Squash: Mum's the word for world-beater Elshorbagy

DUBAI(AFP) - World No. 1 Mohamed Elshorbagy made a whirlwind start to his bid to win the World Series finals and created another kind of storm - of applause from spectators - by praising the mother who coaches him.

The 25-year-old Egyptian triumphed 11-4, 11-6 in a physically explosive battle with Mathieu Castagnet, the seventh-seeded Frenchman, and then told the crowd how Basma Hassan had made his pre-eminence possible.

"She has played such a big role in my career," Elshorbagy explained. "She comes to every tournament and she is more like a manager. I'm lucky to have a woman like that in my life."

The bustling Alexandrian was always in control against Castagnet, even though the movement and dynamism of the rallies took the crowd's breath away.

Once the Frenchman made a point blank interception from within six feet of the front wall, but even that was not enough to get the ball away for a winner.

Earlier Elshorbagy made it even clearer that he would not be at the pinnacle but for his mum, claiming that without her help he would have lost his last big final, at El Gouna three weeks ago when he was two games down against the world champion from France, Gregory Gaultier.

"When I lost the second game my mother came to me," Elshorbagy revealed. "She said 'I don't mind you losing, but don't come off court and let me down - just fight for every point now.' And it worked.

"My mother will quite often help me during tournaments and she has also been with me at training sessions. She knows the other players and watched their matches, and she loves the sport. It's always better with her."

Elshorbagy next plays Miguel Angel Rodriguez, the fifth-seeded Colombian, who scored his first ever win over Nick Matthew, the 35-year-old three times former world champion from England, 11-8, 8-11, 11-9.

Matthew, who contemplated retirement after the British Open two months ago, still looked hampered by the ankle injury which has troubled him for nearly a year.

The other world No. 1, Nour El Sherbini, by contrast, was beaten. The 20-year-old who recently won both the world and British Open titles, lost 12-10, 17-15 in an entertaining high speed encounter to her fellow Egyptian Raneem El Welily.

It was not a major surprise, for Welily was the world's top ranked player herself for a spell last year, and her creative style suited the shorter best of three games format very well. El Sherbini can still qualify if she wins her next two matches.

Later Nicol David, who could win this title for a third successive time despite the women's event's three-year absence - began with an enterprising 11-6, 13-11 win over Amanda Sobhy, the first American to reach the world's top eight.

David adapted well to the requirements of the shorter format, attempting more forays to the front than usual, and denying Sobhy a crucial game point at 10-11 in the second game with the help of a skilful volley drop shot.

The women's game's most successful player next faces another former world No. 1, Laura Massaro who produced a performance full of good movement and bold shot selection to win 11-7, 13-11 against Nouran Gohar, the world junior champion from Egypt.

Massaro had to make a clever front court angle to prevent the fierce hitting 18-year-old from levelling at one-game all, and enjoyed a crucially fortunate moment when a Gohar lob just touched the line - which is out in squash - on another game point.

Afterwards the 32-year-old Englishwoman said she believes she saved her career here in Dubai three years ago when she reckoned she was not getting any better.

"Three weeks' holiday here helped me make up my mind to go on, and my best achievements have come since then," she said. "So it's nice to be back."