By the end of tonight, there will be a new name on the men’s trophy, as first time-finalists Ali Farag and Tarek Momen face off in the final of the 2018-2019 PSA World Championships presented by the Walter family.
Despite it being a new name on the trophy, it will be another Egyptian, as the country continues to dominate the sport. Mohamed ElShorbagy won the title in 2017, and he will pass the crown onto one of his compatriots tonight.
As well as it being the World Championships, this tournament also has the honour of having the first million dollar purse in the sport’s history, something both players believe is good for the sport.
“It just shows that we are moving in the right direction. To have such a big event in Chicago, with equal prize money for the men and women, there are a lot of positives to take out of this whole experience,” Momen explained.
“It is a huge step, thanks to the Walter family for providing this, you know. I think we deserve it, we have a tremendous sport, the athletes work really hard. I don’t see any reason why we should not be at a million dollar purse level, especially playing at such a great venue in the middle of Union Station. The venue and the atmosphere makes you play at your very best so I think we definitely deserve it,” Farag added.
To reach the final of the World Championships, the pair have had very differing runs. Farag, the new World No.1, has only dropped a single game, as he beat Paul Coll 3-1 in the quarter finals.
Tarek Momen, on the other hand, has been on court for over 270 minutes during the tournament. The Viper has gone to five twice, including in his semi final match against the defending Champion, Mohamed ElShorbagy. It was his first win in ten against the former World No.1.
Tarek Momen's reaction after beating Mohamed ElShorbagy in the semi finals
“To lose to someone several times in a row, throughout those nine matches, I have come close in a few and then went back far, and then close,” Momen said.
“I just had to leave it all there yesterday and just push myself to the very end and thankfully it worked.”
Despite his opponent having over an hour of playing time more in his legs, Farag will not be expecting the Viper to be tired in the final.
“I think I recovered well and I am sure he did as well. Today, I will not be focussing on that factor, I will be focussing on my own gameplay and hopefully I can execute well,” Mr. Fantastic explained.
Farag has stepped up a gear over the course of the season, and has only failed to reach the final of one tournament, when he was knocked out of the semi finals at the US Open in October.
The new World No.1 believes he has achieved this step by finding the right balance, and making sure he is relaxed when he is on court.
“For sure, I think that one of the things that I have been doing well this season is that I have tried to balance where I really want to win, but I am not desperate,” he admitted.
“I am relaxed enough to be enjoying the game and I think once you get to that point, everything falls into place, so I am really happy with the way I have approached the week so far, and hopefully I can approach today the same way.”
World No.1 Ali Farag dispatched Simon Rösner in the semis
The final piece to this fantastic puzzle are the two women who will be rooting for their husbands as the match gets underway.
Although Momen has never made it to a World Championship final before, he is going to draw on the experiences of his wife, Raneem El Welily, who has a Worlds crown to her name.
“Raneem [El Welily] has been there a few times. It is very helpful in these situations. Not only will she be advising me, I have actually been there when she won the title and I have been there when she lost,” he said.
“I have seen it all, I have seen how she prepares, I have seen how she handles the pressure, the day, and how it works out. To be in her shoes today, it feels a bit different, but at least I have seen what is going on and I am hoping that I have learned a few things here and there, that I can use to may advantage.”
It will be slightly different Ali Farag and his wife Nour El Tayeb, as she faces Nour El Sherbini in the women’s final, prior to the men’s final.
The pair made sporting history when they became the first husband and wife pairing to win the same major tournament on the same day, when they did so at the US Open in 2017.
Ali Farag and Nour El Tayeb made history in Philadelphia in 2017
Farag believes it could be a good omen for the pair, as they look to do the same on squash’s biggest stage.
“It would mean everything. I told you a few years back that this would be the ultimate draw for the two of us,” the World No.1 explained.
“We have come a long way already, there is no pressure, we are still young and hopefully, if it doesn’t happen today then it is going to happen at some point.
“We are obviously very excited to be here, but we are so close yet so far. We have two big matches coming up and each one of us has to focus on their own and hopefully we can bring it home together.
“I guess it is a good omen after the US Open isn’t it. I had to be warming up in the players lounge whilst watching it and then coming and coaching her in between games.
“Hopefully I will be able to do that today as well and hopefully if she wins that will lift me up again and will make me better for my own match.”
Farag and Momen will go head-to-head after tonight’s women’s final between Nour El Tayeb and Nour El Sherbini, which begins at 19:00 local time (GMT -6).
The action will be shown LIVE on SQUASHTV, Eurosport Player and multiple broadcasters around the world.
Draw – Final: 2018-2019 PSA World Championships presented by the Walter family
 Tarek Momen (EGY) v  Ali Farag (EGY)