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Diego Elias Makes History By Winning The CIB PSA World Championships

Will Weissman

Diego Elias Plays a shot against Karim Abdel Gawad in the CIB PSA World Championships on May 15, 2024. 


Diego Elias' triumph on May 18 marked a monumental moment for South American squash. The Peruvian was the first player from his continent to win the CIB PSA World Championships, one of the year's most significant tournaments. The event boasted the largest purse of any tournament that year and netted Elias a take-home prize of over $90,000. 


Diego Elias’ first place represented a fundamental moment for South African squash, but his record-breaking run was not without its challenges. His journey to the top started in the quarter-finals, where he faced former World No. 1, Egpyt’s Karim Abdel Gawad. After a tough match, Elias emerged victorious, setting the stage for a showdown with current World No. 1 Ali Farag from Egpyt in the semi-finals. Elias had won just three out of 25 matches against Farag, and had gone without a win against the World No. 1 for six months.


Farag began the first game with his textbook style of play: deep shots to the back of the court, forcing long rallies. Elias, known for his quick and aggressive style, took the initiative by attacking the ball and putting pressure on the Egyptian. His strategy paid off, and Elias took the first game 11-5. In the second game, Farag showed his own aggression, but Elias used high lobs and variation in shot speed to absorb these attacks. A brilliant cross-drop kill from Elias at 5-5 at a critical midpoint in the game and an error from Farag at 10-8 boosted the Peruvian to a 2-0 match lead. 


Despite a strong start, Elias faced a setback in the third game as Farag’s passive play style began to pay off. Elias’ legs began to slow, and he fell to a 3-0 point deficit. After a few long, physical rallies and an error from Elias, Farag was back in the match. Elias, however, was far from defeated. 


The Peruvian kept his composure in the fourth game, pouncing on Farag’s attacking shots and disrupting the World No. 1’s steady rhythm. After more sublime squash from Elias, he found himself with three match balls on the reigning World Champion. The two underwent another testing rally before Far clipped the top of the tin, making Diego Elias the first South American World Championships Finalist. 


To truly cement himself in the history books, Elias still had to win the championship match, where he faced Egypt’s Mostafa Asal. Unlike Farag, Asal played extremely aggressively from the start of the match, hitting deceptive drops from all corners of the court. However, Elias’ quickness to the front allowed him to retrieve the Egyptian’s attacks and settle into the first game. Asal failed to establish the deep length and build the rallies, which allowed Elias to play relaxed and controlled. After three hard-fought games, Diego Elias defeated current World No. 3, Mostafa Asal, to add another title victory to his already outstanding career. 

With an incredible run against some of the world’s top players, the Peruvian became the first non-Egyptian player to win the PSA World Championships since 2015. 


“It’s going to [be] huge, it’s going to be massive in Peru for all the people supporting me all these years. To be honest, I don’t know how I feel right now, I haven’t processed it yet and I’m just very happy,” Elias said after the match. 


As one of the only Peruvian squash players on the PSA tour, Diego Elias’ recent victory is undoubtedly a significant source of inspiration for striving South American squash players. His success marks a huge moment for squash, allowing the game to gain more exposure in countries around the world.

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