All-Egyptian finals in Philly as Matthew and Massaro bow out in thrillers
By ELLIE MAWSON
Egyptians Ali Farag and Nour El Tayeb, the Cairo-based pair who married in 2016, will be hoping for double-delight during the finals of the 2017 U.S. Open Presented by Macquarie Investment Management after they became the first married pair to reach the finals of the PSA World Series event as part of an Egyptian quartet who completed a clean sweep on semi-finals day.
Just over one year since their wedding day the pair enthralled the crowd inside Philadelphia’s Drexel University as they produced similarly scintillating performances to defeat their last four opposition in the shape of England’s Laura Massaro and fellow Egyptian Omar Mosaad, with Farag’s 3-0 win securing him a place in a World Series final for the first time in his career.
In a repeat of the 2015 U.S. Open final, which she lost 3-2, El Tayeb put in a performance of pure quality as she dismantled Massaro with a shot-mains masterclass to come through 3-1 and book her place in the finale.
“I’m very pleased with my performance,” said 24-year-old El Tayeb. “Laura and I played a few years ago in the final here and I was so nervous that time – so today I was telling myself that it’s just a regular match and to go out there and enjoy it, which I did.
“She doesn’t give up and she keeps going – she takes advantage of any loss of concentration from any of her opponents. That’s something I learned from her and it’s unbelievable to beat her in such an occasion.
“I made the final three years ago but I’m just enjoying it. My squash couldn’t be going better. I’ve been working really hard and I’m happy that it’s starting to pay off.”
World No.14 El Tayeb will go up against 2012 U.S. Open runner-up Raneem El Welily, the current World No.3, for the honours after she halted the charge of New Zealand’s Joelle King.
“It feels absolutely fantastic to reach the final,” said El Welily. “Joelle is in fantastic form. I played against her here last year and it was something similar to today’s match.
“She has had a great season and has beaten everyone in the top five. I just tried to keep pushing and digging as much as I could – she was playing really well. I think I broke her mentally and that was key.
“Everyone is in top form and Nour El Tayeb is playing her heart out this tournament.”
Farag, the 25-year-old Harvard graduate, secured his place in the title decider courtesy of a dominant straight-games victory over Mosaad, the 2015 runner-up who returned to top form this week after suffering a dip in form through the past two years.
Farag weathered a Mosaad onslaught during a crucial 14-12 second game to set up the platform that ensured his progress to face defending title holder Mohamed ElShorbagy.
“I feel very happy to get past such a tough opponent,” said Farag. “Omar is never easy to play against. He’s finding his form again and so to get a win against him is a great pleasure, but there is still the final tomorrow so I will just enjoy this for half an hour and then start focusing on tomorrow’s match.
“I knew today was going to be tough so I’m really pleased to be through – it’s special to be into the final along with Nour, but it will be even more special if we can hold the trophies together.”
After his victory over England’s Nick Matthew, in a repeat of the 2016 final, ElShorbagy said: “Every single point was very important today.
“The level of squash we have played so far, I think we are playing even better than last year but sometimes it’s the luck of the draw and we both had to deal with it as professionals.
“I thought we dealt with it well and in front of a crowd like here, quality squash is supposed to be played and I’m really glad that we could both play that kind of squash and I can’t wait to play in my third final here tomorrow.”
PSA World Series 2017 U.S. Open, Drexel University, Philadelphia, USA.
 Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) bt  Nick Matthew (ENG) 3-0: 13-11, 11-6, 11-8 (49m)
 Ali Farag (EGY) bt Omar Mosaad (EGY) 3-0: 11-6, 14-12, 11-6 (45m)
 Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) v  Ali Farag (EGY)
 Nour El Tayeb (EGY) bt  Laura Massaro (ENG) 3-1: 11-6, 12-10, 9-11, 11-3 (47m)
 Raneem El Welily (EGY) bt  Joelle King (NZL) 3-1: 11-8, 6-11, 11-6, 11-6 (40m)
 Nour El Tayeb (EGY) v  Raneem El Welily (EGY)
Pictures courtesy of PSA