Former World No.1 Mohamed ElShorbagy is aiming to end a disappointing 2016/17 season on a high with victory at next month’s PSA Dubai World Series Finals – with the lucrative tournament set to light up Dubai Opera between June 6-10.
The 26-year-old has suffered a frustrating campaign this year, failing to lift a title since his Delaware Investments U.S. Open win in October and seeing his 15-month reign atop the World Rankings come to an end in April.
But despite suffering his longest title drought for three years the Egyptian is eager to finish the season on a high by winning one of the sport’s most lucrative titles – in a city he has a long family association with.
“It would mean a lot to win the World Series Finals.” said ElShorbagy.
“Especially after having a season that hasn’t gone the way I would like. Winning the World Series Finals and ending the season with a win like that would be a good way to start my summer preparation for next season.
“I loved my time in Dubai last year and this year in the Opera is a deserved reward for the eight players who’ve performed best over the season to get the chance to play in a great venue and end the season at the event.
“My father used to work in Dubai and I used to go and visit him and I absolutely love the place. I really can’t wait to be back this year and try and play my best squash at the amazing venue.”
The World Series Finals brings together the top eight players on the Men’s and Women’s PSA Road to Dubai Standings, with qualifying points on offer at all World Series tournaments throughout the 2016/17 season.
And this year the Bristol-based Egyptian could be competing against younger brother Marwan in the best of three format for the first time after the World No.7 secured his maiden spot amongst the top eight.
With a $160,000 prize fund on the line the older ElShorbagy brother admitted that his sibling could be his toughest competitor.
“We are very lucky to have each other – we live and share the same dreams,” said ElShorbagy – who lost in the final of the 2013 World Series Finals.
“We do everything together, we share rooms at tournaments and we play in training every day. Of course we have a brotherly rivalry that has helped us become the players that we are today, but it is never easy to play against each other in tournaments – trying to beat my brother is emotionally difficult and it takes so much out of both of us.
“We don’t enjoy it and it is very hard for our parents as well but we just try to do them proud and give our best against each other.”
ElShorbagy – who finished third on the Men’s PSA Road to Dubai Standings – reached the semi-final stage last year before a surprise defeat to Australia’s Cameron Pilley curtailed his involvement in the showpiece tournament.
This year’s World Series Finals is set to be one of the most competitive yet with ten current and former World No.1s set to feature across both the Men’s and Women’s draws -and with the World Series Finals featuring a unique best of three games format throughout the group stages, ElShorbagy knows he will have to be on form to have any chance of succeeding.
“The best of three format changes everything – physically, the tactics, everything, even the warm-up,” he said.
“You have to be at your best from the first point, you can’t afford to relax because if you start slow and lose the first game, you’re just a few points away from losing.
“I think it’s very exciting, it changes the dynamic and players can go for their shots more and not worry about the physicality so much.
“I’m excited to see what happens.”
The PSA Dubai World Series Finals takes place from June 6-10, 2017. All of the action will be shown live on SQUASHTV (rest of world) and EUROSPORT PLAYER (Europe only).
Group stage matches will take place at 3:00pm, 3:45pm, 16:45pm and 17:30pm (Group A) and 21:30pm, 22:15pm, 23:15pm and 00:00am (Group B) between June 6-8 with the semi-finals due to take place from 22:00pm on June 9. The finals will commence at 22:00pm local time on June 10.
Tickets for the World Series Finals can be purchased here