Some of squash’s leading personalities reveal why Dubai ranks among their favourite destinations on the PSA World Series
With fantastic cuisine, unrivalled hospitality, and – this year – a spectacular new venue for the PSA World Series Finals, Dubai rates the perfect host for squash’s showcase tournament.
The proof is in the attitudes of last week’s stars of the Dubai Opera stage – the players – who remain hugely enthusiastic about how Dubai’s patronage is elevating their sport to greater heights.
Here, some of the leading personalities on the men’s and women’s tour reveal why they love playing in the emirate.
Mohamed ElShorbagy, 2017 men’s champion
“I love being [in Dubai]. My father used to work here, and I used to always fly with Emirates whenever I went to tournaments in Malaysia or Hong Kong, so that when I came back I could stay with him for a few days. I have family here and they’ll come and watch me, so it always feels like home. To be honest, I absolutely love everything about being here; where we stay, the way they welcome us, and the team that [organise] the tournament – they do an amazing job. Everything is professional and done in the right way, and they set a great example for every other promoter and every other tournament to follow.”
Laura Massaro, 2017 women’s champion
“Everyone who was here last year saw and felt how amazing the venue and the court was, and how well we got looked after – and everyone who was watching from the outside saw that as well, and then wanted to be here [at the PSA Dubai World Series Finals]. So I feel that if anything, [the PSA World Series] has been even more competitive this year with everyone thinking in the back of their mind, ‘I really want to make Dubai’. We didn’t know what it was going to be like last year as it was our first time here – but now we do, and now we really want to be part of it.”
Nick Matthew, two-time world champion
“There is an incredible quality to everything here. Dubai has this way of getting a good formula and going above-and-beyond, and it’s the same with this venue for the squash [Dubai Opera]. From a tournament point-of-view, it was always drilled home to us that last year was great, but that it was very much phase one – and that it was only going to grow from there. We’ve seen phase two in action this time and the plans are to make it bigger and better, so hopefully that will lead to more opportunities within the sport – even if I’ve stopped playing. I look forward to [seeing it develop] from whichever side of the glass I’m on.”
Gregory Gaultier, 2016 men’s champion
“ was my first visit to Dubai and I brought my family as well. They couldn’t wait to come back. The organisation is unbelievable, from the time you arrive at the airport to the time you leave – everything is made so that the players feel comfortable, so that you can really focus on your squash. All you have to think about is your match, and the rest is really good. There is nothing we can complain about – they have really looked after us amazingly.”
Nouran Gohar, women’s semi-finalist
“Last year was my first time coming to Dubai. I have lots of friends here and everyone was telling me, “You’ll have so much fun’. And I did; it’s one of my favourite cities now. Dubai Opera is so beautiful, so I was so excited about seeing how the glass court would be put in this amazing venue – and when I came here I was overwhelmed with how beautiful it is. I couldn’t wait to play on the court.”
Ali Farag, world no. 5
“My experience of Dubai has been amazing; I couldn’t have asked for a better week, really. Obviously I wanted to qualify [for the semi-finals], but I’m only 25 and it was my first-ever PSA World Series Finals, so I didn’t want to be too greedy! I love this city; it’s very advanced and yet it’s still Arab, so I feel kind of at home.”
Camille Serme, world no. 3
“Dubai is doing an amazing job. We’ve seen it last year, and this year it’s an even higher standard. We can’t thank them enough for what they’ve done for our sport. [My family and I] have been to the top of the Burj Khalifa, which was really impressive, and we went to Dubai’s Old Town to see the souks. We also went to a restaurant in the desert where you could see the sun set, which was really nice.”