Egyptian couple Ali Farag and Nour El Tayeb wrote their names into the history books as they triumphed at the 2017 U.S. Open Presented by Macquarie Investment Management to become the first married couple in sporting history ever to win the same major sports title on the same day.
Competing inside Philadelphia’s Drexel University the duo – who married last summer – defied the odds to defeat higher seeded and higher ranking opposition to secure the titles, the first PSA World Series titles of both of their careers.
After felling World No.1 Nour El Tayeb and World No.4 Laura Massaro to reach the title decider – her first appearance in a major final since losing the 2015 iteration of the U.S. Open – El Tayeb continued to play some of the best squash of her career to defeat compatriot and World No.3 Raneem El Welily in a breathtaking five-game affair that saw her twice come from a game behind to take the spoils.
“I’ve been dreaming about it and working really hard for the last two and half years,” said El Tayeb. “I’ve been improving every single tournament – it feels amazing to back-up wins against top four athletes – it’s amazing and I hope this is just the start.
“I soon as I finished my match, I just wanted to watch him and I was so nervous. It’s a dream – I see him every day working hard so it feels really special that both of our first World Series titles happen to be together.”
Meanwhile Farag produced a masterclass performance to dethrone 2016 title winner Mohamed ElShorbagy, the World No.3 who reigned supreme atop the World Rankings from over two years, in straight-games, securing his first major title and firmly establishing his credentials as one of the elite players on the men’s circuit.
“I always believed in myself and this win is going to make me believe even more and hopefully I carry this momentum into future tournaments. I can enjoy it tonight and then tomorrow I have to forget about it and move on.
“It’s a good omen when she plays before me! It was a rollercoaster of emotions but I think I dealt with it really well and I couldn’t be happier!”
2017 Men’s U.S. Open Final
 Ali Farag (EGY) 3-0  Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) 3-0: 12-10, 11-9, 11-8 (49m)
2017 Men’s U.S. Open Final
 Nour El Tayeb (EGY) 3-2  Raneem El Welily (EGY) 3-2: 8-11, 11-4, 5-11, 11-7, 11-5 (52m)
Egyptians Ali Farag and Nour El Tayeb, the Cairo-based pair who married in 2016, will be hoping for double-delight during the finals of the 2017 U.S. Open Presented by Macquarie Investment Management after they became the first married pair ever to reach the finals of the PSA World Series event as part of an Egyptian quartet who completed a clean sweep on semi-finals day.
Just over one year since their wedding day the pair enthralled the crowd inside Philadelphia’s Drexel University as they produced similarly scintillating performances to defeat their last four opposition in the shape of England’s Laura Massaro and fellow Egyptian Omar Mosaad – with Farag’s 3-0 win securing him a place in a World Series final for the first time in his career.
In a repeat of the 2015 U.S. Open final – which she lost 3-2 – El Tayeb put in a performance of pure class as she dismantled Massaro with a shot-mains masterclass to come through 3-1 and book her place in the finale.
“I’m very pleased with my performance,” said 24-year-old El Tayeb.
“Laura and I played a few years ago in the final here and I was so nervous that time – so today I was telling myself that it’s just a regular match and to go out there and enjoy it, which I did.
“She doesn’t give up and she keeps going – she takes advantage of any loss of concentration from any of her opponents. That’s something I learned from her and it’s unbelievable to beat her in such an occasion.
“I made the final three years ago but I’m just enjoying it. My squash couldn’t be going better – I’ve been working really hard and I’m happy that it’s starting to pay off.”
“It feels absolutely fantastic to reach the final,” said El Welily.
“Joelle is in fantastic form, I played with her here last year and it was something similar to today’s match.
“She has had a great season and has beaten everyone in the top five. I just tried to keep pushing and digging as much as I could – she was playing really well. I think I broke her mentally and that was key.
“Everyone is in top form and Nour El Tayeb is playing her heart out this tournament.”
Farag, the 25-year-old Harvard graduate, secured his place in the title decider courtesy of a dominant straight-games victory over Mosaad – the 2015 runner-up who returned to top form this week after suffering a dip in form through the past two years.
Farag weathered a Mosaad onslaught during a crucial 14-12 second game to set up the platform that ensured his progress to face defending title holder Mohamed ElShorbagy.
“I feel very happy to get past such a tough opponent,” said Farag.
“Omar is never easy to play against, he’s finding his form again and so to get a win against him is a great pleasure, but there is still the final tomorrow so I will just enjoy this for half an hour and then start focusing on tomorrow’s match.
