#TBT – The Story of the 2019 Allam British Open

After missing out in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Allam British Open returns to the PSA World Tour calendar this year, with action coming back to Hull next week.

The 2021 edition will return to the Allam Sports Centre, the same venue which hosted the entirety of the 2019 Allam British Open, housed at the University of Hull.

Ahead of this year’s tournament, we are taking a look back at the last time we visited Hull. This is the story of the 2019 Allam British Open.

Legendary Trio Retire From Game

One of the biggest stories from the British Open in 2019 was that three legendary female faces saw their careers come to an end, as Jenny Duncalf, Laura Massaro and Nicol David all retired from professional squash.

All three women saw their tournaments end at the second round stage of the Platinum level tournament. Duncalf lost out to World No.1 Raneem El Welily, David’s run came to an end against Nour El Tayeb, while Massaro was beaten by Belgium’s Tinne Gilis.

As a result, all three retired on the same day, in one of the most emotional days the PSA World Tour had seen. 

Hesham Reaches First Major Quarter-Final Since 2015

As one of the most skilful players on Tour, and a man who can hit unbelievable shots out of nowhere, it was perhaps a surprise that Mazen Hesham had gone four years without reaching a major quarter-final.

However, due to injuries and other problems, it hadn’t been the case for the ‘Squash Falcon’ since his last quarter-final appearance, which came at the British Open in 2015.

Hesham made his way through to the last eight in Hull two years ago after beating Peru’s Diego Elias in the second round, in a surprise win. He then defeated Lucas Serme in the last 16, and almost took out No.4 seed Paul Coll, losing out in 74 minutes in the quarters.

El Welily & El Sherbini Beaten In Last Eight

Clear at the top of the rankings, Raneem El Welily and Nour El Sherbini would have probably expected to meet each other in the final, as they did on many occasions, but neither would even make the semis, let alone the final.

El Welily took out Jenny Duncalf and Amanda Sobhy, both in straight games, but she came unstuck against Nouran Gohar, the woman that would take over the World No.1 spot after she retired in the summer of 2020. Gohar needed just 36 minutes to defeat El Welily, on her way to the semis and beyond.

In the bottom half of the draw, El Sherbini came up against England’s Sarah-Jane Perry, and after taking the first game 11-8, she might have expected to go on and win 3-0. However, with the home crowd behind her, Perry fought back and won out 3-1 to book her place in the semis, knocking the then three-time World Champion out of the tournament.

Top Two Set Up Final Clash

There were shocks galore in the women’s draw, but getting down to the business end of the men’s tournament, and normal service resumed, as Ali Farag and Mohamed ElShorbagy, the world’s top two, both made it into the final.

Then-World No.1 Farag had come through to the last four having just dropped a single game, beating three fellow Egyptians in Mostafa Asal, Marwan ElShorbagy and Mohamed Abouelghar. He almost came unstuck against Paul Coll, in one of their many epic battles, but Farag was able to come through and win 3-2 to secure his spot in the final.

ElShorbagy continued his waltz through the tournament, having already gotten the better of the English duo of James Willstrop and Daryl Selby, and Colombian No.1 Miguel Rodriguez in straight games. That trend continued in the semis, as he defeated No.5 seed Karim Abdel Gawad 3-0 in 47 minutes to book his place in the final.

Gohar & ElShorbagy Victorious

Finals day at the Allam British Open in 2019 saw double Egyptian glory, as Nouran Gohar and Mohamed ElShorbagy were victorious after winning their respective finals at the University of Hull.

Gohar took to centre stage first, up against Frenchwoman Camille Serme, and three years on from losing in the final to Nour El Sherbini, he got her hands on the coveted title. ‘The Terminator’ won in straight games, 11-3, 11-8, 11-3, to win her second major title, following her victory in Hong Kong in 2016.

ElShorbagy then took on Farag for the men’s title, and as expected, it was a wonderful contest. The battle went on for just over an hour, as the ‘Beast from Alexandria’ secured a third British Open title, following his back-to-back wins in 2015 and 2016.