Egypt’s world number ones Nour El Sherbini and Mohamed ElShorbagy defeated their respective compatriots and world number two-ranked players Raneem El Welily and Ali Farag to win the women’s and men's titles at the Professional Squash Association (PSA) Dubai World Series Finals.
Both players in the women's final had been losing finalists at this tournament in the past – El Sherbini in 2017 and El Welily in 2016 – so whatever happened tonight in the Emirates Golf Club venue, the women's trophy was guaranteed to have a new name on it.
But it soon became apparent how determined the 22-year-old El Sherbini – beaten by her 29-year-old opponent in last December’s PSA World Championship final – was to ensure it was her name that got engraved after what was their sixth meeting in a PSA World Tour event final this season.
El Sherbini, who has topped the world rankings for 26 successive months, had won five of those previous finals, and she started the stronger to take the opening game 11-5.
El Welily, 22, settled though in the second as the quality of the squash between the two players steadily increased, and the younger player levelled by winning 11-9.
But the world number one secured her seventh PSA World Tour title of the season by closing out the next two games 11-8, 11-5.
"This is the best match we’ve played in the whole season,” said El Sherbini.
“This is the sixth time [this season] and it’s hard to play the same player every month.
“You have to try and change your tactics and your game.
“We’re always pushing each other and we definitely learn from each other.
“I’ve reached the semis twice and last year I reached the final, so this time it had to be mine and I just wanted to prove that I deserved to be at the top of the game right now.
“This tournament was really important for me and that’s why I’ve been pushing hard from the first match.”
Farag threatened ElShorbagy’s dominance of the World Series early in the season as he captured the US Open title, but since then the latter has had the better of their matches and he earned his fourth successive victory over his rival in defending his title tonight.
Farag started more strongly, but ElShorbagy demonstrated why he’s know as “The Beast” on tour as he levelled the match before prevailing in a physically punishing third game to set up the platform for victory – which sees him end the season as world number one, world champion World Series Finals champion.
ElShorbagy triumphed 9-11, 11-3, 11-9, 11-8.
“It’s been an amazing week here in Dubai,” he said.