“I knew today was going to be tough so I’m really pleased to be through – it’s special to be into the final along with Nour, but it will be even more special if we can hold the trophies together.”
“The level of squash we have played so far, I think we are playing even better than last year but sometimes it’s the luck of the draw and we both had to deal with it as professionals.
“I thought we dealt with it well and in front of a crowd like here, quality squash is supposed to be played and I’m really glad that we could both play that kind of squash and I can’t wait to play in my third final here tomorrow.”
Men’s 2017 U.S. Open Semi-finals:
 Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) 3-0  Nick Matthew (ENG) 13-11, 11-6, 11-8 (49m)
 Ali Farag (EGY) 3-1 Omar Mosaad (EGY) 11-6, 14-12, 11-6 (45m)
Women’s 2017 U.S. Open Semi-Finals:
 Nour El Tayeb (EGY) 3-1  Laura Massaro (ENG) 11-6, 12-10, 9-11, 11-3 (47m)
 Raneem El Welily (EGY) 3-1  Joelle King (NZL) 11-8, 6-11, 11-6, 11-6 (40m)
France’s Minister of Sport Laura Flessel, hosted by French Squash Federation president Jean Denis Barbet, has visited the French Squash National Training Centre in Creteil to watch women’s world No.2 (and WSF Olympic Commission member) Camille Sermecompeting in a French Regional League match on the eve of her departure for Philadelphia to defend her US Open title.
Flessel was impressed by the athleticism of the players. The former Olympic fencing champion explained to Serme that she had played squash during her time competing internationally, as it is an excellent sport for reflexes, fitness and stamina.
World Squash Federation President Jacques Fontaine, who also attended the meeting (and is pictured above, right, with Flessel and Barbet), said: “Squash is a very well established sport in France, with great players such as Camille, Gregory Gaultier and others too.
“We really hope that our Olympic dream will be realised here in Paris in 2024 and are very grateful that our Minister of Sport Mdm Flessel has shown her interest in squash by visiting us.”
The world’s leading squash players are encouraging every club on the planet to open their doors to support World Squash Day.
This annual event to promote the game takes place on Saturday 14 October and former world champions Nick Matthew and Laura Massaro are amongst those urging clubs to organise events to attract new players to the sport.
“World Squash Day is a great opportunity to showcase the game to a new audience – not just the health benefits of squash, but how much fun it can be,” said Matthew, the three-time world champion from England.
“Any initiative that can help to get people through the door of squash clubs to try squash for the first time has to be supported and World Squash Day is doing this on a global scale, which is great,” added the world No.4.
Massaro, women’s world champion in 2014, added: “I am very passionate about getting more girls and women to play squash and World Squash Day is a fantastic opportunity for people who may never have tried squash to give it a go.
“I hope every squash club out there will be putting on fun activities on the day to get lots of people to discover how great squash is.”
World Squash Day founder Alan Thatcher, a tournament organiser and author from England, is keen to promote the health benefits of playing squash.
“Squash is rated one of the healthiest sports for players of all ages,” said Thatcher on the eve of the 14th staging of World Squash Day. “At a time when many governments are spending a fortune on treating the effects of childhood obesity and a lack of physical activity among middle-aged people, squash can provide the ideal solution.
“Squash burns around 900 calories per hour and the health benefits can last a lifetime for those who continue playing into their 40s, 50s and 60s.
“We have a thriving Masters scene in squash and former world champions like Australia’s Sarah Fitz-Gerald continue to blaze a trail through the age-group competitions.
“Looking at the PSA World Tour, all of the players are remarkable athletes who produce truly dynamic entertainment at the highest level. We are very fortunate to have such outstanding role models in the game. All of them started playing at their local clubs, and this is where we hope to see some creative and fun events to attract new people to the sport on World Squash Day.”
Australian number one Cameron Pilley, who won the World Doubles Championship with Ryan Cuskelly recently, was happy to endorse World Squash Day.
“World Squash Day seems to be getting bigger and better every year and it’s so positive to see clubs all around the world get behind WSD,” said the world No.17 from New South Wales. “I am looking forward to seeing the different and fun ideas clubs come up with this year to promote our great game. See you on court!”
World Squash Day is endorsed by the World Squash Federation and the PSA, and national federations are encouraging clubs to open their doors on this special day to promote the sport.
WSF CEO Andrew Shelley stated: “We celebrate our great sport every day of the year, but the annual ‘Day’ is a great opportunity to draw attention to the health benefits and fun nature of it; to encourage children and adults alike to try it; and to raise money for charities. Do take the opportunity!”
