two years ago, ranked outside the top-50, he made his Doha debut at the PSA World Championship, where he reached the 2nd-Round of a Major for the first time. Today, he returns with a career-high ranking of World #23, after his first career Platinum Round of 16 run at last month’s Egyptian Open. In all, he owns 10 PSA Challenger titles – and just last week, reached his 13th career Final at the Cleveland Skating Club Open; where he and Adrian Waller battled 75-minutes in a thrilling, extended, deciding game championship match. Over the past two seasons – even with a six month lockdown – remarkably, he has leapt 35-points in the rankings; and is determined to continue to that ascent with a deep run in his second Qatar Q-Terminals Classic. From Egypt – please welcome Mohamed Elsherbini.
- R1 — W — Christopher Gordon -66- (USA) | Score: 11-9, 12-10, 10-12, 9-11, 11-3 (75m)
- Mohamed is the cousin of World #1 and 5-time World Champion Nour El Sherbini, who just won her 5th World Championship title in Chicago. In fact, she is on an 18-match win-streak at the PSA World Championship, after capturing the last three titles.
- Two years ago, in his Doha debut, Mohamed reached Round-2 of a Major for the first time at the PSA World Championship. At the time, he was ranked outside the top-50 and clearly on the climb
- Two months later, at the PSA Silver Motor City Open in Detroit, Elsherbini upset World #14 Gregoire Marche and World #10 Miguel Rodriguez en-route to his biggest career Final. Though he fell to World #9 Diego Elias in the championship match, the Egyptian cracked the PSA’s top-40 for the first time, jumping to World #35
- Following a Round-1 loss at the Windy City Open, the pandemic lock-down shuttered the spot for the next six months
- Elsherbini kicked-off the 2020-21 season at the Qatar Classic, where he reached Round-2 of a Platinum event for the first time
- Thanks to his top-40 ranking, Mohamed was a lock in the draw with the patchwork of PSA Platinums in Egypt during the uncertain season, and won all of his Round-1 matches
- At the World Championship, he took World #5 Marwan Elshorbagy to five games in Round-2: 11-9, 6-11, 4-11, 11-9, 4-11 (70m)
- Elsherbini’s latest career-first came at the start of the 2021-22 season at the Egyptian Open – where he made his first Platinum run to the Round of 16; defeating Faraz Khan and Abdulla Al Tamimi, before retiring with an injury during his Round-3 match with eventual champion Ali Farag. The Final-16 finish was enough to boost his ranking from World #31 to World #23
- Still injured, Mohamed missed the US Open; but he tuned-up for the Qatar Classic in the United States at the Cleveland Skating Club Open in Cleveland, where he reached his 13th career Final. Fell to Adrian Waller in a brutal championship match: 11-6, 2-11, 7-11, 12-10, 14-16 (75m)
Christopher Gordon -66- (USA) | Round-1 Emcee Introduction
Just 3-days-ago, after a last-minute withdrawal, he received word he was needed in Doha; as the World #66, he qualified for the Qatar Q-Terminals Classic. Remarkably – in 2002, at just 16-years-old, ranked outside the top-200 – he played his first professional match right here in Doha at the PSA Satellite Qatar Circuit No.5. 19 years later, he is a 3-time Pan American Games Bronze Medalist, a US Nationals Champion, owns 6 PSA Challenger Tour titles, and has been ranked as high as World #44. Last season, after 15-months away from the game, he emerged from the pandemic lockdowns by reaching the Semi’s in Austin, the championship match in Atlanta; then in August, reached his 16th career Challenger Final at the Colombian Open in Bogota. From the United States – competing in his 54th Platinum event on Tour, please welcome Christopher Gordon.
- R1 — L — Mohamed Elsherbini -23- (EGY) | Score: 9-11, 10-12, 12-10, 11-9, 3-11 (75m)
- In 54 Platinum appearances, Gordon owns one Platinum match victory. As a Wild Card at the 2012 US Open, he defeated World #15 Hisham Ashour, before falling to World #4 Karim Darwish in Round-2
- Christopher is back inside the top-70 for the first time in 3-years, and is back in Doha for the first time since the 2014 PSA World Championship.
