Day THREE : Four semi-final spots decided

The CIB PSA World Tour Finals continued at the new EDNC SODIC venue in Cairo tonight , with six more best of three Round Two & Three Pool matches.

After defeats in yesterday’s Round Two, top seeds Nouran Gohar and Diego Elias notched up their second wins to guarantee their semi-final places. Defending women’s champion Nour El Sherbini is also through after scoring her second win, as is Men’s World #1 Ali Farag, but four places are still up for grabs in Friday’s final round of pool matches.

Read on for match reports and quotes …

CIB PSA World Tour Finals 2023 : Thu 22nd Jun, Day THREE

WB R2   [2] Nour El Sherbini (Egy) 2-0 [4] Joelle King (Nzl)    11-3, 11-4 (18m)
MB R2   [2] Ali Farag (Egy) 2-1 [3] Mohamed ElShorbagy (Eng)  9-11, 11-5, 11-3 (39m)
WB R2   [7] Georgina Kennedy (Eng) 2-1 [6] Nour El Tayeb (Egy)  11-7, 8-11, 11-8 (34m)
MB R2   [5] Paul Coll (Nzl) 2-0 [8] Tarek Momen (Egy)  11-6, 11-3 (22m)
WA R3   [1] Nouran Gohar (Egy) 2-0 [8] Olivia Fiechter (Usa)  11-3, 11-5 (19m)
MA R3   [1] Diego Elias (Per) 2-0 [7] Victor Crouin (Fra)   11-9, 11-7 (32m)


Reports and Reaction

WB R2   [2] Nour El Sherbini (Egy) 2-0 [4] Joelle King (Nzl)    11-3, 11-4 (18m)

Sherbini eases past King to book semi-final spot

World Champion Nour El Sherbini became the first player to book her spot in the semi-finals of the 2022-23 CIB PSA World Tour Finals after she stormed to an 11-3, 11-4 victory over New Zealand’s Joelle King at the EDNC SODIC.

El Sherbini – the reigning World Tour Finals champion – came from behind to beat fellow Egyptian Nour El Tayeb in her opening day Group B fixture and came into her match with King having beaten the Kiwi in 16 of their 17 matches on the PSA Tour.

King also came back from a game down to overcome England’s Georgina Kennedy in her opening match but had to fight through an ankle injury to do it. The World No.4 was again sporting a significant amount of strapping on that right ankle and couldn’t match El Sherbini’s accuracy.

El Sherbini stays top of Group B on seven points, meaning she is guaranteed a spot in the knockout semi-finals.

“It’s very obvious that Joelle is struggling with her movement and she is not playing near her best,” said El Sherbini afterwards.

“I was trying not to think about it because it’s hard to play any player who has an injury, you don’t know if they’re going to stop or keep going. I didn’t want to give her any cheap points. I wanted to keep my momentum going and I’m happy to win this match 2-0 without dropping a game.

“I just focus match by match, I don’t look at being defending champion, it’s a new tournament so I just focus on my game plan. It’s the last tournament of the season and everyone wants to make one last push. I’m doing the same and hopefully I will play well this week.”

MB R2   [2] Ali Farag (Egy) 2-1 [3] Mohamed ElShorbagy (Eng)  9-11, 11-5, 11-3 (39m)

Farag closes in on semis with win over ElShorbagy

World No.1 Ali Farag is on the verge of qualification for the semi-finals after he came back from a game down to defeat two-time winner Mohamed ElShorbagy in their Group B tussle.

It was their 28th meeting on the PSA Tour, with ElShorbagy holding a narrow 14-13 lead in their head-to-head record coming into the match, but Farag was able to level that up courtesy of a 9-11, 11-5, 11-3 victory.

It was a lengthy opening game totalling 19 minutes, with Farag trying to put his opponent under physical strain by elongating the rallies at every opportunity. ElShorbagy though was equal to the task and went through from 9-9 to take the opener after making good use of his Power Play, which granted him two points instead of the usual one.

Farag came out all guns blazing though in the second, racing into a 6-2 lead, and the pressure he put ElShorbagy through in that opening game paid off as the Englishman’s movement faltered.

