It’s finals day at the Allam British Open as Egyptians Nour El Sherbini and Raneem El Welily go head-to-head in the women’s final, before Mohamed ElShorbagy and Colombia’s Miguel Angel Rodriguez contest the men’s title showdown.
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Here, we take a look at who could lift the sport’s oldest title when they go head-to-head later today.
World No.1 El Sherbini and World Champion El Welily have contested four finals already this season with each player taking two trophies each.
El Sherbini claimed the Hong Kong Open and inaugural Saudi Women’s Squash Masters titles, while El Welily took home the PSA World Championship and El Gouna International trophies.
The head-to-head record is close between the pair, with the record standing at 9-7 in the favour of 29-year-old El Welily going into her first ever British Open final.
“I’m looking forward to playing in the final and being there for the first time is a real milestone for me,” said 29-year-old El Welily.
“I was almost out of the tournament in the second round so to be in the final after this tough week it’s an amazing feeling for me.
“To have my name amongst the legends if I won would be amazing and I’ll do my best to win tonight.”
On the other hand, top seed El Sherbini has won the title before in 2016 and appeared in her first final at the tournament in 2012 at her first appearance at the tournament when she was just 16-years-old.
“Today marks the six years since being in the final in 2012 when I was 16, so I have a lot of good memories,” said El Sherbini.
“I was so young when I reached the final, I was 16 and I didn’t really know how big the British Open was but now I know how important it is and what it means to British Open. I already have one and today I have the chance to add another one.”
The two players have been a dominant force on the Women’s Tour this season and they are both looking forward to locking horns on court once again this season for the sport’s oldest title.
“She’s very skilful, very tough on court and strong mentally,” said El Welily.
“She’s good in all aspects of the court and it’s always fun to play a competitor who’s playing well in all aspects and I’m looking forward to another battle.”
World No.1 El Sherbini added: “It’s always a tough battle against Raneem. I just need to try and relax and change a little bit my plan and hopefully this time I can make it to my side.”
Both players have endured tough contests throughout the tournament with El Welily coming from 2-0 and three match balls down against Victoria Lust to win in round two.
“A few days ago when I played against Victoria it was a very difficult match,” said Cairo-based El Welily.
“She was 2-0 up and had three match balls. I was very lucky to have my coach with me and he said if I was going to lose then I would have to do it fighting.”
El Sherbini also faced difficult encounter, having five-game battles with English duo Alison Waters and defending champion Laura Massaro.
And the 2016 British Open winner added how the final ranking tournament of the season has been a challenging one: “It’s the last tournament of the season and I’m just trying to push hard.
“It’s always difficult physically and mentally but I’m really happy that I’ve managed to win the tough matches and come through to another final.”
The women’s final takes place at 15:00 BST.
World No.1 Mohamed ElShorbagy and Colombian No.1 Miguel Angel Rodriguez will go head-to-head today to decide who will be crowned the 2018 men’s Allam British Open champion.
The squash world has been accustomed to seeing ElShorbagy in the major finals this year with the 27-year-old Egyptian winning an impressive seven titles this season – including the coveted PSA World Championships. Former World No.4 Rodriguez, on the other hand, will be playing in his first ever World Series final after a strong season which has seen the Colombian recapture some of his best form.
The 32-year-old from Bogota has been in imperious form this week, defeating three-time World Champion Ramy Ashour in round one, Egypt’s former World No.3 Omar Mosaad in round two, current World No.2 Ali Farag in the quarter-finals and then giant killer Raphael Kandra in the semi-finals.
“I would say that not many people expected me to be in the final,” said Rodriguez.
“But I have worked for that and each round and each player has been difficult.
“I think this year for me has been amazing. I reached the quarter-finals in El Gouna and Chicago and I’m here playing my first World Series final.
“I’m so happy and proud, this is one of the best experiences that a player can have in their life and what a way to do it here at the British Open.”
If the World No.14 was able to seal the title then he would become the first South American player to ever hold the iconic British Open title and Rodriguez admitted it would be a dream come true to achieve his goal.
“I’m 32-years-old and I knew this was going to happen any time,” said the 32-year-old.
“It’s been amazing, all of the support that I have has been phenomenal and everyone back home in South America is cheering for me. This is a big thing for the history of squash in Colombia. I have achieved 26 international titles, but this is a big day for me.
“I could play the best match of my career today as well so I’m looking forward to it. I want to be the best, and the first South American player to win the British Open.
“There is too many memories and legends – so many great players in that hall of fame – so imagining myself in that picture would be something to remember for the rest of my life.”
The task ahead of Rodriguez doesn’t come much tougher than facing the current World Champion and two-time British Open winner ElShorbagy and the Egyptian is feeling confident after a rough start to the tournament, which saw him forced to come from 2-0 down against both Peru’s Diego Elias and France’s Gregoire Marche in round one and two, respectively.
The head-to-head record is strongly weighted in the Egyptian’s favour, 11-1, with the Colombian getting his solitary win over ElShorbagy back in 2012 at the XV Abierto Colombiana De Squash Club El Nogal Bogota.
“After last season, I failed in many ways and so I had to go back and study what had happened,” said World No.1 ElShorbagy.
“I had a lot of things happen last season that affected me mentally on and off court and you go through things in life. I wanted to get back to No.1, I wanted to dominate again, and I had to train extremely hard last summer to get back to that. I would like to finish this season as World No.1, World Champion and British Open champion tonight.”
Rodriguez added of his opponent: “He’s a top player, he’s so consistent and I’m expecting a big battle. I have played against him many times and I beat him in Colombia many years ago.
“It’s always a tough task because he’s very aggressive on court, very talented and very strong mentally – I would say he is the strongest guy on Tour mentally. I think I have to just focus on my game and enjoy this match and I’m sure it’s going to be a great performance for both of us.”
The British Open is squash’s longest running tournament with an illustrious history and two-time winner ElShorbagy is keen to make it a hat-trick of titles today.
“It’s very inspirational to see all of these names that have lifted the trophy. Most of the greats in squash have lifted this trophy and I’ve got my name on it twice already and I’m hoping to make that three times tonight. I’d like to try and put my name in the history books and I have a chance to get a step closer to that tonight.
“Miguel has been playing extremely well this season and it’s very inspirational what he did last season because he didn’t play very well and had lost his hunger, which we could see on court.
“This season he started at World No.27 or 28 and he looks like he will get back into the top ten where he belongs after this tournament. I think he is playing better than he was two years ago. He has been playing extremely well this tournament and I think he will be ready for tonight.
“It would be the perfect ending for this season. I’ve had a lot of tough battles this season and there is still one more to go.”
The men’s final will follow on from the women’s title decider.