PETALING JAYA: It was an Egyptian double joy when Mohamed El Shorbagy and Raneem El Welily came up tops to win their maiden Tournament of Champions (TOC) titles in New York.
It was the perfect comeback for Mohamed, the men’s world No. 1, and Raneem, the women’s world No. 2 as they were both beaten world championships finalists last year despite having match balls.
Raneem, who lost to Malaysia’s world No. 1 Nicol David in the Cairo world meet, was first on court at the Grand Central Station and overcame a rough start against England’s Alison Waters before winning 9-11, 12-10, 11-4, 11-4.
Waters, who toppled Nicol in the quarter-finals and world No. 4 Nour El Sherbini in the semi-finals in the TOC, started strongly by taking the first set 11-9.
Raneem gradually stamped her mark against Waters, taking a close second set before sealing the win in 48 minutes to become the first Egyptian woman to bag the TOC crown.
Buoyed by Raneem’s success, the 24-year-old Mohamed brushed off the challenge of 2012 champion Nick Matthew of England, winning 5-11, 11-9, 11-8, 12-10.
The 34-year-old Matthew used all his wealth of experience to storm ahead in the first set winning 11-5. But Mohamed persevered and was duly rewarded in the closely fought second and third sets. Mohamed wrapped up the match by converting his second match ball in the fourth set to complete the win in 83 minutes.
“It has been a very tough week for me mentally and Nick’s the king when it comes to playing tough matches because he seems to come back fresh everyday,” said Mohamed, who lost to Ramy Ashour in the final of last year’s world meet in Qatar.
“But when I saw Raneem win the women’s final, it really inspired me because we both lost in the world championships last year even though we had match balls.
“She showed me that you can rebound and I’m really proud of how I played and I proved that I can come back stronger,” added Mohamed, who will compete in the Motor City Open (Jan 22-27) in Detroit next.