World No. 1s El Sherbini and Farag Capture ToC Titles in Grand Central

Ali Farag and Nour El Sherbini (image: Steve Line/Tournament of Champions)

Egypt’s world No. 1’s Nour El Sherbini and Ali Farag captured the 2024 J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions titles in dramatic fashion, emerging victorious from two five-game finals Thursday, January 25, in New York City’s Grand Central Terminal.

The women’s final was a repeat of the 2023 final between world No. 1 El Sherbini and world No. 2 Gohar. El Sherbini entered the final having sustained a back injury during Wednesday’s semifinals, and found herself 2-0 down against “the Terminator”.

Gohar produced too many errors in the third and fourth games as El Sherbini gained the match momentum and started to mount her comeback. El Sherbini clinched the title in the fifth game on her second championship ball 9-11, 4-11, 11-5, 11-5, 11-5 in sixty-four minutes.

“I thought I was out of this match!” El Sherbini said. “I thought I was going to lose and I didn’t want to lose 3-0. My dad told me to play one more game and just focus on hitting my targets, point by point and just focus on the third game. Nouran was playing really well – I haven’t played her since she’s come back from injury. I’m really happy I won this match.”

With her fifth ToC title, El Sherbini extends her record as the winningest women’s champion.

“I wasn’t sure if I was going to play or not, I said I definitely have to play for the crowd and I’m not going to pull out,” El Sherbini said. “I just tried to enjoy the game, it wasn’t working at the beginning but I’m glad I managed to turn it around.”

An equally fitting men’s final ensued between world No. 1 Farag and Peru’s defending champion Diego Elias. The final marked the fourth time the two went head-to-head for a Platinum title with the Egyptian winning all four previous encounters. Farag made the stronger start of the two, taking a 2-1 lead, as Elias worked through fatigue from his taxing semifinal against Mostafa Asal. Elias dug deep to take the fourth game 11-9 with calculated shotmaking and force a fifth game. A determined Farag took control in the fifth to earn his third career ToC title 7-11, 11-6, 11-4, 9-11, 11-5 in seventy-four minutes.

“I feel very proud, it was a tough start,” said Farag. “I was being very passive and Diego [Elias] was hitting very crisp shots to the back of the court. He was dominating the ‘T’ area for the first part of the first game. I had to change things up and speed things up a little bit. That gave me confidence going into the second, even though I lost it. I built a bit of momentum going into the second. The second and the third went well and the fourth, he had a very good start and in a matter of seconds he was 6-0 up. I tried to fight my way back in, but I couldn’t. It did give me confidence going into the fifth and I’m so glad I started the fifth the way I did.”

2024 marked the tournament’s twenty-sixth year staged in the iconic Vanderbilt Hall. El Sherbini and Farag were crowned by the Stella Trophy–designed by renowned artist Frank Stella–in a tournament first.