A former world No 1 himself, Willstrop, from Pontefract, lost out 11-6, 11-6, 8-11, 11-5 after just over an hour on court at the Airco Arena in Hull.
The result saw Egypt’s Elshorbagy avenge his third round loss to 32-year-old Willstrop in last year’s world championships in Seattle, although the Yorkshireman was happy with his performance.
“I’m pleased to play that way,” said Willstrop, currently ranked 13th in the world.
“I didn’t set anything on fire in the first two games and could have been better. He played well and he’s been thinking about this match for a long time, since Seattle. He was out to do something different from then.
“I have to keep building on it and hopefully keep upping my level. Obviously I want to win, but it’s all positive for me.
“He mixed it up a lot today. My squash beat his (in the worlds) and that’s the great tactical challenge of this game. He got it better today.”