Relaxation is the key.
At just 23-years-old, Egypt’s Marwan ElShorbagy has graduated from an outside challenger to a permanent fixture within the world’s top 10 during the past year, and the current World No.6 says his successes in the past 12 months are down to one thing – relaxation.
The two-time World Junior Champion – the third man ever to achieve that feat – followed in the footsteps of elder brother and current World No.1 Mohamed – whom he plays tonight for a place in the Tournament of Champions semi-finals – to reach the upper echelons of the World Rankings, but admits that ‘self-pressure’ was holding him back prior to 2016.
“Things started to change for me last year,” said ElShorbagy, who started his 2017 with a strong win over Daryl Selby.
“I used to put myself under a lot of pressure, but I’m trying to be more relaxed and to enjoy it.
“Every player has their own character and some people work well under lots of pressure. But if I get too tense then I mess things up on court – I hit and run and that’s not my game. I obviously want to win and I’m hungry, but I can do that whilst being relaxed and enjoying what I’m doing.
“When I put lots of pressure on myself, I’d be very inconsistent. I’d win matches, with no idea how, then I’d lose matches I shouldn’t have. Since I started being more relaxed, I’ve been more consistent and I think it’s because I realise there’s more to life than squash.
“I don’t have to think about it 24/7 and worry about ranking points and everything else, and I’m enjoying my squash more because of that.”
That relaxation will be vital tonight if he is to stop his 100 per cent losing streak against his elder brother on the PSA World Tour but, with the pair set to meet in the stunning setting of New York’s Grand Central Terminal, Marwan says getting too caught up in the moment can take away from something special.
“Off court I’m much more relaxed and try to enjoy myself more – I think enjoyment leads to success,” he said
“Just to be able to play in a venue like Grand Central is a fantastic experience for all of us players and it doesn’t get better than that. I want to make the most of the opportunity and to enjoy it and to play my brother here is something we couldn’t have even dreamed of as children.
“I know that even if I don’t achieve my goals – to be number one – that it’s not the end of the world.
“Some people dream of being in the top 10. I’ve achieved that and have to realise that I’m very lucky to be in that situation. So if I keep focusing on enjoying those things hopefully I can keep improving and playing well.”