23 January 2012


The J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions has always been producing thrilling matches throughout its 16 year history. This year, already in the second round there were high quality games. For example between mighty Amr Shabana and the "Charlie Chaplin" of squash, speedy Miguel Angel Rodriguez, 3:2 (unfortunately too late for me to watch live but according to reports very entertaining). Or Mohamed El Shorbagy beeting Cameron Pilley with the same score. But the most noticeable one was Mohamed's younger brother, Marwan El Shorbagy against Tom Richards (they both feature in our up-and-coming players of 2011 post). Marwan came through the qualifications where he already had to beat good players (Martin Knight world #39 and Adrian Waller #59). Then in the first round he beats the legendary Boudhist Monk Tiger that is Thierry Lincou. Only a few months ago, Marwan lost to Lincou simply and quickly 3:0. Now he beats him 3:1 in 46 mins. Very impressing. Both the fact of beating Lincou and the speed of the learning curve. Then yesterday he has to play up-and-coming Tom Richards, fit and fresh from his quick and easy first round match against Max Lee. And it turned out to be a drama. Five games of high quality squash. First, just to Tom. Second to Marwan, with 9 consecutive points after being 2:4 down (the below video shows the last few rallies of that game, have a special look at the boast at 1:08, the cross drop nick at 1:39 and the kill into the nick at 1:57). Third again to Tom. Forth again to Marwan. At this stage the 18 year old ran already on empty, he seemed half-dead. And this is why it was so impressing: this young lad played so intelligently at this stage. He slowed it down with ultra high backhand drives, he kept it straight with quality for a while in each rally, just enough time to have a breather that allowed him to get to the balls once Richards decided to go short. And in the front little El Shorbagy is very inventive (without over-complicating the deception). I don't want to make this post too long, so I conclude here: I don't think Marwan has much left to resist Daryl Selby's steadiness in tonight's quarter final, but I do belive he has a very bright future in squash. If I said a few times that his older brother might succeed Karim Darwish (style-wise, in terms of how he hits the ball), then I might be tempted to say now that Marwan might become the successor of Amr Shabana (again, style-wise, in terms of shot-selection, playing intelligence). Anyway, some intriguing stories to come from the Egyptian brothers in the following years, am pretty convinced. Stay tuned!