Former World No.1 Peter Nicol believes that the return to the PSA World Tour of four-time World No.1 Mohamed ElShorbagy will provide a “great test” of the Egyptian’s desire to prove that he is still the game’s ultimate player.
Mohamed, who turned 30 earlier this month, has not played since suffering a shock third round loss at the Qatar Classic to Youssef Ibrahim back in November.
“I can’t say what he is thinking or doing. It’s always hard when you have been out for a while.
When you are a professional sports person, it’s all about confidence, that feeling you will be fine. The reality is that Mohamed doesn’t have that, neither will anyone else by the time the tour restarts but he will have been out for longer and had less competitive game time, so he is going to have it tougher.
“What I can say is that I know that feeling and I know there will be questions in his head, and he will be either desperate to answer them or scared of answering them.
A LONG TIME AWAY…
“He has been at it a long time, had a break and now let’s see, is he still up for it? If he is and he wants to be it’s an exciting time for Mohamed. It’s a chance to show he is still relevant, in fact more than relevant, he can demonstrate he is still the best and I am sure that will be a huge motivation for Mohamed.
“It will be a great test for Mohamed. The reason he has been No.1 on so many occasions for so long, won the World Championship and British Opens is that he has that mental capacity and toughness, so it will be interesting to check out his desire levels when we come back.”
Is time up?
As Nicol admitted, there comes a moment when every gunslinger knows he is no longer the quickest on the draw:
“For me, it wasn’t so much knowing when I was starting to slip as it was just knowing I was done.
There were definitely matches that I felt I had reached a point that I just didn’t want to do this anymore or to put in the work behind the scenes to keep up.
“There was one specific match however and it was against Greg Gautier at ToC 2006, the year I retired, we had this two-hour match, and it was a great match and he won 3-2, maybe it wasn’t just that one match in isolation, but Greg was one of these players that made me think that way because of the way he played and how physical and how hard he made it.
“It was like a case of we are going into battle again? I was saying to myself I am kind of tired of this. How many more of those do I want to go through and the only way to go back and beat Greg was to train harder, change things up and I knew I wasn’t going to do that. Yes, I did happen to beat him in Bermuda 3-0 around four weeks later, but it was more I knew that wasn’t sustainable.
“But Mohamed is younger than I was and if he still wants it, he still has a good few years left, it’s just a question of how much he still wants it and it’s mental more than anything else.”