Champions ready for the fight

El Sherbini Ready to Fight for World No.1 Spot Ahead of Hong Kong Open

Egypt’s Nour El Sherbini says that she will fight to keep her hands on her World #1 spot at next week’s Everbright Sun Hung Kai Hong Kong Open as she aims to hold off the challenge of World #2 Raneem El Welily.

Title victories at the China Open and U.S. Open have seen El Welily cut the points gap between herself and El Sherbini at the summit of the rankings to just 26 points and she will end El Sherbini’s 31-month reign at World No.1 if she equals or surpasses the 23-year-old’s results in Hong Kong.

But El Sherbini – who beat El Welily to win the Hong Kong Open last year – is determined to hold onto the coveted World No.1 spot, which she has held since May 2016.

“I will fight for the spot until the end,” said El Sherbini.

“However, the #1 spot is based on numbers and it can go up or down according to the events being played. It’s out of my hands now, but I’m aiming to win as many titles as I can and then the ranking will come.

“There is no pressure on her at all, it’s another challenge for me and I have to deal with it. It’s not the end of the world for me, there’s still more I want to achieve in the sport. I have always aimed for records and this is what I will do.

“It’s been a slow start to the season for me, I started my summer training a bit late due to an injury, but we still have a long season ahead. I feel I’m getting better each tournament and I’m looking for better results.

“When I won here last year it was my first World Series title of the season and was a very proud moment for me. The Hong Kong Open has a huge history and I’m proud to put my name beside the legends who have won that tournament before.”

Best is yet to come, says ElShorbagy

Egypt’s World #1 Mohamed ElShorbagy has insisted his best is yet to come this season as he targets his fourth title in Hong Kong.

The reigning World Champion will be aiming to defend his title at the PSA Platinum event, which he won last year when he defeated compatriot Ali Farag in the final but knows he will need to step up his game with the competition tougher than ever on the Men’s Tour.

“It’s always great to be back definitely,” said the 27-year-old Egyptian.

“I have good memories there and would be after my fourth title this year. But I know it’s not going to be easy at all as there are a lot of players playing well right now and I need to raise my game to every occasion.

“It’s a great city, I love coming back there and play in front of a great crowd. I’m really excited to be back.”

ElShorbagy has had an up and down start to the season, claiming the U.S. Open title and reaching the final of the Oracle NetSuite Open but suffering early exits at both the Channel VAS Championships at St George’s Hill and Qatar Classic.

However, the ‘Beast from Alexandria’ – who already has three Hong Kong Open titles to his name – has insisted his best is yet to come this season and his form will not affect his desire to add to his trophy haul in Hong Kong.

“I had an up and down start to this season which is something I went through a lot in my career, but I know my best is yet to come this season as it’s still a long season ahead.

“I do things differently whether I win or lose as I always have to try and keep up with what my opponents would be doing next time I play them.

“Obviously, I am having another different challenge this season than last one, but I have been through many different tough challenges in my career and it’s what makes me improve on a daily basis trying to overcome these challenges.

“It’s definitely not something to worry about as I try to be the best player I can and not target tournaments anymore. I feel winning all the big titles now takes a lot out of me and makes me think more about my game rather than which tournament I need to win. This makes me get better as a player, I feel.”