Hong Kong Squash Open

Dad’s mobile messages helped me win, says Nour El Sherbini

World No 1 needed extra motivation from her father who ‘coached’ her between games before she set up an all-Egypt final at Hong Kong Squash Open

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 18 November, 2017, 8:23pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 18 November, 2017, 11:03pm

World number one Nour El Sherbini of Egypt credited her father for helping her reach the final of the women’s competition at the Cathay Pacific Sun Hung Kai Financial Hong Kong even though he was thousands of kilometres away in Egypt.

Sherbini was against the robes against England Laura Massaro, who led 2-1 in games and the Egyptian was on the brink of defeat after trailing in the fourth game at Hong Kong Park Sports Centre. But El Sherbini received a timely boost from her father who “coached” her using mobile phone messaging during breaks between games.

“My father woke up at 9am in the morning [Egypt time] as he wanted to talk to me between games,” said the 22-year-old two-time world champion. “He was watching me live [on TV] from home and telling me I was playing all wrong. He told me I needed to be more patient and not to push the game too much.

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“His words always give me confidence. He has been with me since I started playing squash. And he knows me better than anybody else. Once I became confident, I started getting the tactics right and came back to win the match.”

El Sherbini rallied to 8-all in the fourth before taking the next three points to win the game and level the score to 2-all in games. The top player made no mistake in the decider, winning it 11-3 to set up an all-Egypt final against second seed Raneem El Welily.

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El Welily, the first Egyptian woman to become the world number one in any sport in September 2015, survived a five-game thriller in her semi-final against third seed Camille Serme of France. The 28-year-old eventually went through 5-11, 11-7, 11-6, 7-11, 11-6 after 56 minutes.

It’s the first time in the Hong Kong Squash Open that the women’s title will be contested by two Egyptians. The two also met at this year’s World Championship with EL Sherbini prevailing in three games.

The Hong Kong Open has been likened to the National Championships of Egypt as the men’s crown will also be contested by two Egyptian players after four of them made it to the last four.

Mohamed Elshorbagy, the third seed, cruised to a 13-11, 11-5, 12-10 win over his younger brother Marwan Elshorbagy in the first semi-final before Ali Farag, the fourth seed, beat second seed Karim Abdel Gawad 3-1.