Day 1. Round 1. Mohamed ElShorbagy

Andy Taylor. Squash Host. Qatar Classic Squash Championship. Day 1. Round 1. Mohamed ElShorbagy

Squash Host. Andy Taylor. Qatar Classic 2017

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[3] Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) def [Q] Chris Simpson (ENG) 11-7 11-9 11-5 (36-min)

Mohamed ElShorbagy is the PSA World Tour’s alpha male. Since the 2014-15 season, he’s been nearly unbeatable. Toward the end of last season, “The Beast of Alexandria” finally proved that he was human, relinquishing the sport’s top-ranking after holding the #1 spot for a remarkable 28 out of 29 consecutive months. With disappointing Quarterfinal finishes at the World Series events in Chicago and El Gouna last Spring, he dropped to World #3…but is relentlessly charging back.

The Beast is back

In late April, ElShorbagy won the Egyptian National Championship, then went on to win Dubai’s World Series Final for the first time. He’s lost only one match since: The US Open Final to Ali Farag. He is 17-1 after winning Dubai in June. The new season has already netted him two titles – at the NetSuite Open in San Francisco and St. George’s Hill Classic – and he’s on-pace to match his most dominant season two-years-ago, where he won six of the seven World Series events before the World Series Finals.

Qatar. Home court advantage

ElShorbagy’s record in Qatar is absolutely insane. The two-time Qatar Classic Champion has competed in five consecutive Finals here. In 2012 and 2014, Doha hosted the PSA World Championships rather than the Qatar Classic. Mohamed was a Finalist in both. Here are the past five championship matches played in Doha:

  • 2012: World Championship. Ramy Ashour def Mohamed ElShorbagy (3-2)
  • 2013: Qatar Classic. Mohamed ElShorbagy def Nick Matthew (3-2)
  • 2014: World Championship. Ramy Ashour def Mohamed ElShorbagy (3-2)
  • 2015: Qatar Classic. Mohamed ElShorbagy def Gregory Gaultier (3-1)
  • 2016: Qatar Classic. Karim Abdel Gawad def Mohamed ElShorbagy (3-0)
  • 2017: Qatar Classic. (???)

With five in-a-row, Mohamed is now in the same conversation with the greatest squash player of all time, the legendary Jansher Khan, who also reached five successive Qatar finals in the 1990’s. Should ElShorbagy emerge the victor on Friday, he’ll begin writing his own chapter of Doha dominance.

Welcome back Chris Simpson

Mohamed’s opponent is back on tour after being sidelined by hip-surgery last season. In just his second PSA Tour level event of the comeback, he reached the Semifinals at the Amsterdam Open. Then, earlier this month, the former top-20 player battled through qualifying to reach the main draw of the season’s first World Series event at the US Open.

Though Chris cruised through Doha’s qualifying without losing a single game, “The Beast” was unbeatable on Sunday.

All ElShorbagy from First Serve

In game-1, Mohamed ElShorbagy broke away early. Down 5-10, Simpson managed to save two game balls, but the hole was too deep. The second was more competitive, but ElShorbagy never reliquished the lead. In the third, Simpson leveled it at 5-all, but Mohamed strung together six quick artistic points to earn his 18th match win of the new season. (FULL MATCH RECAP)

After the win, Mohamed talked about his hunger to continue his historic success in Doha: “I like playing here. I come back year after year and would love to get my name on the trophy again. This is where I won my first ever World Series title back in 2013 and I feel this year the event has raised the bar and I’m looking forward to hopefully having a good week.”