ElShorbagy wins St. James’s Place Canary Wharf Classic in thriller
- Credit: Archant
Egypt’s world number one Mohamed ElShorbagy claimed the St. James’s Place Canary Wharf Classic title for the second time in his career after he prevailed in a terrific final against world number two and compatriot Ali Farag at the spectacular East Wintergarden.
The pair were meeting on the PSA World Tour for the 20th time in their careers, with ElShorbagy coming into this meeting in London holding the 11-8 advantage.
However, Farag had won their last meeting - a straight games victory to lift the FS Investments US Open Squash Championship in Philadelphia in October.
The latest match started in brutal fashion and continued in that vain for 80 minutes, with lengthy, high-quality rallies throughout.
The first game saw work put into the legs of both players, with ElShorbagy eventually taking it, but it hurt.
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Farag aimed to use that to his advantage in the second, pushing further up the court whilst also trying to raise the tempo as he went out to a comfortable lead, but the world number one saved four game balls thanks to a couple of incredible cross-court nicks. Farag was able to recover to restore parity in the match, and he then held a lead in the third.
It looked like the former world number one would take the lead for the first time in the final, but a run of seven straight points from ElShorbagy took him back into a one-game lead, and he carried that momentum into the fourth game, and was only three points from the victory when Farag pushed once again.
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Farag won four of the next five points, as ElShorbagy tired, looking almost out on his feet. He was able to recover, though, saving three game balls in the process before eventually winning the tie-break 15-13 to claim a second title at the St. James's Place Canary Wharf Classic.
'The longer you play on Tour, you realise you spend more time with your rival than your family. Ali is not just a rival for me, he is someone who really inspires me and he makes me want to be a better squash player every day,' said ElShorbagy.
'I have played so many different players form many different generations, but if I get asked who is the toughest opponent I have played in my life, it will be him.
'It keeps getting harder every time we play and he keeps bringing something different to the game. I am really glad to see him back and it is such pleasure to be on court with him again.
'This could probably be the last match we play this season, and to have the two best players, it was good to have that. Honestly, what we are facing right now is something that the whole world needs to come together for.
'I hope that everyone takes care of themselves, not just squash fans, but everyone. I hope this is something that goes away very fast and that we can just come back to normal.
'Thanks to the sponsors of the event. They choose such a wonderful event to sponsor and it makes it an honour to come back here every year. Playing in front of this crowd as well, without you guys, there would be no us. You make it special for us every single year.'
Farag added: 'The season is suspended now so we wanted to give you a match to remember before we stop! We did our sport very proud. Mohamed and I have come to enjoy our battles a lot recently, especially when it is played in front of such an amazing crowd like you guys. We cannot be more grateful really.
'Thanks to St. James's Place and the sponsors for making this happen. Thanks to everyone who has helped put this together and thanks to everyone that has helped me stand here today.'
St. James's Place Canary Wharf Classic, final:  Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) bt  Ali Farag (EGY) 3-1: 11-8, 10-12, 11-6, 15-13 (79m).