PSA World Series Finals. Dubai. 2017.
I loved watching this years’ tournament. In previous years it has not lived up to expectation, because players have either been completely knackered after a long season, or a few half-heartedly tackling the unusual best of three game format, and there’s always at least one injured player. But this year everyone was physically fit and seemed to have a desire to do their absolute best. The only possible exception was Gaultier who seemed mentally tired, but I’m sure the desire to win was there but he just couldn’t after completing a truly remarkable 6 month run of form which saw him win every tournament and reclaim his World Number 1 spot after several years.
I think the fact we have some keen “up and coming” stars competing helped. Gawad, Marwan, Farag and Rosner put in exceptional performances, as did Sarah Jane Perry in the ladies event. They wanted to prove themselves on one of the coolest stages in World Squash. The Dubai Opera House with Ziad Al-Turki’s awesome purple squash court made for an awe-inspiring setting.
The three game format also helps modern day squash. Players like Simon Rosner can go out and play at a ridiculously ferocious pace knowing they only have to keep it up for 45 minutes. Rosner literally spent most of his matches in front of the ‘T Line’ throwing himself at every possible volley to put ultimate pressure on his opponents. This worked which saw him make his way into the semi-final. He loves to play this fast but in a regular best-of-five match would be extremely difficult. For most of the players this shorter format suited their fast paced, attacking squash.
Laura, who improved with every match, won the event with a fantastic performance in the final to beat World No.1 Sherbini 3-0 in the final. She increased her attacking play more with every match which I loved watching, and in her final she attacked more than usual and only hit 1 tin. Her confidence grew and grew as she saw results from her attacking style of play.
Mohamed ElShorbagy won the men’s event, after an emotionally charged tournament for him. After his worst season for many years he definitely got his fight and vigour back. The fast paced matches definitely suited his beastly style of play, and he must feel over the moon to be back on the winners list, as he’s become so accustomed over the last 4 years.
Overall, a great event, which favoured the brave and the attacking. If you haven’t watched any matches I urge you to do so (or at least highlights from every match). Once again it shows our sport has so much to offer and is constantly changing for the better. The standard of play is improving and along with it becoming more entertaining to watch. The hosting of events is increasing, and the PSA is constantly pushing squash boundaries with its Squash TV coverage. This event showcased a new camera angle, the best yet, which really shows the speed of the rallies and the movement involved by each player to get each shot back in to play.
Well done to everyone involved.