He looked to be struggling with the adductor injury that had plagued him at the Canary Wharf Classic and Optasia Championships earlier this season, and despite receiving physio treatment in the game break, he was unable to get back in front of his opponent, who closed out the win in three games.

Farag will now qualify for the last four if New Zealand’s Paul Coll gets the better of No.8 seed Tarek Momen in the day’s other match in Group B.

“I hate playing against Mohamed,” said Farag, who has now won 22 matches in a row as well as four tournaments on the bounce.

“From the first game we were playing long rallies like we were at the back end of a crucial game. I could see him breathing hard and he kept on pushing. I was playing the rallies well but he was the one coming out the winner.

“Thankfully, I had my brother in my corner and we agreed to cut down the angles, especially on the forehand side because he is lethal on the volley. Then I used some lobs from the front to nullify that, but Mohamed is Mohamed and he knows how to rattle off points very quickly.

“He’s been having this niggle since March, I hope it’s nothing serious and I hope he can take care of it after the season is over and can come back to 100 per cent.

“I’ve come up against some great champions in those 22 matches and every match is a tough one no matter the ranking or what round it is. I take it one match at a time, 22 matches means nothing if you don’t produce on the day. I still have one more match to go in the round robin event and then hopefully I qualify for the semis and take it on from there.

“I always want the best for myself but Tarek is a good friend and I don’t want him to lose. I’ll be watching out of curiosity but I also have to take care of myself, I’ll watch Nour [El Tayeb] now, I’ll try to recover and then we’ll see how it goes from here.”

WB R2   [7] Georgina Kennedy (Eng) 2-1 [6] Nour El Tayeb (Egy)  11-7, 8-11, 11-8 (34m)

Kennedy Grinds out win over El Tayeb

England’s Georgina Kennedy has got her first win at the World Tour Finals under her belt after battling past an injured Nour El Tayeb to move up to second in Group B.

It was the third match from three today which saw an injury affect the result of the match, with El Tayeb, sporting heavy strapping around her right quad, playing through the pain barrier to put the World No.8 under pressure.

Kennedy had failed to get the better of New Zealand’s Joelle King in the previous round – with King also navigating an ankle problem – but this time she held on to record an 11-7, 8-11, 11-8 victory.

El Tayeb had a big opportunity in the opening game, leading 7-5, but Kennedy was able to fight back to go a game up, throwing in a number of boasts to test the movement of the Egyptian.

It was then El Tayeb’s turn to mount a comeback in the second, with Kennedy relinquishing a 7-3 advantage. The Englishwoman called for a Power Play at 9-8 down but couldn’t convert. El Tayeb, meanwhile, did convert when she held the first of her two match balls to send the match into a nail-biting third game.

Again it was Kennedy who started the better as she forced El Tayeb into some testing rallies to hold six match balls. There were some nervy moments for Kennedy as she made a couple of errors to allow El Tayeb back to within two points, but she held on to score her maiden win at the season-ending event.

Kennedy will qualify for the semi-finals if she beats El Sherbini 2-0. A 2-1 win would also be enough if third place Joelle King loses to El Tayeb in their match.

El Tayeb can also still qualify if she beats King 2-0 and El Sherbini overcomes Kennedy. El Tayeb beating King by a 2-1 scoreline would also see the Egyptian through providing that El Sherbini defeated Kennedy 2-0.

“I can’t explain the pressure I felt in that game,” said Kennedy.

“Nour is clearly not 100 per cent and fair play to her for coming out and making that so hard for me. You could see the relief after I won that. I don’t know what’s wrong with me but I’m really struggling mentally this week.

“Fair play to Joelle yesterday, she beat me fair and square, but I just mentally caved in and the same thing was happening there. I was lucky to get to 10 to be honest because I almost gave that match away. I really hope Nour is okay because it’s never nice playing some who is not 100 per cent.

“It would have been a huge opportunity missed, I’m fully fit and it wouldn’t be good if I wasn’t taking these opportunities. My family will be relieved that I won that one because they would not have wanted to deal with the repercussions of how I would have handled myself afterwards, so I’m relieved.

