El Welily and ElShorbagy are 2018 FS Investments U.S. Open Champions

2018 FS Investments U.S. Open champions Mohamed ElShorbagy (l) and Raneem El Welily

For the second consecutive year, the FS Investments U.S. Open Squash Championships produced two Egyptian champions as world No. 2 Raneem El Welily upended compatriot and world No. 1 Nour El Sherbini in three games, and Mohamed ElShorbagy staged a five-game comeback against Germany’s Simon Rösner to claim his third title in the past five years at Drexel University’s Daskalakis Athletic Center in Philadelphia.

The women’s final was a rematch of the 2017 World Championship final in December in which El Welily claimed her first career world title. Since that final, the Egyptian teammates had contested four major finals, with El Sherbini taking three out of four titles including the British Open in May and World Series Finals in June.

As both players marked their third final appearance at the U.S. Open, it was El Welily who prevailed in commanding fashion. The twenty-nine-year-old surged to an 11-6 first game, then fired her way back from a 7-9 deficit in the second and 5-7 deficit in the third to claim her first U.S. Open title 11-6, 11-9, 11-8 in thirty-three minutes.

“Nour has had a great week and has played really well and I look forward to many more matches this season,” El Welily said. “I’m sure she will come back fighting and they will be good battles. Hopefully I can get back to world No. 1, it’s my dream and I will continue to fight for it.”

In September of 2015, El Welily became the first Egyptian woman to reach the world No. 1 ranking, which she held for four months. At twenty-two years old, El Sherbini has held the world No. 1 ranking for more than two and a half years. El Welily is now the second Egyptian woman to win the U.S. Open, following Nour El Tayeb last year.

“Last year I made it to the final and couldn’t quite make it to the end,” El Welily said. “I’m very glad that I managed to make it one further this time. The U.S. Open has been one of the one of the titles that I have always loved and a title that I have wanted to win for a long time now.”

A battle between two of the largest players on tour followed on court between ElShorbagy and Rösner. True to the form the German world No. 5 has displayed throughout 2018, Rösner came out firing in the first, pushing the world No. 1 in an 11-8 first-game victory. After ElShorbagy edged the second 11-8, Rösner again mounted a challenge in the third, forcing errors from the world No. 1 and firing off some incredible winners to take the game 11-6 and earn a 2-1 lead.

In the fourth the Egyptian maintain a slight lead throughout the game, earning three game balls and converting on the second to force a fifth game. The fifth game was all ElShorbagy the Rösner’s error count rose for the first time in the match to allow ElShorbagy to pull away from 3-2 to win the match 11-4 after seventy-three minutes.

“I need to give credit to Rösner, he played amazing throughout the whole week,” ElShorbagy said. “I’m pleased we had a fair battle. I’m pleased to win my third U.S. Open title, I lost last year and I was a bit disappointed, but I lost to the better player and had no regrets. This year, I wanted to come and try and do one match better and luckily I was able to do that and it came together this week.”

2018 marked the forty-sixth staging of the U.S. Open Squash Championships and the eighth consecutive year at Drexel University.