The 2021/22 CIB PSA World Tour Finals continue today at the Mall of Arabia with six final Group matches, all on the glass court with the new ASB Glass Floor. There’s only one more place in the semi-finals to be claimed, but who plays who in the last fours is still to be determined.
Nouran Gohar was already through and her win over Joelle King eliminated the Kiwi. A 2-0 win for Amanda Sobhy over Gina Kennedy secured second spot for Amanda Sobhy who will face Sherbini in the semis.
Ali Farag beat Mohamed ElShorbagy in a quick Men’s A decider, with Faraftakin on Mostafa Asal in the semis, ElShorbagy will be up against Paul Coll.
Today’s other three matches have no bearing on qualification, with Elias v Hesham, Perry v Elaraby and Momen v Makin determining 3rd and 4th places in their Groups.
Entertaining Exhibition from Farag and ElShorbagy
Ali Farag overcame Mohamed ElShorbagy in the battle for first in Group A, with the pair – both of whom went into the match with qualification guaranteed – putting on an exciting exhibition for the crowd.
Despite the 11-8 scoreline in Farag’s opening game win, the opener lasted just eight minutes as both players looked for winners and avoided lengthy rallies with one eye on tomorrow’s semi-final.
The second game was equally fun for the fans, with Farag eventually sealing the 2-0 win when he took the second game 12-10 with a crowd-pleasing corkscrew finish.
Farag will play Mostafa Asal in the semi-final, while ElShorbagy will take on Paul Coll.
“There wasn’t much that this match was being played for, other than maybe for a few points. Whenever I step on court I try to win. Obviously, it’s a tricky one because you want to conserve your energy for tomorrow.
“It was always tricky and I didn’t have the ideal preparation for today because I knew I was through anyway, I went back home and saw my little one for a couple of hours and then I came back, which is more than an hour ride. You could tell that it was not the match of the season for both of us, but we’re glad that we’re both through and hopefully tomorrow we can give a good one for the crowd.
“Asal’s in hot form at the moment. He’s playing really well and is a very explosive player. Obviously, being explosive takes away from your physicality, but he’s got the endurance to back it up. I know it’s going to be very tough but I’m looking forward to it and hopefully we put on a good show.
“It would mean a lot to win. I’ve never got my hands on this trophy. It’s a very prestigious one, lots of great players have won it. I’d love to win it one day and what better a way to do it than at home here, to put the cherry on top of the cake to end the season on a high. I’ve got a maximum of two matches to go and I’m going to give it my all.”
Result :  Ali Farag (EGY) bt  Mohamed ElShorbagy (ENG) 2-0: 11-8, 12-10 (17m)
Sobhy takes second spot
Amanda Sobhy will play Nour El Sherbini in the next round after overcoming England’s Georgina Kennedy in the pair’s first meeting on tour.
Ahead of the match, only a 2-0 win for Kennedy would have sent the World No.9 through. However, Sobhy looked in excellent touch from the first moments of the match, with the World No.3 finding her lengths well to nullify Kennedy’s speed.
After taking the first game 11-4 to secure safe passage through to the semi-final, Sobhy continued to push hard in the second, finishing Kennedy off with another 11-4 win.
“Somehow I just tried to control what I could control, which is my gameplan. It’s possibly the hottest conditions I’ve ever played in; I tried to slow it down as much as possible, slow it all the way down. Just to buy myself time and conserve as much energy as possible and I did that and I’m happy to win in two.
“She’s a fighter, she’ll get everything back and I wanted to crush her confidence as much as possible and not give away any points because it’s so hot and every point is a long rally so I can’t really afford to do that. So, I wanted to be clinical, which I did, and I’m very happy about that.
“Nour and I haven’t actually played at all this season, so it’s awesome to play someone new. I know even though she has a little bit of an injury, her shots are unbelievable and I know she’s going to be much deadlier. I’m excited to have a new opportunity to play someone different at the end of the season.
“I haven’t done too well here in the past and the fact that I’ve qualified into the semis along with the Egyptians makes it three-and-a-half Egyptians! It’s awesome to be up there among the top three who have been kind of raising the bar and hopefully I can give them hell tomorrow!”
Result :  Amanda Sobhy (USA) bt  Georgina Kennedy (ENG) 2-0: 11-4, 11-4 (21m)
Perry ends season with a comeback
In the last women’s match of the day, Sarah-Jane Perry came from behind to beat Rowan Elaraby in a hugely competitive match to end her season with a pleasing victory.
With neither player able to qualify for the semi-finals, fans could have been forgiven for fearing this would be a flat encounter. Any doubts were quickly erased, though, as Elaraby and Perry played perhaps the most intense match of the day.
After Elaraby took the first game 11-5, Perry struck back well to level with an 11-8 win in the second.
The third game was just as even, and there were worries that the crowd were to be robbed of a satisfying conclusion when a collision between Perry and Elaraby forced the Egyptian from the court with Perry holding an 8-7 lead.
Elaraby, however, impressively recovered after a lengthy injury break, inching ahead to 9-8 before Perry levelled at 9-9 and then 10-10 to set up a nervy finish.
After a number of video referee decisions, it was eventually Perry who broke clear to win the match with a 12-10 victory.
