Top seeds Sherbini and Farag claim ToC titles with five game wins
World number ones Nour El Sherbini and Ali Farag have captured the 2024 Tournament of Champions titles after they defeated Nouran Gohar and Diego Elias in Grand Central Terminal’s Vanderbilt Hall in New York City.
Reigning champion El Sherbini produced a stunning comeback from two nil down retain her title in a repeat of last year’s final, making it five ToC wins for the reigning World Champion.
“I thought I was out of this match!” she said. “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 from injury. 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. It was the fourth time this season the top two men’s players had gone head-to-head for a title, and Farag had triumphed in all of the previous finals.
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.
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 in Chicago.
Day EIGHT : Top seeds through to the finals in NY
The Tournament of Champions finals will be contested by the top sees in both the women’s and men’s competition after Nour El Sherbini, Nouran Gohar, Ali Farag and Diego Elias won contrasting semi-finals at Grand Central.
In the first match of the day defending champion Sherbini faced Hania El Hammamy for the fifth time this season, and suffered a back injury towards the end of the first game, which she took 11-6. Clearly struggling with her movement, Sherbini battled on to claim her fourth win in a row over El Hammamy in four games.
“I don’t know how I won this match,” said El Sherbini. “Maybe I wasn’t thinking about the squash. I was just thinking about myself and my body. I don’t know what happened after the first – my back started spasming so I couldn’t twist left or right, so it was difficult.
“My dad was telling me to stop and I don’t have to play like this. I was going to stop after the second, but I wanted to try in the third and after I won it I had to carry on. I’ve never been in this position before but I’m definitely happy to be through.”
The final will be a rep[eat of last year’s after second seed Gohar ended the run of Rowan Elaraby in straight games.
The men’s final will be the fourth meeting this season between Farag and Elias after Farag put paid to French hopes with a three game win over Victor Crouin and Elias came from two-one down to beat Mostafa Asal.
Day SEVEN : Asal and Elaraby win marathon quarter-finals
The second day of quarter-final action at Grand Central saw Mostafa Asal and Rowan Elaraby win mammoth encounters to join second seeds Diego Elias and Nouran Gohar in the semi-finals.
Asal took on Mohamed ElShorbagy and went two games up only to see the English #1 draw level to force a decider. Asal took an early lead but was again pegged back to 9-all before closing out the win after 118 minutes.
“It’s always difficult to play against your idol,” Asal said. “It’s one of the toughest matches I’ve played against him. You never know the emotions, you never know how much I respect this legend.”
Elias gained revenge for his Florida defeat by Mazen Hesham, winning comfortably in three games.
In a battle of current and and recent World Junior Champions it was Elaraby who got the better of Amina Orfi in four games, converting her fifth match ball after 89 minutes of play.
“I’m over the moon with my performance today,” said Rowan. “I gave it everything and I know Amina is a very tough, young opponent. You have to have your A game to beat her – she’s an up and coming player, she’s already there and she’s competing with the top players.”
Gohar got the better of compatriot Nour El Tayeb in three close games.
Day SIX : Sherbini ends home interest as Crouin shocks Coll
The first day of quarter-final action in New York saw the end of home interest as top seed Nour El Sherbini beat Olivia Weaver, while France’s Victor Crouin took out third seed Paul Coll.
Defending champion Sherbini maintained her 100 per cent record against the last remaining representative for the USA, pressing on to win 11-9, 11-4, 11-7 in 33 minutes.
“I’m feeling really good and I’m happy with my performance,” El Sherbini said. “It was a tough match, to be honest – way tougher than last week at the Florida Open. There’s been a lot of rest days and quick matches in between.”
El Sherbini will meet Hania El Hammamy for the fifth time this season in the last four on Wednesday after the third seed comprehensively defeated fellow Egyptian Fayrouz Aboelkheir.
“Fayrouz is a gifted player for sure,” said the World #2 afterwards. “She had a good win in the previous round against Salma Hany, but I think I’ve reached where I am and I’ve earned this position for a reason.”
In the men’s draw, French #1 Crouin produced an immaculate performance to shock World #3 Paul Coll and reach his first Platinum semi final since 2022.
“We’re lucky to have a day off in between matches. I train hard every day for these kind of tournaments where I can play back-to-back matches so I’m not afraid to step back on court after two five setters,” said Crouin. “Paul is the fittest player on tour, he was on a really good streak of matches so I knew it was going to be tough. The last time I beat him was when he got to World No.1, so I thought I could do it again.”
Two-time champion Ali Farag stands in Crouin’s way of a place in the final following his win against his compatriot Tarek Momen. Farag, who won the event in 2019 and 2022, got the better of Momen for the third time this season having already beaten the former World Champion at the U.S. Open and the Qatar Classic.
“It was a very tough match,” said Farag. “I think I had control of most of the first – I told Nour that Tarek is going to come out firing and he’s going to be a lot more solid. I thought we both played well and we both deserved that game and I wish I was 2-0 up. If you give Tarek a sniff he will take it so I’m glad I won that fourth.”
