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ElShorbagy bounces back in Dubai as Massaro defends crown

Egyptian squash superstar Mohamed ElShorbagy put a disappointing year behind him to triumph at the 2017 PSA Dubai World Series Finals in June, as provided in-depth, on-the-ground coverage of the first-ever sporting event to be held at Dubai Opera, in a week that also saw England’s Laura Massaro retain the women’s title.

On the eve of the tournament, ElShorbagy sat alongside his younger brother Marwan as he revealed to Vision Sport how he had lost his energy and hunger during a campaign that also saw him lose his treasured world no. 1 ranking.

“But now, I feel as if I have my motivation back,” added the 26-year-old, clearly inspired by a return to Dubai – a city he grew fond of while his father worked there as an engineer – and the presence of his brother, who had qualified for the season-finale for the first time.

He was as good as his word. It was a rejuvenated ElShorbagy that took to the state-of-the-art Z-Court, remaining unbeaten through the group stage before winning a blockbuster semi-final against Simon Rösner that continued late into the night.  

And in the men’s final, the artful James Willstrop was no match for ‘The Beast’, as ElShorbagy showed the same kind of form that has taken him to two British Open titles, dominating the front-centre of the court in a display of brains and brawn. Earlier, women’s world no. 1 Nour El Sherbini had failed to tee up an Egyptian double, as the tenacious Laura Massaro made it back-to-back successes in the prestigious end-of-season showcase.

The event, which uses an innovative best-of-three format, is helping to raise squash’s profile ahead of the sport’s latest efforts to join the programme for the Olympic Games in 2024, and among the star names in attendance were none other than Jahangir Khan, revered as the greatest squash player of all time.

“[Dubai Opera] is a fabulous venue,” he told Vision Sport in an exclusive interview. “I’ve never seen a venue like this. It’s something unique for squash, and it’s wonderful to watch it from up there in the gallery.”