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Mohamed El Shorbagy crowned champion of AJ Bell Grand Prix
Squash’s world number-one Mohamed El Shorbagy was crowned champion of the AJ Bell Grand Prix final in Manchester, England after beating number-two ranked Englishman Nick Matthew 3-1.
The Egyptian cruised to the semi-final after easily defeating Richie Fallows (England) 3-0 in the first round and eliminating Daryl Selby (England) 3-1.
His semi-final victory did not come easily as he squared off against the world’s number-three ranked Grégorey Gaultier (France). It was the first time both players had met after Shorbagy defeated him in the British Open finale last season.
Gaultier put in a good performance but was no match for the Pharaoh. Shorbagy lost the first game 7-11 but came back to win the second game, followed by a 11-6 victory in game three. The Frenchman won the fourth game to make it a 2-2 tie heading into the fifth game. In a close tie-breaker, Shorbagy came up top 11-8.
Shorbagy was set to face Matthew in the finale, who had qualified after defeating Egypt’s Karim Abd El Gawad. Abd El Gawad had reached the semi-final after defeating world number-four Miguel Rodriguez (Colombia) in a close 3-2 match.
Matthew had the advantage of playing in his home country with the majority of the crowd rooting for him. Shorbagy went into the game with full determination of winning after having a bad spell in the 2014 contest.
Shorbagy won the first match 11-7, and Matthew won a challenging second game 12-10. Shorbagy went on to win the third game 11-7 and the final game 11-9 to announce himself Champion of this year’s AJ Bell Grand Prix.
Shorbagy expressed how difficult it was to win and how tough his opponent was to the Professional Squash Association (PSA):
“I came out fighting for each point, and I’m glad it turned out to be a very good match in the end,” the champion said to PSA.
“Last year didn’t go too well for me, and I’m glad that I was able to play at my best all week and win my first title of the season. Nick and [I] always have great battles, and this was another one,” Shorbagy said. “I think we’re going to play a lot more this season.”