World No.2 Nour El Sherbini and World No.3 Hania El Hammamy have secured their places in the semi-finals of the PSA World Tour Finals after claiming respective wins over Rowan Elaraby and Sarah-Jane Perry earlier today at Cairo’s Mall of Arabia.
El Sherbini became the first player to qualify for the semi-finals after she overcame World No.7 Elaraby by an 11-8, 11-7 scoreline. The 2017-18 champion currently sits top of Group B – a point ahead of El Hammamy – after taking the maximum of eight points on offer so far.
“It’s the perfect start for me,” said El Sherbini.
“I have only been to the semis once [at the Mall of Arabia], so it was in my head a little bit. Two matches, two 2-0 wins, eight points, it is perfect for me and hopefully I keep going like this.
“It’s definitely a different type of tournament and ending the group stage on top is important, to have the chance to play the second player on the other side [from Group A]. It is the top eight anyway, so whoever it is, it will be a tough match.”
El Hammamy – the 2019-20 champion – navigated a tricky first game against World No.6 Perry, eventually taking it 16-14 in a nail-biting tie-break. The 21-year-old was able to stamp her authority on the match in the second and closed out the win to set up a mouth-watering clash tomorrow.
“It was a feisty first game, it was very close and it could have gone either way, so I am glad I managed to get it,” said El Hammamy.
“Playing SJ is always enjoyable, and I am always pleased when I get to share the court with her. She is very tricky and you have to be on your toes from the very first point. I had in my mind the match at Black Ball where I was 2-0 up and I lost, so I knew that the second game tonight was very important, and I had to start it well because she can come back easily.”
Meanwhile, World No.1 and defending champion Nouran Gohar got her tournament off to a fine start as she defeated United States No.1 Amanda Sobhy to go top of Group A, ahead of New Zealand’s Joelle King, who beat Georgina Kennedy yesterday.
World No.4 Mostafa Asal became the first man to qualify for the last four after he overcame World No.6 Tarek Momen in a feisty clash to end the night. It was a scrappy battle with numerous traffic issues, resulting in a busy night for the referees.
“I don’t want to be bad, I don’t want to say some things,” said Asal after winning 11-8, 12-10 in 40 minutes.
“It was a terrible match, I didn’t like the way we played on this court. He is an unbelievable player, he is 34-years-old and he is a World Champion, so all credit to him… but tonight was not how we should play our squash. “
Asal will take on New Zealand’s Paul Coll next, where a win for Coll would see him join Asal in the semi-finals.
Elsewhere, World No.1 Ali Farag came from behind to beat Peru’s Diego Elias in a contentious Group A clash. A superb performance from Elias saw him unsettle the reigning World Champion as he built up a one-game lead.
But midway through the second game, a controversial video referee decision saw a potential double bounce called good in Farag’s favour. Elias was incensed and it rattled the World No.5, who lost his focus, allowing Farag to come back and level.
The third game was all Farag as Elias’s intensity dropped off, and the Peruvian was clearly still unhappy with his opponent as he walked off court, believing Farag should have called his ball down.
“He completely lost his focus, and I am very proud that I kept mine,” said Farag, who has moved up to second in Group A, behind World No.3 Mohamed ElShorbagy.
“I’m very proud because when he loses his focus, sometimes it gets to you, but I kept on with my game-plan until the very last moment. I have never gotten my hands on this trophy, I have never made it to the finals here in Egypt, only once in Dubai, so hopefully I can keep progressing and take it one match at a time until I hopefully achieve the title.”
Results – First Round
Men’s Group A:  Ali Farag (EGY) bt  Diego Elias (PER) 2-1: 8-11, 11-6, 11-3 (37m)
Men’s Group B:  Paul Coll (NZL) bt  Joel Makin (WAL) 2-0: 12-10, 11-5 (44m);  Mostafa Asal (EGY) bt  Tarek Momen (EGY) 2-0: 11-8, 12-10 (40m)
Women’s Group A:  Nouran Gohar (EGY) bt  Amanda Sobhy (USA) 2-0: 11-4, 11-5 (19m)
Women’s Group B:  Nour El Sherbini (EGY) bt  Rowan Elaraby (EGY) 2-0: 11-8, 11-7 (25m);  Hania El Hammamy (EGY) bt  Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) 2-0: 16-14, 11-5 (31m)