Tested El Sherbini & Farag Take Tournament Of Champions Titles
26 Jan 2024
Both surviving testing five-game finals, world No.1s Nour El Sherbini and Ali Farag captured the 2024 JP Morgan Tournament of Champions titles after defeating fellow Egyptians Nouran Gohar and Diego Elias, respectively, under the iconic chandeliers of the Vanderbilt Hall at Grand Central Terminal in New York City.
Reigning champion El Sherbini produced a stunning comeback from 2/0 down to defeat Gohar to claim the women's title for a record fifth time.
In what was a repeat of the 2023 final, the world No.1, who sustained a lower back injury during her semi-final victory over Hania El Hammamy, went two games down after Gohar's ferocious power to drive the ball into the back of the court and her use of the boast put the world No.3 firmly in the driving seat.
Errors from Gohar in the third were swooped on by El Sherbini as she mixed the pace to halve the deficit before levelling the match as the World Champion dominated the middle of the court.
The momentum had shifted completely in El Sherbini's favour having come back from the brink to force a fifth game, and the 'Warrior Princess' was too strong for Gohar as she converted championship ball at the second attempt to clinch her fifth title in New York - the only player to achieve that feat.
"I thought I was out of this match!" said the 28-year-old after securing her 39th Tour title. The win also marks ElSherbini's 21st 'major' title, moving her ahead of Australia's five-time World Champion Sarah Fitz-Gerald into second place in the all-time list.
"I thought I was going to lose and I didn't want to lose 3/0. My dad told me to play one more game and just focus on hitting my targets, point by point and just focus on the third game.
"Nouran was playing really well - I haven't played her since she's come back. I'm really happy I won this match.
"I wasn't sure if I was going to play or not, I said I definitely have to play for the crowd and I'm not going to pull out. I just tried to enjoy the game, it wasn't working at the beginning but I'm glad I managed to turn it around."
The men's final was another five-game thriller, as Farag held off a strong fightback from Elias to clinch his fourth trophy of the season - and the 37th Tour title of his career
It was the fourth time the top two men's players were going head-to-head for a title, and Farag had triumphed in all of the previous finals against the Peruvian during this campaign.
Both players wrestled for control at the top of the 'T' in the opening three games, as Farag came from one game down to nudge 2/1 up after extending the rallies and putting work into Elias following his lengthy semi-final showdown with Mostafa Asal the night before.
Short, sharp rallies favoured Elias at the beginning of the fourth, and the Peruvian did enough to hold off a Farag comeback as four of his five game balls were saved by the Egyptian. With the match level going into the fifth, Farag was in determined mood to maintain his unbeaten streak over Elias this season to clinch his third Tournament of Champions crown.
"I feel very proud, it was a tough start," said Farag. "I was being very passive and Diego was hitting very crisp shots to the back of the court. He was dominating the 'T' area for the first part of the first game.
"I had to change things up and speed things up a little bit. That gave me confidence going into the second, even though I lost it. I built a bit of momentum going into the second.
"The second and the third went well and the fourth, he had a very good start and in a matter of seconds he was 6-0 up. I tried to fight my way back in, but I couldn't. It did give me confidence going into the fifth and I'm so glad I started the fifth the way I did."
The next Platinum-level event on the PSA World Tour will be the Windy City Open 2024, presented by the Walter Family, in Chicago. The tournament will take place between February 21 - 28, with the action streamed live on SQUASHTV.