“If you saw me walking down the street you would never really know, I would put the same front on and you would think I was fine, but inside I struggle. My family and my coach Ben [Ford] have to deal with that. He has been amazing this week, so thanks to him for always being my rock.

“My family get the brunt of it, so sorry to them.”

MB R2   [5] Paul Coll (Nzl) 2-0 [8] Tarek Momen (Egy)  11-6, 11-3 (22m)

Coll beats Momen to set up ElShorbagy Showdown

New Zealand’s World No.5 Paul Coll dispatched No.8 seed Tarek Momen in straight games to set up a semi-final play-off with World No.3 Mohamed ElShorbagy tomorrow.

Coll’s win means Farag qualifies for the last four, with the winner of Coll and ElShorbagy set to join the World No.1 in the last four.

Coll put in an accurate performance to nullify Momen’s attacking skill for the most part, resulting in an 11-6, 11-3 victory after 22 minutes.

Momen, who was a late call-up to the event due to the withdrawal of Marwan ElShorbagy, has seen his chances of qualifying for the last four end.

“I felt good and I’m really excited about the areas I’m working on,” said Coll.

“I’m really trying to enjoy the week. It’s a very nice court here, it’s hot outside still but I’ve been doing some heat training and hopefully that will pay off this week.

“I’m sure it’s going to be fiery and a high pace against Mohamed. I watched him and Ali play and it was a pretty insane pace. I’m looking forward to it, I think we’re second on, so it’s going to be nice and warm and the ball will be nice and bouncy.”

WA R3   [1] Nouran Gohar (Egy) 2-0 [8] Olivia Fiechter (Usa)  11-3, 11-5 (19m)

Gohar storms past Fiechter to Qualify

World No.1 Nouran Gohar has booked her spot in the last four courtesy of an 11-3, 11-5 win over USA’s Olivia Fiechter, who saw her qualification hopes come to an end.

Gohar had won one and lost one of her matches coming into today’s match and knew that any sort of win would guarantee her a spot in the top two of Group A.

The first game saw ‘The Terminator’ at her clinical best as she kept her opponent away from the ’T’ and went for the kill frequently.

Fiechter was able to test her in the second game, drawing level at 5-5, but Gohar moved through the gears to wrap up the win in two games, despite only utilising one of her Power Plays.

Gohar will finish top of Group A if El Hammamy falls to Gilis in tomorrow night’s clash.

“I’m obviously very happy to qualify for the semis and it’s good that I get a rest day tomorrow as well,” said Gohar.

“It’s a good feeling when you win at the end. I’m very happy, Olivia is a very tricky player and we play together in the US sometimes. It’s tricky to play with someone you train with, but I’m happy with the way I played today.

“It’s tricky to use the Power Play, sometimes you have the momentum and you don’t want to break it. It’s a new rule and there are certain tactics behind it. I’m trying to learn how to use it.”

MA R3   [1] Diego Elias (Per) 2-0 [7] Victor Crouin (Fra)   11-9, 11-7 (32m)

Elias halts Crouin to book Semis spot

Men’s top seed Diego Elias held off two comebacks from Victor Crouin to seal his place in the last four of the World Tour Finals for the first time.

Elias hasn’t made it out of the group stage in three previous attempts and was tested by Crouin, who was winless at this event up to this point.

The Peruvian enjoyed big leads in each game but Crouin was tenacious and forced some errors from Elias as he came back 10-4 down to 10-9 in the opener and 9-2 down to 9-7 in the second.

However, a composed Elias held his nerve to convert both games, handing him a place in the last four.

That display from the Peruvian means he sits on nine points, two ahead of No.4 seed Mostafa Asal. Elias will finish top of Group A if Asal loses out to Mazen Hesham tomorrow, a result which would see Hesham join Elias in the last four.

“He’s very tough and is improving every tournament and playing great squash.” said Elias. “I’m just happy to win in two games here because we played a very tough one at the British Open.

“Today was very different. Yesterday was very tough – it’s always very tough against Mostafa. He’s such a good squash player but has another side that’s very tough to play against when there’s a lot of contact.

“I’m happy I could recover – I couldn’t sleep until 6 AM!”