Squash: Brother’s tips help El Shorbagy win Singapore Open

Britain's Mohamed El Shorbagy (left) beating Peru's Diego Elias 3-0 in the Marigold Singapore Squash Open final on Nov 20. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE – After losing four of his last five matches against Diego Elias, British world No. 3 Mohamed El Shorbagy knew he had to come up with something special to beat his rival in the Marigold Singapore Squash Open final on Sunday.

Fortunately for him, it was not too hard to find that winning edge. He just had to call his younger brother Marwan, who is ranked three rungs below him and had beaten Elias twice in straight games in October.

Mohamed El Shorbagy, who was tied at 5-5 in his previous encounters with Elias before the final, said: “Even the times I beat Diego, they were all very, very tough. I’ve never really had a convincing win against him before, but he has had many convincing wins against me.

“So I wanted to try to understand how (Marwan) played and what are the tactics (I can use). There’s no shame in trying to ask players, especially if it’s your younger brother.”

The phone consultation worked as El Shorbagy, 31, outplayed the fifth-ranked Peruvian and comfortably won 3-0 (11-6, 11-6, 11-8) at the OCBC Arena to claim his second consecutive title and 48th career crown overall.

The former world No. 1 and 2017 world champion was pleased that his tactics worked as he outmanoeuvred Elias and left him struggling to find solutions.

The title was also El Shorbagy’s fourth this season, after winning the Qatar Classic, Oracle NetSuite Open and the Nov 8-13 New Zealand Open. He is hoping to win his fifth in Hong Kong in a fortnight.

“There’s still a very long season to go,” he said. “You’re not going to become world No. 1 from just winning four events in one season. You need to actually win more than that. I need to keep going.”

It was also a second straight title for women’s singles champion Joelle King, who won her home New Zealand Open earlier in November.

The world No. 5 beat Egyptian Nour El Tayeb 3-0 (11-6, 12-10, 11-4) for her 16th Professional Squash Association title.

King started on the front foot, calmly returning whatever shot El Tayeb fired at her. She also overcame a recharged El Tayeb in the second game and saved two match points before doubling her lead.

That proved the turning point as she comfortably outplayed her opponent in the one-sided third game to clinch the championship and US$110,000 (S$151,200) prize money.

King, 34, paid tribute to El Tayeb, who is competing in her first full season since giving birth in July 2021.

She said: “I was game ball down (in the second game) and I thought that I just needed to fight. I tried to get a bit of rhythm for the next game and get in front and volley, and that seemed to work.

“That was the turning point, I think, and I came out strong in the third and just tried to protect the lead, so I’m very happy with this win today.”

King is now looking forward to spending some downtime in Singapore before the Hong Kong Open. The first thing she will do is enjoy a burger and some fries on Sunday night. She plans to visit a beach and not pick up a squash racket on Monday.

“It’s just been tournament after tournament, so it’d be nice to just have a little break and then get some more training and try to improve in some areas that we’re still trying to improve,” she said.

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