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Throwback Thursday - Story of the 2017 World Championships

The 2017 PSA World Championships was one of the most entertaining yet with two new winners etching their name onto the famous trophy as Egyptians Mohamed ElShorbagy and Raneem El Welily lifted the sport’s biggest title.

Held in Manchester Central in England, it was only the second concurrent men’s and women’s World Championships to be held in the tournament’s history following on from Rotterdam in 2011 and it was the Egyptian flag that flew high.

After both falling short of clinching the prize in the past, ElShorbagy and El Welily ensured that their fates were different this time around as they ensured their tournaments got off to strong starts with ElShorbagy despatching compatriot Mazen Hesham in the first round and El Welily conquering Rowan Elaraby.

The first big shock of the tournament came in round two as Welshwoman Tesni Evans took out then-English No.1 Laura Massaro to claim the biggest win of her career at the time to become the first Welsh player since former men’s World No.5 Alex Gough in 2007 to reach the last eight of the World Championships.

There was further disappointment for the English as New Zealand’s Joelle King and Egypt’s El Welily took out Sarah-Jane Perry and Victoria Lust in the women’s draw, respectively, to condemn the English women to their worst ever World Championships performance. Their respective defeats meant that for the first time in the tournament’s history there would be no English representatives in the women’s quarter-finals, leaving Matthew as the last English player standing.

In the quarter-finals, reigning men’s World Champion Karim Abdel Gawad’s tournament came to an end at the hands of then-World No.5 Marwan ElShorbagy who put in a ruthless display to ground his compatriot down in 42 minutes by an 11-8, 11-5, 11-9 scoreline.

While, Marwan’s older brother Mohamed ensured his place in the semi-finals after defeating legendary Englishman Matthew in what was his last appearance at a World Championships following his retirement announcement at the start of the season.

Marwan and Mohamed were part of a six-strong Egyptian contingent across both the men’s and women’s tournaments as two-time runner-up El Welily, ended eight-time winner Nicol David’s tournament, avenging her defeat to the Malaysian in the title-decider of the 2014 instalment.

El Welily ensured she would take on Camille Serme for a place in the final after the Frenchwoman moved into the last four with a dominant win over New Zealand’s King in the last eight. Her win meant that along with compatriot Gregory Gaultier, they were the only non-Egyptians in the semi-finals of the tournament.

However, the Egyptian dominance soon struck again in the semi-finals as Egyptian brothers Mohamed and Marwan ElShorbagy became the first siblings in history to contest the men’s PSA World Championship trophy. They defeated Gaultier and Ali Farag, respectively, in the semi-finals in Manchester to set up the mouthwatering final prospect.

Mohamed reached his third World Championship final after beating long-time rival and Frenchman Gaultier by a 12-10, 11-4, 11-9 scoreline as he looked to make amends for defeats to Ramy Ashour in both the 2012 and 2014 finals to capture the only title that is missing from his trophy cabinet.

Marwan, meanwhile, came through a gruelling five-game encounter with Farag to reach his maiden World Championship final against the odds.

The women’s final, meanwhile, was to be a repeat of April 2017’s title-decider in El Gouna which saw El Sherbini take home her second World Championship title.

The reigning World Champion came from 2-1 down to defeat compatriot Nour El Tayeb in an epic semi-final clash. The momentum constantly swung between the top players until El Sherbini romped home to victory with an 11-0 win in the fifth.

Meanwhile, El Welily ensured it would be an all-Egyptian line-up in both finals as she dominated against France’s Camille Serme to take an 11-7, 11-9, 11-7 win in 39 minutes to send Serme out at the last four stage for the second time in a row.

Both Mohamed and El Welily headed into their respective finals attempting to vanquish the memories of their previous shortcomings at the tournament, with both players in impressive form.

In the men’s final, Mohamed prevailed over younger brother Marwan in a nail-biting encounter which went all the way down to the wire, until Mohamed fired off seven successive points from 6-4 down in the fifth to capture the biggest title of his career.

“It’s a dream come true,” said ElShorbagy following his victory.

“He gave it everything. I remember the 2012 match with Ramy, I know how he felt now. There was so much pressure on me and in these matches you just want to win the last point.”

It was also third time lucky for El Welily as she came from a game down to defeat defending champion El Sherbini.

El Welily had lost out in straight-games to El Sherbini in the previous women’s World Championship final and the scoreline looked to be heading down a familiar route as World No.1 El Sherbini took the opening game for the loss of just three points.

But a resilient El Welily battled back over the course of the next three games, taking a crucial second game on the tie-break, before claiming wins in games three and four to wrap up a 3-11, 12-10, 11-7, 11-5 victory.

“I felt so different today compared to the last World Championship final. That one was a nightmare, today I was so much more relaxed.

“So much has changed since 2014. The game has changed, I have changed, the sport is different from then. I don’t want to stop with just this one success.”

Their respective victories saw them take home over $45,000 each in prize money in what was the first World Championships to ever feature equal prize money for men and women.