IT LOOKED as though the pressure of being the world No.1 is getting into Mohamed El Shorbagy finally.
The Egyptian has been at the top of Professional Squash Association (PSA) rankings for the last two years. But his form in recent times is a cause for concern.
It was his second successive defeat to Karim Abdel Gawad, following the World Championship semifinal in Cairo and El Shorbagy was candid while admitting that the chasing pack has been hot on his heels for a while.
“You know in any sport, everyone studies the world No.1 quite well. And it’s no different here where players have been studying me for the past two years. That’s why I say, the longer you’re on top, the more tough it is. The challenge is getting more tough now on me and I’m either going to be up for it or lose it completely,” said El Shorbagy.
In the semifinal against former champion Nick Matthew, El Shorbagy did well to rally after losing the first two games.
But expecting an encore against Gawad was a bit too much.
“It has been a tough week for me backing up all those matches and playing every day against opponents who are at the top of their game. I’m a human after all and my body had to stop,” added El Shorbagy.
The Alexandria-born player was, however, confident of staging a recovery in quick time.
“I’m going to be honest with myself and raise my hand and say Gawad was the best player this half of the season. But this is the beauty of sports — getting a challenge and then try to respond. It’s time for me to try and respond now as the season is far from over”.