Nour El Sherbini hoping HK Open can help in quest to emulate Malaysian legend Nicol David
The Egyptian world number one says she hopes to hang on to the top spot as long as possible
World number one Nour El Sherbini says she is struck with awe by the achievements of Nicol David and is hoping tournaments such as the Cathay Pacific Sun Hung Kai Financial Hong Kong Open will help her emulate the Malaysian’s success.
But she knows it won’t be easy, with David holding the world No 1 spot for 109 straight months from August, 2006 and 112 months in total.
“I have been the world number one close to two years and it’s already so hard that I always feel the pressure. I don’t know how she did that for such a long period of time,” said El Sherbini of David, who won the Hong Kong Open 10 straight times from 2006 to 2015.
“David has done a lot for the sport and is a squash legend. Of course I want to be like her to occupy the top spot for that long and that’s what I am working on. But I think it’s harder than before to do the same thing.
“There are a lot of challenges these days for players if they want to dominate as all the top 10 players are so difficult to beat and everyone is improving their game physically and mentally.”
At 22, El Sherbini is one of the most exciting female players on the world tour, making history at the World Championship and British Open – the two most prestigious tournaments.
After capturing the world junior title (Under-19) at only 13, El Sherbini won her first world series title last year in the Tournament of Champions before she became the first female Egyptian to lift the iconic British Open crown.
She then recovered from 2-0 down in the World Championship final against England’s Laura Massaro and become the youngest world champion. Her exploits elevated her to the world No. 1 spot in the May last year, becoming the second-youngest female ever to reach top spot.
In April, the player known for her attacking style retained her world title in Malaysia.
“I try to enjoy the game more rather than putting pressure on my myself and it makes easier for me to play better squash,” said the top seed in Hong Kong, who is expected to meet compatriot and defending champion Nouran Gohar in the quarter-finals.
“It’s going to be an interesting game as we know each other so well,” she said. “Gohar is always hard to play because of her solid games and I always consider her one of the best players in the top 10. But other players such as world number two Raneem El Welily and Camille Serme are also difficult. ”
Hong Kong’s Annie Au Wing-chi is set to meet David in the second round after beating the former world number one in the US Open last month, the first time in their 25 encounters. Both players will meet a qualifier in the opening round.
Meanwhile, home favourite Lee Ka-yi is just one match from the main draw after stunning top seed Nele Gills, of Belgium, at Football Club on Sunday.
Lee won their tough qualifying match 12-14, 11-7, 6-11, 11-7, 11-6 after 53 minutes and will meet Rachael Arnold, of Malaysia, for a place in the women’s first round. Ho Tze-lok defeated Chloe Mesic, of France, in straight set and will meet Nada Abbas, of Egypt, on Monday.
The draw for the US$305,000 tournament will be held on Tuesday at the Squash Centre in Central, with big guns such as world number one Gregory Gaultier of France, world champion Karim Abdel Gawad of Egypt, two-time winner Mohamed El Shorbagy and defending champion Ramy Ashour battling it out also for the men’s title.