Elshorbagy brothers make World C’ship history

MANCHESTER – Two brothers will contest the final of the World Championships for the first time in its 40-year history after Mohamed and Marwan Elshorbagy both upset the seedings and created an all-Egyptian final.

Mohamed beat Gregory Gaultier, the top-seeded former champion from France, though the greater surprise was perhaps the victory of the younger Marwan, who beat Ali Farag, the in-form US Open champion, by 11-8, 4-11, 9-11, 11-7, 11-9 to ensure the fraternal double. Farag led 7-4 in the fourth game and 6-4 in the fifth but tired as the effect of monster rallies dragged at his legs, while the sixth-seeded Marwan, who has never won a major title, became inspired at the prospect of joining Mohamed in the final. “We are so close to each other, and it’s something you only visualise when you are young,” Marwan said.

In fact two sisters, Rachael and Natalie Grinham, have also contested a world squash final, in 2007 in Madrid, although the nearest similar achievement in the men’s game happened back in the 1950s when the Khan brothers from Pakistan, Hashim and Azam, contested finals at the British Open, which was then regarded as the world championship.  It always seemed likely that the third-seeded Mohamed, who has returned to the form which a year ago made him the world’s best player, would beat Gaultier, the oldest world number one in the sport’s history and suffering from a lack of sleep after the birth of his second child. Mohamed duly prevailed 12-10, 11-4, 11-9.

It prompted Marwan to conclude his victory by saying: “Sorry brother, I am going to try and have my best ever recovery and try to beat you” – something which he did amid tears and embraces at the El Gouna Open in April. Although the chances of a family creating a legend had been widely debated it had focussed almost entirely on whether Farag and Nour El Tayeb could become the first husband and wife to reach the finals, as they did simultaneously at the US Open in October, making sporting history.

But that possibility was ended earlier in the day when Nour El Sherbini overcame Tayeb 11-2, 8-11, 10-12, 11-5, 11-0, advancing her chances of a third successive world title. When Raneem El Welily joined Sherbini in the final by beating Camille Serme, the former British Open champion from France, 11-7, 11-9, 11-7, it ended the French challenges and ensured that Egypt would provided all four finalists for the second successive World Championship.

Welily dedicated this achievement to her politically beleaguered nation. “I’m reading people in social media who are all saying ‘you are the only positive thing which is happening at the moment’,” she said. “So in a way I think we are helping to keep our people’s spirits up.”

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