2020-21 Finals : Day TWO

Day ONE saw six best-of-three Group matches at the Mall of Arabia, and Day TWO saw a further six as players vied to finish in the top two to qualify for the semi-finals.

The first two matches concluded Round One in the B Groups, while in the final four matches in the A Groups some players were looking for a win to guarantee their progress, others needing a victory to stay in contention.

There was drama and upsets aplenty, but Nouran Gohar was the only one to secure a semi-final spot …

CIB PSA World Tour Finals : Wed 23rd Jun, Day TWO

WB  R1  [7] Joelle King (Nzl) 2-0 [4] Amanda Sobhy (Usa)                      11-5, 11-8 (26m)
MB  R1  [8] Gregoire Marche (Fra) 2-1 [6] Joel Makin (Wal)          8-11, 11-9, 11-3 (59m)

WA  R2  [1] Nour El Sherbini (Egy) 2-0 [8] Salma Hany (Egy)                  11-8, 11-6 (25m)
MA  R2  [6] Mohamed ElShorbagy (Egy)  2-1 [1] Ali Farag (Egy)    11-8, 8-11, 13-11 (64m)

WA  R2  [3] Nouran Gohar (Egy) 2-0 [6] Camille Serme (Fra)                11-8, 14-12 (48m)
MA  R2  [7] Mostafa Asal (Egy) 2-0 [4] Marwan ElShorbagy (Egy)      13-11, 11-3 (42m)

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R2 : Asal 2-0 MaElShorbagy

Mostafa Asal beats defending champion Marwan ElShorbagy to make anything possible in Group A ... ...

R2 : Gohar 2-0 Serme

Nouran Gohar takes two close games against Camille Serme to secure a semi-final spot ...

R2 : MoElShorbagy 2-0 Farag

Mohamed ElShorbagy comes through a thrilling world #1 v world #2 clash ...

R2 : Sherbini 2-0 Hany

Top seed Nour El Sherbini gets her first win as she beats Salma Hany in two ...

R1 : Marche 2-1 Makin

Late entry Gregoire Marche comerf from a game down to beat Joel Makin ...

R1 : King 2-0 Sobhy

A masterclass from Joelle King as she upsets Amanda Sobhy in two games ...

King goes top of Group B

[7] Joelle King (Nzl) 2-0 [4] Amanda Sobhy (Usa)   11-5, 11-8 (26m)

New Zealand’s World No.8 Joelle King kickstarted her campaign with an 11-5, 11-8 victory over USA’s Amanda Sobhy.

King played with confidence and composure to take the win in just 26 minutes, with that victory also sending her to the top of Group B alongside Egypt’s Hania El Hammamy, who also won 2-0 yesterday.

The Kiwi faces England’s Sarah-Jane Perry in her second pool match tomorrow at Cairo’s Mall of Arabia.

“I felt good out there, I thought I was playing the court well,” said King afterwards.

“Physically I felt really good. Amanda is class, if you give her a little inch, she is going to come back at you, which she did at the end. Probably the only thing I can say for my matches going forward is to keep my foot on the pedal.

“As I’ve got older, I’ve had to change my game. Physically when I was younger, I was stronger but probably not as smart as what I am now, so my game has evolved over time and I’m always trying to work on those things.

“In this format, every point, every game counts, even losing 2-1 can set you up for the next round that you might get through the pool. I didn’t want to come off during that one at all and just try and win that one 2-0.”

Marche marks debut with a win

[8] Gregoire Marche (Fra) 2-1 [6] Joel Makin (Wal)   8-11, 11-9, 11-3 (59m)

France’s World No.14 Gregoire Marche made his debut at the CIB PSA World Tour Finals a memorable one as he claimed an 8-11, 11-9, 11-3 win over Wales’ World No.9 Joel Makin.

Marche was drafted into the draw at the last minute following Fares Dessouky’s late withdrawal due to a lingering back injury and the Frenchman ensured he made his mark as he came from a game down to topple Makin and go top of Group B.

Marche will face Egypt’s World No.3 Tarek Momen tomorrow.

“It was unexpected. It was Sunday afternoon and I was watching TV and suddenly I had a text saying I could come.

“I had two and a half hours to pack my bag and get my flight, it was a big surprise. It’s crazy how life can be sometimes, I’m sorry for Fares but it was good news for me. It’s easier for me maybe because I had no pressure today, I just had to try and push every rally and I liked the way I played, even in tough conditions. It’s hot tonight and the ball is pretty bouncy, but I dealt with it and mentally, it was maybe one of my best matches.

“I just wanted to be more accurate in every shot. I was a bit shaky in the second game, but I tried to make it long, it wasn’t really accurate and I couldn’t win points so I just tried to be more into my shots and it worked.

“Makin is one of the toughest and physical players on tour, so to beat him means that I can be in this top eight and I deserve to be here. If I could reach the semis it would be a good job.”

El Sherbini gets her first win

[1] Nour El Sherbini (Egy) 2-0 [8] Salma Hany (Egy)   11-8, 11-6 (25m)

World No.1 Nour El Sherbini got back to winning ways at Cairo’s Mall of Arabia after coming out on top in the all-Egyptian battle against World No.9 Salma Hany.

El Sherbini looked back to her best form following yesterday’s defeat to France’s World No.4 Camille Serme as she kept her hopes of reaching the semi-finals alive with an 11-8, 11-6 victory.

However, that win means that Hany’s hopes hang in the balance as she is now dependent on the outcome of Nouran Gohar’s match against Serme.

“It’s always special playing in Egypt in front of your home crowd,” said El Sherbini afterwards.

“I’m really happy that we have more than one tournament now in Egypt so the crowd have a chance to watch us and we have them supporting us. It’s good for us to have another big event here.