“There were patches of quality, for sure,” Perry reflected. “I was really pleased with the second half of the second game. Rowan’s a fighter and I’ll always be a fighter. I don’t think that was either of our best squash today. I feel like there were glimpses. We’re both playing really good squash at the moment and I don’t think that was there, I think it’s fair to say.
“I kept trying to focus on the next point and play every ball that I could. As nimble as John might like me to be, I can’t nip round people like some of the lighter players can. I’m a bit damned if I do, damned if I don’t at times. They’ve got a really difficult job and I’m not the person who makes it easiest for them, but I guarantee that I’m trying to play every ball and trying to get out of the way, I’m just twice the size of some of the other girls.
“Rowan had the ankle strapping on there and I hope she’s ok. She was moving fine when she came back on, so hopefully that’s fine. I’m pleased to sneak it in the end.
“I’ve got my summer break now, which is two days long before I knuckle down and prepare for the Commonwealth Games. I’m delighted to sneak that and, like they said on commentary earlier, there’s a lot of pride to play for, plus points and a bit of money as well. So whichever one motivates you, you’ve got to put that at the front of your mind and target it.
“I’ll take [the extra money for finishing third]. I like to set myself a little thing for if I get to another round, something I can buy myself. At the Worlds it was the new Liverpool goalkeeper shirt, which is tucked away at home, I’m not sure what it was for this match! So if anyone wants to send ideas on social media, I’m keen!”
Result :  Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) bt  Rowan Elaraby (EGY) 2-1: 5-11, 11-8, 12-10 (54m)
Makin beats Momen in final Group match
In the evening’s final match, which was again contested by two players unable to progress through to the semi-finals, Wales’ Joel Makin overcame Egypt’s Tarek Momen in a tough battle.
Makin played a number of lobs in the first game to keep the dangerous Momen on the back foot, a tactic that was rewarded with an 11-7 win for the Welshman.
Momen, however, was able to impose himself well in the second game, with both players having opportunities as game balls came and went. At 12-12, the tension was palpable. Finally, however, Makin was able to push through, securing the match with a 14-12 win at the end of a brutal rally in a 32-minute second game.
“I wanted to push hard there, it’s been a bit disappointing, I lost a couple of tight ones but I still wanted to come and give a good account. I knew Tarek would be difficult, he’s so skilful. Even in that kind of match, he’s coming back at the end and making it hard. It was really open, clean and tough squash, I enjoyed it.
“None of [the floors] are great [to dive on], but this was no different to normal, so I’m fine. A couple of sweat issues, but it’s 40 degrees and we’re flying and diving into the front corners, but the [new glass] floor has held up well. I’m happy with it.
“I’ll have a good week off squash now [before the Commonwealth Games] and do some other stuff that I’ve been looking forward to. The season’s gone on and on and it’s been tough. I was just happy to finish with a win there, good quality and looking forward to a bit of a break now.”
Result :  Joel Makin (WAL) bt  Tarek Momen (EGY) 2-0: 11-7, 14-12 (50m)
Elias ends season with a win
In the battle for third in Group A, Peru’s Diego Elias overcame a stubborn challenge from Egypt’s Mazen Hesham in an enjoyable clash.
With neither player able to progress to the semi-finals, tonight’s match was about pride and the fight for the greater prize money that would come with a third-place finish.
While Hesham played his usual thoroughly entertaining squash, it was Elias who looked the stronger player from the beginning, with the Peruvian Puma taking a deserved lead with an 11-5 win in game one.
Hesham dug in better in the second game, with the Egyptian forcing his way back to 8-8 having been 8-4 down, before responding again to save two match balls to level at 10-10. However, on a roasting Cairo court, it was Elias who was able to keep his composure and end the season with a victory with a 12-10 win.
“I was out already and had nothing to lose, nothing to win, I was just playing squash. I wanted to finish the season with a win, so it feels a little better because I’m a little disappointed with this week, but I’m very happy to win the last match and I can’t wait to be home!
“These last few months I left home before TOC and I’ve just been with my big bag, travelling everywhere, playing lots of tournaments and lots of matches. I’m very happy to finish the season and go back home. I’m playing tomorrow in Colombia, so I have to go there and play and then put my racket away for a few weeks!”
Result :  Diego Elias (PER) bt  Mazen Hesham (EGY) 2-0: 11-5, 12-10 (33m)
Gohar tops Group A in style
Egyptian top seed Nouran Gohar put the icing on the cake of her group stage run with an impressive victory over New Zealand’s Joelle King to set up a semi-final clash with Hania El Hammamy.
King made the quicker start to the match, before Gohar – who had already qualified for the semi-finals – settled and began to open up a lead. King did well to level at 6-6 after going 6-3 down, with the Kiwi looking sharp when attacking.
Gohar, though, was able to make a move once again, and closed out the first game 11-6.
The Egyptian picked up where she left off in the second game to quickly wrap up the match with a crushing 11-1 win to send King – who needed to win to have any chance of progressing – home.
“I just tried to play the best and I’m pleased with the performance today. You always have to give your all on court and I’m happy I did this today.
“Hania’s in the top three in the world, so she’s obviously a very good player. It’s always tough between us and last year we played in the final of the World Tour Finals.
“This year, it’s a bit earlier, but still a tough match and I’ll just prepare for it.