Day FIVE : Gilis sisters exit as quarter-finalists confirmed
There were two women’s upsets on Day Five in New York as Egyptian duo Amina Orfi and Rowan Elaraby – both two-time world junior champions – took out Tinne and Nele Gilis in five game thrillers. Orfi fought back from two-one down to beat seventh seed Tinne in 82 minutes while Elaraby took 84 minutes to get the better of fourth seed Nele.
An Egyptian clean sweep was completed when Nouran Gohar and Nour El Tayeb triumphed in the last two matches of the day.
The men’s matches all went to seeding as defending champion Diego Elias was joined in the quarters by Mazen Hesham, Mostafa Asal and Mohamed ElShorbagy.
Day FOUR : Aboelkheir gatecrashes the Quarters in NY
17-year-old Egyptian Fayrouz Aboelkheir reached her first Platinum event quarter final after an impressive performance against compatriot Salma Hany. The newly-crowned British Junior Open champion beat 9/16 seed Hany in straight games and now faces third seed Hania El Hammamy.
“I feel amazing to be honest. To do this here in New York in Grand Central Terminal is a dream come true.” said Aboelkheir after her win. “I’ve had a lot of time to think during my rest day. I was prepared and really wanted to win tonight. I was hungry for more. I made it to the last 16 but I wanted more. I’ll enjoy my win tonight and go back and recover and starting from tomorrow, i’ll prepare for the quarters. Hania beat me at the Grasshopper Cup so I want to get revenge for that.”
The other seeding upset of the day came from France’s Victor Crouin, who claimed his revenge over seventh seed Marwan Elshorbagy, who defeated him in last years quarter final. Crouin took a 2-1 lead but was pegged back to two all.. From 6-all in the decider and it was Crouin who managed to pull ahead to 9-6, converting 11-7 to reach a second successive quarter final in New York.
Day five will see the bottom half round three matches take place on the iconic all-glass court at Grand Central Terminal.
Day THREE, Round Two (bottom) : Sobhy Delights Home Crowd
USA’s Sabrina Sobhy delighted her home crowd with an excellent 3-0 triumph against Sivasangari Subramaniam to book her place in round three in New York. Sobhy, who was meeting Subramaniam for the second time on the PSA World Tour in the space of a couple of months, avenged her defeat at the Hong Kong Football Club Open to progress to the third round by winning in traight games.
In the men’s draw, reigning champion Diego Elias made a successful start to his title defence by dispatching wildcard Andrew Douglas 3-0, while Nathan Lake pulled off the biggest shock result of the day, coming back from one game down to defeat 9/16 seed Mohamed ElSherbini.
Day TWO, Round Two (top) : Egyptian trio win big in NY
Egyptian trio Salma Hany, Malak Khafagy and Yahya Elnawasany claimed impressive wins on day two as they claimed places in round three – the last sixteens – of the Platinum event.
Khafagy was first to secure her place, a first appearance in the last sixteen for the 19-year-old. She defeated Hong Kong’s Tomato Ho in straight games at the Nicol Squash Club, avenging her 3-2 loss from the New Zealand Open. Sow faces top seed Nour ElSherbini on Saturday.
Compatriot Hany, a 9/16 seed, was up against fifth seed Gina Kennedy in her opening match on the all-glass court in Grand Central Station. Hany battled back from 2-1 down to reach the last sixteen of a Platinum event for the fifth time this season.
After overcoming Switzerland’s Nicolas Mueller in round one Elnawasany scored another big win on day two as he defeated compatriot Aly Abou Eleinen in three tight games, and he’ll now face third seed Paul Coll.
Elsewhere there were five game wins for Victor Crouin over fellow 9/16 seed Youssef Soliman and Lucy Beecroft over fellow Brit Georgia Adderley.
Day three will see the round two matches form the bottom half of the draws take place with eight matches on the all-glass court at Grand Central Terminal.
Day One : Wildcards Fouts and Douglas advance
The J.P Morgan Tournament of Champions 2024 got underway in New York City across four different venues with 32 matches taking place to decide the round two match ups.
Wildcards Caroline Fouts and Andrew Douglas scored big upsets against French duo Melissa Alves and Sebastien Bonmalais to reach the second round in New York for the first time in their careers. There was more US success as Faraz Khan upset Qatar’s Abdulla AlTamimi.
Egyptian duo Malak Khafagy and Yahya Elnawasany also scored upsets on day one as they overcame European duo Tesni Murphy (formerly Evans) and Nicolas Mueller at the Nicol Club and Harvard Club to progress.
Two ‘local derbies’ also produced upsets as Ramit Tandon ousted fellow Indian Saurav Ghosal, and Nicol Bunyan won her all-Canadian duel with Holie Naughton. In more men’s upsets Mexico’s Cesar Salazar overcame Raphael Kandra and Hong Kong’s Alex Lau beat Leonel Cardenas.