Birthday Boy ElShorbagy Celebrates 700th Match With Florida Open Win
13 Jan 2024
The Englishman became the youngest player to hit that milestone since records began on what was also his 33rd birthday - and made sure it would be a day to remember with a 3/1 win.
After opening up a sizeable lead early in game one, Elshorbagy was pegged back to 6-6 by the Frenchman, but he closed out the game nonetheless when Marche attempted an ambitious back-court boast that found the tin on game ball.
Game two was more straightforward for Elshorbagy, who kept Marche at arm's length throughout before hitting a crisp, cross-court forehand which found the nick on game ball, but Marche responded well to keep his hopes alive by winning game three.
Looking to regain control, Elshorbagy dominated the opening rallies of game four to give himself a 6-2 lead, but Marche would not go down without a fight.
He hit a brilliant forehand smash into the nick at 7-4 down then closed the gap to a single point after winning a breathless rally in which he had to recover from his knees, but ultimately it would prove to be too little too late, with another tin on match ball handing Elshorbagy victory.
Speaking about his achievement of reaching 700 matches, Elshorbagy revealed his pride, while setting his sights on more milestones in the future.
"I'm really proud," he said. "I'm not sure how many players get to 700 - I know Greg [Gaultier] and James [Willstrop] were in the 700s - and I'm really, really proud of the achievement of being the youngest ever to do it.
"But hopefully I have a few more years left in me, hopefully I can think about 800, and why not think about the 1,000th match one day, as long as I can keep myself healthy."
Speaking on the performance, Elshorbagy added: "I'm really, really pleased. I think I played much better than yesterday, focus-wise, and performance-wise I felt much more comfortable with the court.
"Greg obviously had a tough match yesterday and sometimes than can make you a little bit slow at the start and you get sharper as the match goes on, so after I lost that third game, I had to take the pace up to another level in the fourth, especially at the start."
Elshorbagy will take on Egypt's Mostafa Asal in the semi-finals, after the 'Raging Bull' dominated Sebastien Bonmalais, dropping only 10 points in a 3/0 win, while Diego Elias and Mazen Hesham will contest the other men's semi.
The two young Egyptians put on a show for the watching Florida crowd, going toe-to-toe across more than an hour, with El Hammamy eventually running out a 3/1 winner.
"It was a very tough match to be honest," El Hammamy said after the win.
"Amina is a very good player, she's still 16 but the maturity and the level she's playing at is definitely not 16, and I needed to be prepared very well.
"But I'm definitely pleased with that performance. There's probably a couple of areas in the second game that made me play a fourth, but overall I'm happy with that performance."