Farag Fuelled For British Open Title Defence After World Champs Defeat

World No.1 Ali Farag’s defeat to Diego Elias at the PSA World Championships has only increased his desire to come back stronger than ever as he attempts to win back-to-back titles at the British Open.

Farag, 32, has enjoyed stellar 2023/24 season on the PSA World Tour, capturing seven titles – five of which have been Platinum successes – and only losing to three players on the world circuit: Paul Coll, Mostafa Asal, and Diego Elias.

However, for the first time in his campaign, Farag failed to make at least the final of an event at the World Championships as he fell to a four-game defeat at the hands of World No.3 Elias in the last four – a tournament which he had previously held an unbeaten 28 match record in, stretching all the way back to 2017.

Speaking before his title defence gets underway Farag admitted that this recent defeat had only spurred him on ahead of the last Platinum event of the season.

“I guess the pressure is off me, I mean the fact that everyone is playing really well means that the spotlight isn’t on me as much, but I have never really minded the spotlight from people; it is more about how I am feeling in myself.

“I feel because the last match was a loss at the World Championships, it has only fuelled me up to try and redeem myself, and it all starts on the very first day against either Shahjahan [Khan] or [Omar] Mosaad and I’m really looking forward to that battle.”

The British Open is the oldest and one of the most established tournaments on the PSA World Tour calendar, with legends of the game such as Jansher and Jahangir Khan, Jonah Barrington, Nicol David and Susan Devoy having all lifted the trophy aloft during their respective careers.

Until the 2023 edition, The British Open had proven a title which had remained agonisingly out of reach for Farag, with the Egyptian having lost out in three finals in 2019, 2021 and 2022. However, last year, while observing Ramadan, Farag put in a faultless week of squash to finally get his hands on the trophy, defeating Peru’s Elias in four games in the title decider.

On what that victory meant to him, Farag said:

“It had been a long time coming. I had been trying really hard to get my hands on this prestigious trophy. I came up short three times in my career, and then I was coming back from an injury, and I wasn’t having the best of results, so it was a great surprise to finally taste the victory in one of the most iconic events in our sport. So I obviously have very, very happy memories there.

“It was made tougher and more challenging last year, but I guess I still played my best squash, so I wouldn’t say that because I was observing Ramadan that I had to compensate for something. I was playing my 110%. It was obviously special, but also the fact that I had just won the British Open was more special.

“The British Open is probably the oldest event on the calendar. If you look at all of the great names of our sport, all of them have won the event, which shows just how important it is. To have my name next to them was obviously a dream come true.”

After a busy recent schedule that saw Farag compete in three consecutive events at the Black Ball Open, the El Gouna International, and the World Championships, the World No.1 admitted that the last fortnight has been a welcome period of rest ahead of the closing weeks of the season.

“I guess at this stage of the season it is mainly about resetting and recharging the batteries and tweaking very few things to get yourself energised and pumped up again.

“The good thing is that it is the British Open – if it was a lesser event or a less iconic event, there wouldn’t quite be as much hunger towards it, but because it is the British Open, I think all of us are going to be getting up for it and looking forward to it.”

The British Open 2024 will take place between 2-9 June in Birmingham and will be available to watch live on SQUASHTV