Defending champions Nicol David and Mohamed Elshorbagy stood with broad smiles today in front of the Liberty Bell—the iconic site of American independence—both recognizing the significance of their respective returns to Philadelphia where each has achieved notable career milestones.
David, from Malaysia, and Elshorbagy, from Egypt, are joined by players from twenty-four nations competing for qualifying and main draw slots at the Delaware Investments U.S. Open Squash Championships at Drexel University. Collectively, these players represent eight world No. 1’s, eight U.S. Open champions, and five World Champions.
For David, who is targeting a record-breaking fourth consecutive Delaware Investments U.S. Open Championship, the return to Drexel University is a reminder that her own win streak began before equal money for women was attained. It was in David’s second winner’s paycheck that prize money parity for men and women at a major professional squash championship in 2013 was first offered.
For the twenty-four-year-old Elshorbagy, the return marks his first full year as the world No. 1 player. He achieved the No. 1 ranking when he reached the finals in 2014 and capped his performance with the championship defeating former world No. 1, countryman, and two-time U.S. Open champion Amr Shabana.
The road to the championship will not be without challenges for either star. Elshorbagy could face two former world No. 1’s in the quarterfinals against Ramy Ashour and in the semifinals against Greg Gaultier. Both Ashour and Gaultier are also former Delaware Investments U.S Open champions.
David could meet in the final current world No. 1 Raneem El Welily, who, in September, dethroned her after David had held the top spot for nine consecutive years—a record on both the men’s and women’s tours.
The Delaware Investments U.S. Open main draw competition starts Saturday at noon.