Day FOUR : Semi-Finalists decided in Cairo

The CIB PSA World Tour Finals continued at the new EDNC SODIC venue in Cairo tonight, as the semi-final places were confirmed.

Women’s Group A : Hania qualifies top of the group with Nouran in second spot
Men’s Group B :  Mohamed ElShorbagy joins Ali Farag in the semis
Women’s Group B : Tayeb’s win means she qualifies behind Sherbini
Men’s Group A :
  Mazen’s win isn’t enough to stop Mostafa joining Diego in the semis

Read on for match reports and quotes 

CIB PSA World Tour Finals 2023 : Fri 23rd Jun, Day FOUR

MB R3   [2] Ali Farag (Egy) w/o [8] Tarek Momen (Egy)      Tarek w/d injured

WA R3  [3] Hania El Hammamy (Egy) 2-0 [5] Nele Gilis (Bel)   11-9, 11-8 (34m)

MB R3   [3] Mohamed ElShorbagy (Eng) 2-0 [5] Paul Coll (Nzl)  11-8, 11-10 (35m)

WB R3   [2] Nour El Sherbini (Egy) 2-0 [7] Georgina Kennedy (Eng)   11-3, 11-4 (18m)

WB R3   [6] Nour El Tayeb (Egy) 2-0 [4] Joelle King (Nzl) 11-10, 11-8 (30m)

MA R3   [6] Mazen Hesham (Egy) 2-1 [4] Mostafa Asal (Egy)  2-11, 11-8, 11-5 (38m)


Reports and Reaction

[3] Hania El Hammamy (Egy) 2-0 [5] Nele Gilis (Bel)   11-9, 11-8 (34m)

El Hammamy beats Gilis to top Group A

World No.3 Hania El Hammamy has finished top of Group A in the women’s CIB PSA World Tour Finals after dispatching Belgium’s Nele Gilis 11-9, 11-8 in the opening match of the evening at EDNC SODIC.

Gilis came into the match needing to win 2-0 to ensure that she would take El Hammamy’s place in the semi-finals and made a fabulous start to the match, lifting the ball with accuracy to take the attacking opportunities away from El Hammamy.

The World No.7 took a 9-5 lead, but it didn’t take long for El Hammamy to force her way back into the tie, first getting back to 9-7 and then drawing level after the successful use of a Power Play – with Gilis squandering her second Power Play on the same rally.

Two more points followed for El Hammamy to hand her the opening game and a guaranteed spot in the semi-finals. To top the group the Egyptian still had to see out the win, but things didn’t go to plan at the start of the second game as Gilis stepped up the court to take the first three points on offer.

El Hammamy was lacking the accuracy she displayed at the back end of the first game and made a number of errors early on as Gilis forced her into some tough rallies. But once she found her range she was able to claw her way back into the game to secure top spot.

Her win comes a day after the 22-year-old attended her graduation ceremony after obtaining a degree in mass communications, media & marketing from the American University in Cairo.

“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 fast 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 during the Power Plays. So far I’m doing a great job with them and hopefully I can keep using them smartly.”

MB R3   [3] Mohamed ElShorbagy (Eng) 2-0 [5] Paul Coll (Nzl)  11-8, 11-10 (35m)

ElShorbagy takes out Coll to advance to semis

England’s Mohamed ElShorbagy has booked his place in the semi-finals after overcoming World No.5 Paul Coll to join Group B winner Ali Farag in the last four.

ElShorbagy struggled with an adductor injury during his defeat to Farag 24 hours earlier and came out with an attacking game plan which saw him go for the kill every time the opportunity presented itself.

Coll had to defend and be patient and the pair cancelled each other out for much of the opening game. ElShorbagy had a sniff at 9-8 though and activated his Power Play to take the opening game.

There were some lengthy rallies at the beginning of the second game as Coll sought to make the rallies as long as possible to grind down his opponent. That initially worked as he took a 3-0 lead but ElShorbagy struck back to level, punishing some loose shots from his opponent. Coll looked to be on the verge of taking the match after building up three game balls but he couldn’t convert as ElShorbagy comeback to 10-9.

