Hadrian Stiff, Director and founder of Elite Squash, and coach to both newly crowned World champion, Mohamed ElShorbagy, and runner-up, his brother, Marwan, reports back from the recent World Championships in Manchester, where he witnessed history in the making as these two brothers competed against one another for the most prestigious title in squash…
“This year’s World open squash championships had all the excitement and interest that we could possibly have hoped for from our Bristol based professionals. The dream came true for Mohamed ElShorbagy as he claimed his first World title in possibly the most emotionally challenging final of his life so far; against his younger brother Marwan.
Preceding the final, Mohamed had arguably the toughest draw in the event, starting with Mezan Hesham then Joel Makin to set up three of the greatest players of all time back to back: Ramy Ashour, Nick Matthew and Grégory Gaultier – 3 world number 1’s with 7 world titles between them. If Mohamed was going to make the final he would certainly have to earn it! And he did, in majestic style showing why he is the best player in the world right now.
Marwan was not odds-on favourite to reach the final. But as Nick Matthew quoted on twitter during the event: “Marwan is one of the most underrated players in the top 10”. Following some solid performances in the early rounds he went on to produce some of his best squash this season to pass the number 2 seed and last year’s world champion, Karim Abdel Gawad, and then the very in form world number 3 Ali Farag. Few players have this kind of character that can raise their levels when it really matters, play the big points with intelligence and composure and manage the dreaded fear that approaches with the possibility of winning the big matches. To witness both brothers move through to the final simultaneously under these different, and incredibly challenging circumstances, in something I will never forget.
So, history was in the making as two brothers, who love and respect each other so much, and who have grown together throughout their squash careers, were to battle it out for the title of world champion. Mohamed admitted in his speech, after the match, that his first reaction was joy, as his brother won his semi-final, followed by sudden dread that if he was to win this title he would have to beat his own brother. It’s worth reflecting on how this might feel. Something we can only imagine; the situation being both mentally and emotionally beyond the usual sporting pressures.
It was the perfect final full of tension and emotion with momentum shifting from one brother to the other during the match. By the time the 5th game started it was clear Marwan was nearing the end of his physical reserves, but still he clung on for every point. However, his big brother was too strong, and deservedly became world champion. A credit to Mohamed’s enormous efforts over the last six months and the team of people around him. The scenes after the match showed every bit of the respect and admiration that underpins their brotherly relationship and family values; a credit to each other and their parents.
Mohamed and Marwan; all of us at Elite Squash are so proud of you and grateful for the impact and contributions you make to the Bristol squash scene. We are also extremely proud of all of the other players who competed in this event: Bradley Masters, Brian Byrne, Josh Masters, Todd Harity, Nada Abbas, Youssef Solimon and Joelle King. All of whom produced the highest quality squash and gave their everything.
This final, featuring two of Elite Squash’s top professional players, has been a dream end to 2017 and we’re sure that 2018 will be even more exciting as all of our professional players continue to reach for their best”.