Former world number one Mohamed Elshorbagy hailed Mostafa Asal as ‘the current best player in the world’ after losing to the Egyptian youngster in the final of January’s Houston Open.
‘The Beast’ has been on the rampage himself in recent events, winning MARIGOLD Singapore and New Zealand Opens in November.
But the statesman-like English number one admitted he had been beaten by a better player on the day in Asal.
The 21-year-old Egyptian had the previous day secured his place in history as the youngest world number one in the professional era with a semi-final victory over Mohamed’s younger brother, Marwan Elshobagy. The referee controversially awarded the game to Asal – who has courted controversy of late – after Marwan was unable to continue after an extended medical time out following contact between the two players.
Mohamed Elshorbagy: Asal ‘too good’
“I got told a long time ago that any type of publicity is good publicity,” Elshorbagy said of his young opponent as he stayed classy in his post-match interview.
“Asal is the current world number one. I’ve always believed that the rankings never lie. There are some players that can come out of the blue and play one good week and win the world champs, but they can’t back it up.
“Asal is the current best player in the world, and he showed it today. He played a very good match. He was too good. Sometimes you just have to raise your hand when your opponent is just too good, and he was too good. And I have some work to do to understand what happened, what he has done to me today. Because after I beat him in Qatar, he is definitely learning fast.”
Elshorbagy held the world number one spot for 50 months between 2014 and 2021.
After a disappointing 2021-22 season, the Beast has bounced back to his best form after enlisting Gregory Gaultier to his coaching set up.
“It’s an honour for me to be [Asal’s] first match as a world no 1. My first match as world number one was against my idol Amr Shabana. So to be his first, you never forget that moment,” Elshorbagy said.