QATAR SQUASH: 27 YEARS OF HIGHLIGHTS AND HISTORY
For nearly three decades, the Qatar Squash Federation has hosted the sport’s elite at the Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex. Originally coined the Qatar International, Pakistan’s Jansher Khan captured the first five Doha titles from 1992 to 1996. Canada’s Jonathan Power then won back-to-back Doha titles over Scotland’s Peter Nichol; earning triumphs at the 1997 Qatar International and the 1998 World Championship.
Enter the Qatar Classic Squash Championship
After a two year absence, professional squash returned to Doha in 2001. Rebranded the Qatar Classic, Peter Nichol – now representing England – again reached back-to-back Doha Finals. This time, he captured the first two Qatar Classic titles over Australia’s David Palmer. England’s Lee Beachill and James Willstrop won the next two Qatar Classic titles, before Egypt began its outright Doha dominance.
In fact, since Ramy Ashour became the first Egyptian Doha champion at the 2006 Qatar Classic; the Arab nation has won 13 of the last 15 Doha titles, including three World Championships. Alexandria’s Mohamed Elshorbagy – the only 3-time Qatar Classic Champion – reached a record six consecutive finals on this court between 2012 and 2017. Most recently, Ali Farag won back-to-back Qatar Classic titles in 2018 and 2020. Unfortunately, the World #1 won’t be back in Doha this year to defend the title.
Professional Squash and COVID-19
Like every international sport, the recent global pandemic has created tremendous challenges for squash events worldwide. Due to COVID’s insidious spread, the 2019-20 season ended abruptly in March; immediately following Mohamed Elshorbagy’s victory at the 2020 Canary Wharf Classic.
Without fans, the sport launched its return six months later in Manchester – another Elshorbagy triumph. However, with global cases hitting a second surge, all events in the United Kingdom, United States and Asia were shuttered. The 2020-2021 season was in peril. At the time, as a U.S. resident, Andy Taylor made the difficult decision to suspend all international travel. Reluctantly, he stepped away from his role as emcee at the 2020 Qatar Classic.
Saviors. The Qatar Squash Federation and CIB’s CEO Hussein Abaza of Egypt
Over the next 10-months, Qatar and Egypt were the only two nations to host PSA Platinum events. Without the U.S. Open. Hong Kong Open. New York’s Tournament of Champions. The Windy City Open. And British Open — The sport needed bold and determined intervention.
Cautiously, the QSF moved forward with the Qatar Classic, providing a COVID safe bubble for players and crew. Meanwhile, Egypt’s Hussein Abaza went above and beyond. Remarkably, CIB’s CEO spearheaded two PSA World Tour Finals, the Egyptian Open, two Black Ball Opens and El Gouna International. From September to June, he funded six expensive, top-tier PSA events for both the men’s and women’s tours. Egypt became the hub of the sport – a safe place to compete while vaccinations took hold; while the world recovered.
Thankfully, since July, much of the globe has slowly opened back up. Chicago hosted the World Championships. Hull welcomed the sport’s elite for the British Open. Last month, it was only fitting that the 2021-22 season began in front of the pyramids at Giza. True to form, Egyptian rivals Ali Farag and Mohamed Elshorbagy headlined the event; delivering an exceptional 5-game Final, where Farag lifted his 9th Platinum trophy.
A Sport Back on Track, thanks to human compassion and ingenuity
After September’s Egyptian Open, the U.S. swing was also a tremendous success. From San Francisco to the US Open’s immaculate new Arlen Specter US Squash Center in Philadelphia; fans responsibly returned, recently tested or fully vaccinated. All starved to once again see the best in the world compete inside the glass.
Now, squash returns to the Arab Gulf for the 17th Qatar Classic Squash Championship.
Thankfully, as global vaccinations continue their ascent, the new squash season is beginning to follow a familiar path. While the past 19-months have been dark, spotlighting the reality of human fragility; it has also been an epoch defined by compassion, resilience and hope. Squash, as a sport and lifestyle, embodies these traits.
When we choose to quiet the noise, steel our determination, and commit to selflessly work together toward collective good; ultimately toward survival — the darkness is no match for our blinding ingenuity.
No, the fight isn’t over. But we’ve hit some astonishing nicks, and continue to edge closer toward “match ball.”