Elshorbagy, Welily crowned world squash champions

MANCHESTER-Mohamed Elshorbagy had to overcome mixed emotions to win the world title by beating his brother Marwan 11-5, 9-11, 11-7, 9-11, 11-6 in the first ever final between brothers.

Mohamed has twice lost world finals by the narrowest of margins to fellow Egyptian Ramy Ashour, but he was not prepared for an even harder opponent — the younger sibling with whom he has been competing since they were both old enough to walk. “I was in shock when Marwan won his match last night,” Mohamed admitted. “I was lying in bed for hours thinking I have to beat my brother to win the world title. It was not a nice feeling at all.”

It was a contest of sensational hitting, breath-taking movement, and obvious emotion between two men who could often guess what the other might do. Mohamed, twice a British Open winner, led by a game and 9-7 but was pegged back, while Marwan went 6-4 up in the decider but could get no closer to the finish line. It ended in a flurry of lets and penalty points as both men tired, with Marwan starting to miss with his short game in the last few points.

It may have been Marwan’s later schedule the previous night and subsequent shorter recovery time which eventually made a difference. The end came with a ferocious cross court forehand winner from Mohamed, after which Marwan responded by applauding Mohamed for his achievement.

Mohamed tried to soften the blow by lifting Marwan’s arm as the crowd clapped, and there followed a very long hug between the brothers. “I waited a long time for this moment and it was such a hard feeling,” said Mohamed. “It is something we must share for the rest of our lives, although maybe both of us will not enjoy it.”

Earlier, Egypt’s Raneem El Welily ended a three-year wait for atonement when she won the world title by upsetting her compatriot Nour El Sherbini 3-11, 12-10, 11-7, 11-5 in Sunday’s final. World number two Welily made up for the loss of four match points against Nicol David in the 2014 final in front of her home crowd in Cairo by beating Sherbini, who had been in fine form and was looking to become the first Egyptian to win three successive world squash titles.

Sherbini took the first game and looked likely to take a two-game lead when she took five out of six points and saved a game ball to reach parity at 10-10 in the second game. But Welily drew leve on games and completed the turnaround by winning the next two to take the title. “After the first game I began to hit the ball more accurately, not as quick a pace and not as strong, but this still made a huge difference,” she said. “I was able to get in front of Nour and then move her to the front and back again as often as possible.”

It was when Welily started to get the feel of the conditions that she showed just how talented a shot-maker she is — deft with the drop shots, sharp-eyed with the cut-off volleys, and slick-wristed with the disguised drives. She won the two points from 10-10 in the second game with a lovely forehand drive winner and a brilliant retrieve which lured Sherbini into angling the ball down off a side wall.

In the third game, Welily soon built a 7-3 lead and in the fourth a 6-2 lead, neither of which Sherbini was able to peg back. It was several minutes before Welily could make her on court speech because of prolonged tears. But eventually she named all those who had helped her, including husband Tarek Momen who she claimed “is good enough to win the world title too”.



Emotional brothers Mohamed Elshorbagy and Marwan Elshorbagy captured in a photo.

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