Egypt’s World No.6 Nour El Tayeb has reached the last four of the CIB PSA World Tour Finals for the first time in three years after she put in a gutsy performance to overcome New Zealand’s Joelle King in their Group B clash tonight at Cairo’s EDNC SODIC.
El Tayeb – a runner-up at the 2019-20 edition of the season-ending tournament – has been struggling with a hamstring injury during this event and has sported heavy strapping on her leg throughout all three of her matches so far.
The 30-year-old began the day at the bottom of Group B, but following an 11-10, 11-8 victory over World No.4 King, who was nursing an ankle problem of her own, she has taken second place in the group to book her place in the semi-finals.
“This whole tournament means so much, I want to play well here to finish the season well,” said El Tayeb.
“Everyone in this group is probably feeling something, so it [her leg] didn’t make me feel bad. Joelle wasn’t moving well because of her ankle. I’m happy to be in the semi-finals of this tournament again, it’s very special.
“I tried to use all of my brain since I couldn’t use all of my body. I tried to focus and trusted my skill.”
El Tayeb will take on Group A winner Hania El Hammamy in the next round after the World No.3 recovered from a nervy start to beat Belgium’s Nele Gilis, winning 11-9, 11-8.
Their match will be a repeat of the 2019-20 tournament, with El Hammamy prevailing 3-2 in that fixture. El Hammamy’s win saw her finish on 11 points, two ahead of second placed Nouran Gohar, who had already qualified for the semis following her win over USA’s Olivia Fiechter last night.
“I had a bad start, I was playing shots into the floor, so I tried to push myself mentally and to be sharper,” said El Hammamy.
“I wanted to make it tough for her in the end even if I lost it. Gladly, I was able to come back from being down in the first and win it. I tried to tell myself to dig in and not try to force things.”
World Champion Nour El Sherbini took top spot in Group B following her 11-3, 11-4 win against England’s Georgina Kennedy and will take on Gohar next. It will be the first time since the 2020-21 World Tour Finals that El Sherbini and Gohar have played each other in a match that isn’t a title decider – ending a run of 10 straight final meetings between the pair.
In the men’s event, World No.3 Mohamed ElShorbagy took second place in Group B after overcoming World No.5 Paul Coll in a straight shootout for semi-final qualification.
ElShorbagy, who had been struggling with an adductor injury during yesterday’s match against World No.1 Ali Farag, came out with an attacking game plan which saw him go for the kill every time the opportunity presented itself.
ElShorbagy utilised two successful Power Plays – a new rule bring trialled at this season’s tournament which gives the winner of the rally two points if they called for the Power Play – at the back end of each game to take an 11-8, 11-10 win.
“Any time you play Paul it’s going to be tough,” said ElShorbagy.
“You could see after the first game he came back very well, but I kept myself interested and I was always two points behind. I felt if I stayed like this I could sneak in a Power Play. If I lost it I would have had no Power Plays in the third game and he still had two, so it was risky.”
ElShorbagy will go up against top seed Diego Elias in the semi-finals, with the Peruvian taking first place in Group A following Mostafa Asal’s defeat to fellow Egyptian Mazen Hesham tonight.
Asal knew he only required a single game to qualify for the semis and took that with relative ease. From there, Asal took his foot off the gas and went for an array of spectacular winners with mixed success as Hesham came back to take the win.
“In the first game I put too much pressure on myself,” said Hesham.
“I’m looking forward to next season and hopefully I can stay injury free and push the way I want and get to the final of these events. I think my body has been my biggest weakness and now my head, so I’m working on both.”
Top spot in Group B was already confirmed following No.8 seed Tarek Momen’s withdrawal through injury, which handed Farag first place in the group. Farag will take on Asal in the last four, a repeat of the El Gouna International final from earlier this month, which Farag won.
The semi-finals of the CIB PSA World Tour Finals will take place tomorrow (June 24) and play starts at 20:00 (GMT+3). The action will be shown live on SQUASHTV and the channels of PSA’s broadcast partners.
Men’s Group A
 Mazen Hesham (EGY) bt  Mostafa Asal (EGY) 2-1: 2-11, 11-8, 11-5 (38m)
Men’s Group B
 Mohamed ElShorbagy (ENG) bt  Paul Coll (NZL) 2-0: 11-8, 11-10 (35m)
 Ali Farag (EGY) bt  Tarek Momen (EGY) w/o
Women’s Group A
 Hania El Hammamy (EGY) bt  Nele Gilis (BEL) 2-0: 11-9, 11-8 (34m)
Women’s Group B
 Nour El Sherbini (EGY) bt  Georgina Kennedy (ENG) 2-0: 11-3, 11-4 (18m)
 Nour El Tayeb (EGY) bt  Joelle King (NZL) 2-0: 11-10, 11-8 (30m)