Egypt’s Nour El Sherbini celebrated her 24th birthday in style as she captured her fourth World Championship trophy after overcoming compatriot and World No.1 Raneem El Welily in front of Cairo’s spectacular Great Pyramid of Giza to win the 2019-20 CIB PSA Women’s World Championship.
El Sherbini is only the fourth - and youngest - female player to win four World Championship trophies, while she is the first person to win a World Championship trophy in front of the Pyramids since Australia’s David Palmer in 2006. Her latest triumph, which comes after an 11-4, 9-11, 11-5, 11-6 win, is made all the more incredible given the fact she is appearing at her first tournament of the season after suffering with a knee injury.
That knee injury has seen El Sherbini fall to World No.4 in this month’s PSA Women’s World Rankings, but she has been in ruthless form throughout the past week in Cairo and didn’t drop a game until the final, where she was meeting El Welily in a third World Championship title decider.
El Welily beat El Sherbini at the 2016 Al Ahram Open as she became the first woman to win a professional squash title in front of the Pyramids, but she looked overawed by the occasion as a number of errors in the opening game handed the lead to her opponent.
She struck back in the second, but from there it was all about El Sherbini as she attacked all areas of the court to complete the win in 41 minutes to capture the biggest title in women’s squash. El Sherbini takes home $61,000 in prize money and also qualifies for the season-ending PSA World Tour Finals, which will take place in June.
“The last couple of months for me have been really hard,” said El Sherbini after the 20th PSA Tour title of her career.
“I didn’t know what I was going to do... but I took the risk and took the decision that I wanted to play this tournament badly, and I wanted to come and try and see how it goes. I was getting better every match and I’m very grateful and happy to be standing here right now.
"I missed playing with all the top players and especially Raneem. She is closest to my heart and it’s very hard to play her mentally and emotionally, but we try to leave the emotions and focus on squash once we get inside the court. I think because today is my birthday, I was making sure not to be sad. I was very relaxed and it took a lot of pressure off thinking about the messages, so it helped me a lot.
“We are very happy to have this tournament back and playing in front of the Pyramids was always a dream of mine. I would really like to thank I-Events, Amr Mansi and his team, and especially CIB for hosting and helping the women’s game get bigger and for giving the women the chance to have a prize money bigger than the men’s.
"It is a big risk and hopefully we deserved that and played matches that were worthy of that. All of the players are very grateful.”