LOS ANGELES — Mohamad Zakaria has made history in Los Angeles, claiming the World Los Angeles Squash Open to become the youngest ever male winner on the PSA Tour.
The Egyptian, who only turned 16 just over a month ago, showcased his glowing potential in the bright lights of California, producing a stunning comeback to beat home favourite Andrew Douglas of the United States 3-2.
Just a few weeks ago, Zakaria finished runner-up in the World Junior Championship as a 15-year-old, and followed that up with a run to the semi-finals of the St Louis Open 2023.
Zakaria showed exactly what he was capable of in the first two rounds, seeing off Mark Broekman in just 24 minutes on day one, before cruising past No.1 seed Faraz Khan 3-0 in round two.
He continued his imperious march towards glory in the quarter-finals and semi-finals, reaching the final without dropping a game all week.
The opening exchanges of the final would be a different story, though, as Douglas raced out to a 4-0 lead in game one, keeping the Egyptian at arm’s length throughout to give himself a one-game lead.
The second followed a similar pattern, with the American edging in front early and never giving up the lead, putting himself on the brink of glory.
But staring defeat in the face, Zakaria showed that he has more than just raw talent, turning the tide in dramatic fashion in game three, winning it 11-1 in less than three-and-a-half minutes.
Game four was a much sterner test of the young star’s resolve, as he opened up an 8-4 lead before being pegged back to 9-8, but he held on to win the next two points and send the match into a decider.
If there were any nerves lingering in the 16-year-old’s mind, being just one game from glory, they would soon have been dispelled as he outlasted Douglas in some lengthy rallies to take a 5-0 lead.
Zakaria won six of the next seven points to wrap up a historic triumph in 83 minutes.
Elsewhere, Mostafa Asal and Hania El Hammamy will return to defend their titles at the upcoming TTI Milwaukee Hong Kong Squash Open, PSA World Tour Platinum event, which will take place between November 27 – December 3, 2023.
The Hong Kong Squash Centre will stage the action prior to the semi-finals, with the final two days of the tournament moving over to a spectacular all-glass show court situated at Hong Kong’s picturesque Cultural Plaza.
In the men’s event, Ali Farag leads the way as the No.1 seed after a strong start to the season that has already seen him scoop the Paris Squash and Qatar Classic Platinum titles.
The Egyptian will play either Aly Abou Eleinen or Shahjahan Khan in the second round, before potential matches against Miguel Rodriguez, Mazen Hesham, and Asal if the event goes to seedings.
Defending champion Asal, meanwhile, will face either Youssef Ibrahim or wildcard Henry Leung in round two, with the Egyptian also sitting in the same quarter of the draw as compatriots Tarek Momen and Fares Dessouky.
No.2 seed Diego Elias will kick off his campaign against one of England’s Nathan Lake or Egypt’s Karim el-Hammamy. From there, the Peruvian is seeded to play recent Grasshopper Cup champion Karim Abdel Gawad before a potential blockbuster quarter-final clash against World No.4 Paul Coll.
Four-time champion Mohamed rl-Shorbagy is drawn against one of Timothy Brownell or Baptiste Masotti in his opening bout, while Marwan el-Shorbagy will play Mohamed el-Sherbini in an intriguing-looking round of 32 clash.
In the women’s draw, World No.1 Nour el-Sherbini will look to continue her imperious start to the season, which has already seen her claim the Platinum-level Paris Squash and US Open titles.
The Egyptian is set to play one of Mariam Metwally or Fayrouz Aboelkheir in the second round, while also finding herself in the same quarter as No.6 seed Nele Gilis.