Elshorbagy clear favourite in Dubai
Mohamed Elshorbagy and Nicol David during their practice session in front of the Burj Khalifa earlier this season. -
Dubai - Nicol out to challenge Nour, Laura and Raneem
The PSA Dubai World Series Finals will be the season-ending climax to the both the men's and women's PSA World Series tours, featuring the best eight qualifiers in the all-glass court placed at the Burj Park in front of the Burj Khalifa, from Tuesday to Saturday.
The Dubai stopover brings the players together in two groups of four, with players playing a round-robin best-of-three-set matches for places in the knockout stages that will based on a best of five-set format. The players will be getting a taste of the court during the practice sessions from noon today (Monday), and enthusiasts will be able to get a glimpse of the superstars at the Burj Park.
Mohamed Elshorbagy, the latest Egyptian superstar and world number one, will head the star-studded lineup of players in the men's championship in Dubai. The soft spoken 'Pharaoh of squash' finished the qualification events with his sixth straight PSA World Title win in El Gouna, Egypt recently.
Elshorbagy faced tough competition at every leg, his sheer genius making the wiry six footer almost unstoppable this season. After losing the semifinal in the first qualification event, the US Open in October 2015, he has won all the six remaining qualification events and has amassed a record number of points.
Going into the final qualification event, the El Gouna International, the top four players, El Shorbagy, world champion Gregory Gaultier of France, former world number one and world champion Nick Matthew of England and Omar Mosaad also of Egypt, had already secured a coveted spot in the PSA World Series Finals.
Each of the players ranked four to eight going into the final event did enough in El Gouna to retain their ranking positions and the top four will now be joined by world number six, Mathieu Castagnet of France, world number five Miguel Angel Rodriguez of Colombia, world number 11 Simon Rosner of Germany and world number 13 Cameron Pilley of Australia.
The women's line-up for Dubai was finalised two months ago and will feature new world champion and world number one Nour El Sherbini of Egypt, world number two Laura Massaro of England, eight- time world champion Nicol David of Malaysia, world number three Egyptian Raneem El Welily, as well as Camille Serme of France, Omneya Abdel Kawy of Egypt, Amanda Sobhy of USA, and Egypt's Nouran Gohar.
Elshorbagy and Nicol were in Dubai as part of the world series finals promo event recently. The pair had a practice session at the newly set up court and they looked comfortable with the facility.
"The first session towards the buildup gave us an early opportunity to get to know first hand, the court and the surroundings. There cannot be a better place to stage a year-ender. The players lined up so far have been fighting close battles all along this season. Being the first world series finals here, makes the occasion even bigger for the sport and for the next generation of players," Elshorbagy told Khaleej Times after a couple of practice sessions with Nicol.
"Dubai gives me and the ones who have slipped in the points race to make up for the early season loss of form. I think the Dubai event is going to get the best out of the in-form players and the ones striving hard to go top again. We are in for a classic show again at this year-ender," said Nicol.