“Usually after you lose a match it’s over for you, you go home and see what everyone is going to do but this tournament is different. You lose and you have to come back the next day and be prepared mentally. Every match is difficult because we’re playing the top eight in the world, it’s the final in any tournament. I’m pleased to win today and have a chance to qualify, I’m really happy with my performance.”

ElShorbagy Downs Farag in Big Battle

 [6] Mohamed ElShorbagy (Egy)  2-1 [1] Ali Farag (Egy)   11-8, 8-11, 13-11 (64m)

The battle for the men’s World No.1 spot has heated up yet again after Mohamed ElShorbagy defeated current holder Ali Farag by an 11-8, 8-11, 13-11 scoreline in 64 minutes.

Farag’s loss to Marwan ElShorbagy yesterday coupled with his loss to elder sibling Mohamed today means that he is at risk of not reaching the semi-finals and losing his No.1 spot to Mohamed, if he is to go on and win all of his remaining matches this week and take the title.

ElShorbagy was a man on a mission from the first point as he faced Farag for the first time since their Canary Wharf Classic final meeting in March last year. Current World No.2 ElShorbagy has made no secret that he wants top spot in the World Rankings back and he took one step closer to making it happen with a resilient display against Farag.

His win means that if younger brother Marwan wins his match against Mostafa Asal later this evening then both of the ElShorbagy brothers will be through to the semi-finals with a match to spare.

“I want to thank Karim Darwish and the organisers, everything they did with me last night they took care of me once I got injured, which was a complete accident,” said ElShorbagy.

“I’ve known Darwish since I was a player and I played with him a few times, he’s one of the most professional people I’ve met, he sent one of his people, Karim Ibrahim, who was with me from the first second and making sure I was fine so I could come and give some great matches to the people of Egypt.

“We have been the best two players in the world for the last four or five years. We’ve been great rivals to each other, it’s been going back and forth between us, but it was hard for me to watch him winning all these titles while I was away and I’m sure if he had have been in my position then it would have been hard for him too.

“I’m really hungry to be back to the throne this year. It’s all I think about, every single day, I want to go back to World No.1 – my hunger is always to be the best player in the world and to do that I need to beat all the players and consistently, not just one tournament but the whole year. I want to be back so badly, it’s what I train for, it’s what I live for and my dream since I was a kid. Even if I was coming back with one eye today, I would have killed myself to win. I’m a warrior on court and that’s what people don’t get sometimes, I will always fight on court.”

Gohar qualifies for the semis

Egypt’s World No.2 Nouran Gohar has qualified for the semi-finals following her 2-0 victory over France’s Camille Serme.

Despite there being one match to go for each player, whatever happens in the next match Gohar cannot finish below Serme due to their head-to-head record and she currently sits top of the group on seven points with the lowest she is able to finish being second place.

Both players battled it out on court in a tense 48-minute battle with Gohar just managing to hold her nerve in the tie-break to see her through. She will face World No.1 Nour El Sherbini in the final pool match.

“Everyone in here can see how tough it was,” said Gohar afterwards.

“Winning 2-0 in 50 minutes is incredible. Camille never makes it easy on me, even if I’m going to win the match she’s running everywhere and getting everything back. She is one of the most experienced and consistent players on Tour and I have so much respect for her. It’s always tough to play against her.

“It’s all about tactics. Even if it’s not the pace, it’s something in the game plan with me it’s more about the pace, but it’s not only about the pace. Camille likes to play fast as well which is why it’s very physical out there, the ball is really bouncy. Every match is different even if I’m trying to implement my game plan, you have to adapt to every opponent.

“Nour is World No.1, I’m World No.2 – we have played in finals and this time we are playing in the final of the pool matches, which is going to be challenging as always. I’m looking forward to it.”

Serme added:

“ I think it was a good match, I had the good game plan, and the errors I made in the first game were actually the right shot to play. I was patient enough, I didn’t go for silly shots.

“It was a big match, it reminded me our big battles like the ToC, and most of all, I took pleasure in the match. Which wasn’t the case for a long time, I was getting frustrated. But today, even when I was making errors, nothing was negative, and that’s very positive for me.

“My goal is the Worlds in Chicago, for me I see those matches here as a perfect preparation for it, I am physically feeling great, no pain anywhere, whereas I had a few niggles that delayed my preparation.”

 

Asal Keeps Qualification Hopes Alive

[7] Mostafa Asal (Egy) 2-0 [4] Marwan ElShorbagy (Egy)      13-11, 11-3 (42m)

Egypt’s Mostafa Asal has kept his hopes of qualifying for the semi-finals alive after a 2-0 victory over Marwan ElShorbagy.

ElShorbagy just needed a win today to cement his place in the semi-finals, however, due to his defeat in the last match of the day, Group A will now go down to the wire to decide who reaches the last four.

Asal came firing out of the blocks early to sneak ahead in a tight first game before dominating ElShorbagy in the second to comfortably close out his first win of the pool stage.

“I want to thank everyone that supported me today. I can’t believe I won and still have a chance of reaching the semi-finals.

“I’m so proud of myself today, very big performance and I want to thank my team and my friends that are here.

“It’s a very tough group, when you play against World No.1, World No.2 and World No.5 it’s an unbelievable group. I’m focusing on my squash, all of my friends are here and they want to enjoy the moment. There’s still more to come.

“I’m going to play against Ali, he’s beaten me all the time. It’s not going to be easy and I hope we enjoy the day’s rest and then we can compete.”

 

You can follow the action here, LIVE on SquashTV or the PSA Facebook Page, check the Live Scores, and we’ll be posting match by match updates here, with a roundup to follow at the end of the day.