Now The Artist meets Gaultier in Cairo showdown
By SEAN REUTHE in Cairo
Three-time World Champion Ramy Ashour and defending champion Gregory Gaultier will lock horns for the 33rd time on the PSA World Tour after both players triumphed in their last eight clashes at the 2016 Wadi Degla PSA Men’s World Championship to set up a highly-anticipated semi-final clash in Cairo.
Ashour – who lifted the sport’s most illustrious title in 2008, 2012 and 2014 – dispatched fellow Egyptian Fares Dessouky in straight games to move to within one win of a fifth World Championship final.
The maverick Egyptian stormed to a one-game lead, winning 11-6, before coming out on top of an intense tie-break by a 17-15 margin to put one foot in the semi-final.
The third became an intense, physical encounter until, with Ashour 10-8 up, an emotional Dessouky reacted to a refereeing decision by inexplicably conceding the match and walking off court to hand the win to Ashour.
“That was very stressful, definitely,” said Ashour. “I was relaxed but I wasn’t there, I couldn’t find it. He was physical, I got into his physical game and things weren’t going my way in my short game. When things happen like that I find it a challenge.
“I wouldn’t say I enjoy it, but I find it a challenge because life is not fun, it’s supposed to be a burden. When things happen that way I accept it and I have to go through it.”
Meanwhile, Gaultier booked his place in a fourth consecutive World Championship semi-final after overcoming World No.11 Tarek Momen to become the only non-Egyptian semi-finalist.
The charismatic ‘French General’ put in a masterclass of a performance in the opening two games as he mixed up the pace well and utilised all four corners of the court to power into a 2-0 lead, but he surrendered three match balls in game three after a litany of errors to give Momen a lifeline.
A series of high-quality rallies in the fourth lit up the Wadi Degla club as the match drew to a nail-biting finale, with Gaultier managing to reassert himself on proceedings to edge out an 11-5, 11-5, 14-16, 11-8 triumph to set up an explosive semi-final clash with Ashour, who currently leads the head-to-head record 25-7.
Gaultier said: “Tarek is a really skilful player. He’s very dangerous, talented and he can put the ball away at any time.
“If you don’t pay attention, you lose the big points, that’s what happened on the game balls. I didn’t play tight enough and I rushed myself. He’s talented and a hard worker.
“You have to remember that at the end of the day, in any kind of country, it’s two lions battling as hard as possible on the same territory. There’s only one winner coming out, but today I felt it was really tough.”
$325,000 Men’s Wadi Degla PSA World Championship 2016, Wadi Degla Club, Cairo, Egypt.
Quarter-Final (Bottom Half):
 Ramy Ashour (EGY) bt  Fares Dessouky (EGY) 3-0: 11-6, 17-15, 10-8 retired (67m)
 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt  Tarek Momen (EGY) 3-1: 11-5, 11-5, 14-16, 11-8 (73m)
 Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) v  Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY)
 Ramy Ashour (EGY) v  Gregory Gaultier (FRA)
Pictures by STEVE LINE (www.squashics.com) courtesy of PSA