Elias, the former World Junior champion, powered his way past three-time World Champion Nick Matthew – who remains at World No.4 in the latest standings – to reach the last four before losing out to current World Champion Karim Abdel Gawad in a hard fought five-game battle in which the Peruvian took the first two games.
Gawad meanwhile remains at World No.2 for a fifth straight month but has narrowed the gap on World No.1 Gregory Gaultier, with the Frenchman – who missed San Francisco with an ankle injury – notching up a fifth successive month at the top of the standings while Mohamed ElShorbagy, the man who beat Gawad to the title in San Francisco, remains at World No.3.
Ali Farag (5), Marwan ElShorbagy (6), Tarek Momen (8) and Fares Dessouky (9) complete a six-strong Egyptian presence within the Top 10, with England’s James Willstrop (7) and New Zealand’s Paul Coll (10) occupying the remaining positions in an unchanged line up.
Outside the Top 10, former World No.1 Ramy Ashour – who turned 30 yesterday – has moved up three places to No.11 following his victory at the 2017 J.P. Morgan China Open in early September, moving ahead of Germany’s Simon Rösner, fellow Egyptian Mohamed Abouelghar and England’s Daryl Selby – who sits one place above Elias.Gohar Returns To Top Five In PSA Women’s World Rankings
The hard-hitting player from Cairo, who last month fell out of the top five for the first time in over a year, enjoyed a purple patch of form throughout September, reaching the final of the J.P. Morgan China Open – where she lost to compatriot Nour El Sherbini, who remains at World No.1 for an 18th consecutive month – before lifting her first title of the season at the Macau Open.
She is now within 200 points of England’s former World No.1 Laura Massaro, who occupies the World No.4 berth, while Frenchwoman Camille Serme has moved up one place to a career-high equalling World No.2 – overtaking Raneem El Welily who falls back to No.3, her lowest ranking in six months.
Serme, who was the only player to win two PSA World Series titles during the 2016/17 campaign, is now within 150 points of El Sherbini ahead of the first World Series title of the 2017/18 season – the U.S. Open – which gets underway next week.
Elsewhere inside the top ten England’s 27-year-old Sarah-Jane Perry has narrowed the gap on eight-time World Champion Nicol David to less that 20 points courtesy of her victory at the 2017 Oracle NetSuite Open, where she recovered from match ball down to defeat David in the final.
American Amanda Sobhy, the Harvard-graduate who has been out injured for over six months, falls out of the Top 10 for the first time two years to be replaced by New Zealand’s Joelle King, while her Team USA compatriot Olivia Blatchford moves up one position to No.16.
Egypt’s World No.3 Mohamed ElShorbagy and England’s World No.6 Sarah-Jane Perry are the 2017 Oracle NetSuite Open champions after they claimed respective wins over World Champion Karim Abdel Gawad and legendary Malaysian Nicol David on finals day in San Francisco.
ElShorbagy had a difficult 2016/17 season by his own high standards – losing his World No.1 ranking and struggling for form throughout – but has begun the new campaign in style, backing up a thrilling five-game victory over last year’s runner-up James Willstrop with a sublime display against Gawad, who struggled to back up after a brutal 90-minute semi-final with Peru’s Diego Elias.
ElShorbagy hadn’t beaten Gawad in over a year, losing to his compatriot twice in the meantime, but he outclassed the World No.2 this time around, reading his shots well and playing with stunning attacking force to record an 11-9, 11-6, 11-3 triumph – lifting his 26th Tour title and taking the lion’s share of the $100k prize fund.
“When I was World No.1 for 28 months, all of the players studied me every single day but, coming into this season, I’m studying everyone. I’m coming in really hungry and I really want to do well this season.
“I’ve put in a lot of work this summer and there is nothing in my mind apart from getting back to World No.1 this season. I’m going to do everything I can to get back to where I feel I should be.”
In the women’s $50k event, 2015 runner-up Perry – who dispatched top seed and defending champion Laura Massaro in the semi-finals – had won the last three meetings between her and David but was up against it as her opponent, an eight-time World Champion, surged into a two-game lead courtesy of some precise attacking at the front of the court.
27-year-old Perry fought back in the third to halve the deficit before squandering two game balls in the fourth to hand David a championship ball.
But a fortuitous nick off a Perry cross court handed the initiative back to the player from England, and she converted her next game ball before holding her nerve in the decider to seal an 8-11, 8-11, 11-7, 14-12, 11-7 victory that sees her pick up the ninth Tour title of her career and her first since 2015.
