Both the top ranked Egyptians were given a torrid time by their rivals in the quarter-finals of the Tournament of Champions at New York’s Grand Central Terminal. Men’s world number one Ali Farag came back from the brink to defeat New Zealander Paul Coll to earn his place in the semi-final.
However his counterpart in the women’s competition, Raneem El Welily was send packing out of the tournament by France’s world number 5 Camille Serme. Serme sent shockwaves through the women’s draw with a stunning 13-15, 11-4, 7-11, 11-5, 11-6 win in 59 minutes over the favoured Egyptian.
It was Serme’s fourth win over Raneem in 11 meetings, but certainly her best and most memorable.
It was clear the Frenchwoman meant business from the word go as she saved three of Raneem’s game balls in the first game before the top seed converted on the fourth attempt.
Serme, who lifted the ToC title back in 2017, came back with confidence in the second to take six points in a row to draw level, before once again falling behind to Raneem as she claimed the third.
The high calibre of squash continued from both players, with Serme in particular playing with no fear as she fought back from a game down once again before storming into an 8-2 lead in the fifth and eventually closing outinjust under an hour.
“It’s funny because today I was the challenger and she had the pressure,” said an emotional Serme afterwards.
“It’s kind of easier to play your best squash because you think you have nothing to lose. You play free and I proved to myself that I can play those shots as well as they can do.
“I felt less pressure today. It’s the kind of match you want to enjoy, I’m playing the world number one here in Grand Central, it’s going to be a great match. Raneem is the fairest player on tour so you know it’s going to be a clean and good match. I just enjoyed it so much and it’s not that often I beat Raneem, I think it’s only the fourth time in my career.”
Serme has another tough opponent in the semi-finals as she would be up against third seed Nouran Gohar of Egypt. Nouran eased into the semi-finals, defeating England’s Alison Waters 11-6, 11-8, 11-7. The remaining two quarter-finals are scheduled to be played later tomorrow.
In the men’s quarter-finals, Ali found the going tough after taking the first two games against Coll. Coll came back to take the next two games and even led 6-5 in the decider, only to see the Egyptian ace stepping up to take the match 11-5, 11-8, 6-11, 5-11, 11-9 in 62 minutes.
Ali will play teammate Tarek Momen, who defeated Egypt’s junior champion Mostafa Asal 11-8, 11-2, 11-5, in the semi-finals.
I kept my calm, he gifted me a couple of errors and then I ran away with the game, so I’m really pleased to put on a big fight today,” said Ali following his defeat of Coll.