Out came the Power Play once again and a masterful rally from the Englishman saw him draw Coll in short before blasting a crosscourt dive beyond the despairing dive of the Kiwi to book his place in the next round.

“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.

“I’m very happy to be in the semis, it’s the last tournament of the season and I’m really happy to be back in the top four here with the other three guys. I’ll enjoy that and I’ll go for two more if I can.

“Everyone wants to finish the season on a high note to take the confidence into the summer training for next season. It’s going to be a great match in the semis whether I play Diego or Asal, we’ll find that out later tonight. I’ll go back, recover and get ready for the semis now.”

[2] Nour El Sherbini (Egy) 2-0 [7] Georgina Kennedy (Eng)   11-3, 11-4 (18m)

El Sherbini Storms Past Kennedy

World Champion Nour El Sherbini made it three wins from three as she ended No.7 seed Georgina Kennedy’s chances of qualifying for the last four.

El Sherbini had already booked her place in the semi-finals but needed at least a game against Kennedy to secure top spot in Group B.

It didn’t take her long to achieve that against an opponent she had beaten in all four of their previous PSA Tour meetings. The Egyptian produced an onslaught of attacking squash to take a comfortable one-game victory.

Kennedy had no answer to El Sherbini’s hold and deception in the second either as the World No.2 wrapped up an 11-3, 11-4 victory in just 18 minutes without using either of her two Power Plays.

The win ensures that she will take on World No.1 Nouran Gohar in the semi-finals. 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.

“I just wanted to keep the momentum going, I had a big lead,” said El Sherbini, explaining why she didn’t use her Power Plays.

“I was a bit disappointed in El Gouna as I had a good run in the second half of the season. I went back home, did a bit of training and played some good matches at Egyptian league.

“I want to finish the season in a good way, I’m happy to be through to the semi-finals and we’ll take it step by step, but this tournament is really important for me.”

 [6] Nour El Tayeb (Egy) 2-0 [4] Joelle King (Nzl) 11-10, 11-8 (30m)

El Tayeb reaches last four

rWorld No.6 Nour El Tayeb has reached the last four of the PSA World Tour Finals for the first time since she was a runner-up at the 2019-20 event after battling past New Zealand’s Joelle King to take second place in Group B.

It was their second meeting of the season after King won their Singapore Open final clash in November, but while the Kiwi won that match in straight games, she was up against a determined opponent tonight.

Both players were struggling with injuries – El Tayeb sporting strapping on her right thigh while King had a bandage on her right ankle – but it was a high-quality match regardless.

El Tayeb’s injury didn’t stop her from throwing herself around the court, picking up many of King’s deft touches into the front corner and treating the crowd to some trademark dives as well.

The Egyptian saw the first of her two game balls go by the wayside, but a Power Play from King saw her come back to level at 10-10. However, King was undone by a deceptive boast from her opponent, meaning it was first blood to El Tayeb.

The entertaining rallies continued into the second game with both players trading points in some high-octane rallies. Power Plays came out for both players at 9-8 to El Tayeb and another boast at the front of the court saw her take the two points she needed to close out the win.

El Tayeb will now take on Group A winner Hania El Hammamy in the semi-finals – a repeat of the 2019-20 title decider.

“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 her leg problem 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.

“My daughter is here as well which is nice, she can see me win for a change. It’s definitely a big match tomorrow, but all I can do now is eat, recover and do my best to be ready for tomorrow.”

[6] Mazen Hesham (Egy) 2-1 [4] Mostafa Asal (Egy)  2-11, 11-8, 11-5 (38m)

Hesham win not enough to deny Asal

Egypt’ssixth seed Mazen Hesham ended a four-match winless run against World No.4 Mostafa Asal in the final match of the day, narrowly missing out on a place in the semi-finals.

Hesham had come closest to beating Asal during a fiery five-game battle at the PSA World Championships last month but finally got the better of his compatriot, winning 2-11, 11-8, 11-5 in 38 minutes to take third place in Group A.

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.

For his part, Hesham kept his head down and resisted the threat of an Asal comeback in the second game to level. He closed out the third game comfortably to score his first win over ‘The Raging Bull’, but misses out on a semi-final spot by a solitary point.

“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.”