“I was just thinking of my nan [at championship ball down], it’s one I’ve got to dedicate to her because she passed away a couple of weeks ago and on that championship ball I told myself that I had to be brave and do it for nan and it worked,” said an emotional Perry.
“If a dead nick isn’t a sign that she’s looking down on me, then I don’t know what is. I had nothing in the tank but I just kept getting another ball back against someone who was playing amazing.
“This is my biggest title and I reached my first World Series final last season, so I’m looking to set my marker down early. Winning this one has kickstarted my season and hopefully it’s a sign of things to come for the rest of the year.”
 Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) bt  Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) 11-9, 11-6, 11-3 (45m)
 Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) bt  Nicol David (MAS) 8-11, 8-11, 11-7, 14-12, 11-7 (74m)
England claimed two of the three titles on offer – for the second time in a row – when Clive Leach & John Russell and Suzie Pierrepont & Georgina Stoker struck gold in the Men’s and Women’s events, respectively, in the Stifel World Hardball Doubles Squash Championships in St Louis in the US state of Missouri.
There was home success earlier in the day when sixth-seeded US pairing Natalie Grainger & Christopher Callis triumphed in the Mixed championship.
Despite being the title-holders, Leach & Russell were the fourth seeds – but made their breakthrough in the semi-finals where they despatched No.1 seeds Michael Ferreira & Jonny Smith
The established English duo – appearing in the final for the fourth time in five years – took a two-game lead against their younger Canadian opponents Thomas Brinkman & Robin Clarke. The unseeded pair (pictured below in final action, in white shorts) soon drew level to force a decider – but it was the seasoned English pair, aged 43 and 38, who reached match-ball first at 14-12.
After two match-balls were saved, it was sudden death at 14-all. With Leach pressuring Brinkman to hit the ball back to himself and give away a stroke, it was the English duo who retained their title 15-10, 15-10, 3-15, 7-15, 15-14.
“I got sucked into hitting aimlessly across court and lost the battle with Thomas in the middle but then got back to the plan of mixing height with width and some down the middle to try and force an error,” said Russell later. “It worked but it was close!”
Women’s favourites Narelle Krizek & Natarsha McElhinny, the Australian sisters formerly known as Narelle and Natarsha Tippett, duly reached the final – but the title remained in English hands.
It was a joyful climax for second seeds Suzie Pierrepont & Georgina Stoker who competed in the 2015 final – on opposite sides of the court. After dropping the first game, the England pair stormed back to take the title 12-15, 15-11, 15-3, 15-7 – marking a successful defence for 2015 champion Pierrepont.
“I lost to Suzie in the final two years ago in the final,” said Stoker (pictured above at the trophy presentations). “So it was really great to have won with her this time. I was so nervous for the first game and could hardly hit it he ball, but after we won the second I settled in and we came out firing in the third and fourth.”
Seasoned hardball doubles campaigner Natalie Grainger, the 40-year-old former world No.1, was partnered by 28-year-old Christopher Callis in the Mixed final. The USA pair had already accounted for the No.4 seeds in the first round and now faced third-seeded Canadians Stephanie Hewitt & Viktor Berg.
After taking the opening game, Grainger and Callis fell 2/1 behind – then had to save three match-balls in the fourth to force a decider. But experience shone through as the home duo marched on to win 15-9, 10-15, 11-15, 15-14, 15-7.
“We knew we had to be on high alert with Viktor on the court as he is so dangerous,” said Grainger (pictured above at the presentations). “We had to up the pace and add variety – we are so pleased to have got the win.”
 Clive Leach & John Russell (ENG) bt Thomas Brinkman & Robin Clarke (CAN) 15-10, 15-10, 3-15, 7-15, 15-14
 Suzie Pierrepont & Georgina Stoker (ENG) bt  Narelle Krizek & Natarsha McElhinny (AUS) 12-15, 15-11, 15-3, 15-7
 Natalie Grainger & Christopher Callis (USA) bt  Tina Rix & John Russell (ENG) 15-8, 15-8, 15-4
 Stephanie Hewitt & Viktor Berg (CAN) bt  Suzie Pierrepont & James Stout (ENG) 11-15, 7-11, 15-11, 15-14, 15-13
 Natalie Grainger & Christopher Callis (USA) bt  Stephanie Hewitt & Viktor Berg (CAN) 15-9, 10-15, 11-15, 15-14, 15-7
For more details, visit www.worlddoubles.com