Nour El Sherbini at the London Squash Classic

World No.1 Nour El Sherbini has won almost all there is to win in the sport of squash, but the inaugural London Squash Classic 2024 offers a rare opportunity for her to add a new title to her glittering trophy cabinet.

For the first time, the London Squash Classic, which is a continuation of the iconic Canary Wharf Classic, will see a women’s draw introduced alongside the men’s draw. The Gold-level PSA World Tour event – which has moved from the East Wintergarden venue on the shores of the River Thames to the world-famous Alexandra Palace in North London – has attracted six of the world’s top 10 ranked players and notably the world’s top three players, El Sherbini, Hania El Hammamy, and Nouran Gohar, are all involved.

The event will see a best-of-three format played up until the semi-finals before switching to the traditional five-game format, with top seed El Sherbini seeded to start her campaign against Tesni Murphy before potential quarter-final and semi-final bouts against Sivasangari Subramaniam and Nele Gilis.

“I’m so excited, of course, and I’m really looking forward to playing at the London Classic,” El Sherbini said. “We watched the Canary Wharf Classic for years, and, amazingly, we have finally joined the men’s event.

“Good venues always motivate me to play better. It is like an extra boost when we have an amazing crowd like the English crowd. They really appreciate what we are doing and give us the vibe that we need, and definitely the support they give me is everything I want.”

El Sherbini has enjoyed a season to remember on the PSA World Tour, securing six titles, four of which have come at Platinum events. Such form has seen the 28-year-old lose just two of her 37 matches this season – once to El Hammamy in the final of the Qatar Classic and once to American No.1 Amanda Sobhy in the semi-finals of the Hong Kong Open.

However, despite this stellar run of form, the Egyptian admits that she prepares for each tournament as if it’s the first one of the season.

“Every tournament is different,” she said. “I don’t put my results from the whole season in my mind. I prepare for every tournament as if it’s the first one, and I want to win it. I will try to maintain the same form next week, and hopefully, it will be a good one.”

El Sherbini has, in particular, shown impressive mental resilience when faced with adversity this season. One notable example of her courage on the court was during her J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions semi-final against El Hammamy, during which she was nursing a troublesome lower back problem.

Despite not feeling anywhere near 100% and her movement being severely hampered in a second game that El Hammamy claimed 11-2, the ‘Warrior Princess’ returned to court to win the third and fourth games 11-9 and 11-5 to book her spot in the final – a match in which she claimed a remarkable comeback from 2-0 down to defeat fierce rival Gohar.

“Of course, I’m happy with my mental side as I feel it’s the main reason for my success this season,” El Sherbini said. “I feel I haven’t been playing my best in every match this season, but being strong mentally is what makes me pass this time until I get back to the way I want to perform.

On the topic of expectation and pressure, she added:

“There’s always pressure in every round, and being World No.1 is hard because all of your opponents play with no pressure against you, so they get out their best squash. You have to prove that you deserve this position and don’t let this pressure control you. I try to avoid putting any pressure on myself. I perform much better when I don’t feel any pressure.”