World No.1 Ali Farag will look to make a winning start to the second half of the 2019-20 PSA World Tour season when he returns to New York’s Grand Central Terminal to defend his J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions title, which he won in dramatic circumstances 12 months ago.
Farag mounted a stunning comeback from two games down to defeat fellow Egyptian Mohamed ElShorbagy to claim both the prestigious Platinum title and ElShorbagy’s World No.1 spot and he will be the favourite to retain his crown when he takes to the court in New York between January 9-17.
“I had a flashback of the past 20 years of my life,” Ali Farag said. “I remember that after I won the match I went into tears and I could only think of these memories and the road that took me to there. I could always dream of it, but I could never imagine it happening really, so that’s what I remember the most.”
The 27-year-old has reached the final of all three PSA World Tour events he has competed at so far this season, winning one title, and will look to continue that form when he returns to Grand Central Terminal, where he will be front and centre in the posters draped around the famous venue.
“When I was still in college I used to go to Grand Central and always saw the posters of the defending champions all over the venue,” said Harvard-graduate Farag. “I dreamt of being up there one day and now I am going to be going back there with the memory of clinching that World No.1 title. There can’t be a better feeling, and it’s probably the one tournament we get most inspired for because it’s the beginning of the year, everybody wants to do well, because of the location as well, so I’m really looking forward to it.
“This year it’s a bit different, because of the Men’s World Team Championship we didn’t really have much of a break where you can recharge. For me, the first part of the season has been a little shaky, I’ve only played three tournaments when normally I would have played five or six. It means that I will need to play at least eight in the second half, so I want to kick it off well in New York.
“I’m really looking forward to getting back into the rhythm again, more than being back and defending my title Thankfully I’ve made the final of all three tournaments so far and won the U.S. Open, but it’s been a while.
“I kick off with either Mazen Hesham or Alan Clyne. Both are very tough opponents, Mazen is the same age as me and very talented, and if I do get to play against him it’s going to be tough. This is what I’m thinking about rather than defending my title.”